Pharmacy School Requirements: A Complete Guide

April 1, 2024
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/1/24

Read on to learn more about the pharmacy school requirements. 

The first step to becoming a pharmacist is getting accepted into an accredited pharmacy school. Similar to applying to medical school, PharmD programs have strict requirements that you must fulfill in order to graduate. 

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to make sure you meet these requirements and break down important GPA and PCAT statistics about the country’s top pharmacy schools so you can better understand where you stand amongst successful applicants. Let’s get started!

image of dots background

Pharmacy School Course Requirements

There are a variety of requirements for a pharmacy degree program. While the most important requirement for pharmacy school is a completed bachelor’s degree, many pharmacy schools are not particular about the major you complete in your undergraduate studies before applying to a four-year PharmD program. 

While the most common undergraduate major for applicants is biology, successful candidates have also had majors from various disciplines, including English, business, psychology, and biochemistry. 

Regardless of the program that you complete in your undergraduate program, you will need to y complete the following prerequisite courses:

  • General Chemistry I & II
  • Organic Chemistry I & II
  • Biology I & II
  • Anatomy and Physiology (or A&P I & II)
  • Microbiology
  • Physics
  • Calculus
  • English Composition
  • Communication or Public Speaking
  • Psychology or Sociology
  • Statistics

Remember that there may be  different course requirements for pharmacy school, depending on the specific programs you are interested in. Make sure to check your school’s website to make sure you have completed all the necessary courses needed to apply.

Pharmacy School GPA Requirements

Pharmacy school GPA requirements will differ from program to program. Still, it’s important to know the average GPA of successful pharmacy school applicants to give yourself a better idea of where you stand. Here’s a list of the GPA requirements and the average GPA for successful applicants of the top 20 pharmacy schools in the US.

Pharmacy School GPA Requirement Average GPA
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 2.50 3.50
University of California-San Francisco 2.80 3.46
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 2.00
(C grade or higher)
University of Minnesota N/A 3.49
University of Florida 3.00 2.75-3.60
(for science classes only)
University of Kentucky 2.50 2.50
Ohio State University 2.70 3.40-3.50
Purdue University 3.00 3.4-3.6
University of Illinois-Chicago 2.75 3.3
University of Texas-Austin 1.70
(C- or higher)

Pharmacy School GPA Requirement Average GPA
University of Washington 2.80 3.41
University of Madison-Wisconsin No minimum requirement 3.40
University of Pittsburgh 3.00 3.60
University at Buffalo-SUNY No minimum requirement 3.00
University of Maryland-Baltimore 3.00 3.41
University of Southern California 3.00 3.40
University of Utah 2.75 3.50
University of California-San Diego 3.00 3.00-4.00
University of Iowa 2.50 3.40
University of Arizona 2.50 3.36

As you can see, there is usually a large discrepancy between the minimum GPA requirement and the average GPA of successful applicants. Remember that aiming for a high GPA will give you the best possible chance of acceptance to any PharmD program.

Pharmacy School PCAT Scores and Requirements

The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is a preliminary test that all applicants can write to be considered for pharmacy school. Formatted similarly to the MCAT, the PCAT tests competency in all subjects related to pharmaceutical studies, including science knowledge, reading and reasoning skills, and written communication skills. 

Nowadays, many pharmacy schools do not require the PCAT for admission and instead list it as optional. However, a high PCAT score can help strengthen your application if you find yourself with a lower GPA than expected.

Below is a list of the average PCAT requirements for the top 20 pharmacy schools. 

Pharmacy School Average PCAT Score
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 87.44
University of California-San Francisco Not Required
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Not Required
University of Minnesota N/A
University of Florida Not Required
University of Kentucky Not Required
Ohio State University N/A
Purdue University Not Required
University of Illinois-Chicago 30-99 percentile
University of Texas-Austin 70-85 percentile

Pharmacy School Average PCAT Score
University of Washington Not required
University of Madison-Wisconsin Composite score of 72%
University of Pittsburgh 81
University at Buffalo-SUNY N/A
University of Maryland-Baltimore 70
University of Southern California N/A
University of Utah Not required/optional
University of California-San Diego Not required
University of Iowa N/A
University of Arizona N/A

Before you start putting together your application, ensure that you check all of the PCAT requirements and guidelines for the pharmacy schools that you would like to apply to. 

Other Common Requirements for Pharmacy School

When it comes to pharmacy school admissions, your grades and PCAT score only tell one side of your story. Admissions committees are looking for well-rounded applicants; they want to ensure students match their culture and values and have the potential to become exceptional pharmacists.

You may also need to meet other pharmacy school requirements, including: 

Volunteer or Paid Experience

Many PharmD programs look for applicants that are passionate about the pharmaceutical field, making a difference, and giving back to their community. The admissions committee will therefore look at any type of volunteer or paid experiences you have to evaluate your dedication and passion for giving back and helping others. 

Letters of Recommendation

Pharmacy schools typically require students to submit letters of recommendation alongside their application. These letters are an excellent way to let the admissions committee know that other people see the passion and potential you have as a hopeful pharmacist.

You will be expected to submit anywhere from one to four recommendation letters with your application. While this number can change depending on the school you apply to, it’s best that you select at least one letter from someone with expertise in the field of pharmacy and medicine. This could include a mentor, a professor, or a former boss/supervisor that can speak to your competency and passion for the field.

The other letters can come from individuals who may not work or have expertise in the field but can advocate for your skills, passion, and potential, like a former coach, group leader, or teacher. The recommenders you pick can make or break your application, so choose wisely. 

To help your writers, you may want to consider providing a “brag sheet” consisting of helpful information about you and your accolades. This will act as a guide to help them include the information needed to make you look spectacular in the eyes of the admissions committee. 

Remember to give them plenty of time to write their letter, as it is one of the most important aspects of your application. You don’t want it to be rushed!

Supplemental Essays

Depending on your prospective school, you may be asked to complete a supplemental essay alongside your application. These can be one to two longer essay prompts that you’ll be asked to answer or a series of four to six questions, with your replies adhering to a specific word count.

These essays allow the admissions committee to learn more about you in your own words. You may be asked questions like:

  • Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
  • What motivates you in your desire to be a pharmacist?
  • How will you give back to the community and make a difference as a pharmacist?
  • How do you work with people that are different from you?

In all of your answers, you should be as authentic as possible. Speaking from the heart and remaining open and honest about your passion for pharmacy allows the admissions committee to better understand how you would fit in at their pharmacy school. 


Once your application has been reviewed, you may be asked to complete an interview with an admissions officer. 

This is their opportunity to meet you face to face and ensure, once again, that you are a great fit for their PharmD program. Usually, this is the last step before acceptance, so if you’ve made it this far, congratulations—you’re almost there!

During the interview, you may be asked questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What will you do if you’re not accepted to pharmacy school?
  • What makes a good pharmacist?
  • Are there any questions you would like to ask me?

During your interview, you’ll want to be as authentic and confident as possible. Be sure to practice your answers in advance, allowing you to respond to questions calmly and confidently. However, it's crucial not to come across as overly rehearsed, so try to strike a balance when preparing your answers.

Shadowing Experience in the Pharmacy

Pharmacy schools usually want you to spend some time shadowing pharmacists before you apply. You'll likely need to shadow for about 50 to 100 hours in different places like retail stores, hospitals, or clinics. 

When you shadow, you're basically watching and learning from licensed pharmacists. You don't need to do any hands-on work. Just observe. Keep track of where and when you shadow and how many hours you spend doing it. Some schools might also ask you to write about what you learned.

Each pharmacy program might have its own rules, so make sure to check what they need. And try to get experiences that really teach you about being a pharmacist.

Pharmacy School Application Process 

The application process for pharmacy school typically begins about a year before you plan to start your studies. Here's a breakdown of the key steps involved and the general timeline you should stick to:

Fall Semester Before You Apply

  • Research Pharmacy Schools: Use resources like the AACP Pharmacy School Locator or the PharmCAS School Directory to research different pharmacy programs. Consider factors like academic rigor, clinical experience opportunities, faculty support, tuition, financial aid availability, and location.
  • Review AACP Website: The AACP website offers valuable information about the profession, pharmacy schools, and the PharmCAS application service.
  • Make a List of Activities: Compile a list of your extracurricular activities, including employment, internships, and volunteer work. Note down details like hours, dates, locations, and your role.
  • Identify Possible Recommenders: Think about potential faculty members who could write strong letters of recommendation for you.

Spring Semester Before You Apply

  • Study for the PCAT: Most pharmacy schools require the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Study for the test and register early to secure your preferred testing date, time, and location.
  • Write a Personal Statement: Craft a compelling personal statement that highlights your motivations, experiences, and suitability for pharmacy school. Seek assistance from career counselors if needed.
  • Request Letters of Recommendation: Check individual school requirements, but most will ask for 2-3 letters from science faculty and 1 non-academic letter.

Summer That You Apply

  • Complete PharmCAS Application: PharmCAS is the centralized application service for pharmacy schools. Fill out the online application, including biographical information, academic history, personal statement, work/volunteer experiences, and honors. Allow up to 4 weeks for processing and verification.
  • Complete School-Specific Secondaries: Some schools may require additional materials or a secondary application. Be sure to submit these as needed.
  • Interview Preparation: If selected as a finalist, prepare for interviews by seeking guidance from career counselors.

By following these steps and staying organized throughout the process, you can successfully navigate the pharmacy school application journey.

Tips on How to Apply to Pharmacy School 

To apply to pharmacy school, start early and gather your materials. Make sure your application shows why you're passionate about pharmacy and includes relevant experiences. Get feedback to make it the best it can be. Keep reading to learn more. 

  • Start Early: Begin gathering your application materials well in advance to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Use the PharmCAS Checklist: PharmCAS provides a helpful checklist to keep you organized throughout the application process.
  • Study for the PCAT: If you decide to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), dedicate ample time to study and familiarize yourself with the test format.
  • Choose Your Recommenders Wisely: Select faculty members and employers who know you well and can provide strong letters of recommendation, preferably from a science background and pharmacy-related field.
  • Tell Your Story: Use your application essay to convey your passion for pharmacy and share personal experiences that have shaped your career aspirations.
  • Highlight Your Experiences: Showcase any relevant volunteer work, healthcare involvement, or community service projects to demonstrate your readiness for pharmacy school.
  • Address Red Flags: If you have any academic setbacks, provide context and show how you've learned and grown from those experiences.
  • Take Responsibility: Own up to any mistakes or shortcomings in your application and demonstrate accountability and resilience.
  • Proofread Thoroughly: Carefully review your application for spelling and grammatical errors, and consider asking a friend to provide a fresh perspective.
  • Seek Feedback: Invite friends or mentors to review your application for feedback and advice to ensure it's polished and well-presented. Also, to boost your application - reach out for professional support to help with pharmacy school application

By following these tips, you can enhance your pharmacy school application and increase your chances of success. Best of luck with your preparations!

Unsure of what pharmacy school to apply to? The Pharmacy School Selection Quiz can help you narrow down your options based on your unique preferences and priorities. 

FAQs: Pharmacy School Requirements

Still curious about the pharmacy school requirements? We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions below. 

1. Is Pharmacy School Hard to Get Into?

Because pharmacists are generally well paid and carry a lot of responsibility, pharmacy school can be difficult to gain acceptance to (although some schools are easier to get into than others). 

However, even if it’s difficult, thousands of applicants get admitted yearly. 

By meeting all of the pharmacy school requirements outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to receiving an acceptance! 

2. What Are the Requirements for Pharmacy School?

To get into pharmacy school, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree, meet required prerequisite courses, and secure a high GPA and PCAT score. You’ll also need o acquire three to four letters of recommendation, participate in meaningful volunteer or work experiences, and write supplementary essays..

3. What Is a Good GPA for Pharmacy School?

Every pharmacy school has different GPA requirements. However, you’ll want to aim for a weighted GPA as close to 4.0 as possible to make sure your application is competitive.

4. Do You Need to Write the MCAT for Pharmacy School?

You don’t need to write the MCAT to get admitted into pharmacy school; it’s specifically designed for students applying to medical schools. Instead, you’ll need to write the PCAT for your pharmacy school application.

5. Is the PCAT Required for Pharmacy School?

Many schools do not have a requirement for the PCAT. In other words, it is optional; however, it is still a good idea to take the exam to strengthen your application.

6. What Is the Best Pharmacy School in the US?

The top pharmacy school in the US is the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Final Thoughts

While getting into pharmacy school may be challenging, it’s the first and, frankly, one of the most important steps to becoming a pharmacist. Knowing the average GPA and PCAT scores for successful pharmacy school applicants can give you a general idea of what scores you should aim for to make sure you have a competitive application.

Successfully meeting all pharmacy school requirements and showing that your unique and personal values match what your dream school is looking for is the ticket to receiving an acceptance. We wish you the best of luck!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.
Get Free Consultation
image of dots background

You May Also Like