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Studying Pharmacy in the USA

Blogs are not edited by PJ staff*. The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

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By Razan Khan
1 Mar 2012
Many students from England, Ireland, Canada, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and many other parts of the world choose to study pharmacy in the United States of America. If this is something you are interested in there are a few things you should know. Hopefully, this short article can help get you started.

Before you apply to any pharmacy school in the USA, know that the degree offered is a 6-year Doctor of Pharmacy called a PharmD. This program is usually offered as 2 years of pre-pharmacy and 4 years of professional study. Keep in mind, if you are offered a place in a pre-pharmacy program, this does not guarantee entry into the professional years of the pharmacy program. After you have completed these 2 years of study you will have to write the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), apply to a pharmacy school, and pass an interview. There may be other requirements that are school-specific.

There are some schools that offer something called a 0-6 year program. This means they have combined the 2-year pre-pharmacy requirements and the 4-year professional requirements into a seamless 6-year program. All you require is a minimum GPA every year, set by the school, to continue forward. Currently, I am in one of these programs at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. The cumulative GPA requirement at my school, to continue, is 2.7 on a 4.0 scale. There are 13 schools that offer this special program. Follow the link below for more information.

Regardless of which path you decide to follow, every school requires their students to sit the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). This tests a student’s math, reading, writing, and comprehension skills; the higher your SAT score (out of 2400) the more competitive you may appear on an application. To find out more about the SAT and where you can write it in your home country, visit the College Board website listed below. In order to do well on the SAT, you may choose to take a preparatory course designed to help you understand the material being asked and how to quickly answer questions. If anything, purchasing a practice book will be the best thing you can do for yourself. I opted to take a class and purchase a practice book.

Lastly, almost every school, unless otherwise specified, uses an online application system. This is called The Common Application. It is similar to UCAS, which is used in the U.K. Visit their website to create an online profile and to find out more about what colleges will require from you.

Before you begin your application, it is always wise to do some research about the schools you want to apply to. Keep in mind its location in respect to major airports, the history of the school, the location in terms of safety, and the academic quality you feel you will get from studying there. Do not hesitate to call or email an admissions tutor; they will have answers to all your questions.

Good luck!

Information on 0-6 year Pharmacy Schools:

Information of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT):

Information on The Common Application (CommonApp): 

Some schools also use this

Some schools also use this online application system:


I'm not sure about CommonApp, but I recall that this system charged a fee, then the US schools themselves also charged a fee. All-in-all, it can become quite expensive to apply.

More about PharmCas, CommonApp, and related fees

Thanks for that update Alan! PharmCas is actually used for most pharmacy schools after you have completed some B.Sc or Pre-Pharmacy studies. The CommonApp is for applications directly into a 0-6 year program. 

As for fees with the CommonApp, some schools charge $50 to $75 to apply. There are some schools who waive the application fee. 

I hope this helps! 

Pharmacist registration in US

Hi, I have just come across this blog of yours and found myself very interested in knowing the difference between the 2 systems! I'd love to know more about the registration process for pharmacists in the States if you don't mind

Try this article


Have a look at this article if you want to know more about the registration process for pharmacists in the US.


Benedict Lam

Editor, Tomorrow's Pharmacist