Academic preparation

Before applying, pharmacy schools expect that applicants develop certain competencies. Students develop some of these competencies through undergraduate coursework, while they develop others through experiences outside the classroom. Pharmacy schools review your application, looking for indicators that you have developed these competencies. They will expect you to have completed certain coursework and maintain a certain GPA, in order to gain admission. They also expect students to develop strong communication skills and professionalism. Consult this resource for information on the competencies needed by pharmacists.

Choosing a major #

Although pharmacy schools will not require you to complete an undergraduate degree before entering pharmacy school, we recommend that most students at IU Bloomington plan to complete an undergraduate degree in a major that interests them before entering pharmacy school.

Pre-pharmacy students may select any major and degree to combine with the courses required for admission to pharmacy school. You should select a major that interests you, allows you to build strong intellectual skills, and one that could provide opportunities for graduate work or employment if you choose not to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Although you can choose any major, pre-pharmacy students must complete significant coursework in the natural sciences, as well as courses in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences. Pre-pharmacy students need to develop strong reasoning, analytical, and communication skills. Coursework in the humanities and social sciences can help you build skills in these latter areas.

Pre-pharmacy coursework #

The course requirements for admission to pharmacy programs vary significantly from school to school. Below is a chart listing course requirements for IU Bloomington students who plan to apply for admission to the Purdue University College of Pharmacy PharmD program. We recommend that students who are Indiana residents follow this plan of preparation, and then consider including additional coursework that would help them meet the admission requirements for other pharmacy schools.

Students should also consult the prerequisite chart provided by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy or the websites of the individual pharmacy schools to find their requirements. In addition, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy also provides a great deal of useful information for students considering a career in pharmacy.

Please also consult the Purdue University College of Pharmacy for further information on their programs.

A cumulative total of 60 credit hours (which may include Advanced Placement or departmental test credit) is required to meet admission requirements.

Please consult the publication Pharmacy School Admission Requirements, available on the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website or in the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, for information on the requirements for other schools.

Please note: Students should be aware that some health professions programs will not accept Advanced Placement credit or credit-by-examination towards meeting admission requirements, or accept such credit only under restricted circumstances. Students should also be aware that receiving an exemption from a degree requirement is not generally considered equivalent to Advanced Placement credit, credit-by-examination, or credit from coursework.

This information has been prepared with the cooperation of the Purdue University College of Pharmacy advising office. The information contained in this document is subject to change as a result of action by federal and/or state governments, the trustees of Purdue University, the administration of Purdue University, and the faculty of the College of Pharmacy.

Academic record and GPA #

Pharmacy schools review your undergraduate transcript and the grades you have earned in your courses as a way to measure academic competencies that you have gained. Grades are considered to be a reliable predictor of how you would perform in pharmacy school. Admissions committees look at your undergraduate transcript for indications of whether you will have the intellectual abilities and self-discipline to succeed in the demanding pharmacy school curriculum.

Your undergraduate GPA is one of the primary ways pharmacy schools will evaluate your application for admission. What is a competitive GPA for admission to pharmacy school? The mean GPA at the Purdue School of Pharmacy for the 2017 entering class was 3.54. Nationally, the mean GPA’s of applicants admitted to pharmacy schools range from 3.2 to 3.7.

Pharmacy schools pay attention to grade trends and ranges also. A student who had a difficult first semester as a freshman but went on to earn A’s in rigorous science courses in future semesters could still be viewed favorably.

How will my GPA be calculated by pharmacy schools?

Applicants apply to pharmacy schools through a centralized application service called PharmCAS. This application service has its own method for calculating your GPA. The PharmCAS application service calculates standardized GPA’s for all applicants, so they more easily can be compared, regardless of the grading system used at the college or university the applicant attended.

When you apply to pharmacy school you will type information onto the application from the transcripts of all colleges and universities you have attended, including the title of each course, number of credit hours, and the grade earned for each course. This information will be used to calculate your GPA.

Thinking about retaking a course?

When you apply to pharmacy school your GPA will be recalculated by the PharmCAS centralized application service. The PharmCAS centralized application does not replace grades when you repeat a course. If you retake a course, both the original and the new grade will count toward your GPA for your pharmacy school application. Before you re-take a course to try to earn a higher grade, you should speak with an advisor and carefully consider all the ramifications of your decision.

What’s the secret to a strong transcript?

Building a strong transcript requires careful planning, excellent time management skills, and dedication. Make use of resources such as instructor office hours and tutoring. Tracking your study time and devoting about 25-30 hours per week to preparation outside of class times can enhance your success! While planning how to devote 25-30 hours a week to studying, take into account other obligations you have such as part-time work, community service, and student activities. Consider using the resources of Counseling and Psychological Services to help you manage stress and develop the ability to bounce back from challenges.

A Word about parallel planning #

What is parallel planning? It's a smart strategy to ensure your success. There are many possible paths to your goal of a healthcare career!  Some students convince themselves that there is only one career for them – but the truth is that you could potentially be successful in a wide number of fields.  A parallel plan is a plan you create that you can pursue right alongside your first choice of a career.  Pre-health science courses can be challenging, and parallel planning allows you to efficiently change paths at some point if you discover you do not like or no longer want to pursue your primary career path. 

How could you create a parallel plan?  Explore your interests, goals, and values. Meet with a career advisor.  Think about other goals you would like to achieve alongside being a pharmacist – for instance, would you like to improve health education or develop new treatments through research?  Your answers to these questions may help indicate additional career paths through which you could find meaning and success.