Applying to pharmacy school

Applying to pharmacy school can be complicated, but we are here to assist!  Advisors at the Health Professions and Prelaw Center can help you develop your best strategy and troubleshoot problems you encounter in your application.  Make sure to attend one of our Personal Statement Writing Workshops so you can get started early on your application essay.

The PharmCAS application  #

Applicants apply to pharmacy schools through an electronic, centralized application administered by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy called PharmCAS. Once you complete your PharmCAS application, it will be processed and sent to all the pharmacy schools you select to receive it. Nearly all schools and colleges of pharmacy in the United States participate in PharmCAS.

For the PharmCAS application, you will create your own User Name and Password that will allow you to create your electronic application. You can log in, fill out part of the application, and save your changes before logging out. Once you are satisfied that everything is accurate and complete, you submit it electronically and it is sent to PharmCAS for processing. the PharmCAS has four sections to it.

  1. Biographic Section

    In this section, you provide background information about you that ranges from contact, demographic, and social-economic status information to infractions of the law or school conduct policy.

  2. Coursework Section

    On the PharmCAS application, you will fill out information regarding every college course you have taken, so you will need to refer to transcripts from every college or university you have attended, whether during high school, summers or after you received your bachelor’s degree. You will also need to order official transcripts from all of the colleges and universities you have attended to be sent to the application service. At IU Bloomington, you can order your transcript from Student Central.

    PharmCAS will not process your application without all of your transcripts. You can check the status of your online application to see if your transcripts have been received.

    PharmCAS will verify that you have entered your coursework correctly on the application by matching your application against the transcripts from the colleges and universities you have attended. After PharmCAS processes your application, they will send it to the schools you have selected to receive it.

  3. Supporting Information

    • Experiences and Achievements

      The PharmCAS application includes a section where you can provide information on experiences such as pharmacy-related experience, health care experience, employment, and extracurricular activities. Shadowing a pharmacist would be included here. Achievements include scholarships, awards, and publications. Next, you will enter any licenses or certifications.

    • Personal statement

      You will type or cut and paste the personal statement into this section. It can be up to 4,500 characters including spaces (approximately one single-spaced page). The admissions committee will read your essay to learn why you want to become a pharmacist. An effective approach is to write about the series of events in your life that have led you to pharmacy. What started you on the path toward the goal of becoming a pharmacist, and what kept you on that path once you started, even at times when it wasn’t easy? Drawing material from your prehealth journal can provide useful insights and help bring your writing to life.

      Make sure to attend one of the Personal Statement Writing Workshops offered by the Health Professions and Prelaw Center to help you begin a draft of your essay. Schedule an appointment with a HPPLC advisor for feedback on a draft of your essay.

Letters of recommendation #

Pharmacy schools require that you submit letters of recommendation written by others on your behalf along with your application. Letters of recommendation can provide admissions committees insight into your personal qualities. Recommendation letters can tell them about your communication and interpersonal skills, and your readiness for pharmacy school. Developing relationships with your professors is an important part of your intellectual growth and will help you obtain strong letters of recommendation.

Pharmacy schools vary in their requirements for letters of recommendation and PharmCAS will allow you to submit four letters as part of your application. Most pharmacy schools will require a minimum of three letters of recommendation. The Purdue University College of Pharmacy requires two letters of recommendation. Consult the individual pharmacy school websites for information on the recommendations each school requires, or review the PharmCAS website's page on supplemental requirements.

Letters of recommendation are sent to pharmacy schools directly from the recommenders through the PharmCAS application system. For more information, please refer to the application instructions on the PharmCAS website.

Program Materials

In addition to the above items that are required for submitting your PharmCAS application, some pharmacy schools will require additional materials. These materials could include additional essays, a resume, or a form listing prerequisites.

Interviews #

Before admitting you, pharmacy schools want to meet you in person. The interview helps schools evaluate personal qualities they can’t observe directly in your written application. Selected applicants are invited for an interview. You should prepare carefully for this crucial component of the admissions process.

Pharmacy schools use interviews to gain insight into how you would interact with patients. Schools also use the interview to assess factors such as motivation and ability to cope with conflict. They want to know how likely it is you would take a spot if they offered one, so it is important that you express your enthusiasm and sincere interest in the school!

In a job interview, the most important question for your interviewer is probably, “What can this person do for our organization?” For your interviewer at an pharmacy school the most important question may be, “Would I trust this person as a pharmacist?” One of your most important goals is to demonstrate you have the ability to connect with others on a personal level.

To prepare, review your personal essay and activities listed on your application. It’s helpful to practice responding to interview questions (obtain a list of questions in the HPPLC office). You may be asked situational ethics questions that require you to think through how you would respond when faced with difficult decisions as a healthcare provider. Study the school’s curriculum via its website and prepare to ask questions about the school’s program in the interview.

Make sure to attend one of the HPPLC-sponsored Interview Skills Workshops in the fall semester and schedule an appointment with a HPPLC advisor for a mock interview.