Pharmacy school is generally a combination program of undergraduate and graduate work, though the two can be separated. Pharmacy school involves a rigorous curriculum and years of training before beginning a career as a practicing pharmacist.
In general, if you go to college to major in pharmacy, you can take “pre-pharmacy” undergraduate courses for a few years before transitioning into a regular pharmacy program or college. When considering the difficulty of pharmacy school, you have to consider the entire program of undergraduate preparation and graduate-level pharmacy studies together.
You will need to spend six years in school in order to earn your doctorate of pharmacy degree, otherwise known as the PharmD. During this two-year program, you will learn all of the aspects of being a pharmacist and spend time working as an intern in a pharmacy.
Pharmacy training involves more than learning to count pills and read prescriptions. Students in a pharmacy program need to take high-level courses in math and science, which can be challenging. The schedule is hectic, full of tests and projects to complete. Students who did not do well in science in high school or who did not take high-level science classes before college might find that pharmacy courses are too difficult.
One difficulty of pharmacy school is the financial side. Although pharmacy graduates will earn a high salary, they might have to pay for a large portion of their education out of pocket. Often, scholarships and other forms of financial aid will not cover all six years of pharmacy school; in these cases, students must find an additional source of funding for their education.
To be admitted to a pharmacy school, you can go through a few venues. If you have a bachelor’s degree and wish to pursue graduate studies, you would apply for a program where you would only complete two years of pharmacy school. In other cases, you would apply as an undergraduate student without a degree and continue straight through the six-year pharmacy program until you earned your PharmD degree.
Pharmacy schools will consider a variety of admissions criteria, but most of them will want to see proficient scores on college admissions exams (ACT or SAT), high school GPA in the A/B range, high-level math and science courses on your high school transcript and possibly a passing score on the PCAT (a pharmacy-specific college aptitude test).
Pharmacy school can prepare you for a rewarding career. You will earn a decent living; according to salary.com, the median salary for a pharmacist living in the United States is $106,764 annually. You will work in a profession where you help people get the medicine they need and educate them about their health. You can work in a retail pharmacy or hospital setting, or even work for a drug company performing research and inventing new drugs. If you are up to the challenge, pharmacy school can be worth the difficulty you will encounter.