The top pharmacy schools offer rich programs that combine academic coursework, research opportunities and direct patient care experiences -- all under the tutelage of some of the best pharmacy educators in the country. Each year, "U.S. News and World Report" ranks the top pharmacy programs across the country based on peer-assessment surveys completed by deans and faculty at all accredited universities. Many of the same schools make the list of top pharmacy programs year after year.

University of California, San Francisco

At the UCSF School of Pharmacy, the Pharm. D program includes four years of professional study. The first two years are comprised of the core curriculum, with classes designed to broaden students’ existing knowledge in science courses like biology and chemistry and how these correspond with pharmacy. The third year is part of the pathway curriculum, and this is where students transition from academic work to clinical practice. Year four also falls under the pathway portion of the program, where students spend much of their time in patient-care settings to apply their formal knowledge.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

At the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC, Pharm. D students spend six semesters in the classroom, learning about physiology, pharmacotherapy, pharmacy law and ethics. Once these classes are complete, all students must take part in a 10-month clinical practice. UNC also offers an honors research program for students who want to enrich their pharmacy education, where they work side by side with faculty members and develop and explore their own therapies.

University of Minnesota

As the state’s only pharmacy school, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota offers an in-depth program of study for aspiring pharmacists. Courses are divided into five categories, including experimental and clinical pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical care and health systems, pharmaceutics and pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical science. The classes in these areas give students a broad knowledge base for practice in the field, along with an intensive experiential education that is woven throughout the four-year program.

University of Texas at Austin

The Pharm. D program at the University of Texas at Austin offers a variety of core and elective courses for students in addition to a number of clinical programs. The CARE program deals specifically with providing pharmaceutical care to the elderly, while other experiential programs place students in ambulatory settings, hospitals and other medical environments where they get firsthand practice in the field. The university also offers a Pharm. D/Ph.D. program to qualified pharmacy students who are interested in pursuing research or academic career paths in pharmacy.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky’s College of Pharmacy has a rigorous program that includes three years of pharmacy and related courses, with the final year devoted to clinical work. The university has several labs where faculty members, students and others conduct research using the newest technology. Each year, the school presents the Symposium on Drug Discovery and Development, with featured speakers from around the world discussing innovations in the field and their own projects.