Q. How is pharmacy program in US comprised?
In US, there are more than 3,000 four-year colleges, but only about 130 of them offer pharmacy courses. As a result, enrollment in pharmacy school is very competitive. In general, to earn Doctor of Pharmacy, in other words, Pharm D degree at a pharmacy school in US, students must take prep course of at least two years at general colleges. Then, the students must take PCAT (pharmacy exam) and complete a four-year professional pharmacy course (college curriculum : professional phase). In addition to such 2+4 programs, there are 0+6 programs and 3+4 programs. Of the 130 pharmacy colleges, 10 of them have 0+6 pharmacy programs, and 15 schools have 3-year accelerated programs.
· 0+6 Program
The program is an integrated pharmacy program that starts with undergraduate program and graduates from graduate school of pharmacy. In general, high school graduates wish to enroll in pharmacy school apply. 0+6 program, which does not require professional experience such as experience at a pharmacy, is advantageous for international students, which leads to low acceptance rate. Most 0+6 programs allow students to go straight to pharmacy without taking PCAT if the student maintains a constant GPA. However, not all colleges do the same.
·2+4 / 3+4 Program
It is a program that the students enroll in graduate school of pharmacy after completing the prerequisite courses required by the College of Pharmacy for 2 or 3 years and earning GPA above a certain level. While it sometimes requires PCAT, pharmacy experience, essays, etc., some schools do not require PCAT. International students are required to prepare a language test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Prerequisite credits and PCAT scores of international students tend to be higher compared to those of local students. However, they may have difficulty during interviews due to lack of pharmacy experience.
·3-Year Accelerated Program
The program has advantage of which the students can complete the 4-year course of pharmacy in just 3 compressed years. However, the class schedule is tight so that students may have difficult time keeping up with the course works if the student is not fluent in English. 0+6 and 2+4 programs do not require a bachelor's degree, however, some 3-year accelerated programs may require bachelor's degree.
● What would I mainly learn in school of pharmacy?
Based on the curriculum of 6-year college of pharmacy, the 1st and 2nd years are considered to be time to develop basic skills rather than specialized knowledge. Students mainly take required liberal arts courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry and English. From 3rd to 5th years, students will learn specialized pharmacy knowledge, and they will learn a wide range of topics including biochemistry, pharmacology, pharmacology, toxicology, and pharmacology. In the 6th year, students learn mostly practical exercises and are prepared practically to work as a pharmacist in the field.
● For most international students, it is said that 0+6 program is more advantageous. What should I prepare for?
Most colleges in US basically classify math and English as important subjects. Followed by these, basic subjects such as chemistry, physics, and biology are also emphasized. To enroll in a pharmacy school, basically, students must complete high school chemistry and biology courses, and physics courses are optional. In addition, students will need to prepare SAT or ACT, TOEFL, extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation and more.
● Does it require high SAT or ACT test score to enroll in 0+6 or 2+4 programs?
In general, when one thinks of pharmacy, it may seem that it requires high profile like a medical school. However, the standardized test scores are surprisingly low that it may be surprising in reality. Certainly, some schools require relatively high test scores, like Northeastern University. However, Florida A&M University requires an average GPA of 3.26 and SAT score of less than 1200. It is generally lower than the average profile of students attending prestigious state schools such as UIUC, Purdue or Penn State. However, students who wish to enroll in pharmacy school must have clear conviction in their career path. If the student simply enrolls in the school because it is stable and high paying field, it is often difficult to keep up with the class works. In particular, students who are not confident in science, such as chemistry and biology, the applicants should carefully reconsider their choices of the enrollment.
● How should I prepare for prerequisites and college GPA required by the school of pharmacy?
Undergraduate program does not affect the major. There are many who major in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry. However, it is not guaranteed that those majors are more advantageous than non-science majors. Rather, it may be more advantageous if a student chooses a relatively easier major and takes only the prerequisites required by the pharmacy school and has high GPA. The most important factor for enrolling in pharmacy school is college GPA, and it must be at least 3.6 for stable enrollment chance. In addition, GPA for general departments and GPA for science subjects are divided, and GPA for science subjects is weighted more than that of other subjects. If the student has high overall GPA and low science score, the student is less likely to enroll in top-ranked pharmacy schools in US.
● Examples of prerequisite required by school of pharmacy
In general, required prerequisites are about 60 credits, and more than 50 of those credits are composed of science-related subjects.
•English Composition 4 Cr
•Chemistry I&II 8 Cr
•Organic Chemistry I&II 8 Cr
•Biology I&II 8 Cr
•Anatomy / Physiology 6 Cr
•Microbiology 4 Cr
•Calculus I&II 6 Cr
•General Physics 4 Cr
•Economics 3 Cr
•Statistics 3 Cr
•Biochemistry 3 Cr
•Immunology 3 Cr