What is a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists can dispense and recommend medications prescribed by physicians and other healthcare providers, and help provide information and counsel to patients about medications and their use. They can also advise physicians and other healthcare providers on the selection of dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Pharmacists must understand the use, clinical effects, and composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties. They can work in hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare facilities. For more information, please see the Pharmacist profile in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

How do I become a Pharmacist?

A doctoral degree is required to become a pharmacist. Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degrees are generally 4 years long, and can be done in a “2+4”, “3+4”, or “4+4” program. Students must complete 2 years of prerequisite courses at an accredited college or university before they can apply for admission to Pharm. D. programs. However, students also have the option of completing these courses in 3 years, or as part of their Bachelors degree. While a Bachelors degree is not required prior to applying or matriculating to pharmacy school, students can apply to Pharm. D. programs after obtaining their Bachelor’s degree.

Student do not need to have a specific major in order to apply to Pharm. D. programs, and the University of Maryland does not offer a “pre-Pharmacy” degree or certificate. However, we do advise students who are interested in applying to Pharm. D. programs.

This is a helpful database, thanks to Manchester University, with many career options upon graduation with your Pharm. D.

What prerequisite coursework is necessary to become a Pharmacist?

While prerequisites vary slightly from school to school, common prerequisites can include (but are not limited to):

  • General Chemistry

  • Organic Chemistry

  • Biochemistry

  • General Biology

  • Calculus

  • Statistics

  • Physics

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology

  • Microbiology

  • English Composition

  • Microeconomics

  • Communications

Students can use the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Pharmacy School Locator to look at specific prerequisite courses for different schools. It should be noted that some Pharmacy schools accept AP credits, and some do not for specific prerequisite coursework. Students should always check with specific schools to ensure they meet the requirements.

What other necessary experience do I need to become a Pharmacist?

To apply to Pharm. D. Programs, students need to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), which has five sections:

  • Writing

  • Biological Processes

  • Chemical Processes

  • Critical Reading

  • Quantitative Reasoning

While not required at all schools, gaining pharmacy experience can also be helpful for applications. One of the best ways of doing so is becoming a Pharmacy Technician.  In order to do so, you will need to obtain a certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s website will give you more information on certification exam and requirements.


Regional Schools:

University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore

Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Richmond, VA

Association and Contact Information for Pharmacy

Utilize the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy for specific information about individual Pharm.D. program prerequisites.

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American College of Clinical Pharmacy