Pharmacist Major and Undergraduate Degree Program Information
The most common undergraduate degree program for the aspiring pharmacist is pharmaceutical sciences. This major allows students to pursue the coursework necessary for further studies in pursuit of a Doctor of Pharmacy, the degree required for licensure as a pharmacist. Most students enter pharmaceutical studies programs with the intention of pursuing higher education.
Bachelor's Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences
An undergraduate degree program in pharmaceutical sciences is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon departments including chemistry, medicine, pharmaceutics and pharmacology. Students work in the classroom as well as extensively in laboratories. Many programs include internships as a key component of the major, often with pharmaceutical companies or research laboratories.
Many programs for aspiring pharmacists have competitive admissions processes. Applicants to bachelor's degree programs in pharmaceutical studies must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. The rigor of an applicant's college preparatory coursework is considered, as well as ACT or SAT scores, with minimum requirement varying by school.
Coursework in undergraduate pharmaceutical sciences degree programs require extensive study of the basic sciences, with a heavy emphasis on chemistry. Additional courses help students understand the composition, function and regulations of pharmaceuticals. These include:
- General chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Analytical chemistry
- Medicinal chemistry
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) expects jobs for pharmacists to grow by 25%. Two main factors behind this anticipated growth were the aging of the general population, because older people use more prescription drugs than younger people, and the combination of advancements in the field with more widespread insurance across the general population, which may raise the overall demand. As of May 2012, the median annual wages for pharmacists were $116,670.
Continuing Education Information
Since 1992, all colleges offering pharmacy programs in the United States have considered the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) to be the required degree in order to become a pharmacist. Pharm.D. programs do not require a bachelor's degree for admission, though some undergraduate study is required. Many colleges and universities offer 2-year pre-pharmacy programs that don't award a degree but prepare students to enter the doctoral program. Upon completing a Doctor of Pharmacy, graduates must pass a series of examinations, including the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and state tests of local pharmacy law, in order to become licensed pharmacists.
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