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General Overview

Pharmaceutical care encompasses the full range of pharmacists' skills, knowledge, and ability in providing medication services to patients. Pharmacists must be fully acquainted with the physical and chemical properties of drugs and their mechanism of action within biological systems. Pharmacists often serve as educators in the proper use of drugs both for the public and health practitioners. The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve definite outcomes from medication use that improve patients' quality of life. Pharmacists are professionals committed to public service and the achievement of this goal. Career options in pharmacy include academic pharmacy, community practice, government agencies, hospice and home care, hospital and institutional practice, long-term care, consulting pharmacy, medical and scientific research, and uniformed (public health) services.

There are 119 colleges and universities offering accredited professional programs that lead to the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree; and additional 25 programs have candidate or pre-candidate status for accreditation. Pharmacy programs require at least two years of pre-professional (undergraduate) study followed by four years of professional study. Most pharmacy students complete three or more years of college before starting a pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools give preference to students who have earned a bachelor’s degree. Requirements for admission vary. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) publishes annually an admission requirements guidebook entitled the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR). You can view concise information about unique features and important details related to admissions requirements and processes for schools that participate in PharmCAS through information provided by AACP.

Choosing a Major

Many pre-pharmacy students obtain a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree while completing the requirements for admission to pharmacy school. Pharmacy schools do not require or prefer a particular undergraduate major, as long as applicants have completed the course requirements and have demonstrated proficiency in the sciences as evidenced by the science GPA and the scores on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)

Pre-Pharmacy Coursework

Pre-Professional Health Advising has developed requirements for the Pre-Pharmacy Program based on the pre-requisite courses of 33 pharmacy schools in the District of Columbia and 8 states (CT, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, and VA). Students are encouraged to review individual pharmacy schools' list of pre-requisites to assure completion of all pre-requisite coursework. 

If you have credit for any of the following courses by earning Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge International Exam (CIE), community college credit, or departmental test credit, please read the Non-JMU Coursework for Pre-Requisite Coursework.

Biology Coursework (24 credits)

  • BIO 140: Foundations of Biology I (4 credits)
  • BIO 150: Foundations of Biology II (4 credits)
  • BIO 245: Microbiology (4 credits)
  • BIO 290: Human Anatomy (4 credits)
  • BIO 270: Human Physiology (4 credits)

At least 4 credits of intermediate (200-level) and advanced (300- and 400-level) Biology coursework is strongly recommended to be a competitive applicant. Pre-Professional Health Advising strongly recommends students to complete at least one of the following courses: 

  • BIO 240: Genetics (4 credits)
  • BIO 304: Cell & Molecular Biology (3 credits)
  • BIO 343 and 343L: Immunology and Immunology Lab (4 credits total)
  • BIO 480: Molecular Biology (4 credits)

Chemistry Coursework (19 credits)

  • CHEM 131: General Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHEM 131L: General Chemistry Laboratory (1 credit) 
  • CHEM 132: General Chemistry II (3 credits)
  • CHEM 132L: General Chemistry Laboratory (1 credit) 
  • CHEM 241: Organic Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHEM 242: Organic Chemistry II (3 credits)
  • CHEM 242L: Organic Chemistry Laboratory (2 credits) 
  • CHEM 361: Biochemistry I (3 credits)

Physics Coursework (8 credits)

  • PHYS 140*: College Physics I (3 credits) or PHYS 240: University Physics I (3 credits; Physics majors only)
  • PHYS 140L*: General Physics Laboratory I (1 credit) or PHYS 240L: University Physics I Lab (1 credit; Physics majors only)
  • PHYS 150*: College Physics II (3 credits) or PHYS 250: University Physics II (3 credits; Physics majors only)
  • PHYS 150L*: General Physics Laboratory II (1 credit) or PHYS 250L: University Physics II Lab (1 credit; Physics majors only)

* Pre-Professional Health Advising recommends that you take the PHYS 140-150/140L-150L sequence rather than the 240-250/240L-250L sequence, unless your major requires otherwise. The PHYS 140-150/140L-150L sequence is the non-calculus sequence in general physics. The 240-250/240L-250L sequence is the calculus sequence that requires MATH 235-236 as co-requisites, respectively. Because it is not the calculus sequence of Physics, PHYS 140-150/140L-150L is able to cover more breadth within Physics than the 240-250/240L-250L sequence.

Mathematics Coursework (6 credits)

Pre-Pharmacy students are required to complete 3 credits of a 200-level Calculus class and 3 credits of a 200- or 300-level Statistics. 

Calculus: There are four 200-level Calculus options at James Madison University. There are two calculus "pathways"; the 231-232 sequence, 233-234 sequence, and 235 prepare you for more advanced calculus courses. MATH 205 does not prepare you for more advanced calculus courses. Your ALEKS score may require that you take MATH 155 or 156: College Algebra beforehand, or that you take MATH 199: Algebra/Precalculus Gateway in conjunction with one of the following courses to be successful.

  • MATH 205: Introductory Calculus I (3 credits)
  • MATH 231: Calculus with Functions I (3 credits)
  • MATH 233E: A Modeling Approach to Calculus, Part A (3 credits)
  • MATH 235: Calculus I (4 credits)

Statistics: There are two statistics courses that Pre-Medicine students are encouraged to take at James Madison University. Your ALEKS score may require that you take MATH 105: Quantitative Literacy and Reasoning beforehand to be successful in these courses.

  • MATH 220: Elementary Statistics (3 credits)
  • MATH 229: Introduction to Applied Statistics Using R (3 credits)

Behavioral and Social Science Coursework (6 credits)

Pre-Pharmacy students must complete 3 credits of Psychology and 3 credits of Sociology. Students are encouraged to utilize opportunities to take Psychology and Sociology coursework that will also count for General Education's Cluster 4: The Global Experience and General Education's Cluster 5: Sociocultural Domain.

  • PSYC 101: General Psychology (3 credits)
  • PSYC 160: Life Span Human Development (3 credits)
  • SOCI 110: Social Issues in a Global Context (3 credits)
  • SOCI 140: Microsociology: Individual in Society (3 credits)

English, Literature, and Writing Coursework (9 credits)

Typically, students complete this requirement while completing General Education's Cluster 1: Writing and General Education's Cluster 2: Literature requirements. Courses that can fulfill the 6-credit pre-requisite that many pharmacy schools require can include:

  • WRTC 103: (3 credits)
  • any ENG course (3 credits)
  • HUM 200: (3 credits)

Public Speaking Coursework (3 credits)

Typically, students complete this requirement while completing General Education's Cluster 1: Human Communication

  • SCOM 121: Presentations (3 credits)
  • SCOM 122: Individual Presentations (3 credits)
  • SCOM 123: Group Presentations (3 credits)

Economics Coursework (3 credits)

  • ECON 201: Microeconomics, or
  • ECON 200: Macroeconomics
Admissions Criteria and Academic Record

Students will, as part of the application process, be asked to submit a transcript of all college/university course work. The overall grade point average (GPA), as well as the GPA in math and science courses, will often be used in the review of the application. Many pharmacy programs have a minimum GPA requirement to apply to their program. Please refer to individual program prerequisites for details.

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

Offered in July, September, October, November, and January of each year. The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) consists of the following content sections:

  1. Verbal Ability
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Writing
  4. Biology
  5. Chemistry
  6. Quantitative Reasoning
PCAT Test Prep Resources
PharmCAS: Pharmacy College Application Service

The entire application process lasts approximately 12-14 months, which spans a full academic year. Whether you plan to apply immediately after your 3rd year, 4th year, or after graduation, this timeline begins with preparation in the fall prior to your application submission in late summer. 

PharmCAS opens each year in early to mid July. Although there are 5 regular degree program application deadlines from November to March, you should apply as early as possible due to the application verification process and rolling admission cycle. 

PharmCAS School Directory 

Gaining Experience

Pharmacy programs encourage or require applicants to have volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related setting (hospital, nursing home, etc). Experience in a pharmacy setting will be an important factor in the admissions process and will demonstrate the student’s familiarity and dedication to the profession. Students are encouraged to begin acquiring this experience as soon as possible.

Letters of Recommendation or Evaluation

You may submit a maximum of 4 individual letters to PharmCAS. Some schools accept additional letters individually, but they should be sent directly to the pharmacy program. Letters should be submitted electronically through the PharmCAS eLOR portal.  

You should determine any specific LOR requirements from programs of choice. However, it is typically required or recommended that letters come from the following people:

  • Science Faculty
  • Non-Science Faculty
  • Healthcare Professional
  • Employer
  • Academic or Research Advisor

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