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Are You Qualified to Get into a PharmD Program?

A male pharmacist reviews medication.

Prospective students who want to join the ranks of pharmacy professionals may fear they aren't qualified to enroll in an accredited pharmacy education program. However, while these degree programs are rigorous, their admission requirements are realistic and achievable for students serious about a future in the profession. 

Prospective pharmacists should also be encouraged by the demographic makeup of accepted Doctor of Pharmacy program applicants. Many pharmacy students are women or come from underrepresented minorities, which is in sharp contrast to many other healthcare professions, which still tend to be predominantly male and white. 

The Doctor of Pharmacy online pathway offered by Butler University's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a competitive program, but the learning opportunities and student outcomes it provides are worth the effort it takes to qualify for acceptance. Students interested in applying to a top school of pharmacy, such as Butler's, should begin by learning more about the PharmD admissions requirements and how they can maximize the strength of their applications.

Why Pursuing a PharmD Is Worth It

Completing a PharmD program requires a significant investment of time and money. Most programs take four years to complete, and the coursework is rigorous. PharmD students must dedicate themselves to learning full-time and often sacrifice income for the duration of their training. Despite these challenges, aspiring practitioners still pursue Doctor of Pharmacy degrees because there are many benefits to becoming a pharmacist.

Pharmacists do meaningful work as part of multidisciplinary care teams. In community pharmacies, pharmacists get to know their patients and may have the satisfaction of seeing them recover over time. Pharmacists help improve patient mortality in critical care settings, shorten ICU stays, and prevent adverse drug events. In research laboratories, pharmacists contribute to the creation of new medications.

Careers in pharmacy are also flexible. PharmD graduates can work in many industries, including public health, government policymaking and regulation, and business, where they use their health sciences expertise to consult for corporations and startups.

And pharmacists are high-earners. Median pay for pharmacists is about $129,000 annually, so pharmacists can quickly break even on the cost of their degrees. They enjoy lifetime earnings considerably higher than most other professionals in the United States, which means the PharmD offers an excellent return on investment compared to other graduate degrees.

Common PharmD Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary among Doctor of Pharmacy programs, but most ask applicants to produce unofficial or official transcripts showing:

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university program, though not necessarily in pre-pharmacy or a related science major.

  • A minimum GPA of between 2.5 and 3.0.

  • Prerequisite coursework in several areas, such as human anatomy and physiology, general biology, general chemistry, and mathematics.

PharmD applicants typically also submit personal statements or essays focused on their interest in pharmacy school and post-graduation plans and/or letters of recommendation from professors who can speak to their academic dedication and talents in the health sciences. Some schools, including Butler University, don't require applicants to submit letters of recommendation but will consider any letters submitted.

According to PharmCAS, no Doctor of Pharmacy program requires that applicants take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Butler University's admissions committee does not consider PCAT scores when reviewing application materials.

Students who meet a PharmD program's basic requirements also sit for one or more interviews during the application process. Interview formats vary—some pharmacy schools conduct one-on-one interviews, while others favor group interviews with multiple candidates and interviewers.

Are PharmD Programs Competitive?

Serious Doctor of Pharmacy applicants with realistic goals have good odds of getting into at least one PharmD program. Almost 87 percent of PharmD applicants who applied via the PharmCAS application service during the 2019-2020 application season received acceptance letters. 

However, Doctor of Pharmacy programs with more prestigious faculty, higher NAPLEX first-time pass rates, and better professional outcomes often attract more interest and accept fewer applicants. Aspiring pharmacists aiming to enroll in these more competitive programs should look critically at their application materials with an eye toward exceeding the minimum admissions criteria.

How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting into Pharmacy School?

PharmD admissions committees review each candidate holistically, so applicants should take a multifaceted approach to craft a compelling application. 

Take Related Undergraduate Courses

Applicants with strong backgrounds in organic chemistry, molecular biology, and other relevant scientific disciplines may have an edge when applying to PharmD programs for several reasons.

Students with a broad base of science coursework can apply to multiple PharmD programs with different prerequisite course requirements. Applying to several top Doctor of Pharmacy programs increases an applicant's chances of being accepted into at least one. 

A history of excellent performance in these courses demonstrates a serious and sustained interest in the health sciences to admissions committees. Sustained interest matters because pharmacy programs not only take four years to complete but also challenge students. The typical PharmD curriculum covers complex topics and includes rigorous clinical rotations. 

And doing well in relevant science courses as an undergraduate makes it easier to obtain letters of recommendation from professors who can speak to their drive, talent, and passion.

Applicants don't necessarily need to major in pre-pharmacy to craft a compelling PharmD application. Those who plan ahead can major in anything from microbiology to political science, provided they can demonstrate their interest and talent in the health sciences through coursework and extracurricular activities.

Carefully Develop Your "Why"

Pharmacy careers tend to attract people who want to make a difference in healthcare. Pharmacy school is challenging, so admissions committees look for students likely to graduate and go on to represent their programs well in patient-facing roles. Students with a compelling "why" to explain their interest in pharmacy are more likely to succeed in and after pharmacy school.

An applicant's "why" often serves as foundational material for personal statements and essays and usually comes up in admissions interviews. Applicants should be able to articulate what sparked their interest in medical science and their unique motivators for choosing this profession over other career pathways in healthcare.

Prepare for the PharmD Interview

The interview allows applicants to distinguish themselves from the crowd by expanding upon their application materials. For international applicants, the interview is also a chance to demonstrate English proficiency in front of an admissions committee.

Presentation matters as much as content when it comes to interviews, so applicants should prepare answers to the most common PharmD interview questions and ask friends, family members, or colleagues to conduct mock interviews.

Applicants should practice good interview etiquette. That means showing up early, dressing professionally, asking questions about the program to demonstrate interest, and answering questions thoroughly. Applicants doing remote interviews should find a well-lit, quiet space to set up and check their microphone, webcam, and internet connection before the interview starts.

Get Professional or Volunteer Experience in Pharmacy

Professional experience in pharmacy isn't an admissions requirement for most PharmD programs, but it does set an application apart and showcase the applicant's drive. This experience also provides compelling material for personal statements, essays, and interviews.

Pre-pharmacy clubs can often help students find job shadowing opportunities or schedule informational meetings with working pharmacists. Some healthcare organizations also offer volunteer opportunities that help students understand the field and get experience working alongside pharmacists and other healthcare providers. 

Connect with an Enrollment Advisor

Enrollment advisors help prospective PharmD applicants understand admissions requirements and conduct pre-submission reviews of application materials, academic records, and professional experience to help applicants present the most competitive application possible.

Butler Enrollment Advisors are experts on the university's online PharmD program and its application requirements. If you are interested in Butler University's PharmD online pathway, contact an Enrollment Advisor today to learn more and get help with your application.

Why You Shouldn't Hesitate to Apply for Butler's PharmD Program

The PharmD is the only credential that supports pharmacy licensure in the United States, so if your goal is to become a pharmacist, you will need this degree. However, once you answer your most pressing questions about eligibility, you may still have concerns about whether a given program is the best one for you. The 139-credit-hour Doctor of Pharmacy program at Butler University may be the optimal choice for several reasons.

First, Butler's online Doctor of Pharmacy program mixes experiential education with flexible online learning in small classes that allow collaboration and offer a personalized learning experience. 

Second, hands-on skills are prioritized throughout the program. In the didactic years, you will participate in three on-campus immersions where you can practice technical and soft skills alongside your peers. Your fourth year is defined by a series of clinical rotations designed to provide practical experience in several pharmacy subfields.

Third, you will learn from industry-revered faculty who are active practitioners–the same faculty that teaches the highly successful on-campus PharmD program. In 2021, the on-campus graduating class had a 97 percent first-time NAPLEX pass rate, compared to the 84 percent national average. That was the highest in the country that year but not unusual for Butler University pharmacy program graduates.

Ultimately, don't be intimidated by Butler University's prestigious faculty or exceptional student outcomes. If you are passionate about pharmacy and want to pursue a career in the field, you should apply for admission into Butler's PharmD program. The PharmD admissions committee at Butler looks at so much more than academic success and professional experience. The admissions process not only identifies applicants who can excel in the classroom but also applicants who will become purposeful pharmaceutical practitioners invested in helping others and enhancing the medical field.