Pharmacy programs vary in their admissions requirements, program delivery, missions, and quality. It is important to research Pharmacy schools to determine which schools fit your interests and needs most. Most students apply to an average of 5 Pharmacy programs.

Pharmacy Schools

Information on Pharmacy Programs


AACP Website

Accreditation Pharm. Council

Prerequisite Courses

Note: Pharmacy programs determine their own individual requirements. It is important for you to research the specific requirements for each school you are interested in applying to.
Your Pre-Health counselor will help you plan your prerequisite courses, ensuring a doable sequence and proper timeline. It is recommended you prioritize the registration of prerequisite courses over major and general education requirements as you may often finish some requirements during the application process.

The prerequisites listed here are a general guideline of common courses required by Pharmacy programs or will help you prepare for the PCAT. It is your responsibility to research the specific requirements for each school you are interested in applying to. If you have questions, always contact each individual program.

Required by Pharmacy programs in Utah with a grade of C or better (generally avoid online pre-req. options):

  • Intro to Writing: ENGL 1010 (Grade of B or better is required by Roseman)
  • Intermediate Writing: ENGL 2020 
  • Public Speaking: COMM 1020 (Grade of B or better is required by Roseman)
  • College Biology I with lab: BIOL 1610/1615
  • Human Anatomy: ZOOL 2320/2325
  • Human Physiology: ZOOL 2420/2425
  • Microbiology for Health Professions: MICR 2060/2065
  • Principles of Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 1210/1215 and 1220/1225
  • Organic Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 2310/2315 and 2320/2325
  • Physics I with lab: PHYS 2010/2015 or PHYS 2210/2215 (required by University of Utah)
  • Calculus I: MATH 1210
  • Statistics: MATH 1040, 2040, BESC 3010, MGMT 2340 (required by University of Utah)
  • Additional General Education requirements for University of Utah may be fulfilled by completing an AS or AA degree.

In addition, some schools outside of Utah may require the following courses:

  • College Biology II with lab: BIOL 1620/1625
  • Calculus II: MATH 1220 
  • General Psychology: PSY 1010
  • Economics: ECON 2010 or 2020
  • Abnormal Psychology: PSY 3400
  • Developmental Psychology (Child, Adolescent, Adult, Human)


NOTE : All grades received for college credit will likely be calculated into your GPA, even if you have retaken courses. If you have taken any courses at a different school or if you have retaken courses, your UVU GPA will not likely reflect the accurate GPA calculation for Pharmacy schools. Check with each individual school regarding their policy on retakes.
GPA is a vital part of your application to Pharmacy school. Pharmacy will consider your science GPA, non-science GPA and cumulative GPA.

GPA is a vital part of your application to pharmaceutical school. All grades received for college credit may be calculated into your GPA even if you have retaken the class. If you have taken any classes at a different school or if you have retaken classes, your UVU GPA may not be an accurate calculation for vet schools.

You can calculate your science GPA by downloading the GPA calculator through the following link. Although the calculator is specific to MD medical schools, it is still a useful tool for other health professions programs. Most programs will calculate your GPA in a similar way - science GPA, non-science GPA and cumulative GPA. Be sure to follow the guidelines below for the most accurate calculation.

GPA Calculator


  • Include every course you have taken for college credit even if you have retaken the course.
  • Include transfer credit from other schools you have attended.
  • PharmCAS calculates MATH as a GPA separate from science and non-science
  • Biology courses include BIOL, MICRO, BOT and ZOOL.
  • Physics courses include ASTR.
  • Exercise Science courses that are science based (Kinesiology, Biomechanics, etc.) should be calculated with the science GPA.
  • Pass/Fail courses are not included in the GPA.

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

The PCAT is a standardized examination required as part of your application to pharmacy school. It is a very challenging exam that requires extensive preparation in the form of review and practice. The PCAT is administered by Pearson Assessment, Inc. with specific information on the exam available at The test is offered 4 times each year.   Check with the pharmacy schools you are interested in for PCAT deadlines.   You should visit this site periodically to stay informed on updates and general information on the exam.

The PCAT is administered in January, July, and September via a computer-based format on a first-come, first-served basis. Plan to register for the PCAT by the recommended "register and schedule by" dates suggested by Pearson to receive your preferred testing date, time, and location.

The PCAT consists of the following subtests:

  • Verbal Ability
  • Biology
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Ability
  • Chemistry
  • Written Essay

Your scores will receive a scaled (numerical) score and a percentile score for each of the individual multiple-choice subtests as well as a composite score. The scaled scores for the multiple-choice subtests range from 200 to 600, with a mean of 400. You will also receive a separate score for the written essays, which ranges from 1 (weak) to 5 (superior). The average accepted PCAT Composite Score: 66%.

You should begin studying for the PCAT at least 6 months prior to taking the test. Consider your study time to be equivalent to the time commitment of a 3-4 credit hour class. Some students choose to study on their own or with other students who are also preparing to take the exam. For students who choose to study on their own, there are various books designed to help guide you through the preparation process. Books have been published by Kaplan and Princeton Review to name a few. These books can be purchased online or at various bookstores.
Other students choose to take a prep course. Kaplan, a private company, offers a PCAT prep course in Utah County. These courses may be as much as $1200 or more. Visit the company's website listed below and talk to fellow classmates before choosing a prep course.

Break-down of Science & Math on the PCAT


  • General Biology (50%)
  • Microbiology (20%)
  • Anatomy & Physiology (30%)


  • General Chemistry (50%)
  • Organic Chemistry (30%)
  • Basic Biochemistry Processes (20%)

Quantitative Ability

  • Basic Math (15%)
  • Algebra (20%)
  • Probability & Statistics (20%)
  • Pre-Calculus (22%)
  • Calculus (22%)

The PCAT is a challenging exam that merits careful preparation. Successful test takers will generally complete most of their Pharmacy pre-requisite courses before taking the PCAT. Your Pre-Health counselor will assist you in planning out your pre-requisite courses and how they correspond to the date you will select to take the PCAT. Plan to study for the PCAT for several weeks in the way that fits your budget, schedule, and learning style best.

KaplanMore About the PCATPCAT DatesRegister for the PCAT

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities help Pharmacy programs evaluate your potential as a clinician and professional. They can help you stand out as an applicant and demonstrate your motivation for pursuing a career in healthcare.

It is extremely important to be involved in activities outside of the classroom in order to be competitive for admission into pharmacy programs. GPA and GRE scores are important, but they do not make you unique. Extracurricular activities are a chance for you to set yourself apart and display your motivation for pursuing a pharmacy degree and dedication to serving the community. Preparing to apply for pharmacy school is NOT about checking off boxes. pharmacy schools are not going to care if you have done the experiences if you have not learned from them. Admissions committees want to know that you are willing and able to learn in any circumstance and/or environment.


What is it?

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but there are many benefits to volunteering including skill development, meeting others, having fun, and a variety of other reasons. Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving of yourself without the expectation of compensation. Compensation includes payment, stipends, or grades for a class.

Why should I do it?

To be a strong applicant for health professions programs you should demonstrate dedication to serving the community. The volunteer opportunities you choose can also be an excellent way to set yourself apart by showing health professions programs what is meaningful to you. The activities you choose to be involved and the reasons why can make you unique. Consider which opportunities will be the best reflection of who you are.

Volunteer service can be done with any group or organization and does not have to be healthcare related, but it can be helpful to look for opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone and show a diversity of experience. Being involved in 2-3 service opportunities will benefit you more than having several brief experiences. The number of hours each year we typically see from students who get accepted to pharmaceutical programs are 45 hours.

What are the expectations?

In order to be a competitive applicant, you should plan to be involved in volunteer service throughout each academic year (August-July). Most students are already busy taking a full-time schedule and oftentimes working, but it is important to make volunteering a priority. Fit it into your schedule any way it works best. Perhaps you will volunteer for one hour a week. Maybe it will better in your schedule to volunteer four hours on a Saturday once a month. You decide what works best for you.

It is important that you find something you can be dedicated to and passionate about. You will find the experience that much more rewarding. And remember, you are not just checking off boxes to get into a health professions school. You are making a difference in your community and learning valuable lessons about yourself and the world around you.

How do I do it?

It is up to you to find the volunteer experiences that are the best fit for you. One of the first places you can start looking is UVU's Volunteer and Service-Learning Center. This office maintains information on volunteer needs in the community in many different areas. There is a very good chance you will find something there that interests you. Other good resources include United Way and the website U Serve Utah maintained by the state.

UVU Volunteer CenterU Serve UtahUnited Way of UC


What is it?

Shadowing provides an opportunity for you to gain exposure to the healthcare field you are interested in and develop a clear understanding of what life in that profession entails. It is a chance to observe a professional as they go through a routine day seeing patients, completing paperwork, talking with insurance companies, etc. Because shadowing is meant to be just observational, it does not fulfill other requirements to gain hands-on experience interacting with patients. Go to the Healthcare Experiences link for information about the hands-on experience expected by health professions programs.

Why should I do it?

Professional schools want to know you have had enough experience with professionals in the field to know that it is something you really want to do and that you have a good understanding of what your life will be like. In addition, it is a great opportunity to ask questions and develop rapport with professionals. You will likely need at least one letter of recommendation from someone in the field you have chosen. You will get a better letter if you spend some time getting to know the people you shadow.

What are the expectations?

You are expected to demonstrate dependability and professionalism, while discovering skills that will benefit you as a healthcare professional. Some programs look for separate shadowing and patient contact experience, while others will consider them combined. Plan to shadow each professional for a minimum of 9-12 hours. The number of overall shadowing hours we typically see from students who get accepted to pharmaceutical programs are 60 hours of shadowing/experience; consider at least 10 hours in a hospital setting.

How do I do it?

It is up to you to find shadowing experiences that will work best for you. One place to start is by talking to your own healthcare providers. Are they willing to have you shadow? Do they know someone who may be willing to have you shadow them? A second place to start is by asking people you know if they know of anyone you can contact. Cold calling offices is one of the least effective ways to find shadowing opportunities. Start by asking people you know before taking this route.


What is it?

Research is more than just reviewing what others have already done and summarizing it in a long research paper for class. Research revolves around a specific hypothesis and follows the scientific method. Most research is experiment, survey, or observationally based. Research does not have to be limited to healthcare or science fields and instead, may cover diverse subject matters. 

Examples of research:

  • Working in a genetics lab to determine how gene therapy influences deafness in mice
  • Collecting sea snails and observing how quickly they reproduce and in what conditions
  • Conducting interviews with women about how religion influences their self-efficacy
  • Experimenting with how fire-fighters get dressed to increase response rates in emergencies
  • Surveying teens about their views of sexuality

Why should I do it?

Many health professions programs will require you to assist in research, understand how to interpret research, or even run your own research projects. Moreover, you will likely have opportunities to participate in research as a way of receiving financial compensation or to improve your attractiveness to residency programs. Completing research in your undergraduate coursework shows your potential to be successful in graduate level research you are proving that your learning curve will not be too steep because you have done this before.

Research gives you a competitive edge for pharmaceutical school.

What are the expectations?

Many students wait to start working on research until their sophomore or junior year because research often requires enough coursework to provide a strong academic background and an introduction to research principles. Regardless, research should typically be completed prior to the application in order to qualify for credit on the application. Research may be in any subject, as long as it is hypothesis-based.

  • Research must be hypothesis-based
  • Research must be supervised or mentored by someone familiar with research processes
  • Research must follow scientific processes and is not simply reading about research that is already completed
  • Your hypothesis may be your own or you may assist in another person's research
  • Research is typically completed outside of class and not as part of your major
  • Plan on at least 50 hours to be competitive

How do I do it?

There are a few different ways to participate in research.

  1. Create your own project
    1. Develop a hypothesis for a subject of your choice
    2. Approach a professional who knows how to conduct research and ask for his or her help as a mentor
    3. Work with the professional to complete the research following sound scientific principles
  2. Help a professor with his or her own project
    1. Approach a professor to see if he or she is participating in research
    2. If YES, ask if you might be able to participate/assist.
      1. Follow the professor's expectations to complete the research
    3. If NO, ask if he or she knows 2-3 people that might be able to help
      1. Use that reference to approach the referral
      2. Repeat steps until you find a professor who will accept your assistance
  3. Find a professional (healthcare professionals, research organizations, other universities, etc.) to help with an existing project
    1. Approach a professional to see if they might accept your assistance OR
    2. Apply for a research position/internship like you would apply for a job
    3. Follow the professional's expectations to complete the research

Healthcare Experience

What is it?

Healthcare experience outside of shadowing usually includes volunteering or finding employment in a healthcare setting, usually with direct patient contact (i.e. offering clinical care and not just working in a healthcare environment). Many students will consider getting a basic certification or may find opportunities that offer on-the-job training.

Examples of healthcare experience:

  • Volunteering with hospice
  • Working full-time as a paramedic
  • Taking a C.N.A. certification course and finding a position at a local hospital
  • Receiving on-the-job training to work as a Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy Tech
  • Getting an internship with the 30-Day Heart Challenge

Why should I do it?

Health professions programs will have greater confidence in your ability to interact positively with patients and withstand the rigor of a career in healthcare if they know you have already been part of the industry. As you work in healthcare, you will develop concrete examples of yourself showing compassion to patients, working with a team of healthcare providers, and solving problems. These experiences will likely assist you in your application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Additionally, many health professions programs actually REQUIRE healthcare experience or patient contact.

What are the expectations?

Research the requirements for your health professions program to ensure you are meeting their expectations for healthcare experience. Some programs will specify the hours required and may require the experience to be paid. The recommendation for pre-pharmacy healthcare experience is 50 hours of patient contact; experience as a pharmacy tech is also helpful.

How do I do it?

How you choose to get healthcare experience will depend on the qualifications of the jobs or volunteer opportunities you are seeking. Many positions in healthcare require a certification (e.g. C.N.A., medical assistant, paramedic) while others are more flexible and require on-the-job training. Sometimes approaching organizations directly is more effective than simply responding to job ads online. Many students will also offer to volunteer for free, which sometimes leads to paid employment.

For assistance looking for and applying to healthcare jobs, contact the UVU Career Development Center.

Choosing a Pharmacy School

Choosing the right Pharmacy school for you takes significant research. Plan to apply to at least 5 schools, more if you do not feel you are as competitive as you would like to be.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Pharmacy school

  • Placement of students in hospital residencies**
  • Admissions criteria
  • Location
  • Cost
  • Quality and reputation
  • Mission, philosophy, values
  • Curriculum and program delivery
  • Internship/externships
  • Specialties
  • Research interests
  • Career resources and job placement
  • Licensure test scores
  • Facilities
  • Faculty

**A career working as a hospital pharmacist requires a residency as part of your training. Some schools are more challenging than others to secure residencies in hospitals.

Letters of Recommendation

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Provide the following information to each letter writer:

  • Letter of intent (Sample Letter of Intent)
  • Personal statement (Do not put off requesting letters if you do not have a rough draft yet. This is optional, but helpful.)
  • Resume or CV
  • Picture
  • Where to send it (Pre-addressed envelope if they are off-campus or instructions on how to submit electronically)

Suggested Guidelines

  • Request letters from professors who have taught you in a classroom setting. Science professors are those who have taught you in the lecture portion of a Biology, Zoology, Microbiology, Chemistry, or Physics course. No lab instructors.
  • Supervisors should be able to address your ability to work and/or serve others, demonstrate to an admissions committee that you are comfortable in a healthcare environment, and discuss your work ethic.
  • It is important for you to build a rapport with the people you shadow, work, or volunteer with as preparation to requesting a letter of recommendation. Be on time, work hard, learn as much as you can and, most importantly, be yourself. Letters of recommendation are one of the ways admissions committees get to know you. That is only possible if the letter writer knows you.
  • If you do not think someone will write you a strong letter of recommendation, DO NOT ASK THEM FOR ONE. A bad letter can kill your application even if the rest are stellar.
  • Do NOT request letters of recommendation from family members. Their letters are highly biased and may not be viewed as an accurate description of your character.
  • Letters of recommendation are expected to be confidential and should not be viewed by the student. You will be asked to waive your right to view the letters, but you also have the right to deny the waiver. If you choose to deny the waiver, you are required to inform all of your letter writers that you will have access to their letters.
  • Most other health professions programs will want to see 3-4 letters. 1-2 of these letters should be from science professors. You will also need 1-2 letters from healthcare professionals that you have shadowed or worked with. Check with the individual schools to determine which letters you need.
  • Many of the health professions schools you will be applying to use a Central Application Service (CAS) to process your application. Letters of recommendation are part of this application.

Follow the steps below to request your letters:

  1. Request letters from the appropriate professors and supervisors. You should provide your letter writers with your resume, personal statement and a letter of intent.
  2. Where applicable, inform the letter writer that they will receive an electronic request from the CAS to submit an evaluation for you.
  3. If the letters are not part of a CAS, provide the letter writer with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes for the schools you need the letter sent to.

Pharmacy Centralized Application Service (PHARMCAS)

Approximately 75%+ of all Pharmacy programs use the Pharmacy centralized application service (PHARMCAS). PHARMCAS allows you to apply to several schools without filling out multiple applications. PHARMCAS usually opens early June and runs for nearly one year per admissions cycle.

Plan to apply to Pharmacy school as soon as prerequisites are completed (or almost completed), starting in July. Generally students will have one year to complete additional requirements after they have started the application.

PHARMCAS usually opens early July and applicants will typically apply one year prior to admission. The PHARMCAS application is subject to small changes each year, but generally you should plan to include:

  • Letters of recommendation (up to 4)
  • Official transcripts from every college/university attended
  • Personal statement—approximately 4500 characters
  • Summaries of extra-curricular experiences

How to be Competitive for Pharmacy School

Admission to Pharmacy school is a highly competitive process. It is vitally important that Pre-Pharmacy students prepare themselves to be competitive applicants during their undergraduate years.

Applicants are evaluated on a holistic level, with consideration on GPA, PCAT scores, Pharmacy shadowing/experience, patient contact, and volunteer and leadership experiences.

Work closely with your Pre-Health counselor who can assist you with:

  • Prerequisite academic planning
  • Extra-curricular considerations (i.e. shadowing, pharmacy experience, volunteering, etc.)
  • PHARMCAS and the application process
  • PCAT planning
  • Writing personal statements
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Mock interviews