Pharmacy is a career that requires a sound educational background in math and science as well as good communication and social skills. Pharmacy programs vary from college to college, but all pharmacy schools in the nation now only offer a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree. This type of program usually requires at least two years of pre-pharmacy undergraduate study and four years of professional education in the actual pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools might require additional coursework prior to admission (example here), which make it necessary to do three or four years of pre-pharmacy coursework. Most students from Montana apply to the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana.
Successful applicant profiles, which indicate the number of applications received, number of admitted students, demographic information, average GPA, and other information, are available on pharmacy school web sites. See the profile for the University of Montana (UM).
Most of the pharmacy schools in the Northwest U.S. reported that a significant number of their students admitted in 2015 had completed three years of coursework or received a bachelor's degree. Some pharmacy schools actually require prior completion of a bachelor’s degree. In contrast, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana reported that 70% of their admitted students had no prior degree.
Academic performance in the required courses is important, and students should have a minimum GPA of 3.4 to have a good likelihood of admission. In 2015, the incoming students at UM had an average GPA of 3.37 in the required prerequisite courses.
It is always a good idea to observe and visit with members of the professional community. Some schools require observing, volunteering or paid work in a practicing pharmacy or health care facility. UM requires 60 hours of such exposure. There are several pharmacies in the Helena area that are happy to host Carroll students as observers. Students may also observe in a hometown pharmacy during the summer. The following attributes of an experience are important:
Dr. Kyle Strode
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Office: FC 217
A standardized test such as the PCAT or the GRE may also be required for admission. The subject areas of this test are biology, chemistry, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, writing and verbal ability. The test is now computer-based and is given in the summer fall and winter. UM requires the PCAT test, and for admission to the 2016 entering class, the exam must be compled by the last 2015 testing dates (shown below). The average score of admitted UM applicants in 2015 was at the 63rd percentile.
PCAT 2015 Fall Testing Dates
Oct. 26-30, Nov. 2-6
Early registration closes Oct. 19
Late registration closes Oct. 21
For information on this exam contact:
The website for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is an excellent resource on educational and career opportunities in pharmacy, as well as links to the pharmacy web pages for each school.
To quote the AACP: “If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career within the health professions, consider pharmacy. Be sure that your academic background provides a solid foundation for the pharmacy curriculum, and take the time to investigate the variety of pharmacy programs that are available to you.”