There are multiple routes to earning a Pharm.D. degree, but the most common is applying to pharmacy school after completing at least two years of undergraduate studies. No matter the path you take to earning a pharmacy degree, it’s a good idea to understand the average pharmacy school acceptance rate.
The average pharmacy school acceptance rate is high compared to other professional programs. The average pharmacy school acceptance rate for 2017-2018 was 82.7%. Compare that with the current acceptance rate for medical school, which is about 42%.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the typical pharmacy school acceptance rate.
Pharmacy School Acceptance Rates Are Getting Higher
If you’re planning on applying to pharmacy school, here’s some good news: you have pretty good chances of getting in. In fact, the current pharmacy school acceptance rate is higher than it ever has been.
The PharmCAS Applicant Data Report shows a steady increase in the percentage of applicants accepted into pharmacy school over the last 14 years:
Things That Impact Your Chances of Acceptance
Your chance of getting into pharmacy schools depends on multiple factors, including but not limited to:
- Your GPA;
- Whether you’re applying early;
- The type of program in which you’ll enroll;
- PCAT testing; and
- Your undergraduate major.
Continue reading to learn about each of these factors in detail.
Grade-Point Average and Pharmacy School Acceptance Rate
Your grade-point average will help the colleges where you’re applying for pharmacy school to determine whether they’d like you to attend or not.
Most pharmacy schools have a minimum GPA required to apply to their Pharm.D. programs. Most schools’ minimum GPA requirements are 2.5 or 3.0.
However, the applicants who are accepted tend to have GPAs that are significantly higher than those minimums, on average.
PharmCAS reports that the average undergraduate cumulative GPA for accepted PharmCAS applicants was 3.30. The average GPA for all applicants (those who were accepted and those who were denied alike) was 3.22.
Following the trend mentioned above, the cumulative GPA of accepted Pharm.D. applicants has reached a low point compared to previous years:
- 2009-2010: 3.41
- 2010-2011: 3.40
- 2011-2012: 3.40
- 2012-2013: 3.38
- 2013-2014: 3.36
- 2014-2015: 3.24
- 2015-2016: 3.32
- 2016-2017: 3.31
- 2017-2018: 3.30
Pharm.D. 0-6 Programs, Early Assurance and Early Decision
The pharmacy school acceptance rate may be different for 0-6 or early assurance programs. Applying for early decision can also affect your chances of admission to a Pharm.D. program.
0-6 Pharm.D. programs allow new students to enter the pharmacy program directly after high school.
These programs are called “0-6” because they let you combine your undergraduate and professional degree programs into a total of six years.
This is opposed to the standard process of applying to undergraduate school, completing two years of undergraduate coursework, applying to professional school, and completing another four years of professional coursework.
Students who enroll in a 0-6 program are guaranteed admission to the Pharm.D. degree program once they’re finished with their undergraduate coursework.
The pharmacy school acceptance rate may be higher within 0-6 programs, since you’re guaranteed a spot after completing your undergrad work. However, entry into a 0-6 program requires dedication (you should be sure that you want to go into pharmacy) and excellent high school performance.
Early assurance is similar in that students are guaranteed admission to the Pharm.D. program when they finish their undergraduate work. However, early assurance differs from 0-6 in that most early assurance students are transfers.
While 0-6 programs let students complete all of their undergraduate and professional coursework at the same school, early assurance allows students from other colleges to gain guaranteed admittance to a school’s Pharm.D. program.
As with 0-6 programs, your chances of entering a Pharm.D. program are improved by enrolling in an early assurance program. However, entry into the early assurance program itself will be competitive.
Early decision differs from both early assurance and 0-6 programs. An early decision (ED) application is a method of applying for a professional program during the regular admission cycle.
You send your application to the school of your choice early and make a promise to attend that school if accepted. In return for that promise, the school will give you an acceptance (or rejection) decision early.
Early decision is similar to early assurance in that it’s a binding agreement. However, early assurance guarantees you—the student—acceptance into a graduate program, while early decision does not.
The PharmCAS report for 2017-2018 shows that there are 111 early-decision pharmacy schools in the United States. Early decision applicants made up 15.2% of the total applicant pool (for schools using the PharmCAS application system) in 2017-2018.
Early decision application may increase your chances of acceptance, if only slightly. If you exceed all of the school’s requirements, and you apply early, you’re showing the school that you’re serious about attending. Additionally, your school may offer special scholarships for early decision students.
First-Professional Degree vs. Post-B.S. Degree
Most pharmacy students earn their Pharm.D. degrees as first-professional degrees. One exception is students who already possess B.S. in Pharmacy degrees.
If this is the case for you, you may be able to earn a professional degree in less time. The average pharmacy school acceptance rate will also differ for these non-traditional programs.
In the United States, 144 institutions offer Pharm.D. as a first professional degree, while only seven schools will offer Pharm.D. as a post-B.S. degree in Fall 2019.
If you’re applying to a post-B.S. degree program, you’ll be competing within a different applicant pool. It’s important to seek information from your school about the requirements.
More than 85% of all pharmacy programs require applicants to take a test called the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) to gain acceptance.
The test is scored on scale of 200 to 600, and it has five individual sections.
What’s On the PCAT?
The PCAT measures the skills and abilities you need to succeed in a Pharm.D. program and in a future career in pharmacy.
Skills and knowledge assessed by the PCAT include:
- Biological Processes
- Chemical Processes
- Critical Reading
- Quantitative Reasoning
The test is given several times a year by the testing company Pearson at locations across the U.S. and Canada. You can register here: https://tpc-etesting.com/pcat/
PCAT Pass Rates
You don’t pass or fail the PCAT, per se. Instead, your school determines whether or not your PCAT score qualifies you for admission. Generally, this is based on which percentile your score ranks you within the overall population of test-takers.
For example: a score of 430 would put you in the 90th percentile of test-takers and give you a leg up on the competition.
To get into the Pharm.D. college of your dreams, you’ll need a decent PCAT score in addition to meeting the school’s other requirements.
Undergraduate Majors and Pharmacy School Acceptance Rate
Choosing the right major as an undergrad can help you get into pharmacy school, according to the report by PharmCAS.
One major wins out by a long shot when it comes to helping applicants gain pharmacy school acceptance: Biology (surprisingly, not Pharmacy).
Here are the top majors for gaining acceptance to pharmacy school, alongside the number of applicants with that major who were accepted to Pharm.D. programs in 2017-18:
- Biology – 2,835
- Chemistry – 1,394
- Pharmacy – 1,251
- Biochemistry – 989
- Biological Sciences – 666
- Pre-Professional – 429
- Health Science – 319
- Psychology – 275
Applying Based on Acceptance Rates: Reach Schools and Target Schools
When you applied to undergraduate school, you probably had reach schools and safety schools. When you’re applying to a professional degree program, you want to do something similar: choose your target schools and reach schools based on their respective.
- Reach schools are schools where your GPA and PCAT scores are below the average range for most accepted students, but above the requirements. You could get in, but it’s a reach.
- Target schools are schools where your GPA and PCAT scores are within or above the average range for most accepted students. You have a good chance of getting into one of these schools and are considered a competitive applicant.
Hedging your bets against the average pharmacy school acceptance rate in this way will help ensure that you get into a pharmacy school at all, and it will give you the opportunity to get into a school that you may feel is above your reach.
Average Pharmacy School Debt
Acceptance rates are only part of the picture when it comes to getting into pharmacy school. Part of your college selection process should also be based on which schools you can reasonably afford without taking on more debt than you want to.
According to the AACP in 2018, the average pharmacy school graduate’s debt was $166,529. Over 84% of pharmacy graduates used financial aid and student loans to pay for school.
To learn more about pharmacy school debt, as well as the average pharmacist’s salary, click here.
Finding a Specific Pharmacy School Acceptance Rate
Every school has its own unique formula for deciding who gets in and who doesn’t. Some schools may rely heavily on the PCAT, while others may not require the PCAT at all. To find out what your pharmacy values and how many people they admit each year, you’ll have to visit the school’s website or speak to an admissions counselor.
Another way to gain insight into the school of your dreams and learn about its pharmacy school acceptance rate is by visiting PharmCAS. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the PharmCAS site and systems, as you’ll likely use it to apply to a Pharm.D. program.
Pharmacy School Acceptance Rate Overview
As of July 2019, 143 U.S. schools and colleges are accredited to offer professional degree programs in pharmacy. The acceptance rates for these 143 schools vary based on all of the factors listed above.
Entry to many of the best pharmacy schools is still highly competitive, but with more schools and programs available than ever before, your odds of getting accepted to a Pharm.D. program are relatively high.
Knowing the basics about pharmacy school acceptance rates is a good start, but understanding your likelihood of gaining entry to specific colleges will take delving deeper.
Pharmacy School Acceptance Rate FAQs
- Is pharmacy school acceptance hard?
The pharmacy school acceptance rate for the 2017-18 school year was around 83%. That’s high when compared to medical school, which has an acceptance rate of about 42%. However, certain pharmacy schools are still highly competitive.
- What is the average cost of pharmacy school tuition?
The average cost of a pharmacy school depends on whether you attend a private institution or a public university, and whether you’re considered in-state or out-of-state.
The average public pharmacy school tuition is $18,223 (per year) for in-state students and $34,169 for out-of-state students.
The average private pharmacy school tuition is $34,169 (per year) for in-state students and $34,409 for out-of-state students.
- How long does it take to earn a Pharm.D. degree?
To earn a Pharm.D. degree, you’ll spend about six to eight years in school. You’ll need to spend at least two years of study in specific undergraduate coursework. After that, you’ll spend four academic years in pharmacy study. According to the AACP, most students spend three or more years in undergraduate study before entering a pharmacy degree program.
- What is the minimum GPA requirement for pharmacy school?
Most pharmacy schools have a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5 or 3.0 to apply. However, the average GPA for accepted applicants is 3.30
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