Overview of Profession


Application Process Timeline

Admission Exam-PCAT

Additional Requirements

Overview of Pharmacy School

Important Websites


To apply to Pharmacy school you can be ANY MAJOR (Art, Biology, Literature, Math, etc.), however you must complete the necessary prerequisite coursework in order to apply.  

The table at the bottom shows the courses that are most commonly completed by UC Santa Cruz Students to fulfill pharmacy school prerequisites.  The Career Center recommends that students complete the courses sequenced listed in this table.

NOTE: The prerequisites can differ slightly from school to school.  It is important to look at the coursework required for each school you wish to apply to.  A good resource to find the prerequisites for each school is the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR) book.  The PSAR can be located online.

Course Subject # Quarters UCSC course sequences most students use to fulfill requirements
General Chemistry Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of general (inorganic) chemistry, each with laboratory Chem 1A, Chem 1B/M and Chem 1C/N
General Biology  Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of general biology, with laboratory

BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, and BIOE 20C and three upper-division labs* since UCSC doesn't offer labs with its 20 series.

*Common labs used to fulfill the 1-year of lab are: BIOL 20L, BIOL 101L, BIOL 130L, METX 135L, METX 119L, etc.

Organic Chemistry Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of organic chemistry, each with laboratory

Chem 8A/L, Chem 8B/M, and Chem 109*

*Chem 109 does not have an associated lab, so if a school you are applying to requires 3 quarters of lab, you may request to take CHEM 110/L if you are not a chemistry major. 

Mathematics Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of mathematics

Math 3, Math 11A (or 19A), Math 11B (or 19B), Math 22*

*Math 22 is not necessarily a requirment. The 1 year of math can be fulfilled using Math 2, Math 3, etc. However, 2 quarters of calculus are prerequisite courses for Physics.
Statistics Some schools require 1 quarter of statistics

AMS 5 or AMS 7/L

Physics Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of physics, each with laboratory

Phys 6A/L, Phys 6B/M, and Phys 6C/N


Phys 5A/L, Phys 5B/M, Phys 5C/N

Biochemistry Some schools require 1-3 quarters of biochemistry, but most do not.  However, it is usually strongly recommended

BIOL 100


BIOC 100A, 100B, and 100C

Human Anatomy Most schools require 1 quarter of an anatomy course, with laboratory

METX 135/L

Human Physiology  Most schools require 1 quarter of an human physiology course, with laboratory

BIOL 130/L

Microbiology Most schools require 1 quarter of microbiology, with laboratory

METX 119/L

Economics A lot of schools require 1 quarter of economics

ECON 1 or ECON 2

English Composition Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of English Composition

Courses that satisfy the Core Courses (C1) and Composition (C2) requirements at UCSC will fulfill two quarters of the medical school English coursework requirements for most schools.  An additional course in Writing or Literature will usually satisfy the remaining quarter.*

*Save your course syllabi in case any schools express concern that you did not complete their English requirement.

Psychology Some schools require or recommend an introductory courses in psychology  Psych 1
Speech Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of Public Speaking or Speech Not usually offered at UCSC

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Application Process Timeline:

  1. Prior to applying
    • Consider these factors when deciding upon where to apply: 
      • Location
      • Cost
      • Size
      • Licensure exam passage rates
      • Faculty interests and reputation
      • Job placement history of program graduates. 
      • Talk with recent pharmacist graduates, as well as ask pharmacist employers about various programs’ strengths and weaknesses. 
    • In addition to the California schools, consider applying to some public or private schools outside of California that accept many (20+) non-resident or non-contract state applicants. 
    • Research each program you wish to apply to before submitting your application. 
      • Admission requirements 
      • prerequisite coursework 
      • Deadlines 
      • Amount and preferences for letters of recommendations 
    • Register and take Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), if necessary 
    • Write your personal statement
    • Develop a resume of activities and accomplishments 
    • Request your transcripts
    • Arrange letters of evaluation
    • In addition to California schools, consider applying to some public or private schools outside of California that accept many (20+) non-resident or non-contract state applicants. 
  2. Early June 
    • PharmCAS launches application 
  3. August 
    • PharmCAS begins to ship applications to schools on or before date. 
  4. November 1st 
    • 1st regular institutional application deadline 
  5. December 1st
    • 2nd regular institutional application deadline 
  6. Late December
    • Academic update window opens
  7. January 5th 
    • 3rd regular institutional application deadline 
  8. February 1st 
    • 4th regular institutional application deadline 
  9. Late February
    • Academic update window closes 
  10. March 1st
    • 5th regular institutional application deadline 
  11. April 1st 
    • PharmCAS application cycle is closed. 

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Admission Exam:

  1. Overview of Pharmacy College Admission test (PCAT):
    • California pharmacy schools do not require the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). However, if you are applying to a pharmacy school outside of California, be sure to inquire if the PCAT is an admissions requirement by consulting the AACP Admission Policies website (PDF). Dates and deadlines vary, see the PCAT website for deadlines and test dates. 
    • 4 hour and 30 minute standardized multiple-choice computerized-based exam.
    • PCAT scores are available online within 5 weeks of the end of the testing window. 
    • Most colleges allow you to reappear for PCAT as many times as required. While some colleges consider the latest scores for admission, others consider the highest scores obtained.
    • PCAT scores older than 5 years will not be reported to pharmacy schools. 
  2. Sections:
    • Writing - Two essays 
    • Verbal Ability - assesses nonscientific vocabulary and usage; it is composed of analogies (60%) and sentence completion exercises (40%). 
    • Biology - assesses mastery of the basic concepts of biology, including general biology (60%), microbiology (20%), human anatomy (10%), and human physiology (10%). 
    • Chemistry - assesses knowledge of the basic principles of elementary organic chemistry (40%) and general chemistry (60%).
    • Reading Comprehension - assesses the candidate’s ability to understand and evaluate science-related reading passages. 
    • Quantitative Ability - assesses mathematical skills and quantitative reasoning in the areas of basic math (15%), algebra (20%), probability & statistics (20%), precalculus (22%), and calculus (22%). 
  3. Scoring:
    • Scores on the personal score report are reported as scaled scores and percentile ranks for each of the five multiple-choice subtests and as a composite score for the combined multiple-choice subtests. 
    • Maximum score is 600.
    • Most pharmacy schools’ minimum required PCAT score is at least 50th percentile.
  4. When should students take the PCAT?:
    • You should take the PCAT well in advance of applying to pharmacy school but definitely at least one year prior to your intended start date. 
    • If students want to go straight into pharmacy school, they will need to take the PCAT the summer of their junior year.
    • Students should take the PCAT when they can do their best.
      • If they can be preparing for the PCAT and be taking courses, and do well in both, then they should do that.
      • If the student will compromise their grades and/or score by doing both at the same time, the student should prepare for the PCAT during the summer or after they have graduated. 
  5. Dates for exam:
    • January 10th and 11th, 2012 
    • Other dates for 2012 - TBA 

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Additional Requirements:

  1. Some schools require a letter of recommendation from a pharmacist that is not a family or friend.

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Overview of Pharmacy School:

  1. Overview: 
    • Pharmacy school lasts 4 academic years. 
    • There are 120 Pharmacy Schools in the United States, and 8 in California.
    • Students learn how to communicate with patients and other healthcare providers about drug information and patient care. 
    • Students also learn professional ethics, concepts of public health, and business management.
    • In addition to receiving classroom instruction, students in Pharm.D. programs spend time working with licensed pharmacists in a variety of practice settings.
  2. Specialty:
    • Some Pharm.D. graduates obtain further training through 1-year or 2-year residency programs or fellowships. 
    • Pharmacy residencies are postgraduate training programs in pharmacy practice and usually require the completion of a research project. The programs are often mandatory for pharmacists who wish to work in a clinical setting. 
    • Pharmacy fellowships are highly individualized programs that are designed to prepare participants to work in a specialized area of pharmacy, such clinical practice or research laboratories.
  3. Licensure and Certification:
    • All States, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia require the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), which tests pharmacy skills and knowledge.
    • All jurisdictions also require a specified number of hours of experience in a practice setting before a license is awarded.

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Important Websites:

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