What Do Pharmacists Major In?

Pharmacy students taking a prerequisite course in a classroom

As they embark on their undergraduate studies, students often wonder what to major in to become a pharmacist. This article will explore the different routes students can take to become licensed pharmacists, including the best majors for pharmacy. Generally, there are two academic pathways to becoming a pharmacist.

1. “Pre-Pharmacy” 

While there is no such thing as an official “pre-pharmacy” major, this term is commonly used to describe the route students take to get into pharmacy school. Becoming a pharmacist is unique among medical professions—you can major in just about anything during your undergraduate studies. 

Every pharmacy program has specific requirements; some require that students complete a bachelor degree while for others, it is a preference. The majority don’t require a degree, and each school’s admission criteria will determine whether having a degree gives you a competitive advantage in the admissions process. 

Within the pre-pharmacy coursework, pharmacy school candidates must complete 2-3 years of pre-pharmacy prerequisites before four years of pharmacy school to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) for a 6- or 7-year roadmap to pharmacy practice. If your undergraduate institution requires you to declare a major, know that some are more viable than others, with biology and chemistry being the most common since they include many of the pharmacy school prerequisites. 

To fulfill the pharmacy school prerequisite requirements, most schools require applicants to have completed 30-50 science-related semester hours. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), most pharmacy programs require students to take biology, while all require students to take chemistry. Other notable pre-pharmacy prerequisite courses include:

  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Math (Calculus)
  • English Composition/Writing

While the length and structure of pharmacy programs will vary by college and school of pharmacy, candidates must complete all the required undergraduate pre-pharmacy coursework before starting pharmacy school.

2. Bachelor’s Degree – What to Major In

More and more schools are increasingly offering a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical studies, which includes biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses and covers drug interactions, dosage formulation, drug design, and drug safety. Other favorable and common majors for pharmacy school include biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Like most undergraduate programs, these degrees typically take four years to complete. 

Naturally, students who complete an undergraduate degree can progress to pharmacy school to earn the PharmD, as long as they’ve completed the prerequisites. After graduating from an accredited pharmacy program, you will take and pass the NAPLEX and MPJE (CPJE for California), and obtain your license to practice pharmacy. 

However, completing a pharmacy major curriculum also prepares you for careers in other areas such as pharmaceutical research and academia, so you can also choose to launch your career right after obtaining your Bachelor of Science. 

References: 

  1. PharmD Program Structures – Pharmacy for me
  2. Prepharmacy Requirements | PharmCAS 
  3. 2021-2022 Summary of Course Prerequisites 

If pharmacy school is in your future, consider preparing for the NAPLEX with UWorld RxPrep, the no. 1 pharmacy licensure exam review.

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