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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Pharmacy

Majors Overview March 17, 2015

Get information about different bachelor’s degree programs in pharmacy and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (B.S.P.S.) Programs

Individuals interested in earning a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), in addition to those keen on pursuing related careers in the health care or drug industries would benefit by completing a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (B.S.P.S.).

Students learn how to research, test, and manufacture pharmaceuticals in these heavily science-intensive programs that include strong biology and chemistry components. Accordingly, schools prefer incoming students who have a strong track record in the sciences, although high school diploma holders are accepted by most programs.

Coursework

While advanced pharmacy topics are the primary focus of some bachelor’s degree programs in pharmaceutical sciences, a strong core of basic sciences is available in the coursework of most programs. Core coursework may commonly include:

•Introduction to pharmacology
•Pathophysiology
•Anatomy and physiology
•Organic chemistry
•Microbiology

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program are qualified not only for entry-level careers as a pharmacist, which requires completing additional education, but also for many related careers. They can choose from popular career options such as:

•Pharmaceutical sales
•Drug marketing
•Pharmaceutical research
•Drug product testing

Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) Programs

Students enrolled in a career-oriented Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program are provided with the technical competencies they would need in the field. Theory-based classes are combined with practical experiences gained in a pharmacy environment supervised by a licensed pharmacist. Schools offer these programs in both a part-time and full-time basis, with opportunities for distance or online learning offered at some schools.

Education Requirements

Admission to a Pharm.D. program does not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree to be completed by incoming students. Prospective pharmacists that haven’t completed a bachelor’s program in pharmacy or a related degree can gain admission to the Pharm D. program by completing coursework in college-level biology and chemistry before entering the program.

Applicants to pharmacy programs are also required to submit scores from the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

Coursework

Coursework in Pharm.D. programs can vary from school to school with a stronger emphasis on various aspects of pharmaceutical studies in some schools; programs may focus on disease assessment, clinical experience, or drug research while core coursework may commonly include the following:

•Drug literature analysis
•Disease management
•Immunology
•Basic pharmaceutical care
•Ethical issues in pharmaceutical care

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, about 286,000 pharmacists were employed in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Most (43%) found work in drug stores and retail pharmacies, while others worked with pharmaceutical wholesalers and at hospitals, among other work settings.

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rates of 14% have been predicted for pharmacists (BLS). The growth is expected to be driven by technological advancements in the field as well as the expected increase in the number of people with prescription drug coverage. In May 2012, these professionals brought home an average annual wage of $116,670 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Licensure is mandatory for pharmacists in most states. Licensure can be obtained through passage of a series of examinations after completion of a Pharm.D. program. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) offers the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) in the majority of venues, in addition to the North American Pharmacists Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). These exams test students’ skills as well as their knowledge of pharmacy laws.

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