Pre-Pharm Years

Choosing to pursue a career in pharmacy is a big decision. In addition to maintaining a strong GPA, you will need to gain experiences that show your passion for this field. You should learn as much as you can about the field early. You can choose any major and pursue pharmacy. 

Preparing Academically

Pharmacy schools are competitive, and when preparing for this career, students should be striving for a minimum 3.0 GPA. We do not recommend that any student go into the application process with the minimum requirements. Please meet with an advisor in Health Professions Advising if you are not sure whether you are competitive for pharmacy school.

Pharmacy Pre-Reqs

Each pharmacy school has their own set of requirements, but if you follow the list below, you should be prepared for the majority of schools. When you are close to applying, you need to create your own school list and cross check the requirements on each school's website.

  • One Year of Biology (BIS2ABC)
  • One year of Chemistry (CHE2ABC)
  • One year of OChem (CHE118ABC)
  • 2-3 Quarters of Physics (PHY 7 or 9)
  • 1-2 Quarters of Biochem (BIS 102 & 103 OR 105)
  • One Quarter of Physiology w Lab (NPB101/L)
  • One Quarter of Anatomy w Lab (EXB 106/L)
  • One Quarter of Psychology (Psych 1)
  • 2-3 Quarters of Math (Stats, Calculus)
  • One Quarter of Economics (Micro or Macro)
  • One Quarter of Public Speaking (CMN 1)
  • 2-3 Quarters of English (Any ENL, UWP course)


Students should take coursework to prepare for the PCAT. The content on the PCAT includes:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Ability
  • Verbal Ability

The PCAT content plus the requirements should be used when meeting with department academic advisors to create balanced schedules. In addition to taking science coursework, we recommend taking courses from the philosophy department, especially related to critical reasoning and problem solving.

Currently two California Pharmacy schools require the PCAT. HPA recommends the pre-pharm students take the PCAT to prepare for a broad application.

PharmD Programs

There are currently eleven pharmacy schools in California:

  • California Health Sciences
  • California Northstate
  • Keck Graduate Institute
  • UCSF
  • UCSD
  • UOP
  • USC
  • Western
  • Loma Linda
  • Touro
  • West Coast

Students may enter the program with or without a baccalaureate degree provided that they have completed the minimum units of course work required at an undergraduate institution before beginning the pharmacy program (However, statistics show a significantly higher percentage of acceptance for students with baccalaureate degrees).

Some out-of-state Pharm.D. programs require a B.S. in pharmacy for entry. Please see the school's Web site for further information.

Choosing Meaningful Experiences

Please see our Pre-Health Requirements page for more information about choosing meaningful experiences.

What should I do with my time?

Asking, "Will this look good on a pharmacy school application?" is the wrong way to go about the pre-pharm process. All pre-pharm students should have some experience with a pharmacist, even if it is only shadowing, but when choosing activities, be sure to select those that align with your personal interests and passions. Think outside the box!

Pre-Pharm Club on Campus

Supplemental content

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

The AACP is your go to place when applying to pharmacy schools.

Ready to Apply?

PharmCAS is the centralized application service for pharmacy schools.



Check out these sample questions from a sample PCAT class.

Ready to take the test?

Register here.

Becoming a Pharm Tech

What is the PTCE?

PTCE: Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

Exam Logistics

Two hour, computer- based exam
90 Multiple Choice Questions with 4 choices each
10 minutes at the end of the exam to fill out a post-exam survery

Exam Content

13.75% ~ Pharmacology for Technicians
12.50% ~ Pharmacy Law and Regulations
8.75%   ~ Sterile and Non-sterile Compounding
12.50% ~ Medication Safety
7.50%   ~ Pharmacy Quality Assurance
17.50% ~ Medication Order Entry and Fill Process
8.75%   ~ Pharmacy Inventory Management
8.75%   ~ Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement
10.00% ~ Pharmacy Information Systems Usage and Application
 Students can take the PTCE without going through a program (can self-study)
To sign up for the PTCE, register here.
What's on the test?

Post-Bac Programs

Do I Need A Postbac Program?

If you are not sure whether you need to complete a post-bac program, please schedule an appointment with a HPA advisor.

List of post-bac programs in California.

Find a post-bac program.