Pharmacy (PharmD)

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There are many pieces to the pharmacy school application, including your GPA, PCAT score, personal statement, list of experiences, letters of recommendation, and biographical information. Use the navigation below to explore each aspect of preparing for pharmacy school.


  • What is a pharmacist?
  • According the American Association of Pharmacy Colleges (AACP), pharmacists:

    Educate patients about prescription and over-the-counter medications

    Educate and advise other health care professionals on drug decisions for patients
    Provide expertise about the composition of drugs, including chemical, biological and physical properties, as well as on use
    Ensure drug purity and strength
    Ensure drugs do not interact in a harmful way

    - AACP Pharmacy: Prescription for a Rewarding Career

    There are a variety of career options for pharmacists, including hospital, retail, industry, academics, and public health. Learn more about pharmacy career paths

    See the AACP's Top Ten Reasons to Become a Pharmacist

  • Becoming a pharmacist
  • Obtain a bachelor's degree from UC Davis and complete all pre-pharmacy requirements, including prerequisites, the PCAT, and experiences (4+ years)

    Attend pharmacy school (4 years)

    Optional: pursue residency to receive additional training (2 years)

    Become licensed in the state you wish to practice

    Maintain certification & complete Continuing Education (ongoing)

  • Pharmacy School Prerequisites
  • To prepare academically as a pre-pharmacy student, you'll need to take the pharmacy school prerequisites and coursework to prepare for the PCAT. School prerequisites and PCAT prep coursework overlap but are not the same. PCAT prep coursework must be done before you take the PCAT and prioritized over non-PCAT prerequisites. You can choose any major and apply to pharmacy school. If you choose a non-science major, you still have to take the science prerequisites required by most schools. Always cross-check your major requirements and the medical school requirements when choosing classes.
    Pharmacy School Prerequisites Courses to Take at UC Davis
    Most schools require:  
    General Chemistry CHE 2ABC
    General Biology BIS 2ABC
    Organic Chemistry CHE 118ABC
    Physics PHY 7ABC
    Statistics* STA 13 OR STA 100
    Calculus* MAT 17ABC OR MAT 21ABC
    Economics any ECN
    Public Speaking CMN 1
    Some schools may also require:  
    Human Anatomy EXB 106/106L OR CHA 101/101L
    Human Physiology* NPB 101/101L OR NPB 110C/101L
    Biochemistry* BIS 102/103 OR BIS 105
    Microbiology* MIC 102/103L
    Psychology any PSC course (PSC 1 or PSC 41 recommended)
    Sociology any SOC course (SOC 1 or SOC 3 recommended)
    English Composition any combination of ENL, UWP, or COM courses

    * Check your major requirements before choosing schools.

    See the Pharmacy School Prerequisite Chart for a sample list of schools and their requirements.

    Note: The above courses are only suggested, not absolute. 

    To prepare academically as a pre-pharmacy student, you'll need to take the pharmacy school prerequisites and coursework to prepare for the PCAT. School prerequisites and PCAT prep coursework overlap but are not the same.

    Each pharmacy school has slightly different prerequisites. 

    You can choose any major and apply to pharmacy school. If you choose a non-science major, you still have to take the science prerequisites required by most schools. Always cross-check your major requirements with the pharmacy school prerequisites when choosing classes.

    Complete all of your prerequisite courses for a letter grade - DO NOT take any of them P/NP.

    HPA recommends that pre-pharmacy students maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, although many pharmacy schools will have GPA averages above this minimum.

    Choosing Schools
  • Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
  • The Pharmacy College Admission Test is required by about 85% of pharmacy schools, according to the AACP. You can see which schools require the PCAT here.

    As of May 2019, only one California school require the PCAT: Chapman University School of Pharmacy. (UCSF used to require the PCAT but now it is optional as of the 2019 cycle).

    However, many out of state pharmacy schools still require the PCAT.

    The exam takes about 4 hours long.

    The PCAT is composed of 5 subtests, including:
    Biological Processes
    Chemical Processes
    Critical Reading
    Quantitative Reasoning

    Learn more about what's on the PCAT.

    Health Professions Advising recommends that students take the following courses before studying for the PCAT:

    Biology (BIS 2A)
    General Chemistry (CHE 2ABC)
    Organic Chemistry (CHE 118ABC)
    Biochemistry (BIS 102 & 103, or BIS 105)
    Microbiology (MIC 102)
    Physiology (NPB 101 or 110ABC)
    Statistics (STA 13 or 100)

  • Pre-Pharmacy Experiences
  • Asking, "Will this look good on a pharmacy school application?" is the wrong way to go about the pre-pharmacy journey. Pharmacy schools will see who you are and what you care about through experiences that align with your interests, goals, and passions. Whatever you choose to do, be sure you are dedicated, passionate about it, and motivated to pursue it for the right reason! 

    All pre-pharmacy students should have some experience with a pharmacist, even if it is only shadowing. 

    Choose experiences that are meaningful to you and think outside the box!

    Here are some good places to start looking for experiences at UC Davis:

    Health Related Internships through the Internship and Career Center (ICC)
    Opportunities to publish and present research through the Undergraduate Research Center
    Participate in the Emergency Medicine Research Associate Program (EMRAP)
    Intern through the UC Davis Emergency Medicine Xperience
    Global Health Internships through Study Abroad
    Health Internships through the Washington Program
    Volunteering for the UC Davis Pre-Health Conference
    Completing community service using the ICC Community Service Database
    Join or create a student organization
    Volunteer at a Student Run Clinic

    While pharmacy experience is not necessarily required, many students work in a pharmacy before applying. 

    Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. To be a pharmacy technician in California, you must be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board by passing the PTCE (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam). You can be trained for this exam through specialized on-the-job training programs or through an educational program. Please note as of November 2019 there have been/will be changes to becoming a pharmacy technician in California. More updates will be posted soon.

    How to Become a Pharmacy Technician Guide
    Insider's Guide to Acing the PTCB Exam
    Click here to see a PowerPoint about becoming a pharmacy technician in California.

  • Applying to Pharmacy School
  • PharmCAS

    PharmCAS is the first stage of your pharmacy school application. 

    PharmCAS will open mid July. You must apply the year before you plan on starting pharmacy school. (For example, if you plan to start pharmacy school in the fall of 2020, you must apply in the summer of 2019.)

    Check out this Step-by-Step Checklist for PharmCAS.

    Personal Essay

    The prompt for the pharmacy school personal statement is:

    "Your Personal Essay should address why you selected pharmacy as a career and how the Doctor of Pharmacy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals."

    PharmCAS allows 4500 characters (including spaces) for your personal essay.

    The personal statement is your first chance to provide admissions committees with subjective information about your qualifications and your reasons for choosing this particular career. In other words, the personal statement is your initial opportunity to present yourself as an interesting and unique applicant who deserves a closer look.

    Academic History

    You will chronologically enter every college-level class you have ever taken into this section as it is listed on your transcript. 

    HPA strongly recommends using an official transcript from the registrar to enter your classes. Do not use Oasis because courses may be listed differently than on your transcript. 

    You will categorize each course according to the PharmCAS Course Subject list

    Academic Updates

    You will be able to enter grades for courses planned/in progress at the time you submit your application during Academic Update windows. You will receive an email when the windows open.

    Letters of Recommendation

    Most pharmacy schools will require at least three letters of recommendation.

    Often times schools will ask or recommend that your letters come from specific people, including:
    Academic science faculty
    Pharmacists or other health professionals
    A supervisor from an experience outside of school

    Choosing School
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More questions? Visit our FAQ page or schedule an appointment with an adviser!