What do Pharmacy Admissions Committees look for in an applicant?
- Can the student handle the academic rigors of pharmacy school?
- Why does the student want to be a pharmacist? Do they want to be in the profession for the “right” reasons and know the dedication the career entails?
- Do they have a diverse set of skills necessary to be a pharmacist?
How can Penn State Behrend help the student succeed?
There is no particular major required for pharmacy school, just the prerequisite science classes with some humanities courses. However, due to the advanced chemistry requirement at many pharmacy schools, a chemistry or chemistry-related major often is pursued. Prerequisite courses for most pharmacy programs include:
- General Biology: BIOL 110 and BIOL 240W
- Molecular Biology: BIOL 230W
- General Chemistry: CHEM 110/112
- General Chemistry Laboratory: CHEM 111/113
- Organic Chemistry: CHEM 210/212
- Organic Chemistry Laboratory: CHEM 213
- Biochemistry: CHEM 472 and B M B 402/403
- Anatomy: BIOL 421
- Physiology: BIOL 472/473
- Physics: PHYS 250/251
- Calculus: MATH 140/141
- Psychology: PSYCH 100
- English (3-6 credits): ENGL 15, 202C
Students interested in the health professions are encouraged to take SC 201: Medical Professions.
The purpose of SC 201 is to:
- Provide students with an overview of the various health professions
- Enhance students' understanding of potential careers
- Discuss the academic preparation for specific professions
- Review the application process for admission to health profession schools
The Pre-Health Option of our Bachelor of Science degree in Biology covers all of these prerequisites. However other biology, chemistry, and physics degree programs can easily be customized to meet these requirements. At Penn State Behrend, you will have a dedicated Pre-Health Adviser who will guide you through the process!
Please note, the student needs to check the specific requirements of the individual programs for which they are applying.
Benchmarks and Standards
The more rigorous the academic preparation in the sciences, the more prepared students are for advanced coursework in a pharmacy school program. The student must:
- Demonstrate a consistent and high GPA (mean GPA >3.4)
- Perform well on the PCAT (minimum PCAT score above 50th percentile)
- Apply to multiple schools
- Perform and record 50+ hours of shadow/work experience in a pharmacy setting
Shadowing and Volunteering
To answer the question of “why do you want to be a pharmacist,” it is necessary to do the following:
- Observe a pharmacist at work for as many hours as you possibly can schedule. Most pharmacy programs are taking a holistic “whole candidate” approach to admissions. Simply having a high GPA and PCAT score is no longer sufficient for acceptance.
- Shadow different pharmacists that work in the various specializations in pharmacy. Most schools are looking for at least 50 hours of shadowing experience.
- Keep a record of the time you spend in each experience and the type of knowledge you gained.
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to show your dedication to helping people, and it also sets your application apart! Finding volunteer opportunities will require some research on the student’s part. Here are some local options:
- Nursing homes
- Schools for children with special needs
Opportunities for Leadership and Scholarship
To determine if the candidate has a diverse set of skills necessary to be a pharmacist, admission committees look for evidence of leadership, involvement in professional organizations, and participation in scholarly activities like research.
At Penn State Behrend:
- Students have access to the small-class size of a liberal arts college with the research facilities of a larger university.
- Students have opportunities to conduct research with a faculty mentor who is an active researcher in his or her field of expertise.
- Many of our students who participate in undergraduate research present their work at local and national conferences.
- Students have a vibrant and diverse set of student organizations that offer leadership opportunities. We have the Behrend "Scrubs" Club for students interested in health degrees.
- Other clubs and organizations organize and participate in may philanthropic activities that you can become involved in.
As you start your journey toward pharmacy school, it is highly recommended that you visit the following links where you will find guidelines for the application process, statistics on application and acceptance rates, and strategies to become a competitive applicant.
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
- Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)
- Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)