Study Pharmacy in the US

Pharmacy is a science incorporating medicine and chemistry and the study of it is both complex and rewarding. As a career, pharmacy is lucrative in the US and there is ample opportunity for those with the right qualifications, particularly given the current shortage of pharmacists.

Study Pharmacy in the US

In America you can no longer study pharmacy as an undergraduate degree. Instead, US universities offer the Doctor of Pharmacy program, more commonly known as the PharmD. The PharmD is a professional degree focused on moving the graduate into pharmacy practice. The PharmD stands out because although it is a doctoral degree you do not necessarily need a bachelor's degree to qualify for the course. Do not take this to mean that the PharmD is an easy route.

At some universities in the US you will need a bachelor's degree to gain admission whereas at other institutions you can take an intensive 2-year pre-pharmacy course focusing on science and mathematics. The PharmD itself is a 4-year course, including 1 year of practice. At some institutions, such as the University of California - San Francisco (UCSF), which host a top ranking PharmD program, there are different options available on the PharmD course. Depending on your career goals and ambitions you can focus on certain aspects of pharmacy alongside the core curriculum.

At UCSF you can opt to study pharmaceutical care, pharmaceutical health policy and management or pharmaceutical sciences (concentrating on research).  Successful completion of the PharmD makes you eligible for licensure as a registered pharmacist.  There are also further programs available to those looking to specialise in a particular area of pharmacy, such as oncology, cardiology or geriatrics.

Pharmacists are in high demand in roles such as drug developer, scientific administrator, community pharmacist, clinical researcher, pharmacy owner, and professor.  Over half of PharmD graduates go into work at community pharmacies but others move into employment at clinics, government agencies or private companies.  Pharmaceutical research is a growing industry, with 6 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies based in the US.  On average it requires 8 years of study at higher education level to become a pharmacist and this is reflected in pharmacists’ salaries in the US.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median annual wage of salary pharmacists in 1008 was $106, 410.

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