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Pharmacists must understand the use, clinical effects, and composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties. The goal of pharmacy care is to maximize positive health care outcomes and improve patients' quality of life with minimum risk. Pharmacists may work in healthcare settings (hospital, nursing home, clinic, etc.) or in retail settings.

Pharmacists typically do the following:

  • Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients

  • Check whether prescriptions will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or any medical conditions the patient has

  • Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about potential side effects they may experience from taking the medicine

  • Give flu shots and, in most states, other vaccinations

  • Advise patients about general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or supplies would be best to treat a health problem

  • Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need

  • Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns)

  • Keep records and do other administrative tasks

  • Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients

Important Qualities:

  • Analytical skills: Pharmacists must provide safe medications efficiently. To do this, they must be able to evaluate a patient’s needs and the prescriber’s orders, and have extensive knowledge of the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.

  • Communication skills: Pharmacists frequently offer advice to patients. They might need to explain how to take a medicine, for example, and what its side effects are. They also need to offer clear direction to pharmacy technicians and interns.

  • Computer skills: Pharmacists need computer skills to use any electronic health record (EHR) systems that their organization has adopted.

  • Detail oriented: Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill. They must be able to find the information that they need to make decisions about what medications are appropriate for each patient, because improper use of medication can pose serious health risks.

  • Managerial skills: Pharmacists—particularly those who run a retail pharmacy—must have good managerial skills, including the ability to manage inventory and oversee a staff.



Required Coursework

Pharmacy profession details
SubjectEmory CoursesPrerequisite
for pharm
Needed for
PCAT Prep?
(Covering General & Organic)
4 semesters
CHEM 150, 202, 203, and 204 all with labsYesYes
Introductory Biology
2 semesters
BIOL 141 and 142 with labsYesYes
1 semester
PHYS 141 with lab or PHYS 151 with labMostRecommended
1 semester
BIOL 301 or CHEM 340SomeYes
1 semester
BIOL 370 with labMostRecommended
Anatomy & Physiology
1-2 semesters
Please speak to your advisor about completing this course while at EmoryMostRecommended
1 semester
MATH 111 (or higher level)YesYes
1 semester
QTM 100 or ECON 220MostYes
Behav/Social Science
1-2 semesters
Any course with ANT, PSYC, or SOC prefixManyNo
1 semester
ECON 101 or ECON 112ManyNo
1-2 semesters
Any ENG course, some CPLT, & CWRT in the English langMostRecommended
Public Speaking
1 semester
No Emory course equivalentManyNo


The chart is a list of common pre-pharmacy requirements and the Emory course equivalents. Requirements vary widely by school. This list does not include all courses that may be required by pharmacy schools. Additionally, schools have differing policies for accepting AP/IB credits to fulfill prerequisites. Students are responsible for verifying the prerequisite coursework and policies of the schools to which they plan to apply.

Helpful resources include the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR), and individual school websites. To download and print the Pharmacy School Prerequisite Chart, click here.

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

Students should read through all information on the PCAT website prior to submitting an application to test. Not all pharmacy schools require the PCAT.

Length: 4 hours

Sections: There are five sections - Writing, Biological Processes, Chemical Processes, Critical Reading, and Quantitative Reasoning

Cost: The registration fee is $210 which includes the exam and scores sent to the three recipients you verify during registration (PharmCAS counts as 1 recipient). Sending scores to additional non-PharmCAS schools after registration will cost $20 for each recipient.

Scores: Scores range from 200-600.

PCAT Prep Resources: There are a variety of PCAT prep resources, each differing in both cost and teaching style. PHA does not endorse any specific test prep resource, but we encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs.

PHA does not endorse any specific preparation program or company.

School Selection

Number of schools: Students typically apply to between 5-8 pharmacy schools.

Factors to consider:

  • Admission requirements: The prerequisite coursework and clinical experience requirements vary widely between each Pharm.D. program. Determine where you're eligible to apply based on the coursework/clinical work you've completed or will complete before matriculation.

  • Location II: Urban vs. rural setting, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, cost of living, etc.

  • Mission Statements: You should look for schools with mission statements that fit with your own goals.

  • Curriculum: Seek out information about the curriculum and consider how it fits with your learning style.

  • Cost: Consider tuition and type of financial aid available

Resources for school selection:

Primary Applications

Applications for PharmCAS are reviewed on a rolling basis. We recommend applying as early in the cycle as possible. For additional information on Centralized Application Services and Personal Statements, see the "Apply" section of the PHA website.

  • Centralized Application Service: PharmCAS - Pharmacy College Application Service

  • Number of Participating Schools: Approximately 125 pharmacy schools participate in PharmCAS.

  • Cost: $175 which includes one pharmacy school designation. Each additional school is $55.

  • Fee Assistance? A limited number fee waivers are available through the PharmCAS Fee Assistance Program, which covers the PharmCAS fees and 1 school. Waivers are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis so it's best to apply early.

  • Personal Statement Prompt: "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." - 4,500 character limit

  • Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. The PharmCAS application cycle opens in July.

Secondary Applications

The PharmCAS web application is only one step in the pharmacy admissions process. Pharm.D. programs may also require you to submit a secondary application or supplemental information. Required information may include a high school transcript, photo, fee, additional essays, and possibly other information. Some schools may send secondaries to applicants after reviewing their primary application, while others post secondary materials on their website for all applicants to submit. Review the individual school requirements on the PharmCAS School Directory to determine which programs require secondary materials and how they want the materials to be submitted. If a pharmacy school sends a you a secondary after review of your primary application, PHA recommends a 2-week turnaround on submitting the secondary application. 

Recommendation Letters

Pharmacy schools typically require between 3-4 recommendation letters. PHA recommends at least one of your letters be from a science faculty member and one be from a PI or research supervisor (if you participated in research). Some programs may require a letter from a pharmacist. The other letters should be made up of professional references who can write compellingly about your personal qualities that will contribute to a successful career in pharmacy. Students should check each school's requirements to ensure you have the required letters. PharmCAS will accept up to 4 recommendation letters.


The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process. When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you for their school based on your application. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.

Pharmacy schools require personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and ability to overcome challenges. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in pharmacy and the experiences that have motivated you. 

What to Expect at a Pharmacy School Interview:

Pharmacy school interviews are typically conducted on campus, which means you should be prepared to travel during interview season. Part of your preparation for the application process should be saving money for flights and hotel stays. Interviews may involve a tour of the school, information sessions, lunch with a current student, and the interview itself. Some pharmacy schools require a writing sample as part of the interview. 

How to Prepare:

Your interview prep should be different based on the type of interview the school employs. To review the different types of interviews, see the Interviews page of the PHA website. In general, you should always:

  • Review your application materials (including activities, personal statement, and additional essays) and be prepared to discuss them in detail.
  • Brush up on current events in healthcare and in your profession specifically.
  • Research the school. Do an in-depth review of the school's website and any additional materials you have. Remember, the interview is your chance to show them why you are a good fit for that particular program.
  • Utilize the PHA Interview Services.


*Not affiliated with AACP or PharmCAS. Always double check any information with AACP, PharmCAS, or with individual programs.

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