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General Overview

Pharmaceutical care encompasses the full range of pharmacists' skills, knowledge, and ability in providing medication services to patients. Pharmacists must be fully acquainted with the physical and chemical properties of drugs and their mechanism of action within biological systems. Pharmacists often serve as educators in the proper use of drugs both for the public and health practitioners. The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve definite outcomes from medication use that improve patients' quality of life. Pharmacists are professionals committed to public service and the achievement of this goal. Career options in pharmacy include academic pharmacy, community practice, government agencies, hospice and home care, hospital and institutional practice, long-term care, consulting pharmacy, medical and scientific research, and uniformed (public health) services.

There are 119 colleges and universities offering accredited professional programs that lead to the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree; and additional 25 programs have candidate or pre-candidate status for accreditation. Pharmacy programs require at least two years of pre-professional (undergraduate) study followed by four years of professional study. Most pharmacy students complete three or more years of college before starting a pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools give preference to students who have earned a bachelor’s degree. Requirements for admission vary. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) publishes annually an admission requirements guidebook entitled the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR). You can view concise information about unique features and important details related to admissions requirements and processes for schools that participate in PharmCAS through information provided by AACP.

Choosing a Major

Many pre-pharmacy students obtain a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree while completing the requirements for admission to pharmacy school. Pharmacy schools do not require or prefer a particular undergraduate major, as long as applicants have completed the course requirements and have demonstrated proficiency in the sciences as evidenced by the science GPA and the scores on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)


All pharmacy schools have a set of prerequisite courses and experiences that may or may not be unique to the particular program. The AACP publishes an admission requirements guidebook titled the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR). Approximately two-thirds of all pharmacy programs in the U.S. participate in the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS), please visit the web site to learn more about the admissions process. 

The general requirements for admission to pharmacy school can be met at JMU with the following coursework:

  • BIO 140: Foundations of Biology I (4 credit hours)
  • BIO 150: Foundations of Biology II (4 credit hours)
  • BIO 270: Human Physiology (4 credit hours)
  • BIO 290: Human Anatomy (4 credit hours)
  • CHEM 131/132 and 131L/132L: General Chemistry I & II (8 credit hours)
  • CHEM 241/242 and 242L: Organic Chemistry I & II (8 credit hours)
  • PHYS 140/150 and 140L/150L: College Physics I & II (8 credit hours)
  • MATH: Statistics and Calculus (6-7 credit hours)
  • SCOM 121 or 122: Human Communication (3 credit hours)
  • English: Composition and Literature (ENG, HUM 200, or WRTC; 6 credit hours)

Students are strongly encouraged to take additional coursework in Microbiology (BIO 245), genetics (BIO 240), biochemistry (CHEM 361), Economics (ECON 200 or ECON 201), Sociology (SOCI 110 or SOCI 140), and Psychology (PSYC 101 or PSYC 160). Additional recommended courses include: Genetics and Development (BIO 224) and Biochemistry (BIO 361).

Academic Record

Students will, as part of the application process, be asked to submit a transcript of all college/university course work. The overall grade point average (GPA), as well as the GPA in math and science courses, will often be used in the review of the application. Many pharmacy programs have a minimum GPA requirement to apply to their program. Please refer to individual program prerequisites for details.

Standarized Test

More than 75 percent of all pharmacy programs require applicants to submit scores from the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The six content areas measured by the PCAT include: verbal ability, biology, reading comprehension, quantitative ability, chemistry, and a written essay. Please refer to individual program requirements in the PSAR for any required alternate standardized tests. 

Preparation Timeline

Most applications for pharmacy programs will need to be completed during the fall semester of the year the student is applying. Students should have a vast majority of the prerequisites completed by the time of application. Both the chemistry and physics requirements involve yearlong sequences. Students need to carefully plan each semester to ensure that all requirements can be met within the chosen time frame.


Pharmacy programs encourage or require applicants to have volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related setting (hospital, nursing home, etc). Experience in a pharmacy setting will be an important factor in the admissions process and will demonstrate the student’s familiarity and dedication to the profession. Students are encouraged to begin acquiring this experience as soon as possible.

Letters of Recommendation or Evlauation

All pharmacy programs require the submission of letters of evaluation (LOE) as part of the application. Students should establish relationships with faculty within the university as well as with employers in a pharmaceutical work place setting, since letters of evaluation from a professor or health care professional are typically preferred over personal references.

Madison Advising Peers (MAPs)

The Madison Advising Peers will be in the office:

Monday 10-12, 12:30-1, 3:30-5
Tuesday 8:30-9:15, 3-5
Wednesday 8:30-10, 3:30-5
Thursday 8:30-9:15, 3-5
Friday 12:30-4:30


The Pre-Pharmacy Advisor is Dr. Donna Amenta in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Additional support is provided by advisors in Pre-Professional Health (PPH) Advising. To schedule an appointment with an advisor in PPH Advising, calling 540-568-6652, emailing, or visiting PPH Advising in Roop Hall, G24.