Pharmacy - Applying

Where to Apply ~ When to Apply ~ How to Apply ~ Tips and Procedures ~ What Happens Next

Where to Apply?

List of PharmD Degree Programs

There are about 100 pharmacy programs in the United States. When choosing where to apply, you should:

  • Do independent research - a good place to start is the current edition of the AACP's Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements handbook (available in the Pre-Health Office and online).
  • Make an appointment with Susie Fang to discuss your options.

When to Apply

Most schools begin accepting applications in the summer. (PTCAS usually opens in July). Deadlines can be anywhere from October to June depending on the school. Whatever the deadline, we recommend that you apply early for the best chances at admission and financial aid.

How to Apply

The majority of U.S. pharmacy schools use a centralized application service known as the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS). You can access their application online through their website.

When you apply, material you will send to PharmCAS are:

  • PharmCAS Web Application
  • PharmCAS Application Fee
  • Transcripts and PCAT scores
  • Letters of evaluation (in most cases)

Materials you will send directly to the school(s) are:

  • Supplemental Applications (if requested by schools after review of your initial application)
  • Supplemental Application Fee


More than 30 U.S. pharmacy schools do not participate in PharmCAS. For an updated list, check the PharmCAS website. If you are applying to one of these schools, you will need to request individual applications and send all your application materials directly to the schools.

Tips and Procedures

Coursework: All programs have different coursework requirements for admittance so be sure to check them for each school to which you apply. If you are missing any courses, you can plan to take them during your application year.

Letters of Evaluation: Some pharmacy schools have specific evaluation requirements. For example, they might specify a minimum number of evaluations or suggest a specific type of person they want an evaluation from. Make sure you check with the schools you are applying to in order to ensure you meet their evaluation requirements.

As a general rule, you should have a minimum of three and maximum of four letters. One of those letters should come from a pharmacist for whom you have interned/ volunteered. Another should come from a Keck Science professor (preferably chemistry) who knows you well. Examples of other individuals you might ask are: an employer, advisor, or professor from another department.

Make sure you ask you evaluators to write your letters in advance and provide them with a deadline for when you would like to have your letter written. You should give your evaluators a minimum of four weeks.

If you are applying through PTCAS, your recommendations will be sent using eLOR. eLOR stands for electronic Letters of Recommendation. It lets evaluators complete the evaluation process over the internet. When you fill out your VMCAS application, you will go to the "Evaluators" section of the application and register a minimum of three and a maximum of five evaluators. After you enter your evaluators' information into the spaces provided, the evaluators will then receive an email requesting them to log into the secure eLOR service and complete your evaluation at their leisure. -Let your evaluators know to expect this email! Evaluators have the option of denying your request.

You are allowed to submit your application before your evaluators have submitted their letters. Just make sure that your evaluators submit their letters in a timely fashion (and, of course, before the application deadline). You should monitor the status of your evaluations (i.e. whether or not they have been completed) by logging into your application and visiting the eLOR section. This can be done even after you have submitted your application.

If a letter had not been submitted and you think that is should have been, it is a good idea to follow-up with your evaluator and make sure he or she has not forgotten.


In you are applying to a non-PTCAS school, you should check with the school to see how letters of evaluation should be dealt with.

Personal Statements: The Admissions Committee members who read your essay are looking for individuals who are motivated, academically prepared, articulate, socially conscious, and knowledgeable about the profession. Write about your experiences and qualities that will make you stand out. For tips, visit our Personal Statements/Essays page.

What Happens Next

After review of your file, schools may ask you for an interview. Please inform us if you are interviewed or accepted to a health professions program/school. We track all of this data to better inform future applicants of where our students have had success. 

Visit the Interviews Page to read general information about preparing for health school interviews. To learn more about Pharmacy Interviews, which are slightly unique, read below:

Most interviews consist of two parts: an oral interview and a writing test.

The Oral Portion: Admissions committees expect you to have researched the pharmacy profession and know some of the pivotal issues pharmacists currently face. Check websites such as and for this information.

Here is a list of questions you might get:

  • Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
  • Explain the factors that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in pharmacy
  • Why pharmacy?
  • Why this school versus one of the other pharmacy schools?
  • What different fields in pharmacy are you interested in?
  • Reality Questions (i.e. how many people are in the world and how many are in the United States?)
  • Clinical Questions (i.e. a customer comes into a drug store right before closing on the weekend with no refills on their blood pressure and pain medicine. How would you handle this situation?

The Written Portion: (Taken from Get into Pharmacy School: RX for success!, Kaplan 2007.) You will be given a limited amount of time (30-45 minutes) to write an essay on one of several topics. These topics are usually not academic in nature, nor do they test your knowledge in specific subjects. They may be more general questions and not pharmacy related. You may be asked to discuss a particular idea using literature, personal experiences, or current events.

Approach this essay as you would any English composition, providing an introductory paragraph, a body with supporting details, and a conclusion to summarize your response.

Sample Essay Questions:

  • What animal best represents you and what characteristics does it possess that best describe you?
  • Have any of your classes during your college career helped to shape your values, and if so, how?
  • Why have you chosen to become a pharmacist and what qualities do you feel are needed to be considered an exceptional pharmacist?
  • What is the meaning of having a fulfilling life? Provide three examples and compare and contrast their values.
  • Childhood obesity is a rising concern in the United State. Should kids be allowed to dictate what they eat or should there be some sort of parental control? What are some issues that need to be addressed?
  • Should all students be required to take a psychology class in college? Why or why not?
  • If you have one day to change this world, how would you change it and what would you change?