Health Professions and Medicine

Links to More Information on U.S. Study in Pharmacy

 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Student Center. Detailed information on admissions and for international students and pharmacists. Lists of Pharm.D. programs (including post-B.S. programs) and graduate programs, and more. http://www.aacp.org/resources/student/Pages/default.aspx


American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Career Center. Includes resources for students including listings for graduate programs in the pharmaceutical sciences. http://www.aapspharmaceutica.com/careerCenter/student_center/index.asp

American Council on Pharmacy Accreditation. Professional accreditor for Pharm.D. programs. http://www.acpe-accredit.org/students/default.asp

American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Includes listings of both graduate and undergraduate training opportunities, fellowship and grant opportunities, and much more. https://www.aspet.org/public/training_programs/training_programs.html


American Society of Health System Pharmacists. Information on the Resident Matching Program and residencies. http://www.ashp.org/


International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation. http://www.ipsf.org/


National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Information on the FPGEE certification process and state licensure. https://nabp.pharmacy/


PharmCAS. Centralized admission system with participation from many Pharm.D. programs. http://www.pharmcas.org/

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U.S. Pharmacy Licensure Requirements

 Requirements for obtaining a license to practice pharmacy, which is required for some (but not all) residency experiences, vary from state to state. Foreign pharmacy graduates who wish to obtain a U.S. license need to contact the boards of pharmacy in states of interest to inquire about their prerequisites, especially as in some states, U.S. citizenship or legal, permanent residence in the state is required. 

To obtain a license, pharmacy students generally are expected to have graduated from a school approved by the State Board of Pharmacy or accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE). As of 2009, the only such institution located outside North America was the Lebanese American University’s school of pharmacy.

However, states often allow foreign graduates to gain licensure eligibility by earning an FPGEC certificate (see article in this section, “Pharmacy Residencies,” for more information on the FPGEC). It must be emphasized that the FPGEC certificate is not a license to practice. The certificate's function is limited to rendering a candidate eligible to apply for licensure in most states as well as being a requirement for some clinically focused educational experiences.

States may have additional testing or other requirements for licensure. Pharmacists should contact the board of pharmacy in the state in which they want to become licensed for the most current details; contact information can be found on the Web site of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

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Pharmacy Residencies

 According to the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP), a pharmacy residency is "an organized, directed postgraduate training program with a stipend in a defined area of pharmacy practice." Residencies allow students to directly apply the skills they have acquired in a professional environment. They may be of particular interest to pharmacy graduates whose career goals include hospital practice or becoming a member of a clinical faculty at a pharmacy college or school.

The ASHP is the accrediting body for pharmacy residencies and most residencies are ASHP-accredited (exceptions exist in certain pharmacy settings such as home health care or community pharmacy). International pharmacists considering residencies that are not ASHP-accredited need to look with special care at other indications of quality to ensure that the residency has the resources to meet their needs.
Two main types of pharmacy residencies exist: pharmacy practice residencies and specialized residencies. Pharmacy practice residencies are designed to develop skills and knowledge in a broad range of pharmaceutical services, including acute patient care, ambulatory patient care, drug information, drug use policy development, and practice management.

Most pharmacy practice residencies are not affiliated with a pharmacy school but are administered by U.S. hospitals and medical centers. However, some residencies, called "affiliated residencies," are administered in conjunction with a Pharm.D. or M.S. program. These residencies usually last a year or more longer than do non-affiliated residencies because students pursue the residency part-time while also academic work to earn their degree. The minimum time requirement for residency completion is 2,000 hours over at least 50 weeks.

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Pharmacy Graduate Degree Admissions

 Students who have earned a professional degree from an accredited pharmacy school or college or the equivalent overseas may qualify to enter a Master of Science (M.S.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program. Students with an undergraduate degree in a pharmacy-related field (such as chemistry or biology) can also apply to programs, though some schools may admit only students with first professional pharmacy degrees.

International students make up about 28 percent of those earning a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in the pharmaceutical sciences, and 42 percent of students pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, according to recent figures from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

M.S. and Ph.D. degrees do not qualify students to take U.S. licensure examinations—only a Pharm.D. degree qualifies pharmacy graduates for such tests. M.S. and Ph.D. programs are usually geared toward those interested in conducting research, teaching, or pursuing a specialty. International pharmacists interested in clinical practice may also want to consider a Pharm.D. degree (degree programs designed for individuals already holding a B.S. in pharmacy may be particularly appropriate)

International students should contact individual schools to inquire about their requirements for admission into graduate programs. A large majority of pharmacy schools accept students with foreign degrees into their programs; however, a few schools enroll individuals from the state/region in which they are located only.

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Pharmacy: Areas of Study

 Curriculum in a pharmacy first professional degree (Pharm.D.) program consists of six main components:

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U.S. Pharmacy Study: Preparation and Admissions

 Over 110 colleges and schools of pharmacy in the United States offer first professional degree programs (the Pharm.D., or Doctor of Pharmacy degree) accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education, with additional institutions currently in precandidacy status. 

The Pharm.D. is currently the only first professional degree credential awarded in the United States. A B.S. credential was also issued in the past but has been discontinued. Some nontraditional Pharm.D. programs exist that are intended for individuals holding the B.S. credential. Some of these may also be appropriate for individuals who have already earned a pharmacy degree outside the United States and are seeking a shorter pathway to a Pharm.D. degree than is usual.

Almost 10 percent of the over 54,000 individuals graduating with Pharm.D. degrees were international students, according to recent figures from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
Most pharmacy schools require students to complete at least two years of undergraduate study prior to admission to a first professional Pharm.D. program, most students enter after three or four years, and some schools give admissions preference to those who have completed a full bachelor’s degree. A smaller number of schools offer either “0-6” programs that students can apply to immediately upon high school completion or “early assurance” programs through which students are guaranteed admission to pharmacy school following successful completion of two years of pre-pharmacy study.

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