History of the PharmD Degree (Doctor of Pharmacy)

The PharmD Degree, 1950 to today

The PharmD degree or Doctor of Pharmacy degree is a professional graduate degree required to become a registered pharmacist in the United States. This degree should not be confused with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Pharmaceutics, which coincidentally is often offered through some schools of pharmacy. The PharmD degree is a relatively new degree that was first issued by the University of Southern California in 1950. During this era, the PharmD degree was seen as an optional advanced degree for those pursuing academia, research, or clinical pharmacy. One could become a registered pharmacist after completing a 5 year Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. In the 1950s and 1960s, several PharmD programs began popping up across the United States. In 1955, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) launched their Doctor of Pharmacy program. UCSF experimented with a clinical pharmacy program which was housed in the Moffitt Hospital. The success of this program and many other similar ones in demonstrating the value of pharmacists in the clinical setting led to the widespread adoption of a required clinical clerkship program, which continued to evolve and is now known as the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE).

This all changed in 1992 when the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) voted to require that all accredited pharmacy schools offer PharmD degrees. As of July 2013, there are currently 129 accredited pharmacy schools with full or candidate accreditation status and 1 school with precandidate status.

There are several paths to obtain a PharmD. Some pharmacy schools allow you to go straight from high school into an accelerated PharmD program (0+6) or an early assurance program that guarantees admission after two years of undergrad. Most pharmacy schools now require that you obtain a bachelor’s degree first. The PharmD programs are usually 4 years in length. However, there are a few Doctor of Pharmacy programs such as the University of the Pacific in Stockon, California, which is a 3 year program.

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The PharmD curriculum includes a didactic component as well as experiential component during the first and last year of pharmacy school, which are known as Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE), respectively. After graduating from pharmacy school, you will still need to pass the NAPLEX exam and your state’s law exam called the MJPE (or CPJE if you plan on practicing in California).

Although there are still practicing pharmacists with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, all new graduates have gone through a PharmD program. Recent pharmacy graduates can pursue additional post-graduate training in the form of a residency (known as the PGY1 for year 1 and PGY2 for year 2) or fellowship.

Today’s pharmacists practice in various settings such as community, academia, ambulatory care, long term care, government, managed care, nuclear, pharmaceutical industry, regulatory agencies, research, specialty, staff hospital, clinical hospital, and consulting.

High School to PharmD Programs

  • Florida A&M University
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Boston
  • Northeastern University
  • Ohio Northern University
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • St. John’s University
  • St. Louis College of Pharmacy
  • The University of Findlay
  • The University of Rhode Island
  • University of the Sciences

Early Assurance PharmD Programs

  • Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Belmont University
  • Butler University
  • California Northstate University
  • Campbell University
  • D’Youville College
  • Harding University
  • Husson University
  • Mercer University
  • Midwestern University/Downers Grove
  • Northeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Oregon State University
  • Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Shenandoah University
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Sullivan University
  • Union University
  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • The University of Mississippi
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • The University of New Mexico
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • The University of Tennessee
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Toledo
  • The University of Utah
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Wayne State University
  • Western New England University
  • Western University of Health Sciences

All other PharmD Programs can be found on the AACP website

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