Top Pharmacy Schools

What are the top pharmacy schools in the United States?

Your perception of the top pharmacy schools may different from the next student. However, if you are going off of the most recent USNews (2012) rankings, the top pharmacy schools:

  • #1 University of California–​San Francisco
  • #2 University of North Carolina–​Chapel Hill
  • #3 University of Minnesota
  • #4 University of Texas–​Austin
  • #5 University of Kentucky
  • #5 University of Wisconsin–​Madison
  • #7 Ohio State University
  • #7 Purdue University
  • #7 University of Michigan–​Ann Arbor
  • #10 University of Arizona
  • #10 University of Southern California
  • #10 University of Utah
  • #10 University of Washington

Top Pharmacy Schools - Lecture Hall


Interestingly, four of the top pharmacy schools tied for 10th. This is why you see 13 total schools on this list for a top 10 list (strange huh?). These rankings were based on a peer survey sent out to deans, administrators, faculty for all accredited pharmacy schools in good standing in the Fall of 2011. “Respondents rated the academic quality of programs on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding).” Essentially, each school received an average score based on the perception of staff from other schools. There was a 39% response rate which isn’t too great of a response for a survey. This ranking system is far from perfect. There are many subjective factors that go into this ranking system, and there is no input from students who attend the programs.

In my opinion, a pharmacy school ranking system should include key metrics such as full-time employment rate, residency match rate, student:faculty ratio, tuition costs, research grants, and availability of Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) sites. If anyone knows of any other ranking system, please comment below.

Pre-pharmacy students researching top pharmacy schools should consider what would make a program a great fit for them regardless of rank. For example, if they are focusing on pursuing or exploring a career in managed care, some schools are much stronger than others. Every pre-pharmacy student should reach out to current students or alumni to find out what the strengths of that PharmD program are. Don’t know anyone from that school? We live in the Internet age! You can probably find a student here or on StudentDoctor. Other ways to find out are to do some research on LinkedIn using relevant keywords and targeting schools that interest you. Better to do the tedious research now than to regret going to the wrong PharmD program later. You may find that the top pharmacy schools to you differ based on your research.

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Other students may worry about the cost of tuition and the cost of living.Will they be able to establish in-state tuition? By moving to another state, how far does their dollar go? (On a side note, I just moved out of California, and my dollar goes ~30-40% further!) These are questions that should be asked by a cost-conscious pre-pharmacy student looking into PharmD programs. With the unavailability of subsidized loans for graduate students, it would behoove every pre-pharmacy student who will need to borrow money to accurately project expenditures over the next four years. Ideally, a pharmacy student can attend a PharmD program with a strong curriculum, low tuition, and located in an area with low cost of living.

There are other factors that should determine the top pharmacy schools for you. You may want to look at whether or not the PharmD program offers dual degrees. For example, the University of Southern California has dual degree programs that combine the PharmD degree with the MBA, JD, MS Regulatory Science, MS Gerontology, MS Global Medicine, PhD, and MPH. Also, does the school have a good brand? One way to find out is to find out more about the faculty of specific programs and to look at undergraduate rankings (these do correlate pretty well with the strength of the pharmacy school programs). Other determining factors may be the presence of a football team and the overall safety of the neighborhood of the pharmacy school.

In conclusion, don’t base your decision on published ranks alone, but really ask yourself if that program is a right fit for you.

photo credit: stockmonkeys.com

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