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Bachelor's Degree in Pharmacy: Online and Campus-Based Programs

A bachelor's degree in pharmacy can train you for a career as a pharmacist, filling prescriptions and advising patients on how to safely take their medicine. Alternately, you could pursue this program to become a pharmaceutical researcher and work to find new medicines to cure diseases and illness. This article describes the difference between the educational tracks that can lead to these careers.

What Can I Expect in a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science Program?

Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science (BSPS) programs are generally science-heavy. Curricula may be specifically designed to prepare you for a science research career. These programs are not widely available online.

Program formats may vary by school. A program may be split into two sections referred to as pre-professional and professional divisions. The pre-professional coursework takes two years to complete. It focuses on foundational lab science topics like chemistry, organic chemistry and biology. You'll also take courses in math and physics. Even in colleges without official divisions in the curriculum, these basic science classes will typically be your first courses.

The professional division, which involves more pharmaceutical study, may take two or three years to complete. You could take classes in physiological chemistry and drug therapy, as well as a series of experiential learning courses. Alternatively, a program may give you the option to focus on a specific area, like medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, or industrial and physical chemistry.

Common in-field course requirements include the study of physical effects of pharmaceuticals, drug interactions and drug manufacturing processes. Schools may encourage you to complete an internship focusing on drug research or manufacturing. However, not all schools offer class credit for internship time.

Common Courses Physiological chemistry, drug therapy, oganic chemistry, drug manufacturing processes, drug interactions
Career Option Pharmaceutical sales representative selling products to medical clinics and doctors
Pharmacist Degree Options Undergraduate pre-pharmacy program followed by a Pharm.D. program, joint bachelor's and Pharm.D. program
Pharm.D. Prerequisites Undergraduate science coursework, personal interview, PCAT scores
Median Salary (2018)$126,120 (for pharmacists)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)6% growth (for all pharmacists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Do With a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science?

A BSPS program may give you the knowledge necessary to work in pharmaceutical sales. Pharmaceutical sales representatives typically have a 4-year degree, according to the BLS. As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you would be responsible for selling pharmaceutical products to doctors and medical clinics in a specific region.

Graduation from a BSPS program also gives you a foundation for graduate study in pharmaceutical sciences or related fields, like biotechnology. According to the BLS, a master's or doctoral degree is usually required for careers in pharmaceutical research (www.bls.gov).

What Degree Program Prepares Me For a Career as a Pharmacist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a pharmacist is required to have a professional doctorate, the Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D. Some schools offer an undergraduate-level pre-pharmacy program that prepares students for direct entry into a Pharm.D. program. Pre-pharmacy programs may be offered in a variety of formats, including a 3-year undergraduate path to Pharm.D. admissions or a joint 4-year bachelor's and 3-year Pharm.D. program.

Pre-pharmacy programs typically include courses in human anatomy, organic and general chemistry, biology and calculus. Another common course in these programs is a pharmacy orientation course that provides students with a foundation in pharmacy practice. Other program components vary by school. For example, you might be able to complete your pre-pharmacy coursework in two years at a school that offers summer school classes. You may be able to take pharmacy coursework during a summer session, or you may be able to use this time to fulfill any general education requirements.

What is Required for Entry into a Pharm.D. Program?

In some cases, you do not need to have earned a bachelor's degree to be admitted to a Pharm.D. program. Instead, you may need to have completed undergraduate coursework in areas like general chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus and physiology. Some, but not all, schools require a personal interview prior to admission into a Pharm.D. program.

To enter a Pharm.D. program, some schools require that you take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). This test covers topics like chemistry, reading, biology and reasoning. As part of your application for this exam, you must write a personal essay explaining your goals and why you want to be a pharmacist.

Your chosen school might give doctoral admissions preference to students who have completed their pre-pharmacy work at the same institution, but this isn't always the case. Schools might offer multiple paths of entry to their Pharm.D. program, allowing students from other institutions to enter. You may be able to complete the Pharm.D. online or on campus, although some online programs would require you to attend sessions on campus throughout the year.