How to Apply to Pharmacy School

Three Parts:Preparing to ApplyGathering Application MaterialsNavigating the PharmCAS Portal

There are various resources available online that can help you apply to pharmacy school. In particular, the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) will walk you through the creation of a web-based application that can then be used to apply to multiple Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) programs. Plan to use this platform if you intend to apply to multiple Pharm.D. programs. You can save money by applying to programs directly, though this process is more time consuming. Either way, begin compiling your application in the early summer of the year preceding the year you hope to begin a Pharm.D. program.[1]

Part 1
Preparing to Apply

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    Ensure programs you’re interested in are accredited. Only apply to programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). You must graduate from an accredited program in order to be a pharmacist in the U.S. You can look up specific programs to check accreditation status on the PharmCAS website or contact the program directly.[2]
    • Plan to apply early. This will give you a competitive advantage at schools with rolling admissions, and will increase the likelihood that your application is processed quickly and smoothly. Further, if a program requires additional information, you will be able to supply it before the formal due date.
  2. 2
    Write down important dates. Make a list of all the steps you need to complete during the application process. Include the date that each step must be completed be. If you usually don’t get around to tasks until the last minute, assign yourself due dates that are a week earlier than the program requires. [3]
    • Confirm program application deadlines well in advance. Note that PharmCAS deadlines will not correspond with specific program’s deadlines, as the service requires time to process and submit your application.
  3. 3
    Weigh the cost of PharmCAS . You will not be charged a fee until you submit an e-application through PharmCAS. Accordingly, the resources made available by PharmCAS can still be useful, even if you do not use the platform to formally apply to specific programs. Considering this high cost, you may not want to use Pharm.D. The main advantages of the portal involve the ability to easily apply to multiple programs. [4]
    • If you only apply to one or two Pharm.D. programs through PharmCAS, the cost is $205. Of course, The higher the number of schools you use PharmCAS to apply to, the higher the cost. Applying to 3 programs costs $260, applying to 4 costs $315, and so on.
  4. 4
    Consider applying Early Decision. You have the option to apply to one Pharm.D. program for an Early Decision (ED). If you have a first choice school that you know you want to go to if admitted, see if they offer ED. If so, considering applying for ED, with the understanding that you must enroll in that program if you are accepted.[5]
    • Due dates Early Decision in most programs will be in September the year before you would start the program.

Part 2
Gathering Application Materials

  1. 1
    Request letters of recommendation. During your undergraduate studies, think about which professors and/or employers would be willing to write you a letter or recommendation. Any volunteer or research experience may also be a great source of relationships from which you could derive a letter.[6]
    • Ask for letters at least two weeks before they are due. The more time you can offer someone, the more likely they will be able to devote attention to your letter.
    • If applying directly to individual programs, arrange to have letters sent directly to the programs themselves.
    • Plan to have letters sent directly to PharmCAS in July or early August. Remind those who wrote letters for you that they will prompted to submit their letters to PharmCAS electronically. You may also need to have letters sent directly to specific programs that require it.
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    Register and take the PCAT. Choose from several dates during registration. The best time to take the PCAT is late summer or early fall of the year you are applying. Shoot for a July date. Take the test at least six months before any program application deadlines. Be sure to prepare for the exam by completing preparation materials on your own or taking a PCAT prep class.[7]
    • Pay the $210 fee at registration. You may purchase a study guide for $25 dollars, and practice tests are also available, for additional fees.
    • Be sure to fill out personal information carefully while registering, and to bring state ID with matching information when you report to the testing center.
    • Registration for July, September, and January dates opens in March, while registration for October and November dates opens in September.
    • Be sure to keep all records of your scores, as well as your PCAT Candidate Identification Number (CID).
  3. 3
    Write a generic personal statement. Write a personal statement conveying your interest in becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy. Briefly mention the reasons you want to be a pharmacist, as well your qualifications and experience. If you have specific reasons for applying to certain programs, add this information to your generic letter for the corresponding applications.
  4. 4
    Organize extracurricular activity information. It can be helpful to include information about activities that won’t be on your transcript. For instance, note an volunteer or work experience, as well as clubs or leadership societies you are involved in. Compile all of this information into a single document to keep it organized and accessible, as different applications may ask for this information to be submitted in different ways.
  5. 5
    Consider purchasing the PSAR. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has compiled a document containing all of the requirements of accredited Pharm.D. schools in the U.S. This document is called the PSAR, and can be purchased from the AACP for $35.[8]
    • While it is not vital to purchase a copy of the PSAR, it can streamline your application process, particularly if you plan to apply to a large number of programs.
    • If you choose not to use the PharmCAS application service but do intend to apply to multiple programs, the PSAR may prove especially helpful.
  6. 6
    Apply to specific programs directly. While every program is different, almost all will have online portals that will require you to create a personal account. From there, you will be prompted to provide the information required to complete the application. Double check all of the information you enter before submitting, and be sure to pay any application fee before the program’s application deadline.
    • Quickly complete any supplemental application materials that the school provides.

Part 3
Navigating the PharmCAS Portal

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    Create your PharmCAS account. When the portal begins allowing application for the year you hope to begin a program, create an account and obtain a unique PharmCAD ID number. The portal will open in June or July for applications to programs starting the fall of the following year. [9]
    • Explore the PharmCAS website a bit, to familiarize yourself with the copious amounts of information available.
    • Download a PDF of the Pharm CAS Application Instructions for use offline.
  2. 2
    Follow the portal’s prompts. The Pharm CAS portal will prompt you to enter all of the information it needs to compile an application that can be sent to multiple programs. Provide information as directed. Expect to enter extensive personal information, class history, extracurricular, work experiences, and more.[10]
  3. 3
    Request transcripts through PharmCAS. Fill out and send the Transcript Request Form to every college or university you’ve attended. The system will also prompt you to enter information about U.S. coursework manually. This information will be an unofficial transcript you can obtain directly from any schools you attended.[11]
  4. 4
    Include your PCAT CID information. Have your PCAT scores sent directly to PharmCAS by including your PCAT CID number. If you are unable to report your PCAT CID number, call PharmCAS at 617-612-2050. [12]If you do apply through PharmCAS, your application will likely be sent out in August.
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    Complete supplemental application materials. After applying through the PharmCAS, you will likely have to complete supplemental application materials and/or pay a fee directly to the program before their formal deadline.[13]

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