Virginia Commonwealth University

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Pre-Pharmacy

Program Information

The curriculum in pre-pharmacy offered by the College of Humanities and Sciences meets the minimum academic requirements needed for application to many professional programs, including the doctoral degree program in pharmacy offered by the School of Pharmacy on the MCV Campus. Students intending to apply to a professional program at another institution should consult that institution’s bulletin for specific pre-requisite courses.

Admission to and satisfactory completion of the preparation program offered by the college does not constitute admission to the final four years of the doctoral program on the MCV Campus. In the summer or fall of the year preceding the year of desired admission, the student must apply separately to pharmacy school through the electronic application source, Pharmcas.

Admission into the program is based on scholastic record, demonstrated aptitude and interest, and a personal interview conducted by the school’s admissions committee.

Advising Information

The pre-pharmacy program at VCU will prepare students to enter the first professional program in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) at the VCU School of Pharmacy. The pre-requisites to prepare students to enter other schools of pharmacy can be taken at VCU, but these requirements differ from one pharmacy school to another, so students should identify the specific schools to which they want to apply before choosing courses. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Web site links to individual pharmacy school sites where you may check their prerequisites.

Pre-requisite course work

Students intending to complete pharmacy school should complete a major program before entering, as well as declaring pre-pharmacy as a concentration. This designation will be posted on the student’s transcript. For information on selecting a major, see the Choosing a Major. It is recommended that applicants select a challenging courseload of math and science courses each semester to ensure adequate preparation for the academic rigor of pharmacy school.

Students need to complete their bachelor’s degrees and the required science pre-requisite courses before being eligible to start the Pharm. D. program on the MCV campus.

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Prerequisites for students intending to enter pharmacy school

The prerequisites for the PharmD program at VCU are listed on the pharmacy school website.

Students who want to learn more about the specific VCU prerequisites should consult their pre-health advisor.

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Elective courses

Pharmacy school applicants also are required to have a minimum of 18 elective credits, which should represent a well-balanced program of courses in the arts, humanities and sciences. However, courses in studio art, science, physical education or mathematics cannot be used to count toward the 18 hours of electives. Most major programs will require more than the minimum number of elective courses.

Students are advised to follow the general education requirements for Humanities and Sciences when selecting elective courses. The lists also are published in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

AP, CLEP, IB or other college placement credits cannot count toward replacing pre-requisite course work. AP credits in science should be made up with courses “in kind.” For example, if a student has AP credit for CHEM 101 and CHEZ 101 (general chemistry and lab), the student should take an additional course in chemistry, such as CHEM 309 and CHEZ 309 (analytical chemistry with lab), to satisfy the chemistry requirements for pre-pharmacy.

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PHAR 201 Introduction to Pharmacy

Each spring, the VCU School of Pharmacy offers a one-credit course, PHAR 201 Introduction to Pharmacy. The course introduces undergraduates to the field of pharmacy and helps them gain practical exposure to the field while pursuing pre-requisite course work. It is recommended that pre-pharmacy students take this course in their freshman year or the spring semester directly after transfer into VCU.

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Standardized tests (PCAT)

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is required for most pharmacy schools. Tests are given in October, June, August and January. It is recommended that students take the October or January PCAT if they wish to enter pharmacy school in the following fall semester. Many students applying for early admission to the VCU School of Pharmacy take the PCAT in June, 14 months before they plan on starting pharmacy school. This makes students eligible for the early decision program. It is highly recommended that students have level I of organic chemistry and physics complete or nearing completion before taking the PCAT test. Registration for the PCAT is available online.

The PCAT consists of five separate subtests, including verbal ability, biology, reading comprehension, quantitative ability and chemistry. The test also measures critical thinking skills.

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Application information

PharmCAS begins accepting applications June 15. Apply between the summer and fall to start pharmacy school in the fall of the following school year.

The best time to submit a pharmacy application is after grades are posted for at least one level of organic chemistry. (Some schools have deadlines as early as Nov. 1, while others are as late as March 1.) While it is in your best interest to have a PCAT score reported early in the process, it is not necessary to have taken the PCAT and completed all the necessary pre-requisites before applying. However, all pre-requisites should be completed before beginning pharmacy school.

It is important that you know the application process for each school to which you will apply. Note that not all pharmacy schools use the PharmCAS application process. Some schools may require supplemental applications; these are identified on the PharmCAS. All letters recommendation will be collected through PharmCAS.

When taking the PCAT, ensure that scores are sent to PharmCAS. If you are applying to non-PharmCAS schools, however, you will need to request score reports be released to those schools.

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Sending transcripts

Transcripts must be sent to PharmCAS directly from the Office of Records and Registration. Do not send them yourself. Request transcripts from all U.S., U.S. territorial or Canadian postsecondary institutions attended, even if transfer work appears on your VCU transcript. If you are enrolled in school during the summer or fall semester while or after you apply, send updated transcripts to all schools for which you are still in consideration immediately following the semester. Do not send additional transcripts to PharmCAS after your initial application. Send these directly to the schools to which you have applied.

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Letters of Evaluation

The Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising does not collect letters of evaluation for pre-pharmacy students. You will be required to send letters of evaluation, along with appropriate forms, to PharmCAS. Advice for collecting letters of reference. Detailed instructions and documentation for the VCU School of Pharmacy are available in their supplemental application materials.

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Pre-pharmacy listserve

The pre-pharmacy listserve is owned and maintained by the director of pre-health sciences advising. The purpose of the list is to publicize all activities that are relevant to the academic advising and application processes to pharmacy school. All students who have VCU e-mail addresses and have declared pre-pharmacy majors or concentrations are automatically added to the list each spring semester. From this site, subscribers who are not automatically added can visit the archive list of VCU list-serves, scroll down to PRE-PHARMACY and self subscribe.

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