Pre-Pharmacy Exploration & Preparation Guide

General Tips:

  • Visit the Pre-Health portal for a comprehensive look at the pre-health resources here at UW
  • Learn more about the various careers in healthcare by visiting  
  • Subscribe to the Health Career Interest page to stay up-to-date with relevant news on health-related jobs/internships; it also includes several resources regarding preparing and applying to graduate health programs.
  • Engage in this self-paced online course to learn about the significant steps in the application process for health professional programs.
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor* (UAA/Departmental/OMA&D) to discuss course planning.
  • Schedule an appointment with a career coach* to discuss your career interests and goals, plus how to reach them.

*Disclaimer: The University of Washington does not have dedicated pre-health advisors, so staff members you meet with will likely not have deep or special insight but rather more general knowledge of requirements and recommendations.

Choose from one of the following for more information:

In addition to courses, students should actively gain clinical exposure. Students are encouraged to get both professional-facing  (shadowing) and patient-facing time. Both are instrumental in demonstrating that students are a good fit for the profession, capable of being good pharmacists and working and empathizing with patients. We encourage students to start documenting their clinical experiences so they can reflect on them later in the application process. Explore opportunities near the UW to build clinical experience and gain health-related credentials.

While research experience is not a requirement for PA school, many students use research to explore the intersection of science and medicine. Explore and discover research opportunities at the UW through the Office of Undergraduate Research (171 Mary Gates Hall).

Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Students are encouraged to reflect on what leadership looks like in pharmacy and how their involvement in clubs, volunteering, employment, research, sports, and Greek Life may help them demonstrate they have the necessary leadership skills. Visit HuskyLink to explore RSOs. The Community Engagement & Leadership Education (CELE) Center is also a great resource!

Letters of Recommendation are vital to a student’s pharmacy school. Professional schools vary in how many letters they require and from whom but will usually require at least one science professor. Establishing relationships with faculty, TAs, mentors, principal investigators, and supervisors early on can help with creating strong letters of recommendations.  

Pharmacy schools do not expect or prefer any particular undergraduate major. We encourage students to pursue a major that is interesting to them and one they can academically excel in, as a strong GPA makes a competitive candidate.

Every pharmacy school has different expectations in terms of required and recommended coursework. Students may need to exceed the requirements of some schools to meet the requirements of other schools. We encourage students to review the requirements of individual schools from the Pharm.D. directory via the PharmCAS page.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) annual summary of coursework list is also helpful for researching specific course requirements of schools in the U.S. when you are ready to apply. This is updated each year. The following courses are required/recommended by most pharmacy schools:

  • Most require:
    • General Biology (Labs vary)
    • General Chemistry (Labs vary)
    • Organic Chemistry (Labs vary)
    • Anatomy & Physiology (Labs vary)
    • Biochemistry (Labs vary)
    • Microbiology (Labs vary)
    • Calculus 
    • English Composition
  • Some require (and many recommend):
    • Physics (Labs vary)
    • Psychology
    • Behavioral/Social Sciences (varies)
    • Statistics
    • Communication/Speech
    • Economics

Every Pharmacy school has different expectations for competitive GPAs – no universal standard exists. Every school also has its policy on whether the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is needed, though many schools have recently removed the PCAT requirement. The Pharm.D. Directory provides information on accepted candidates’ minimum and average GPA and PCAT requirements.