There's only one path to becoming a pharmacist: you must earn a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited college, university, or school of pharmacy. In addition, all Pharm.D. students must complete a one or two-year residency program or fellowship.
Pharm.D. programs typically take four years to complete. Before enrolling, students must have at least two years of specific professional study (*pre-pharmacy curriculum), although most applicants have completed three years of study at a college or university.
If you are interested in becoming a pharmacist and you would prefer to complete your degree online, it is important to research each online program to make sure it has been accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, specifically, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Although verifying accreditation should be enough, it couldn't hurt to double check to make sure the program offers all of the courses you need to prepare you for the licensing examination. Remember, all states require a license to practice pharmacy. It is also a good idea to review the curriculum if the online school has been accredited by an agency other than the ACPE.
The following accrediting agencies are also recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It is important to note that the *Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) accredits many online colleges and online degree programs.
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- *The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
The following U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agencies offer regional accreditation:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Online Pharmacy Degree Curriculum
Online pharmacy degree curriculums at top online colleges should be the same as traditional curriculums for top on-campus programs. Before entering the pharmacy degree program, students must complete the following *pre-pharmacy curriculum:
- General Chemistry
- Pharmacy Orientation
- Organic Chemistry
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Elementary Statistical Methods
- Immune System & Genetic Therapies
Pharm.D. course requirements are as follows:
- Ambulatory APPE (Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences)
- Biotech./Adv. Parenteral Dosage Forms
- Community Operations
- Community Pharmacy Operations
- Dosage Forms
- Drug Info/Literature Eval./Biostatistics
- Health Care Systems
- Health Policy Applications
- Hospital Pharmacy Operations
- Inpatient APPE
- Institutional Operations
- Integrated Pharmocotherapy
- Intro to Pt Care/Pt Assess/Communications
- Introduction to APPE
- Patient Safety & Informatics
- Pharmaceutical Calculations
- Pharmacy Law
- Pharmacy Law & Ethics
- Population Health Management
- Practice Management & Marketing
- Principles of Diagnosis, Labs, Monitoring
- Principles of Patho-physiology, Drug Action, ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) and Toxicology
- Principles of Pharmacogenomics
- Principles of Pharmacokinetics
- Public Health/Wellness/Self Care/OTC (over-the-counter)
Finding Online Pharmacy Degree Programs
To locate top accredited online pharmacy degree programs, check with traditional universities first to see what they have to offer. The online division for each accredited school will list offerings. You may also search through comprehensive online directories such as Online Colleges USA.
Each online degree program will offer information on accreditation status. The list of accrediting agencies mentioned in this article are just a few. For a complete list of recognized accrediting agencies, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website (ED.gov) for details.
Tip: Pharmacists made the list of the top 50 highest paid positions in America. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, median annual wages of wage and salary pharmacists in May 2008 were $106,410. The middle 50 percent earned between $92,670 and $121,310 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $77,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,440 a year.