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Pharmacy

Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing drugs. Pharmacists earn a doctorate degree in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) by attending pharmacy school. The University of Houston does have a College of Pharmacy.

Specific questions regarding UH College of Pharmacy programs and admission can be directed to James Martinez: jmarti63@central.uh.edu or pharmdinfo@uh.edu. We also encourage prospective pre-Pharmacy students to take advantage of UH College of Pharmacy Admissions Counseling.

Although a life-science major such as Biology may offer the most practical route to completing the requirements for admission into pharmacy school, it is not required. It is more important that you choose a major that best fits your interests. Many pre-Pharmacy students pick a STEM major such as Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry because many of the prerequisites for pharmacy school are already required courses for the completion of the major. As long as you show proficiency in the sciences and a general pattern of challenging yourself, your major is largely unimportant to admission committees.

Be aware that completion of an undergraduate degree is not required for the majority of Pharm.D. programs; instead, you may simply complete the required pre-requisite courses, apply, and matriculate if accepted. That said, the Pre-Health Advising Center encourages students to complete their undergraduate degree before entering pharmacy school. Approximately 54% of students accepted into the University of Houston College of Pharmacy have completed a B.A. or B.S. degree.

The basic course requirements for the University of Houston College of Pharmacy are as follows:

  • Biology: BIOL 1361/1161 & BIOL 1362/1162 (*BIOL 1306/1106 & BIOL 1307/1107)
  • Calculus: MATH 1431 (*MATH 2413)
  • English: ENGL 1303 & ENGL 1304 (*ENGL 1301 & ENGL 1302)
  • General Chemistry: CHEM 1331/1111 & CHEM 1332/1112 (*CHEM 1311/1111 & CHEM 1312/1112)
  • Organic Chemistry: CHEM 3331/3221 & CHEM 3332/3222 (*CHEM 2323/2123 & CHEM 2325/2125)
  • Genetics: BIOL 3301
  • Microbiology: BIOL 3332/3132 (*BIOL 2321/2121)
  • Psychology or Sociology: PSYC 1300 (*PSYC 2301) or SOCI 1300 (*SOCI 1301)
  • Physics: PHYS 1301 (lab not required)
  • Statistics: MATH 2311 (*MATH 1342), MATH 3339, PSYC 3301 (*PSYC 2317)
  • Core Requirements: History, Political Science, Creative Arts, Language/Philosophy/Culture, Writing in the Disciplines

*Course names/numbers effective Fall 2021

While most other pharmacy schools will require the above pre-requisite courses, it is up to you to visit the individual schools’ admission office’s webpage to learn about their specific admissions policy.

Pharmacy programs via the PharmCAS application compute several different GPAs for each applicant:

Year-Level GPAs/Academic Status
• Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Post-Baccalaureate, Cumulative Undergraduate, Graduate, Overall

Course Subject Category GPAs 
• Biochemistry, Biology & Other Life Sciences, Inorganic Chemistry, Math, Microbiology, Organic Chemistry, Other Science, Physics, and Social & Behavioral Science

Science, Non-Science, and Mathematics GPAs
• PharmCAS divides each Year-level GPA into Science, Non-Science, and Overall

College/University GPA
• Separate GPA for college/university attended based on PharmCAS GPA calculation rules.

The PharmCAS GPA calculations do utilize the +/- grading convention.

Yes, to a certain extent, you may complete pre-requisite courses outside of the University of Houston. However, our general advice is that if you are enrolled at the University of Houston, you should only take courses that fulfill prerequisite or requisite coursework for your degree plan or for your professional school application at the University of Houston. Taking 1-2 courses in the Summer outside of UH is not a big deal, but avoid making it a habit.

That said, if you are a transfer student bringing in credits from another institution, then you do not need to retake prerequisites for your professional school application. That includes transfer students who are transferring from community college as well as four-year institutions. The quality of your education will be tested in the coursework that you take once you enroll at the university. 

The Pharmacy College Admission Test is the standardized exam that pharmacy school admissions use as a standardized metric to measure an applicant's readiness for their program.  Indeed, 8 of the 9 TX pharmacy programs required the PCAT.

The PCAT is offered during July, September, January, and February. Additional dates are sometimes available in October or November.

The PCAT is computer based and tests the following content:

  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Math (including Calculus)
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing and Verbal Abilities
For most students, the PCAT should be taken after the first year in college. Before taking the exam, you should plan to have completed at least BIOL 1361/1362 (with labs), CHEM 1331/1332 (with labs), and MATH 1431. You do not need to have completed CHEM 3331, but should at least be enrolled in the course.

PCAT scores more than three years old will not be considered when making admissions decisions.

Applicants should take the exam several times to achieve their highest score (maximum of 5 attempts allowed).

There are no hard and fast rules for gaining admission into pharmacy school. That said, a competitive applicant has:

  • Strong GPA (>3.5)
  • Strong PCAT (>79th percentile rank)
  • Pattern of taking challenging coursework and credit-load (>12/semester)
  • Extra-curricular involvement (leadership in student organizations, research, employment, etc.)
  • Consistent volunteer experience
  • Experience in or exposure to the pharmacy field (shadowing and/or employment)

The key is to perform well in your science classes, do well on the PCAT, and pursue activities and opportunities that introduce you to the field of pharmacy. It also important that you follow your interests as well, even if they are not directly related to healthcare. Sports, literature, film, music, acting, dancing, hobbies, and any sort of competition all fall in this category. Admissions committees value applicants that well-rounded and have interests outside of medicine. 

As in any career choice, applicants should confirm their decision to become a pharmacist through personal experience. Such experience ranges from shadowing a pharmacist, working in a pharmacy, participating in related research, and learning more about different fields.

Keep track of all experience (date, location, description) because some schools request a listing when you apply. Further, many schools (including UH) require a letter of evaluation from a licensed pharmacist for admission.

Working in a pharmacy as a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is a great way to obtain long-term exposure to the daily life of pharmacist. In Texas, you must pass the exam given by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and pass a background investigation by the State of Texas. Beginning January 1, 2020, completion of a PTCB-recognized education/training program OR equivalent work experience will be required of all new CPhT applicants. Additionally, some shadowing and internship programs require you have your PharmTech trainee certification in order to participate. You should gain certification as soon as possible so that you are able to participate in activities.

Just like shadowing, volunteering is not just a box to check. It is an opportunity to display your desire to serve others.

The University of Houston College of Pharmacy requires at least 25 hours of community service and involvement. Admissions committees are looking for applicants who not only demonstrate that they can perform well in rigorous courses, but also those who are compassionate, enjoy working with people and are dedicated to serving the community. Volunteering can be done in a clinical setting such as a hospital or hospice, but it can also be done with student or off-campus organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, or anything else that you passionate about.

Most Pharmacy schools, including the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, utilize the PharmCAS application. This is a single centralized application that is used to apply to Pharmacy school. 

The PharmCAS applications usually opens in early July each application cycle. You should plan to submit this application as early as possible (within a few weeks).

You should apply to multiple Pharmacy schools and not assume you will get into the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. Further, it is important that you research the requirements and mission of each school to which you hope to apply.

After submitting your PharmCAS application, you will need to complete the supplemental applications for each school that requires one (e.g., University of Houston College of Pharmacy). These applications often include additional short-essay prompts and are specific to each school. You should plan to complete the supplemental applications as soon as possible after you submit the PharmCAS application.

PharmCAS Application Walkthrough (AY 2020)

Yes, Pharmacy schools will require applicants to submit three individual Letters of Evaluation as a part of their application.

These letters should typically consist of:

  • One letter from licensed pharmacist practicing in the US
  • One letter from a faculty member
  • One additional letter from another pharmacist, faculty member, or teaching assistant, advisor, employer, or supervisor.

Due to the size of UH, it can be difficult to generate 2-3 strong letters from college faculty who know you very well and can offer significant insight into your character traits and capacity for entering the profession of pharmacy. Therefore, it is important to provide your evaluators with as much information as possible:

  1. Recent copy of your resume (with picture)
  2. Detailed instructions for how the letter should be submitted (PharmCAS)
  3. Brief statement of your educational goals
  4. Rough draft of your PharmCAS personal statement

Note: Always waive your right to view your letters of evaluation.

Yes, although most applicants focus mainly on GPA and PCAT scores, the personal statement is a very important component of your application and should be carefully written. This is your opportunity to highlight things about you that are not mentioned in other sections of your application and to distinguish yourself from other applicants.

The PharmCAS essay is limited to 1 page, 4500 characters.

Your Personal Statement should address why you selected pharmacy as a career and how the Doctor of Pharmacy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals.

Pharmacy Admissions Data for EY2019*

  • UH Applicants: 98
  • UH Accepted: 72
  • UH Acceptance Rate: 73% / Texas Average Acceptance Rate: 79%
University of Houston (EY2019)
Overall GPA Science GPA PCAT Average PCAT Percentile
Applied 3.34 3.15 n/a n/a
Accepted 3.39 3.21 n/a n/a
All PharmCAS Applicants (EY2019)
Overall GPA Science GPA PCAT Average PCAT Percentile
Applied 3.23 3.06 n/a n/a
Accepted 3.31 3.15 n/a n/a

*Note: Includes only applicants who designated the University of Houston as their primary institution in the PharmCAS application and authorized release of their application data to the Pre-Health Advising Center.