Written By: JuliAna Brammer, MBA, Director of Admissions, Records, and Registration
Making the decision to apply to pharmacy school can be both exciting and overwhelming. With the changing health care environment, pharmacists are in serious demand. However, the application process to get you started on this career path is much different than the process that you likely experienced when applying to undergraduate colleges and universities.
To help alleviate your worries as you begin to navigate the process, I’d like to share the top five facts that I think all prospective students should know before applying to pharmacy school. Gathered over my nearly 10 years as the director of admissions, records, and registration for the School of Pharmacy, I think these facts will give you a better understanding of what to expect from the process and help you more efficiently manage any challenges that might arise.
Fact 1: You Need to Plan Ahead
Applying to pharmacy school can be a process for which prospective students need to plan up to one year in advance. You need to prepare to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) in the fall, before applying, and select and notify individuals to write letters of recommendation on your behalf.
If you are interested in applying to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, I recommend reviewing our step-by-step directions to ensure that you have met all of the requirements and are aware of all of the important deadlines that you will need to meet to be considered for admission.
Fact 2: You Should Apply Early
The Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) opens in July. While you do not need to apply as soon as it opens, as the School of Pharmacy operates on a rolling admissions deadline, it can be helpful to know that the sooner you apply, the sooner you will know if you have been invited to an interview. Decisions about admission are typically made shortly after the interview.
PharmCAS also needs four to six weeks to verify student transcripts. If you submit your application early, the application service can begin the process of verifying your transcripts, while you work to upload your letters of recommendation and PCAT scores.
Fact 3: Nobody is Perfect
There is no such thing as the perfect pharmacy school applicant. However, it helps if you can demonstrate that your strengths and weaknesses complement each other. The minimum GPA accepted for admission to the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the School of Pharmacy is 2.5, and we typically look for PCAT scores of 40-65 percent. If your GPA is somewhat low, you should prepare to score a higher percentage on the PCAT.
Fact 4: The Well-Rounded Applicant Will Go Far
Academics are important, but the School of Pharmacy also values applicants who demonstrate other qualities, such as leadership. Getting involved in a club or other extracurricular activity as an undergraduate will help strengthen your application. In addition, while previous experience working in a pharmacy is not required for admission to pharmacy school, it can also strengthen your application and help to set you apart from the crowd.
Fact 5: Recommendations Should Be Carefully Selected
Choose the individuals whom you ask to submit letters of recommendation on your behalf wisely. Letters of recommendation should be completed by a professional reference – not a family member or friend – who can speak positively about their time and experience working with you.
Need More Information?
Still have questions about applying to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy? If so, I encourage you to attend one of our open houses, at which we provide in-depth information about the PharmD curriculum as well as the admissions process. Prospective students even have an opportunity to chat with current students about the program.
Our next open house is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, and we would love to see you there! You can register to attend by visiting our website.