Author’s note: this article reflects my personal experience in applying to pharmacy school. Keep in mind that PharmD programs in the United States have similar, but not identical, course requirements.
Most applicants to pharmacy schools have earned a bachelor’s degree in the realm of the life sciences. Some have a background in chemistry, and a few come from other academic disciplines such as engineering. A few make the transition to pharmacy school after only two years of undergraduate course work. At any rate, regardless of your undergraduate major, it is a good idea to take certain courses in preparation for pharmacy school.
In the realm of chemistry, at least one semester of inorganic chemistry and one semester of organic with their respective labs is required by many, if not most, schools of pharmacy.
As for physics, one to two semesters of this course along with the lab is also a good idea. Although the main relationship of physics to the field of pharmacy is the realm of pharmaceutics (the formulation and production of medications), one benefit is that it will keep your math skills sharp. And it will make courses like pharmaceutical chemistry less of a nightmare.
Biology presents an array of options. From personal experience, two extremely helpful courses in terms of scoring high on the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) and doing well in pharmacy school itself are biochemistry and cell biology. Human anatomy, physiology, and immunology are also good choices, as is neurobiology. If possible, try to take an introductory pharmacology course as well.
As far as a mathematics requirement goes, taking at least one semester of calculus is a good recommendation. At minimum, it will definitely improve your score on the math section of the PCAT. At many undergraduate schools, all science majors must take one to two semesters of calculus anyway. (My personal theory is that if calculus were to remain optional no one except math majors would take it at the college level.) Look on the bright side – at least you won’t have to take really difficult math courses like differential equations. Also, make sure to take a 3 credit course in statistics. This course is often a prerequisite as well, even though the important points are reviewed during first year pharmacy school courses.
Other prerequisite courses may include such diverse subjects as English composition, microeconomics, and public speaking. Taking an English composition course makes sense to the extent that honing your writing skills never hurts. Public speaking is also a good idea, especially for anyone who has a phobia of speaking in front of a group. Microeconomics introduces you to the basics of running your own business. Considering that the number of independent pharmacies in the U.S. continues to decline, however, the logic behind making this course a prerequisite for pharmacy school escapes me.