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Pre-Professional Advising

Advising to Meet Pharmacy School Requirements

PREPARE TO help people live healthier lives with a career as a pharmacist.

There are no “Pre-Pharmacy” majors at colleges and universities. Most pharmacy schools do not require that you major in science-related field, but do require that you complete the prerequisite coursework. Because much of the required coursework is in the sciences, most Pre-Pharmacy students select Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry  as their majors. As long as the required prerequisite courses are taken, any major can be pursued. Be sure to check each of your prospective Pharmacy program’s prerequisite course requirements, as they can vary from institution to institution.

You should let your academic advisor know as soon as possible that admission to pharmacy school is your post-graduation goal. Your advisor will work with you to ensure that you take the required prerequisite coursework, complete the required hours of clinical experience if necessary,  and mentor you towards research experiences that will broaden your training and make your application stand out. 

If you are interested in helping people live healthier lives, then a diverse and rewarding career in Pharmacy might just what the doctor ordered. As a pharmacist, you can help improve the quality of life for patients on a daily basis and be involved in patient care, research, and innovation.

Catawba College students interested in pursuing a career a pharmacist can branch out into many different areas such as community practice, pharmaceutical research and  development, hospital pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, consultant pharmacy, long-term and health care pharmacy, and government pharmacy. While the responsibilities vary among these areas of pharmacy practice, the common underlying thread is that pharmacists help patients get well.


It usually takes at least two years of specific undergraduate study to earn the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, followed by four academic years of professional pharmacy study. Most students enter a pharmacy degree program after completion of three or more years of college.

The average GPA of the admitted class at most pharmacy schools is 3.5 and the average score on the PCAT is 400 (50th percentile). To be considered competitive, Catawba Pre-Pharmacy students should aim to score in the 70th percentile or better.  Generally, out-of-state students should be expected to need higher scores, as preference is often given to in-state applicants.

We highly recommend that students planning to attend pharmacy school call the admissions offices at the institutions at which they wish to apply and ask for the average GPA and PCAT scores for their most recent admitted class. Those scores should be the goal!


While it is important to have good GPA and PCAT scores, pharmacy schools want to know that they are admitting well-rounded individuals that demonstrate good judgment, dependability, and attention to detail. Pharmacy schools also want to know that as a Pharmacist, you will have high ethical standards, communicate well with others, be organized with medical records, and stay current on your knowledge about medications to ensure each patient has optimal results. There are many experiences that you can have while at Catawba College to demonstrate your commitment to these qualities:

Catawba College Student Interning
Clinical Experience.

Catawba students can get some of the best clinical experience by shadowing a pharmacist or working as a pharmacy technician in a pharmacy or health-related setting such as a hospital or nursing home. We recommend students seek out these opportunities as early and often as possible, keeping an accurate and detailed journal of your experiences including dates, locations, contact information, and if it was paid or volunteer-based. The number of hours and type of work involved should also be recorded.  If you are unable to gain clinical or volunteer experience directly related to pharmacy, contact the admissions office of the pharmacy school to which you plan to apply for a list of experiences they would accept which adequately demonstrate your knowledge of the profession.

Catawba College Student Interning

Students at Catawba College have the option of doing an Independent Study with a faculty member. Look into summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and internships at the North Carolina Research Campus.

Catawba College Student Networking

Network and make connections with professionals that can write good letters of recommendation. Most programs require 1-4 letters of evaluation or recommendations, several of which should be from a practicing pharmacist and professor or academic advisor. Select individuals who know you well and can speak to your maturity, dependability, dedication, compassion, communication skills, leadership and any hands-on experience in the field.

Catawba College Students working together
Team and Leadership Experience.

Get experience working well with others by becoming an active participant in one or more of the many clubs and organizations at Catawba College.

RESOURCES FOR pharmacy school


The Preparation You Need.



Most pharmacy schools use the following as selection criteria for admission:

    • Completion of Prerequisite Coursework
    • Overall GPA and GPA of Required Courses
    • Score on the PCAT
    • Pharmacy Office Shadowing Experiences
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Application through the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)
    • Interview

The actual admissions requirements vary from one pharmacy school to the next. Students should check the specific admissions requirements for the pharmacy school to which they plan to apply.




Ideally, Catawba College students planning to attend pharmacy school should take the PCAT no later than the January exam dates prior to the academic year for which you are seeking admission.

Many practices tests are available online and at bookstores.
Try a PCAT preparation test, such as those offered by Kaplan. They are expensive but tend to result in higher scores.
Prepare for the PCAT , but also be sure to relax the day you take your exam. If you have a positive mental attitude while taking the test, you can often do better on the test!


On internship experiences:

"I would tell other prospective interns not to sell themselves short. No matter what your background or where you come from! I came in not expecting to get results from our internship experience, and we got some results, and that was awesome."

Holli Chandler '16 
Chemistry Major; Attending Auburn University's Harrison School of Pharmacy

While at Catawba, Chandler was a Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) intern at the N.C. Research Campus (NCRC), taking first place prize with her team in the 2015 poster competition. 

Pre-Health Advisory Committee 

The Pre-Health Advisory Committee at Catawba College provides advisement on preparing for admission to pharmacy school. These faculty advisors also write "Committee Letters" of recommendation and offer students mock interviews to help practice for the real thing. We are here to help you!


Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Pharmacy School
Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Pharmacy School

The exact prerequisite courses vary from one pharmacy school to the next. You should always refer to the admission requirements for the pharmacy school to which you will apply and follow those guidelines. However, here are common prerequisite courses, where students must complete at least two years of relevant undergraduate coursework within the program, including studies in:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Advanced Math
  • English

Once this work is completed, students take the PCAT examination to qualify for the advanced portion of the combined degree.