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Top 3 Online PharmD Programs: BS or MS to PharmD

Learn which online PharmD programs are the best for your career goals

Pharmacists work in your local drug store, but did you know that they are also employed in hospitals, government, the military, hospice and home health care, medical publishing, research, and universities? Trained pharmacists are needed as our population ages, and this is a very highly paid career. So if you are looking for an in-demand health profession, considering online PharmD programs may be the perfect way for you to launch your career in pharmacy.

An easy way to get the training to become a licensed pharmacist is to consider online PharmD programs that will allow you to continue your current job and family obligations while you study. Online pharmacy schools will have some in-person pharmacy degree requirements, but pharmacy school prerequisites and courses can be completed online. There are even online PharmD programs that let practicing pharmacists with a bachelor’s degree upgrade their training to get the doctorate.

Pharmacist Career Path

How long is pharmacy school? How hard is pharmacy school? These are questions you might ask, as there are some advanced courses involved in pharmacist degree requirements.

Most pharmacy programs are four or more years long, but it depends on whether you have taken pharmacy school prerequisites or need to take additional classes before you can enter the pharmacy portion of your program. Prerequisites will include general education courses and many science courses so that you have a strong foundation to study the more advanced scientific concepts you will need as a pharmacist.

Pharmacy school requirements for GPA can vary, so you should check with the program you want to enter to find out if they require a specific GPA from high school or undergraduate prerequisites for entry. For those who need additional preparation before they are accepted to online pharmacy school, there are some programs that can help you fulfill the prerequisites and raise your GPA to meet the pharmacy school GPA requirements.

What do you learn in pharmacy school? You will learn chemistry, biology, and physics, but more specifically, you will learn about how drugs interact with the human body, patient care, and applications of drug therapy for different medical conditions. You will also learn how to use the information systems that power our modern medical system, the economics of pharmaceutical treatments and research, and you will have hands on experiences, or clinicals, where you will be applying what you learn to real-world patient care under the supervision of an experienced and licensed professional.

How hard is pharmacy school? You can expect to work hard to understand scientific concepts, absorb many details about drugs and patient care, and to stay organized and concentrated to do well in your classes. The best pharmacy schools will have robust coursework that will prepare you for the profession well, but may also have supports to help you stay focused so you can study hard and retain the information you will need to know. Online pharmacy school can be a great way to go if you can organize yourself well and make the time needed to keep up with your studies.

To get your license to practice as a pharmacist, you will need to complete your pharmacy degree requirements successfully, and then pass a licensure exam. The exam is called the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), and you will have to pay a fee, submit your documentation to prove you are eligible, and then sit for the exam. Each state runs their own licensing boards, so you should always check with your state for the most up-to-date information. However, most states have the same requirements, and most online PharmD programs will give you the right training for licensure.

Who are Online PharmD Programs Meant For?

Pharmacists are required to have a doctorate to get their license to practice, though this was not always true. The difference between a PharmD vs. pharmacist title is that the PharmD is the most up-to-date credential for licensed pharmacists.

Many practicing pharmacists today have their licensure with a pharmacy bachelor’s degree, which was all that was required in the past. For those licensed pharmacists who want to advance in the field, getting the PharmD is a great way to polish up your credentials for higher levels of employment. If you are a practicing pharmacist who already has a license with the pharmacy BS degree, then an online doctorate in pharmacy will take two to three years of study.

How long is pharmacy school if you have just graduated from high school?

Most programs will require two years of college level prerequisites, and then a four year pharmacy program to complete your PharmD degree. There are also Post BS PharmD programs that can take people with an undergraduate degree in pharmacy or another subject and give them the training to get the doctorate. Most online pharmacy schools will require four years to complete, whether or not you have a bachelor’s degree. Post BS PharmD programs may accept more of the pharmacy school prerequisites that you have already taken, but you will still likely need four years to complete the pharmacist degree requirements.

Is a PharmD a doctor?

The PharmD online is a doctoral program turning out advanced health professionals, but it is not the same as an MD, or medical doctor. Pharmacists are intimately involved in the treatment of patients and are an integral part of the medical team, but they do not have the same requirements for long residency as a medical doctor. Pharmacists do some hands-on care, such as administering vaccinations, but pharmacists are involved more in the medication side of health care. Pharmacists do have experiential requirements during their training, which are even called “rotations” just like an MD in residence, but they are of shorter duration than for the doctors.

Patients may also ask “is a PharmD a doctor,” and see a pharmacist as the same as a doctor. In a way, a pharmacist is similarly trusted as an MD, and has the advanced skills and knowledge to participate meaningfully in patient care. The PharmD credential is the highest level of training for a pharmacist, and it is what is required, so after how hard your pharmacy school is, you can consider yourself a doctor of pharmacy, which is a highly compensated and highly responsible position. What do you learn in pharmacy school? Everything you need to know to be a high-level professional in this part of the medical field.

Online PharmD Program Grad Salary

Salary can make a huge difference when you are deciding whether or not to go through online pharmacy school. How much do pharmacists make? The median salary for pharmacists is $128,710 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a great salary to match the hard work and advanced knowledge that a pharmacist must have, and because the residency requirements are less than for other doctoral professions in medicine, it can be a terrific way to go. While overall pharmacist employment is projected to decrease by 3% between 2019 and 2029, the jobs in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings are projected to increase by 10% in that same time period. Retail pharmacy jobs are going down somewhat because more people use mail order pharmacies, and also because pharmacy technicians can now do more of the work that used to be performed exclusively by pharmacists. Yet patient care settings will see increasing demand for pharmacists to care for a greying population.

Practicing pharmacists who want to take a post BS PharmD program will find that doing an online PharmD program is likely the quickest and most convenient way to get the degree. Not only do you not have to take time off of work to go to school, but you may be able to complete the experiential parts of the degree program at your current job. Plus, you can more flexibly complete your coursework online around your work and personal schedule.

For those who are considering entering the profession, a key question may be how much do pharmacists make? With a very good salary, and many jobs opening as our population ages, getting a PharmD online can be a smart move. Online schooling means that you don’t have to move if you don’t live within driving distance of a school with a program, and you can continue your family or work schedule while you study. Granted, you will need to travel to campus a few times for special trainings, orientation, or evaluations, but that can be much more convenient than commuting to school every day or moving to be near a school of pharmacy.

Top 3 Online PharmD Programs

BS to PharmD

  1. Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

    Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (Pathway)
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    The Distance Education Pathway from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Doctor of Pharmacy (Pathway) is designed to train bachelor degree grads to become pharmacists. Students will study in asynchronous and synchronous online courses during the year, and come to the Bradenton, FL campus for one to three weeks each summer during the program. The program is four years long, encompassing master’s level and PhD level coursework with online classes, summer sessions in FL, and experiential coursework that can be completed where the student lives. To apply, students need to take 54 credits of pre-requisite courses at a US institution, and it is recommended that students maintain at least a 2.7 GPA. International students with an F-1 visa can apply, but all of the prerequisite coursework must be completed at an accredited US school. International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses taken may count towards prerequisites with minimum grades. No PCAT exam is required to apply.

    The PharmD incorporates the whole-person philosophy of osteopathic medicine to prepare pharmacists to achieve optimal patient outcomes. The school has a student-centered supportive environment that values collaboration, community service, dedication, diversity, excellence, integrity, professionalism, and continuous quality improvement. Courses in the program include Research Methods and Pharmacoepidemiology, Microbiology and Immunology, Effective Communications, Management and Patient Safety, Pharmacotherapeutics Recitation II, and Pharmacy Practice Essentials II. Students work through the curriculum in a cohort of 24, developing peer and faculty relationships along the way. As a direct pathway to entering the pharmacy profession at the highest education level, this program allows students a very quick and efficient way to become well-rounded professionals who are trained in patient-centered care and a holistic view of clinical health care practice. Serious students who want a primarily distance education program to become licensed pharmacists will find this program comprehensive, collaborative, and designed to support student success.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Pharmacy (Pathway)


BS to PharmD for Practicing Pharmacists

  1. MCPHS University

    Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy / Postbaccalaureate Path
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    The 2-year, part time online Postbaccalaureate PharmD program from MCPHS University is an inexpensive and convenient way for practicing pharmacists to upgrade their education while maintaining their current employment. An orientation at the Boston campus at the beginning of the program is required, but then courses are online three semesters per year with a brief campus visit each semester. Clinicals can mostly be completed in the student’s current place of work. A four-week clinical rotation at the end of the program will require students to be supervised by MCPHS preceptors. Most semesters, students will take one lecture and discussion class and have a practice-oriented class to apply what they are learning. Each semester, students will perform two case presentations: one online and one at the in-person meeting that semester. Applicants need to have their BS in pharmacy, a current US license to practice, and be employed in a patient-care setting. The program starts in the fall, and students will take two courses each semester. PioneerRx software is used throughout the program. Courses in this 37-semester credit program include Pharmacoepidemiology, Drug Literature Resources and Evaluation, Clinical Pharmacokinetics, and Pharmacotherapeutics Practice II. On-campus meetings at the Boston location are centered in one of the richest centers for medicine and research, bringing students to a top destination for medical professionals. For practicing pharmacists, the convenience of this highly prized program can help them achieve the doctoral degree without losing much time from their current work or personal lives, allowing them to use their current employment as part of their clinical experience during the program. With a strong cohort of peers, meeting face-to-face once per semester deepens the learning and camaraderie for this very affordable and convenient part time program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Pharmacy / Postbaccalaureate Path


MS to PharmD for Practicing Pharmacists

  1. Shenandoah University

    Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy (Nontraditional)
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    Shenandoah University’s Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy degree program is a great option for licensed and practicing US pharmacists who hold their bachelor’s degree. With six terms of coursework, which can be taken over two years, students can complete the online PharmD program and have the highest educational credential available in the pharmacy field. The program is 53 credits of work, with on-campus visits required only at the beginning of the program for orientation, during the last semester for a Patient Assessment Skills Weekend, and at the end of the program for clinical evaluation. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited pharmacy school or the foreign equivalent, have successfully passed the licensing exam, and hold an unencumbered US pharmacy license. They also must be currently employed as a pharmacist. Two letters of recommendation from pharmacy co-workers are optional when applying. Once admitted, students must pass all of the courses in the program, including clinical or experiential courses, with a grade of “C” or score of 70 percent. Classes in the degree include Integrated Pharmaceutical Care and Science (Cardiovascular), Essentials of Pharmacogenomics, Integrated Pharmaceutical Care and Science (Neurosensory/Psychiatry), and Health Information Technology. Students are expected to find their own sites for the experiential portions of the program. The school also offers dual degree programs in PharmD/MPH and PharmD/MBA with additional requirements, but may be useful for students who want to get additional qualifications later. The tuition is very reasonable, allowing students to complete the doctorate for a very affordable price. In addition, scholarships are available, including one for Virginia residents who enroll in 9 or more credits per semester. With a robust curriculum covering pharmacology for the most common health conditions, yet a reasonable schedule that allows students to continue in their current jobs, the Shenandoah University PharmD program is excellent for working pharmacists to achieve the doctorate in an affordable and efficient manner.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Pharmacy (Nontraditional)



Begin an Online PharmD Program Today!

If you dream of being a pharmacist, a part of the respected team that cares for people and makes them healthier, then online PharmD programs offer you a more convenient way to study and go into this rewarding and high-paying profession. We have found the best pharmacy schools that will allow you to get your PharmD online while maintaining the highest educational standards. Granted, the jobs you will take on once you are licensed pharmacist will be challenging, but if you have the education you need, you will be able to meet those challenges. Online pharmacy school is a great way to get your degree with a little bit less stress in your life, so that you can get into practice and earn the salary of a Doctor of Pharmacy in whatever settings you choose to work. Take a look at the online options, and you will see that your path toward becoming a pharmacist is just a couple of mouse clicks away.

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