Pharmacists dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners and provide information to patients about medications and their uses. They advise physicians and other health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions and side effects of medications. Pharmacists must understand the use, composition, and effects of drugs. Compounding--the actual mixing of ingredients to form powders, tablets, capsules, ointments and solutions--is only a small part of a pharmacist's practice, because most medicines are produced by pharmaceutical companies in a standard dosage and form.

Pharmacists in community retail pharmacies counsel patients, as well as answer questions about prescriptions drugs, such as possible adverse reactions and interactions. They provide information about over-the-counter drugs and make recommendations after asking a series of health questions, such as whether the customer is taking any other medications. They also give advice about durable medical equipment and home health care supplies. Some community pharmacists offer specialized disease state management services for conditions such as diabetes, asthma, smoking cessation or high blood pressure.

Pharmacists in hospitals and clinics dispense medications and advise the medical staff on the selection and effects of drugs. The may make sterile solutions and buy medical supplies. They also assess, plan, and monitor drug regimens. They counsel patients on the use of drugs while in the hospital, and on their use at home, when they are discharged. Pharmacists may also evaluate drug use patterns and outcomes in the hospital or in a patient population.

Pharmacists who work in home health care prepare infusions (solutions that are injected into patients) and other medications for use in the home, and monitor drug therapy. Most pharmacists keep computerized records of patients' drug therapies to ensure that harmful drug interactions do not occur. They frequently teach pharmacy students serving as externs in preparation for graduation and licensure. Some pharmacists specialize in specific areas, such as drugs for psychiatric disorders, intravenous nutrition support, oncology, nuclear pharmacy, or pharmacotherapy.

Job Market and Salaries

Employment of pharmacists is expected to increase 39 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for pharmacy services will come, in large part, from the aging baby boomers, who are staying active later in life than previous generations did. Older persons are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, and mobility-related injuries that require physical therapy for rehabilitation. Advances in medical technology have increased the use of outpatient surgery to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. Pharmacists will continue to play an important role in helping these patients recover more quickly from surgery. Medical and technological developments also are expected to permit a greater percentage of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. In addition, the incidence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has increased in recent years, and more pharmacists will be needed to help patients manage the effects of these diseases.

The median wage of pharmacists was $111,570 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $82,090, and the top 10 percent earned more than $138,620.


All Doctor of Pharmacy programs require applicants to have taken postsecondary courses such as chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Applicants need at least 2 to 3 years of undergraduate study; for some programs, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. For most programs, applicants also must take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Pharm.D. programs usually take 4 years to finish, although some programs offer a 3-year option. A Pharm.D. program includes courses in pharmacology and medical ethics, as well as supervised work experiences in different settings, such as hospitals and retail pharmacies. Pharmacists seeking an advanced pharmacy position, such as a clinical pharmacy or research job, complete a 1- to 2-year residency following their Pharm. D. Some pharmacists who own their own store may choose to get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Others may get a degree in public health. All states license pharmacists. After they finish the Pharm. D., prospective pharmacists must pass two exams to get a license. One of the exams is in pharmacy skills and knowledge. The other is in pharmacy law in the state giving the pharmacy license.

Program & Requirements

The School of Pharmacy at Pacific University offers a three-year curriculum for the degree Doctor of Pharmacy. The School is located in Hillsboro, Oregon, in the state-of-the-art Health Professions building. The Hillsboro Campus provides a rich and diverse learning environment for all of the programs. Developing opportunities for student interaction and collaboration is a focus of the faculties from the different disciplines.

The mission of the School of Pharmacy is to provide a learner-centered environment with an integrated faculty that promotes excellence in professional pharmacy education, scholarship and service while preparing students to provide patient-centered care to a diverse population through teamwork, professionalism, and critical thinking.

The competency-based curriculum with courses delivered in a modified block design support this mission. Students study one topic at a time before moving on to another content area. This method of education allows students to master each topic with a high level of understanding and promotes the integration of concepts in a planned and sequential manner. The competency-based design encourages teamwork and collaboration among students and removes the competitive nature characteristic of many professional curriculums. Team teaching by faculty and the utilization of technology further enhance the student's experience at Pacific University School of Pharmacy.

The experiential component of the curriculum begins in the second week of the curriculum, covering the student's first and second didactic years, while the third year is devoted entirely to advanced clinical experiences.


Biological Sciences - min. 19 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷1.5 = semester credits)

General Biology w/labs - 8 semester hours
Microbiology (lab not required) - 3 semester hours
Human Anatomy and Human Physiology w/labs- 8 semester hours
Human A&P series preferred/upper level series for both a minimum/with all parts taken at the same institution

Chemistry - min. 16 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

General Chemistry w/labs - 8 semester hours
Organic Chemistry w/labs - 8 semester hours

Physics - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

General or upper-level Physics w/lab - 3 semester hours

Mathematics - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

Must include Calculus - 3 semester hours

English - 6 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

Must include English composition - 3 semester hours
Other English - 3 semester hours HUM 100 (FYS) can count towards this requirement. Other options include: Composition, Literature, Creative Writing, Poetry, etc.

Speech - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

May include Speech, Communication, Debate - 3 semester hours

Psychology - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

Must include Intro or Abnormal psychology - 3 semester hours

Economics - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

Must include Micro or Macro - 3 semester hours

Social/Behavioral Sciences - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

May include Anthropology, Government, Human Development, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology - 3 semester hours

Humanities/Fine Arts - 3 semester hours
(Quarter credits ÷ 1.5 = semester credits)

May include Geography, History, Religion, Philosophy, Literature, Performance, Visual Arts, Drama - 3 semester hours

The applicant must complete a minimum of 62 semester hours of pre-pharmacy study in a regionally accredited college or university in the United States. Applicants must achieve a minimum of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale in the three required GPAs for application (accumulative, science, and last 45 hour GPAs), or its equivalent, and have received a grade of “C” or better in all prerequisite courses. Courses taken pass/fail or by correspondence will not be accepted. Science prerequisite courses must be for science majors and include laboratory as indicated below. Low level non-science major course will be unacceptable in meeting the requirements. The program does not grant advanced standing for any course. While a bachelor’s degree is not required in order to apply to the program, it can make an application more competitive.

It is recommended that the science prerequisites be completed within seven calendar years of the time of application to the program. The applicant must report all coursework completed (passed and failed) to reveal educational history. Not doing so will forfeit the applicant’s eligibility for admission. All materials submitted to Pacific University for admission become the property of the University and will not be returned or released.

Some colleges require the applicant to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test.

More Information

Pacific University School of Pharmacy
American Pharmacists Association
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

Program Contacts

Susan Stein
Dean of Pharmacy