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Male and female pharmacy students in the lab.
Academics | 4/17/2024

How Many Years Is a PharmD Degree? Program Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Male and female pharmacy students in the lab.

Want to know how long a PharmD degree is? Learn what you can expect during your time at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

The number of years necessary to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (or PharmD degree) will depend on several factors, from your desired program to how much flexibility you have in your schedule. In this article, we’ll cover your program options and give you a glimpse into your six years at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS).

How Many Years Is a PharmD Degree?

At MCPHS, the full program is six years total—two years of prerequisite course options followed by a four-year professional phase. 

The PharmD is required to become a licensed pharmacist in the United States, as is the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)—a main component of gaining your license to be a professional pharmacist. MCPHS prepares future pharmacists for these milestones.

In addition, beginning in the fall of 2024, all new students admitted to MCPHS’ six-year PharmD program will receive a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Life Sciences. This additional STEM-designated degree will be awarded upon completion of the fourth year of the PharmD program. Graduates of the program will be prepared to launch careers in sectors outside of pharmacy, including biopharmaceuticals, public health, and life sciences.

Let's break down what you can expect during the PharmD program, one year at a time.

Year 1

The first year of your PharmD prerequisite course section will introduce you to pharmaceutical sciences, basic medical sciences, and other important foundational topics like biology, medicinal chemistry, and calculus to better prepare you for upcoming program requirements in your pharmacy education. 

Year 2

The second and final year of prerequisite coursework will build upon the foundational knowledge gained in year one. Professors will dive deeper into pharmaceutical-specific topics and further prepare you for clinical pharmacy practice. Courses cover such topics as intro to pharmacy, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology.

Year 3

Your third year is the first of the professional study phase. It’s a critical part of the education process, transitioning you from more base-level knowledge to extensive clinical experiences and information. You’ll enroll in courses like healthcare delivery and practices, physiology, medical biochemistry, and pharmaceutical calculations, and explore research methods in pharmacoepidemiology. This will be your first year of hands-on learning in a dosage forms laboratory. 

Year 4

The program’s fourth year consists of classes like pharmacology, therapeutics, deeper medicinal chemistry, and pharmaceutical biotechnology. This year will cover the doctor-patient relationship and care process as a whole. 

Year 5

As you continue to build your knowledge of practice management, you’ll study healthcare ethics, clinical pharmacokinetics, pharmacy law, patient self-care, and advanced therapeutics. Learning opportunities will be available to you outside the traditional classroom-style setup, including associated seminars, required labs, and other immersive academic activities. You'll also study and prepare to take the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment Exam, which you’ll need to complete by the end of your fifth year. 

Year 6

Your sixth and final year of the MCPHS PharmD program is a time to deepen your understanding of the pharmaceutical world and grasp how best to care for patients. You’ll take courses like institutional pharmacy practice, ambulatory care, community pharmacy practice, and two electives in either administration, critical care medicine, gastroenterology, or infectious diseases. 

You’ll work with other students in your year to participate in advanced pharmacy rotations. You'll also focus on reviewing NAPLEX modules. The NAPLEX was created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to help individual state boards of pharmacy determine if a student is ready to get their license and begin practicing. 

Graduation

MCPHS is located in the hub of healthcare and life science  innovation in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, giving you several job opportunities right off campus. Outside of our location, we offer pharmacy program graduates specialized training within the biopharmaceutical sector through our Biopharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program. 

Our Fellowship program is the second-largest in the nation, placing over 100 fellows each year. This highly competitive program attracts top talent from across the country and offers hands-on training, professional development, and industry connections to participants. With a proven track record of success, the fellowship can help aspiring biopharmaceutical professionals launch their careers.

What Program Options Are Available?

Undergraduate

Pharmacy (PharmD) - Direct Entry

This program is the six-year pathway detailed earlier in this article. Undergraduate pharmacy students will first complete a preprofessional phase before entering a four-year professional phase. 

Our direct entry program allows students who complete their pre-professional requirements, obtain a minimum GPA of 2.8, and finish an oral interview and writing proficiency exam (the Progression Interview) to move directly into the professional phase of the program. Whereas many other traditional PharmD programs require students to take a pharmacy college admission test. 

Graduate

Pharmacy (PharmD) - Accelerated

The accelerated PharmD program allows students to earn their pharmacy degree in three years. Learners with a bachelor’s degree or the appropriate amount of college credits and prerequisites may apply. 

Pharmacy (NTDP) - Non-Traditional Pathway

This part-time online program enables students to earn an NTDP degree in three phases, which include 27 credits, five semesters of learning, and up to 16 credits of experiential education. 

There aren’t specific prerequisite classes for this pathway, but all applicants must have a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, a license to practice pharmacy in the United States, and be employed in the patient-care setting. 

Where Should You Study To Become a Pharmacist?

MCPHS was the first institution of higher ed founded in Boston and the second university of pharmacy founded in the United States. Rich in history and experience, our university has been preparing students to enter the medical workforce since 1823.

If you’d like to join our group of accomplished alumni upon graduation, start your career journey today by applying to MCPHS to become a PharmD student.