Pre-Pharm Coursework & Experience

The coursework below satisfies the required and recommended courses for admission to pharmacy school. Note this represents general guidelines and requirements may vary from one school to the next.

The prerequisites for grad schools in Washington:

Here is a full list of Pharmacy programs and their requirements.

Biology Courses

Take the following two introductory biology courses:

  • BIOL 225: Molecules, Cells and Organisms
  • BIOL 226: Genes, Evolution, Diversity and Ecology

Many programs require some of the upper level courses listed below in addition to general biology courses. Please verify with the specific programs you are interested in to be sure all requirements are met.

  • BIOL 342: Microbiology
  • BIOL 330: Genetics
  • BIOL 341: Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 352: Comparative Anatomy
  • BIOL 357: Histology
  • BIOL 442: Cell Biology
  • BIOL 453: Mammalian Physiology

Please make sure you look at the requirements of individual schools, particularly whether they require a two-course sequence in Human Anatomy and Physiology, which is offered at PLU.

Social and Behavioral Science Courses

These courses allow students to better understand the people they work with and build better communication skills so that they will be more effective within the societies where they practice.

We recommend you take the following courses:

  • ECON 101 – Principles of Microeconomics
  • PSYC 101 – Introduction to Psychology
  • SOCI 101 – Introduction to Sociology

However, it is important that you look up the requirements for each of the schools you plan to apply.

Mathematics Courses

Most pharmacy schools require math and/or statistics. A number of institutions require a semester of calculus. Thus, we recommend that you take at least MATH 151 (Introduction to Calculus) and one course in statistics.

Chemistry Courses

Take the following two-course sequence in general chemistry:

  • CHEM 115 (General Chemistry I)
  • CHEM 116 (General Chemistry II)

Take the following two-course sequence in organic chemistry:

  • CHEM 331/333 (Organic Chemistry I + laboratory)
  • CHEM 332/334 or 346 (Organic Chemistry II + laboratory)

Some pharmacy schools require a semester of biochemistry. For a listing of US pharmacy schools that require biochemistry, please see the following PDF.

We recommend that you take CHEM 403 (Biochemistry I).

Physics Courses

PLU has two introductory physics series. Students interested in pharmacy should take the sequence that is required for their intended major. Students majoring in biology usually take the PHYS 125/126 series with accompanying labs, while those majoring in chemistry or physics must take the PHYS 153/154 series with accompanying labs.

A handful of schools only require a semester of physics and some institutions do not have a requirement. However, we recommend that you take a full year of introductory physics.

English/Public Speaking Courses

Most pharmacy schools require applicants to take two English courses prior to matriculation. The English requirement is intended to demonstrate competency in grammar and composition as well as comprehension and analysis of written work. In general, the English requirement is met by taking courses that pharmacy schools would recognize as writing or literature courses.

In addition, some schools recommend that you take a course in public speaking.


It is important that you have a good understanding of the field of pharmacy prior to submitting your application. Admissions committees expect you to have researched the profession and know some of the issues facing pharmacists today, as well as the attributes, skills, and abilities necessary to provide care. Committees will want to know specifically why you want to be a pharmacist.

Volunteer or Work in a Health-Related Setting
One avenue by which you can gain experience in the pharmacy field is to seek volunteer or paid opportunities working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related setting (hospital, nursing home, etc.). In fact, ongoing work or volunteer experience in a pharmacy setting may be an important factor in the admissions process.  If you can work as a pharmacy technician prior to attempting entry into a pharmacy school, you will have an even greater advantage for getting into pharmacy school. A common requirement of some institutions is 60 hours shadowing or working as a pharmacy tech during your undergraduate years of study. If you’re unable to gain pharmacy experience, we encourage you to consult with several pharmacists regarding the profession (e.g., what it involves, career opportunities, current issues and challenges, etc.).

As a health professional, you will need not only to know the people you will serve, you must also demonstrate an interest in improving their lives. There is no better way to gain experience and show you care about others than through volunteer work. Thus, you should also plan on completing at least 50 hours of patient contact through volunteering or employment in a hospital, assisted care facility, clinic, or similar organization.

Community Involvement
Future health professionals need to be leaders in their professional and everyday communities. These experiences can be accomplished through participation in clubs, student government, and religious organizations. Pharmacy schools want to see that you are outgoing and able to work well with others.  Additionally, students who participate in extracurricular activities are exposed to diverse viewpoints, humanitarian perspectives, and leadership challenges. Experiences that requires you to coordinate and be closely involved with other people will develop and demonstrate maturity and commitment.

Academic Research
While not a requirement at every professional school, research can give you an academic edge. Research provides insight into how science works outside the classroom setting, and a pharmacist must be a researcher, able to gather information and draw conclusions. You will need to have experience writing research papers and participating in research conferences. In addition, your professors can get to know you better and thus be able to write meaningful letters of recommendation.  Students can conduct research at PLU during the academic year or can apply for our summer undergraduate research program.

When all is said and done, length of time invested, depth of the experience, and lessons learned are three key criteria for evaluating outside activities.