Pursue a Pharmaceutical Degree in the US

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By Sakina Taher
Last updated on May 23, 2024

Discover top-ranked pharmaceutical degrees, develop highly sought-after skills, and explore exciting pharmacy career opportunities with Shorelight universities.

A female international student in a Pharm D program at a US university works in a lab on campus.

Pharmacists are health care professionals who specialize in the usage and administration of prescription medication. They make sure medicines are safe for a patient’s needs by guiding them on how to use their medicines and providing advice on potential side effects. A degree in pharmaceutical science can prepare you for careers as a retail pharmacist at a drugstore or pharmacy, a researcher at a lab, and a clinical pharmacist in critical care, pediatrics, or cardiology at a hospital, among other specializations.

Read on to discover what you need to study to earn a pharmaceutical degree, courses for pharmacists at Shorelight universities, career pathways open to licensed pharmacists, and more!

What Can You Do with a Pharmaceutical Degree?

The global pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry is the fifth largest global manufacturing industry by market size, according to IBISWorld. Over the last five years, the pharmaceutical industry has grown faster than the overall economy, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic demand for vaccines and therapeutic treatments. Since the outbreak, there has been rising demand for licensed pharmaceutical professionals, all around the world.

A pharmaceutical degree can give you the professional training needed to access high-paying career pathways across the pharmaceutical and health care space. Pharmacists do a lot more than administer drugs: they advise patients on their medication, communicate with drug providers and insurance companies, and manage pharmacy departments. Courses for pharmacists give you the skills needed to qualify for roles including:

  • Clinical research coordinator

  • Consultant pharmacist

  • Laboratory technician

  • Pharmaceutical marketer

  • Pharmaceuticals sales representative

  • Pharmacist

  • Pharmacologist

After learning specialized health care skills and practical experience, many pharmaceutical graduates go on to pursue studies in nursing, public health, law, medical, and dental disciplines.

Undergraduate and graduate degree curriculum at Shorelight universities are geared toward providing a well-rounded education in pharmacology, giving international students the foundation they need to pursue a fulfilling pharmacy career.

Which Classes Will an Undergraduate Pharmaceutical Student Take?

At US universities, undergraduate academic programs often require students to take general education courses (e.g., liberal arts and humanities topics) before officially declaring a major. Foundational courses for pharmacists, including organic chemistry, biochemistry, and scientific research ethics, provide highly transferable skills that can be applied to health care-related careers. The curriculum in these programs is designed to help you develop essential workplace skills, such as leadership, communication, and critical thinking, which can lead to success during internships and work placement programs.

While the exact undergraduate courses for pharmacists will be different at each US university, here’s an example of what the standard curriculum of an undergraduate pharmaceutical degree program looks like:

First Year, First Semester: 16 Hours

  • Composition - I

  • General Chemistry I 

  • General Chemistry I - Lab 

  • Introduction to Biology

  • Pre-Calculus

  • World Literature - I*

First Year, Second Semester: 16 Hours

  • Composition - II

  • General Biology I 

  • General Biology I - Lab

  • Principles of Microeconomics

  • Public Speaking

  • World Literature - II*

Second Year, First Semester: 15 Hours

  • General Chemistry II 

  • General Chemistry II - Lab 

  • General Physics I 

  • General Physics I - Lab

  • Microbiology 

  • Microbiology - Lab

  • Principles of Macroeconomics

Second Year, Second Semester: 15 Hours

  • Calculus - I

  • General Physics II 

  • General Physics II - Lab

  • Organic Chemistry I 

  • Organic Chemistry I - Lab 

  • Physical Chemistry I 

  • Physical Chemistry I - Lab

Third Year, First Semester: 16 Hours

  • Analytical Chemistry I 

  • Analytical Chemistry I - Lab

  • General Biology II 

  • General Biology II - Lab

  • Global Environment and Health Issues

  • Junior Seminar in Natural Sciences

  • Organic Chemistry II 

  • Organic Chemistry II - Lab

Third Year, Second Semester: 16 Hours

  • Analytical Chemistry II

  • Analytical Chemistry II - Lab

  • Applied Patient Care 

  • Calculus II

  • The West and The World I

Fourth Year, First Semester: 16 Hours

  • Anatomy and Physiology I

  • Anatomy and Physiology - Lab

  • Instrumental Analysis 

  • Instrumental Analysis - Lab

  • Pharmacy and the Health care System

  • Senior Seminar in Chemistry

  • The West and the World II

Fourth Year, Second Semester: 16 Hours

  • Biochemistry 

  • Biochemistry - Lab

  • Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience 

  • Statistics

*Can be taken in later semesters depending on your chosen university.

Whether you choose to major in chemistry, biology, biological sciences, or a related science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field, a pre-pharmacy concentration can set you on the path to becoming a qualified pharmacist. 

Here is what you can expect to study if you want to pursue a postgraduate pharmaceutical degree. 

Which Classes Will a Postgraduate Pharmaceutical Student Take?

A PharmD program is a four-year course offering a deep dive into the field of pharmacy with comprehensive coursework, hands-on supervised clinical experience, and unique specialization opportunities.

Here’s what a course curriculum for a postgraduate pharmaceutical student may look like:

First Year, First Semester: 18 Hours

  • Pharmacy Calculations

  • Basic Pharmacotherapy

  • Pharmacy Skills Lab I

  • Medicinal/Natural Products Chemistry I

  • Integrative Physiology

  • Pharmacy Management

First Year, Second Semester: 26 Hours

  • Biopharmaceutics/Pharmacokinetics

  • Medicinal/Natural Products Chemistry II

  • Pathophysiology

  • Therapeutics I

  • Pharmacy Skills Lab II

  • Essentials of Patient Care

  • Introduction to Community Pharmacy

  • Introduction to Institutional Pharmacy

Second Year, First Semester: 21 Hours

  • Introduction to Neuroscience

  • Genetics

  • Medicinal/Natural Products Chemistry III

  • Research and Evaluation Methods in Pharmacy

  • Patient/Professional Interactions

  • Advanced Pathophysiology

  • Pharmacology I

  • Pharmacist Skills III

Second Year, Second Semester: 19 Hours

  • Communication in Biological Sciences

  • Neuropharmacology

  • Pharmacology II

  • Pharmacy Management Marketing and Finance

  • Pharmacotherapeutics I

  • Pharmacist Skills IV

  • Intermediate Pharmacy Practice

Third Year, First Semester: 17 Hours

  • Clinical Toxicology

  • Pharmacy Law

  • Pharmacy Ethics

  • Therapeutics III

  • Clinical Pharmacokinetics

  • Pharmacist Skills V

Third Year, Second Semester: 15 Hours

  • Sterile Products with Lab course

  • Health Policy/Advocacy

  • Therapeutics IV

  • Drug Literature 

  • Pharmacist Skills VI

  • Advanced Pharmacy Experience Orientation

Fourth Year: 43 Hours

  • Internal Medicine I

  • Internal Medicine II

  • Ambulatory Care 

  • Ambulatory Care II

  • Advanced Community Pharmacy 

  • Advanced Institutional Pharmacy

  • Professional Advanced Electives

To begin practicing as a pharmacist in the US, you will need to obtain a license from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The NABP certification acts as regulatory evidence and establishes your status as a licensed professional. 

Shorelight universities help you work toward these licenses — and more — through recognized pharmacology degree programs taught within state-of-the-art classrooms and research facilities where you can collaborate with your peers, learn from experts, and build key skills. 

Shorelight Universities Offering Pharmaceutical Degree Programs

Shorelight universities offer well-rounded curricula and hands-on learning experiences to prepare students for roles within the pharmaceutical industry. Let’s take a look at some of the universities in the US where international students can pursue degree programs with a concentration in pharmacy.

Undergraduate Programs

Edgewood College 

Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry with a pharmacy concentration, giving students holistic training in pharmaceutics through general education courses and specialized pre-pharmacy courses in pharmaceutics, applied patient care, pharmacotherapy, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology.

Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma City University’s Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biochemistry in pre-pharmacy program prepares students with the medical, analytical, and forensic knowledge and practical experience necessary to enter the pharmaceutical industry as competent professionals. Apart from specialized courses in chemistry, biochemistry, human anatomy, and microbiology, students are required to complete a chemistry capstone and research project to graduate.

Schreiner University

Schreiner University in Texas offers a well-rounded university experience complete with hands-on training and industry networking opportunities. The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Science with a pre-pharmacy concentration gives students foundational knowledge in liberal arts and pharmacology matched with real-life experience. 

University at Buffalo

Ranked #76 among the Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, University at Buffalo in New York State is a premier flagship university known for its outstanding research facilities. The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Pharmaceutical Sciences offers expert-led training in the design, development, and safe use of medication for the treatment of diseases. The cutting-edge laboratory facilities and drug testing centers provide the ideal setting for student-led medicinal drug development and research projects.

Postgraduate Programs

Shenandoah University

The Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy at Shenandoah University in Virginia offers a nationally recognized PharmD program with courses in drug information, drug dosing, patient assessment, advocacy, and pharmacotherapy that can help you set up your professional practice as a pharmacist. The program ensures students can deliver individualized, patient-focused care through interactive classroom work and experiential learning opportunities via real-world research, community service, and medical mission trips in the US and abroad (e.g., working with outside service groups like Project Hope).

University of Charleston

The PharmD program at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy in West Virginia prepares students to lead interprofessional patient care teams and make a positive impact on the community. To earn their degree, postgraduate students have to complete 2,000 hours of hands-on experiential learning across diverse pharmacy settings, which can help them network with active practitioners, get real-world experience, and stay up-to-date on the latest industry developments. Students have opportunities to work in advanced labs in West Virginia, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, and everywhere in between. Previous students have worked at the Cleveland Clinic, FDA, CDC, and Indian Health Services, among other health care providers.

University of Wyoming

Ranked #216 among National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Wyoming offers an internationally recognized four-year doctoral program in pharmacy. The co-curricular program is designed to give students a learning experience outside of campus, helping them gain the experience and leadership skills necessary to build successful pharmacy practices after graduation. Through student organizations such as Phi Lambda Sigma, Pharmacy Leadership Society, and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacy (ASHP), graduates can network with industry experts, collaborate on research projects, and present their findings at health care conferences.

Career Opportunities with a Degree in Pharmacy

The global pharmacy market is rapidly expanding, and according to Precedence Research, is projected to grow 4.7% annually, with an expected market volume of $1.6 billion by 2030. Pharmacy careers are lucrative, with growing job opportunities across the pharmaceutical and health care industries, creating a positive employment outlook for aspiring pharmacists. 

Here are some career pathways you might consider with a pharmaceutical degree, as well as the annual average salaries you could expect to earn in key markets such as the US, India, China, and Brazil.

Pharmacy major



Average Salary in the US

Average Salary in India

Average Salary in China

Average Salary in Brazil

Biochemistry major with a pre-pharmacy concentration


Clinical research coordinator

Average Salary in the US

Average Salary in India

Average Salary in China

Average Salary in Brazil

Chemistry major with a pre-pharmacy concentration


Laboratory technician

Average Salary in the US

Average Salary in India

Average Salary in China

Average Salary in Brazil

Health science major with a pre-pharmacy concentration


Pharmaceutical sales representative

Average Salary in the US

Average Salary in India

Average Salary in China

Average Salary in Brazil

Sources: Payscale and Economic Research Institute (ERI)

Pharmacists are leading experts in drug information, drug dosing, patient assessment, pharmacotherapy, and public health advocacy. A pharmaceutical degree can prepare you to meet the demands of a constantly evolving health industry through expert-led instruction that explores the nuances of modern health care. Through personalized training and experiential learning opportunities, you can gain the necessary exposure and qualifications to specialize in different aspects of pharmacology.

Shorelight universities prepare you for a rewarding career as a pharmacy graduate while providing you with dedicated support from application all the way to graduation. With Shorelight’s school match tool, you can find the ideal university to pursue your pharmacy degree based on its ranking, location, financial aid options, and more. Put your academic and career goals into action, and take the first step toward becoming a pharmaceutical specialist!

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