PharmD programs vary across the country, and therefore it would be wise for the student to do their due diligence in researching the programs that are available for the schools that they want to apply to. Many potential candidates are confused and wonder what differences exist between pharmacy schools and what opportunities are available. From the information available on the internet and on pharmacy school websites, there exist many diverse types of programs for the future pharmacist. Below are the different curriculums offered from many of these schools.
Traditional 2+4 PharmD Program or 4-Year PharmD Program: Most students are familiar with this format of a PharmD program offered from many pharmacy schools. Students who choose this route complete the required prerequisites (usually a two-year full time course load) before enrolling in the pharmacy school. Of course, those with an undergraduate degree who have already taken the prerequisites could also apply to a pharmacy school.
6-year program after graduation from high school: Some pharmacy schools have PharmD programs which allow exceptional students to apply directly to the pharmacy school from their high school without having to take the prerequisite courses as an undergraduate before applying. This guarantees the student of receiving a PharmD upon successful completion of all required PharmD courses throughout their six years. The first two years are most likely general courses similar to the prerequisite courses taken before enrolling in a traditional PharmD program. Students may or may not have to take the pharmacy college admission tests (PCATs) in these situations (check with the institution).
2+2 PharmD Program: Few pharmacy schools have a different format of the traditional 4-year PharmD program. Whereas most pharmacy schools have three years of in-classroom and laboratory teaching plus one year of experiential educations, the 2+2 PharmD programs have two years of in-class and laboratory teaching and two years of experiential education. This may prepare students who need or prefer more hands on training in the path to becoming a pharmacist.
3-year Accelerated PharmD Program: Many students want to expedite their schooling. Four years is lengthy commitment and may be too long for some people. Those that feel they could handle the rigors of a speedy program could apply to a 3-year accelerated PharmD program (click here for more info).
Dual-Degree PharmD Program: PharmD candidates may be interested in other areas in addition to pharmacy. Dual-degree PharmD programs allow students to learn and obtain both a PharmD degree coupled with another degree that suit their interests. These interests could include paths to a PhD, a Masters of Science degree (MS), or a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). These programs obviously require a disciplined and dedicated student to enroll in a combined program that may require more time and financial investment to complete.
Externship PharmD Program: Before a PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy degree) was established, pharmacists had to obtain a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree in pharmacy and meet certain minimal state board specific apprenticeship hours in order to practice as a pharmacist. Therefore many pharmacists who obtained their degrees and license(s) in the past still have a BS degree instead of a PharmD. Those with BS degrees could obtain their PharmDs by enrolling in a PharmD externship program. These programs are usually a year long and require more clinical practice and training.