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Student admitted into pharmacy school at Purdue University


Interested in a career in pharmacy?

At the School of Science at IUPUI, students seeking professional careers in pharmacy are exposed to opportunities that no other school in the state of Indiana can offer. 

Through comprehensive coursework, hands-on experience in the classroom and labs, one-on-one guidance from professors, and research, internship and leadership opportunities in the School, five surrounding hospitals, the IU School of Medicine, graduates of the School of Science are well prepared for pharmacy school and beyond!

Located in the heart of Indianapolis, IUPUI's campus provides access to major pharmacy companies around the city including Eli Lilly.

See all Pre-Professional Pathways

What will you learn?

Competition is high for admission to pharmacy schools. While most pharmacy programs do not require an undergraduate degree for admission, students are urged to elect a degree program rather than fulfilling the minimum requirements for entry into professional programs.Majoring in biology, chemistry, or physics in the School of Science sets the groundwork for a successful experience in studying pharmacy and attending a pharmacy school. 

Pre-requisites for most professional programs, including pharmacy, often favor and lean heavily toward science majors. Learn more about Purdue's prerequisites | Download the Plan of Study for Pre-Pharmacy Students at IUPUI

Pre-pharmacy courses at Science at IUPUI will sufficiently prepare students for the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), pharmacy school and a career in the medical field. As you begin to think about your ambitions and place in the medical industry, you should also begin considering the expectations and qualifications that are required of students interested in enrolling in pharmacy school. 

Typically, pre-pharmacy students are very meticulous and detail-oriented in their work. Since pharmacists, by law, are trusted with the proper storage, handling and distribution of medicine, attention to detail and organization is of the utmost importance.

Students declaring pre-pharmacy upon admission to IUPUI are assigned to the Department of Biology. However, many majors in the School of Science at IUPUI provide students with excellent undergraduate preparation for pharmacy school.

Pharmacy schools do not usually require students to complete specific majors during their undergraduate years of schooling. However, there are specific pre-requisites that should be completed in order to be admitted into a professional school and many benefits to selecting a science major as you pursue success in the medical and pharmacy field, including: 

  • Pre-requisites for most professional programs, including pharmacy, often favor and lean heavily toward science majors. 
  • By studying science at IUPUI, pre-pharmacy students have opportunities to work, learn and participate in research in the School of Science, IU Med School, and leading hospitals surrounding IUPUI's campus. 
  • Many science undergraduate degrees are marketable to future employers even if the student chooses not to pursue a graduate degree in pharmacy.

What will you do?

Pharmacists are paramount in the medical field as they primarily dispense medications to the public prescribed by physicians. They are also key contributors to the promotion of medical knowledge as they educate physicians and the public about proper drug usage.

Like most universities, IUPUI does not offer a pre-pharmacy major. Pharmacy schools do not usually require students to complete specific majors during their undergraduate years of schooling. Students declaring prepharmacy upon admission to IUPUI are assigned to the Department of Biology. However, many majors in the School of Science at IUPUI provide students with excellent undergraduate preparation for pharmacy school.

Prepare for Pharmacy School

The School of Science office for Pre-Professional & Career Preparation (PREPs) will support you throughout the process of preparing for pharmacy school. From advising you on pre-requisite courses and professional development activities to helping you through the application process, PREPs can assist you in every step.

Admission to pharmacy school is very competitive. You need to plan thoroughly from the start to be successful. The links below include detailed information on everything from the courses to the application process. If you are an IUPUI School of Science student, we strongly encourage you to make an appointment to meet with a pre-professional advisor.

Schedule an advising appointment


Required Courses:

  • CHEM-C 105/125 Chemistry 1 & Lab (5 hours)
  • CHEM-C 106/126 Chemistry 2 & Lab (5 hours)
  • CHEM-C 341/343 Organic Chemistry I & Lab (5 hours)
  • CHEM-C 342/344 Organic Chemistry II & Lab (5 hours)
  • BIOL-K 483 or K383 Biological Chemistry* (3 hours)
  • BIOL-K101 Concepts of Biology I - Plants(5 hours)
  • BIOL-K102 Concepts of Biology II - Animals (5 hours)
  • BIOL-K 356/357 Microbiology & Lab (5 hours)
  • BIOL-N 261 Human Anatomy (5 hours)
  • BIOL-N 217 Human Physiology (5 hours)
  • BIOL-K 338 Introductory Immunology**  (3 hours)
  • PHYS-P 201 General Physics I (5 hours)
  • MA 23100 Calculus for the Life Sciences I*** (3 hours)
  • MA 23200 Calculus for the Life Sciences I*** (3 hours)
  • STAT 30100 Elem. Statistical Methods I****  (3 hours)
  • ENG-W 131 Reading, Writing, and Inquiry I (3 hours)
  • ECON-E 101 Survey of Economic Issues & Problems (3 hours)
  • COMM-R110 Fundamentals of Speech Communications (3 hours)

Notes and Clarifications

* CHEM-C 484 or CHEM- C384 (Biomolecules & Catab.) or CHEM 533 (Intro.Biochem.) may be substituted for BIOL-K 483 or BIOL-K 383

** BIOL 561 (Immunology) may be substituted for BIOL-K 338 by permission

*** MA 22100/22200 (Calc.Tech.I & II) or MA 16500/16600 (Analy.Geom.Calc.I & II) may be substituted for MA 23100/23200

**** PSY-B 305 (Statistics), ECON-E 270 (Intro.Stat.Theory), SPEA-K 300 (Stat.Techniques), or STAT-N 501 (Stat.Meth.Hlth.Sci.) may be substituted for STAT 30100.

A cumulative total of 60 credit hours (includes advanced placement, department credit, pass/not pass, etc.) is required to meet admission requirements.

This plan of study is specifically designed for IUPUI students preparing to apply for admission to the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Purdue University College of Pharmacy for Fall 2012 and thereafter. If you are applying to additional schools, please check with the specific program for admission requirements and pre-requisites. 

Additional information about the College and professional program admissions is located at: www.pharmacy.purdue.edu

Before applying for admission to Purdue University College of Pharmacy, you should contact the Office of Student Services, (765) 496-6885, pharmacy-oss@purdue.edu, for current and accurate information.  

Download a Pre-Pharmacy Timeline to help you stay on track for pharmacy school!

Become a Science student

Entrance Exams

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a standardized exam designed to assess competencies in areas important for success in pharmacy school and a career as a pharmacist. There are six content areas covered on the PCAT: Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Ability, and Writing. Approximately 85% of pharmacy programs in the United States require the PCAT exam for admission. Purdue University College of Pharmacy does not require the PCAT exam. Students should check the requirements for other programs to determine whether they will need to take the PCAT for admission.

Gaining Relevant Experience

Clinical and Community Service Experience

Experience with the pharmacy profession is essential to preparing for pharmacy school. Job shadowing is an excellent way to explore the daily life of a pharmacist and find out if a pharmacy career is the right fit for you.  

Many pre-pharmacy students are also able to obtain experience through employment as pharmacy technicians. It is helpful if your experience is not limited to retail pharmacy, but if you also have exposure to the work of pharmacists in hospitals, compounding pharmacies and long-term care facilities.

In addition, pharmacy school admissions committees prefer applicants who demonstrate a long-term commitment to serving others. If you plan to apply to pharmacy school you should endeavor to gain experience serving the community through volunteer activities.

Research, Internship and Leadership Opportunities

One of the biggest benefits to studying science at IUPUI is the accessibility of our world-class professors, and the ability to participate in research and internships.

The School of Science at IUPUI offers various programs for students to become involved with both research and other leadership opportunities throughout their undergraduate experience.

One of those programs is the Life Health Sciences Internship. This one-year program provides students the opportunity to participate in both clinical and scientific research opportunities throughout IUPUI's campus and the surrounding hospitals and labs.

  • Internship Opportunities 
  • Research Opportunities
  • Involvement Opportunities
  • SCI-I-390: Health Professions Shadowing course is a 0 or 1 credit hour Satisfactory/Fail class that exposes students to the healthcare field through shadowing and being mentored by a healthcare professionals. Students gain hands on experience, basic knowledge and insights into the career of healthcare professionals.

Additionally, the School of Science puts science majors and pre-pharmacy students in positions to succeed as leaders in programs such as the Distributed Drug Discovery (D3) programScience majors in D3 identify, synthesize and test molecules that have not previously been considered for use as drugs to treat diseases. Results of this program have the potential to solve real-world challenges.

Application Process

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy provides a centralized application service called "PharmCAS" through which applicants may submit one initial application to apply to multiple pharmacy programs. PharmCAS is designed only for applicants to professional pharmacy degree (PharmD) programs.

Pharmacy schools vary in their requirements for letters of recommendation. Most pharmacy schools will require a minimum of two to three letters of recommendation; often sending more (if the school will allow) can strengthen your application. Purdue University requires a minimum of two letters of recommendation. You should check with other pharmacy schools regarding their guidelines on letters of recommendation.

For most pharmacy schools, you will be required to have your recommenders submit their recommendations directly through the PharmCAS application system. 

Pharmacy School Interview Questions

If you are unsure how to answer any of these questions, check out Step 2 of our Interviewing resources for detailed tips on how to correctly answer tricky interview questions.

Questions About You

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your two best points?
  3. What are your two weakest points?
  4. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
  5. How do you handle conflict?
  6. Explain your leadership/research/volunteer experiences.
  7. What extracurricular activities are you engaged in?
  8. Which of your college courses interested you the most?
  9. What interests you outside of pharmacy and getting into pharmacy school?
  10. Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?
  11. What do you do in your spare time?
  12. Why did you choose the undergraduate school you went to, and if you could, would you do anything differently?
  13. What do you do to relieve stress?
  14. What course was most academically challenging for you?
  15. What qualities do you have that you think are important for an effective leader to have?
  16. Do you prefer studying on your own or in a group?
  17. Do you memorize or apply?

Questions About Your Pharmacy School Goals

  1. Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
  2. When did you decide pharmacy was a good career choice for you? 
  3. What steps have you taken to confirm that you want to be a pharmacist?
  4. What do you think being a pharmacist entails?
  5. What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good pharmacist?
  6. What will you be doing in pharmacy 10 years from now?
  7. What did you do to prepare for the PCAT?
  8. How will you handle the stress of pharmacy school?
  9. What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing pharmacy school?
  10. Why do you believe you have the ability to undertake the study and work involved in pharmacy school?
  11. Does your family support your decision to become a pharmacist?
  12. What did you like/dislike about pharmacies you have observed?
  13. What would you like to do if you are not accepted into pharmacy school?
  14. What steps have you taken to acquaint yourself with what a pharmacist does?
  15. How do you think your role as a pharmacist fits in with your role as a member of the community?
  16. Why did you choose pharmacy school instead of medicine, physical therapy, or social work?
  17. What aspects of your life experiences do you think makes you a good candidate for pharmacy school?
  18. If you are accepted into two pharmacy schools of your top choice, what would you do to make up your mind?

Questions About the Pharmacy School

  1. Why do you want to attend [Pharmacy School Name]? How are you a match for [Pharmacy School Name]?
  2. Describe your method of learning.  How does this fit with [Pharmacy School Name]?
  3. What schools did you apply to and why?
  4. What do you look for in a good pharmacy school?
  5. Why do you want to go to school here?
  6. Why should [Pharmacy School Name] choose you over other candidates?
  7. What do you know about [Pharmacy School Name] program?
  8. What can you contribute to [Pharmacy School Name]?

Current Issue/Scenario Questions

  1. What are some of the most important issues you see facing pharmacists currently and in the coming years? How will you deal with these?
  2. One day, a pharmacy school classmate gives you a sheet containing questions for an upcoming exam. How would you handle the situation and what issues would you consider important in coming to a decision about what to do?
  3. Name a situation where you had to make an ethical decision.  What did you do?
  4. Tell me a time when you witnessed dishonesty and what did you do?
  5. What are the responsibilities of a pharmacist to a customer?
  6. Describe a time when you worked with a difficult team member.  How did you resolve those issues?
  7. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a very difficult customer or co-worker?
  8. What is the last book you have read? Tell me about it.
  9. Define Professionalism.
  10. Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks. 
  11. Explain how understanding diversity is important as a pharmacist.   

Personal statements

Most graduate and professional programs require a personal statement as part of the application process. The personal statement is an appropriate place to share your career goals, strengths, experiences, personality, and academic successes and obstacles.

Getting Started

Often time schools require a general, comprehensive personal statement. With the general personal statement, you are allowed maximum freedom in terms of what you write. This is the type of statement often required for medical or law school applications. However, business schools and other graduate schools often ask specific questions, and your statement should respond explicitly to the question being asked. 

Despite the type of personal statement you're asked to write, you need to think of your statement as an opportunity to show how you are unique among all the other applicants. A concise, well-written personal statement is going to carry more weight than one that is long-winded or difficult to read. The following tips will help you craft a compelling personal statement.

Get started by answering the following questions:
  • What is unique or impressive about my life story? 
  • What are my professional goals? 
  • What are my core values? 
  • What is the most compelling reason for the admission committee to be interested in me? 
  • What do I know about the field I am pursuing? 
  • What obstacles, disadvantages, or hardships have I overcome? 
  • How have I involved myself with the community? 

If you need help brainstorming ideas for your personal statement, our PREPs advisors are more than happy to help you get started.

Once you have answered the questions above, begin to fill out the following outline: 

Paragraph I

Begin this paragraph by explaining what motivates you to go to graduate or professional school. You should address some, if not all, of the following questions in your first paragraph:

  • Why do I want to go to graduate or professional school?
  • How does graduate or professional school fit with my career goals?
  • Why do I believe I am an able candidate?

Paragraphs II, III, IV

Your qualifications and participation in extracurricular activities make up the next several paragraphs. This is the body of your personal statement and should answer the following questions:

  • What activities have I participated in that are relevant to my career choice?
  • What are my academic accomplishments, skills, or interests?
  • What have I learned from these accomplishments, skills or interests?
  • What have I overcome? What challenges have I faced? 

Paragraph V

You want your final paragraph to show that you are looking towards your future. Make sure your conclusion answers to these two important questions:

  • In the next several years, how do I see myself evolving?
  • Why will professional or graduate school be an important stepping stone leading to my life's work?

Tips and Tricks

In addition to the information above, the following advice taken from Purdue's Online Writing Lab can also help you craft a captivating personal statement: 

Answer the questions that are being asked. This seems obvious, but if you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar. Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It's important to answer every question as specifically as possible, and if slightly different answers are needed, you need to write separate statements.

Tell a story. Create your application so that it shows and demonstrates who you are through concrete experiences, stories, and examples. One of the worst things you can do is bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific. Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, dentist, etc., should be logical and the result of concrete experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as a rational conclusion to your story.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph. The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It's here that you either grab the reader's attention...or lose it. This paragraph also serves as the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know. While being as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field, be sure to use the profession's jargon to convey this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of detailed information about the career you want and why you're suited for it.

There are certain subjects you should avoid. References to experiences or accomplishments in high school (or earlier) are generally not a good idea to mention in a personal statement for graduate or professional school, focus on something more recent. Avoid potentially controversial subjects (for example, religious or political issues). If your reader disagrees with you, your application may be unfairly scrutinized.

Do your research. If a school wants to know why you're applying to their school rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Pay attention to the technicality of your writing. Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid cliches. A medical school applicant who says that he's good at science and wants to help other people isn't exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements and stories.


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