Best Online PharmD Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/22/2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: ACPE
Average Tuition: $29,699
Average Salary: $101,878

The people who work behind the pharmacy counter at the nearest drugstore or grocery store possess a wealth of knowledge about anatomy, diseases, and the ways in which pharmaceutical drugs interact with the human body. Although all pharmacists have studied pharmacology, some professionals in this field have earned more advanced degrees, and thus earn higher annual salaries. For example, licensed pharmacy technicians need only an online certificate or bachelor’s degree and typically earn a median annual salary of $33,950. Pharmacists who have a doctoral-level Pharm.D. degree earn a median annual income of $128,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Scroll down to find a list of the most popular online pharmacy degrees. Then continue reading for more information about licensing requirements, career paths, and answers to frequently asked questions about the field.

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Online Doctorate Degrees in Pharmacy with the Highest Return on Investment

2021 Best Online Colleges Offering Doctoral Degrees in Pharmacy Badge

The ROI for an online pharmacy degree at our top-ranked schools ranges from $841,600 to $1,052,400. We calculated ROI using estimated 10-year alumni earnings and median student debt. Nationally, the ROI for a PharmD is $994,000. Our top three schools offer online pharmacy degrees with an ROI above the national average. Higher education is a significant investment and these rankings can help students determine which pharmacy programs may be most profitable in the long term.

ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Median Starting Salary Median Debt 10-year ROI
# 1 #1 $20,790 $114,872 $104,546 $1,052,400
# 2 #2 $61,346 $106,845 $48,138 $1,040,000
# 3 #3 $10,950 $118,253 $161,167 $1,016,700
# 4 #4 $29,065 $113,491 $161,710 $967,000
# 5 #5 $11,400 $115,208 $177,142 $965,500
# 6 #6 $41,265 $114,237 $170,360 $963,900
# 7 #7 $14,274 $114,986 $181,337 $957,900
# 8 #8 $44,381 $116,572 $208,922 $939,900
# 9 #9 $29,766 $109,763 $231,589 $841,600

Best Doctoral Degrees in Pharmacy Rankings Details


Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Boston (MA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $1,052,400
  • Median Salary: $114,872
  • Annual Tuition: $20,790
  • Median Debt: $104,546

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) offers an online Doctor of Pharmacy - Postbaccalaureate Pathway degree. This program, aimed at students who have a bachelor's in pharmacy and are U.S.-licensed practicing pharmacists, begins every fall and requires one in-person orientation in August. Students can continue working as pharmacists full-time while completing... the program part-time, taking a total of 37 semester hours over two years with a four-week clinical rotation at the end.

The Blackboard platform is used for all online classes. The experiential work requirements can be completed at students' workplaces. MCPHS uses PioneerRX pharmacy software, which provides hands-on simulations and examples of real-world situations. Online students pay lower tuition rates than students attending courses on-campus. MCPHS participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, dedicated to helping veterans succeed in their college careers.

Applications are completed on the school's website and a dedicated graduate admission team is available to help during the application process. Online students can access the school’s Center for Academic Success and Enrichment for help during the program and the Center for Professional Career Development for assistance after graduation.

Cost per Credit: $990
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: NECHE
Graduate Online Enrollment: 640


Duquesne University

Pittsburgh (PA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $1,040,000
  • Median Salary: $106,845
  • Annual Tuition: $61,346
  • Median Debt: $48,138

Duquesne University offers an online Doctor of Pharmacy degree, which can be completed in four years. Duquesne is a Catholic university that aims to challenge students academically while nourishing their spiritual and ethical development. The online Pharm.D program uses both online and limited campus instruction during the first three years, and the fourth year involves rotation... through a variety of practice settings for real-world experience. Students receive instruction in pharmaceutical calculations, pharmaceutical law and ethics, human physiology and pathology, the American healthcare system, and more.

The university uses the Blackboard system, where students can complete coursework, take exams, and interact with their professors and classmates. Duquesne offers a strong network of 98,000 alumni, and graduates have enjoyed over 99% job placement for the past 25 years. Most graduates start at an average salary of $110,000 per year. Duquesne provides financial aid options, and students can use the Net Price Calculator to estimate the total cost of the degree.

Students can apply online, and applications for the fall semester are due in early June. Resources for online students include free software, including Box for secure cloud content management; online access to the university’s library and Writing Center; career services, including resume help; and tech support seven days a week.

Cost per Credit: $1,658
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: MSCHE
Graduate Online Enrollment: 500


Shenandoah University

Winchester (VA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $1,016,700
  • Median Salary: $118,253
  • Annual Tuition: $10,950
  • Median Debt: $161,167

Shenandoah University offers three online doctoral degree options in pharmacy: a part-time Nontraditional Doctor of Pharmacy, a full-time Doctor of Pharmacy/Master of Public Health dual degree, and a full-time Doctor of Pharmacy/Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine dual degree. Full-time programs take approximately five years to complete, while the NTDP... part-time program is self-paced. Each course of study includes information on general pharmacy topics, such as biomedical science, pharmacy practice, pharmaceutics, and more. The full-time programs also offer a specialized education appropriate to each dual degree option. Shenandoah offers study abroad options for graduate students.

Students at Shenandoah University access online course materials through the Canvas learning management system. Some courses are synchronous, while others are asynchronous. Students have access to the Office of Financial Aid, and Shenandoah participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, supporting military personnel, veterans, and their families in the pursuit of higher education.

Applicants are encouraged to apply and submit any required documents online. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Services available for online students include academic counseling, study skills development courses, disability services, free peer tutoring, and more.

Cost per Credit: $730
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 411


Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Erie (PA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $967,000
  • Median Salary: $113,491
  • Annual Tuition: $29,065
  • Median Debt: $161,710

The online Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is designed for distance learners to complete a Pharm.D in four years. This program emphasizes the skills needed for a career in pharmaceutical sciences and drug development, with the fourth year consisting of an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences rotation. The degree is accepted as a requirement... for pharmaceutical certification throughout the United States. Much of the degree is virtual, but students will be required to come to the Florida campus for a period of one to three weeks each summer.

Lake Erie College students access asynchronous materials on Blackboard learning management platforms, allowing them to complete assignments at their own pace. The primary scholarship available at Lake Erie College is the LECOM Scholarship Program for students who maintain a GPA above a 3.0, awarded each academic year and applied to tuition and fees.

All applicants must complete an application through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) and a supplemental application specific to Lake Erie. The primary resource for online students at Lake Erie, the Learning Resource Center, includes medical research, patient records, journals, monographs, and multimedia.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: MSCHE


Concordia University - Wisconsin

Mequon (WI)
  • 10-Year ROI: $965,500
  • Median Salary: $115,208
  • Annual Tuition: $11,400
  • Median Debt: $177,142

Concordia University - Wisconsin (CUW) offers an online Doctor of Pharmacy and MBA dual degree. This 128-credit program will take approximately four years to complete. CUW offers a faith-based education affiliated with the Lutheran Church. The focus of the degree program is to combine the Pharm.D knowledge with the management and organizational skills associated with the business... degree. The university hosts both internships and mentorships with CUW alumni. Students preparing for state exams can take part in certification and licensure prep courses.

CUW uses Blackboard as its primary online learning management system. CUW offers scholarships that are both merit-based and competitive. Students who are eligible for the military discount will receive a 10% discount off of their tuition. Up to 50% of credits can be transferred into this program. Career resources are also available through the CAACE portal.

There is a rolling deadline for online courses. Applications to CUW should be submitted online. Students at CUW have access to many online resources such as tutoring, student mentorships, and study groups.

Cost per Credit: $760
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,146


University of Colorado Denver

Denver (CO)
  • 10-Year ROI: $963,900
  • Median Salary: $114,237
  • Annual Tuition: $41,265
  • Median Debt: $170,360

University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) offers an online Doctor of Pharmacy in North American-Trained PharmD, instructing students in areas including clinical skills, oncology, infectious diseases, public health, and more. Students typically take between two and six years to complete the program. The program can be completed in a full- or part-time format. In the part-time format,... students must take at least four credit hours per semester. This 65-credit program requires 35 hours of semester credit and 30 hours of experiential learning.

Students access online coursework via the Canvas learning management system. Financial aid information is available from the school, and sometimes scholarships are available for students in the program. Students who have served in the military or who are military dependents have access to CU Denver Veteran & Military Student Services. Online students also have access to the CU Denver Career Center.

Applicants can submit their applications and required information online. Students who take classes online have access to 24/7 IT support, onboarding information, virtual school events, and a student success coach.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,453


St. John Fisher College

Rochester (NY)
  • 10-Year ROI: $957,900
  • Median Salary: $114,986
  • Annual Tuition: $14,274
  • Median Debt: $181,337

St. John Fisher College offers an online Doctor of Pharmacy degree, instructing students in both pharmaceutical science and patient-centered practice. Students have the opportunity to participate in both local and global opportunities to learn more about providing pharmaceutical services to patients in underserved communities. Classes in the program are taught by expert faculty.... This 151-credit program takes four years to complete and requires 11 in-person clinical rotations.

Students at St. John Fisher College access their coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. Most aspects of the program are taught asynchronously. The majority of coursework involves developing clinical skills and working with peers in group projects online, but the program also requires six on-campus immersions throughout the program. The school offers a Military Tuition Assistance Program to students in the Reserves, National Guard, and active-duty service, and also participates in the Veterans Administration's Yellow Ribbon Program. Online students can schedule appointments with the Center for Career and Academic Planning.

The program offers two start dates each year. Students are encouraged to submit their application and required documents online. Online students have access to advising, a robust alumni network, the Center for Community Engagement, remote counseling services, and more.

Cost per Credit: $1,098
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: MSCHE
Graduate Online Enrollment: 14


Creighton University

Omaha (NE)
  • 10-Year ROI: $939,900
  • Median Salary: $116,572
  • Annual Tuition: $44,381
  • Median Debt: $208,922

Creighton University offers students two online doctoral degree options: a Doctor of Pharmacy and a dual Doctor of Pharmacy/Master of Business Administration. Both programs can be completed in approximately four years of full-time study. Students complete clinical rotations during the third and fourth years of study. Students in both programs are instructed in areas of biochemistry,... communication, pharmaceutics, patient care, chemical basis of drug action, and more. Students in the Pharm.D/MBA program receive the same pharmacy education as Pharm.D students, with the addition of business courses. Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic institution, and students are strongly encouraged to participate in community service opportunities as they earn their degrees.

Students at Creighton use the school's BlueLine learning management system. The financial aid office at Creighton provides remote assistance for students who are interested in receiving loans, scholarships, and grants. The school assists veterans, active-duty military members, and their families with military education benefits, and online students have access to Creighton's John P. Fahey Career Center for help with job searching.

Prospective students submit their application for admission and other required materials online. Students are admitted on a rolling basis and can apply anytime. Distance learners have access to the school's online library system, online writing center, IT support, and more.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,934


Howard University

Washington D.C.
  • 10-Year ROI: $841,600
  • Median Salary: $109,763
  • Annual Tuition: $29,766
  • Median Debt: $231,589

The online Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy program at Howard University takes only two years to complete, compared to four or five for traditional Pharm.D programs. This program is designed for students who already have a valid U.S. or Canadian pharmacist license, and it includes courses on integrated pharmacy care, pathophysiology, therapeutics, pharmacology, pharmacoepidemiology,... and pharmacoeconomics. To graduate, students must complete a six-month experiential component that involves developing, implementing, and evaluating a disease state program.

Students take courses synchronously using the Blackboard learning management system. To cover the costs of this program, students can apply for loans and grants, and the school also offers scholarships from the Dr. Youness R Karodeh and Dr. Babatunde Osun Endowment, CVS, Walgreens, and several other organizations.

Howard reviews applications on a rolling basis, but students must submit their applications by February 2 of the year in which they want to start. The program admits students once per year in the fall, and the students admitted to this program become members of a cohort who work toward their degrees together regardless of location. The school provides resources such as a pharmacy library, professional development services, and online tools such as ExamMaster and NicroMedex to facilitate their educations.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: MSCHE
Graduate Online Enrollment: 29

Online Pharmacy Degree Overview & Career Information

In order to become a licensed pharmacist, students will need to complete a Pharm. D. program. Applicants will need to have already earned a bachelor's degree to be eligible. Students will also be required to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test, or PCAT, which is a standardized examination of the skills and knowledge areas needed for success in the professional degree program. Pharm.D. Students will need to pass licensing exams after graduating from an accredited online program in order to work as a pharmacist.

Pharmacy research programs are available online at both master's and doctoral levels. Graduates may use their educational backgrounds to conduct research, work as consultants, teach in universities, develop new drugs for pharmaceutical companies, conduct clinical studies, and work for many governmental agencies. University faculty positions require the Ph.D. degree level, which involves a minimum of four years of graduate school following the completion of a bachelor's degree. Online master's degrees are obtainable with two years of graduate education after the student has completed his undergraduate degree.

Individuals interested in pharmacy careers that don't require a graduate degree may want to become pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists with preparing medications and filling prescriptions. Aspiring pharmacy technicians should consider pursuing an online associate degree or an online undergraduate certificate degree. Although pharmacy technician jobs require a minimum of a high school education, earning an associate degree can help increase job prospects.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Pharmacy

Many accredited online schools offer both doctoral Pharm.D. and research Ph.D. programs. Completion of an online Pharm.D. provides the opportunity for graduates to obtain licensing after passing the required exams. Pharm.D. practitioners can then obtain work as pharmacists in private pharmacies, hospitals, long term care facilities, and retail stores. Online research Ph.D. programs provide an educational foundation for graduates to work as researchers and faculty members at institutions of higher learning.

Program Requirements

Most Pharm. D. and pharmacy PhD programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree. Pharm. D. programs that do not require a bachelor's degree for admission still require applicants to have completed a certain number of undergraduate college credits which varies by school. Whether or not applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree, all programs will require completion of pre-pharmacy coursework. Many schools have a minimum GPA requirement and require applicants to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, interviews, resumes, and standardized test scores.


Typical classes for online Pharm.D. programs include courses in biochemistry, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacokinetics, pathology, immunology, and several others. Typical courses for online research-focused Ph.D. programs include additional courses in drug evaluation and research, physiology, behavioral pharmacology, as well as other courses. Online Ph.D. programs will also require a significant research component requiring a doctoral dissertation, defending the dissertation, and receiving a recommendation from the program's faculty that the Ph.D. be granted upon program completion.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Pharmacy Degree

Online pharmacy programs are accredited in the United States through the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Accreditation indicates that an online program meets the professional and educational standards required for professional work. In most states, completion of an accredited pharmacy program is required in order to obtain a license. Graduating from an accredited online program shows employers that graduates have obtained the skills needed for the career and have completed required courses. In addition, students hoping to receive federal financial aid will need to attend an accredited school in order to be eligible.

Pharmacy Career Certification and Licensing Requirements

All fifty states require pharmacists to be licensed in order to practice. Upon completion of the online professional doctoral program, pharmacists must take and pass two exams to obtain a license to practice in the state in which they reside. The required exams are the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam, or NAPLEX, which tests prospective pharmacists on the skills and knowledge required for the career. The second exam, the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam, or MPJE, tests prospective pharmacists on the pharmacy laws specific to the state in which they are seeking licensing.

While certification is not required, pharmacists may choose to obtain special certifications in areas in which they want to specialize in their practice. Specialized certifications for pharmacists are offered through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties and include qualifications in such areas as oncology, nutrition, pediatric pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, and others.

Pharmacy Career Paths


Pharmacists prepare prescriptions and advise patients concerning any potential side effects they may experience while taking medication. Pharmacists also supervise pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns working under their supervision. They work with insurance companies to ensure coverage for medications and may also have inventory management duties for the pharmacy in which they work. Pharmacists must have a four-year professional, post-graduate doctoral degree, or Pharm.D. and a professional state license in order to practice. All online programs require a minimum of two years of college coursework for admission, while some require completion of a bachelor's degree prior to entry into the professional degree program.

Pharmaceutical Researchers

Pharmaceutical researchers are involved in the development of new medications. Researchers may also work in the area of improving the drug manufacturing process. They may conduct clinical trials and testing of new medications on animals and humans. Minimum educational requirements for pharmaceutical researchers are completion of a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, or another related field. Many researchers go on to complete a master's or doctoral degree for advancement in their career.

Pharmacy Administrators

Administrators work in a variety of places, including hospitals, institutions of higher learning, pharmacies, government agencies, and pharmaceutical marketing companies. They may conduct research, work as consultants, or manage pharmacies. Administrator positions require a minimum of a master's degree which will qualify the graduate to work in pharmaceutical marketing, as a consultant or conducting independent research. Faculty positions and higher-level private positions require the completion of a doctoral degree or Ph.D.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pharmacy Degrees

How much can I earn as a pharmacist?

Pharmacists with a PhD or PharmD earn a median annual income of $128,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pharmacists working in general merchandise stores and supermarkets tended to earn slightly higher salaries than those working in hospitals or pharmacy/drug stores. Trained and licensed pharmacy technicians have a median annual salary of $33,950. The demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 7% through 2028, which is higher than average for all occupations in the U.S.

Is a pharmacist degree the equivalent of a medical doctor degree?

The PharmD is a professional degree similar to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). As a doctoral degree, it represents the important responsibility pharmacists have in caring for patients in the healthcare system. However, although pharmacists are required to hold a doctoral-level PharmD degree, they are not medical doctors or physicians. They cannot diagnose illnesses or prescribe drugs, but they should confer with doctors regarding prescriptions and they are licensed to offer basic health and wellness advice.

What's the difference between the PharmD degree and a PhD in pharmacology?

Both are doctoral degrees, but they prepare students for different career paths. The PharmD degree is the right choice for those students who want to become licensed, practicing pharmacists. The PhD in pharmacology is the best choice for students interested in conducting research and developing pharmaceutical drugs, in academia or in a lab setting at a pharmaceutical drug company.

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