2020 Accredited Pharmacy Degrees Online
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.
Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Pharmacy Degrees
Online Pharmacy Degree Overview & Career Information
Online pharmacy degrees are available at the associate level in the form of pharmacy technician programs and at the graduate level in the form of Pharm. D. programs and master's degrees in pharmacology, regulatory science, pharmaceutical engineering, or drug development. Certificates in pharmacy are also available; undergraduate certificates focus on pharmacy technology while graduate certificates focus on specific aspects of pharmaceutical science.
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.
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.
Online Associate Degrees in Pharmacy
Online associate degrees in pharmacy can be found in the form of Pharmacy Technician Associate of Applied Science degrees. Though not required, an online Pharmacy Technician A.A.S. degree will help prepare students for certification and licensure needed to work in entry-level positions under the supervision of a pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians help prepare and dispense prescription drugs, and generally take care of the day-to-day operations of the pharmacy. Other jobs include working in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities.
Online Pharmacy Technician A.A.S. programs are offered by a few community colleges as well as some for-profit institutions, and take about two years to complete in both semester and quarter systems. Usually the only requirement for enrolling in an online Pharmacy Technician A.A.S. program is a high school diploma or GED. Some states have additional specific requirements, such as immunizations, background checks, and other training.
Online students should expect to take classes that are mostly related to pharmacology, but thes online programs also include human physiology and anatomy, psychology, and business courses. These online courses give students an introduction to the pharmaceutical world and ethics, which will increase their competency and readiness when applying for certification and employment. Online pharmacy technician students may also be required to complete externship hours in order to receive their degree.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Pharmacy
Students seeking an online bachelor-level degree in pharmacy have the option to pursue a degree in Pharmaceutical Science. An online Bachelor’s of Science in Pharmaceutical Studies will provide students with an extensive science background and understanding of drug therapy needed for jobs such as drug analyst, drug sales and marketing, and consumer safety consultant. This online degree also prepares the student for advanced degree programs in related fields.
In additional to general education requirements and an array of chemistry and biology classes, students will take pharmacology courses where they learn the principles, ethics, analysis, and biotechnology of the field. Like many science-related degree programs, an online degree in pharmaceutical studies requires lab experience as part of the coursework. An online bachelor’s in pharmaceutical studies program takes four to five years to complete for a full-time student, depending on how many credit hours are taken per semester.
Online Bachelor’s of Science in Pharmaceutical Studies degrees are offered by four-year universities. Students wishing to enroll in a Bachelor’s of Science in Pharmaceutical Studies program will need to complete pre-requisite science courses mandated by program. Some schools require a minimum GPA but that varies by institution.
Online Master's Degrees in Pharmacy
An online master's degree in pharmacy helps prepare graduates for careers in pharmacy administration or research specialties. Graduates may find work as consultants, independent researchers, or work for private pharmaceutical research companies. They may also manage pharmacies in private or hospital settings.
Like most graduate-level educational programs, admission will require students to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and possibly the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Applicants should expect to submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, and their graduate exam test scores along with the application. Prospective students must have already obtained a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Online master's degrees in pharmacy-related subjects typically take a minimum of two years of post-graduate work to complete.
Students in an online pharmacy master's program can expect to take graduate-level courses in pharmacy administration, pharmaceutical science, neuropharmacology, immunology, pharmacology, physical pharmacy, metabolic biochemistry, statistics, and data analysis. Students are also often required to complete research and a master's thesis to obtain the degree.
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.
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.
Online Certificates in Pharmacy
Both graduate-level and undergraduate certificate programs are available for online pharmacy students. Online graduate certificates provide education to pharmacists in specialized areas such as pediatric pharmacology, nuclear pharmacology, gerontological medicine, and diabetes pharmacology, and are provided through universities and the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Online undergraduate certificates are available in pharmacy technology, and are available through vocational technical schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists in the preparation of prescription medications for patients. They interact with patients, check labels on prescriptions and advise customers to take medications as prescribed. Although there is no national requirement for certification, many states require a minimum of a vocational certificate in pharmacy technician in addition to a high school diploma or GED.
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.
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Accessed March 2, 2018. https://www.acpe-accredit.org/.
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Accessed March 2, 2018. https://www.aacp.org/about-aacp.
- American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists- Introduction to Pharmaceutical Science. Accessed March 2, 2018. http://www.aaps.org/intropharmsci/.
- American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists. Accessed March 2, 2018. http://www.ashp.org/.
- Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Accessed March 2, 2018. http://www.bpsweb.org/.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook- Pharmacists. Accessed March 2, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm.
- National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Accessed March 2, 2018. https://nabp.pharmacy/.
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