Pharmacists are in demand in community and hospital settings, as well as the biopharmaceutical industry. They play an important role as practitioners who consult one-on-one with patients about medication selection and usage.
Students have been preparing for this evolving profession through the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) since 2014, and more will have the opportunity to apply for admission now that KGI has eliminated the need to have already completed a bachelor’s degree.
“This opens our program to a broader population of students, especially those who have been underrepresented in the profession,” says Martin Zdanowicz, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (SPHS) at KGI.
The change will be particularly helpful to community college students and undergraduates seeking to transfer to the PharmD program from their current colleges and universities. Students who enter the PharmD program before earning a bachelor’s degree will have fewer years of college expenses and be able to enter the professional workforce earlier.
“Our admissions team is excited to work with students and advisors throughout different community colleges and help build awareness of this pathway,” KGI Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Sofia Toro says.
“We are building a pipeline of future leaders in the pharmacy profession.”
Though the removal of a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for admission is new to KGI, it is a common practice at many other institutions.
“This is nothing new in our profession,” says Zdanowicz. “A lot of pharmacy schools have not required the bachelor’s degree for a number of years, and most of the schools we are competing with have already done this.”
He notes that there is ample research and literature showing little correlation between possession of a bachelor’s degree and success in a PharmD program. Nor does the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education require students to have completed an undergraduate education before enrolling in a PharmD program.
Applicants must still complete all required prerequisite courses and meet all other admissions requirements prior to matriculation. KGI will continue to expect all applicants to enter with sufficient undergraduate coursework in subjects such as chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, statistics, psychology, economics, and communications.
“The skill set to be successful is still the same,” explains Zdanowicz. “Ultimately, you’re judged on the quality of the students you graduate, and we don’t want to do anything to compromise our quality.”
He believes that opportunities to complete a certificate in a specialized area such as health information technology or medical and clinical affairs, learn about the wide variety of career options within pharmacy, and gain industry exposure are reasons for students of all backgrounds—including those who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree—to find KGI’s PharmD program appealing.
“They get a skill set that pharmacy students in more traditional programs may not have,” says Zdanowicz.
Interested in learning more about KGI’s PharmD program? Visit kgi.edu/pharmd.