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PharmD Accelerated Programs: Everything You Need to Know

Published on: Nov 6, 2022
By: Hong Chen, PharmD
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The thought of completing a health science professional program such as a pharmacy education at an accelerated pace sounds highly appealing, especially to those who are firmly on the path to a career in pharmacy practice. Also, pursuing a pharmacy education at an accelerated pace often means you can shave down the ever-growing cost of tuition.

Doctor of Pharmacy programs are unique in that there are a plethora of pharmacy schools that offer these accelerated pathways to their students. 

Let’s explore specific schools. One example is pharmacy schools such as Ohio Northern University, which offer students a six-year pharmacy program right out of high school (two years of prerequisite courses and four years of pharmacy program). The 6-year PharmD Program can significantly increase your career earning potential. You can enter the workforce at least two years before a traditional PharmD graduate. 

Direct Entry 0-6 PharmD Programs

These 6-year PharmD programs tend to be more expensive, so it is essential to weigh the costs of education for these programs against the rewards of entering the workforce sooner. The schools that offer a 6-year PharmD Program (some are 7-year programs) are listed below. You can even apply for and enter these programs straight out of high school. These programs are the quickest route to pharmacy practice.

PharmCAS Participating Institutions:

Non-PharmCAS Participating Institutions:

Two and Three Year Accelerated PharmD Programs

Then there are schools such as Appalachian College of Pharmacy that offer a 2-3 year accelerated PharmD to undergraduate students that have met the minimum 2-year pre-requisites before applying for their 3-year PharmD program. 24 programs currently offer this 2-3 program (23 of which are presently a PharmCAS institution).  You could say that these accelerated programs aim to get students out of school as quickly as possible into the workforce.

In this section, I will discuss some key differences and similarities between the two more popular accelerated programs that potential pharmacy students should investigate if they are interested in pursuing this career.

Obtaining the coveted title of Doctor of Pharmacy is no easy task, no matter how long it takes. Whether you decide on going down the traditional path or pursuing the accelerated program, there will be obstacles you’ll ultimately need to overcome before starting a career in pharmacy practice. 

As mentioned earlier, students can pursue different accelerated paths if a traditional pharmacy program is outside their minds. Starting with a 0–6 year program, as the name implies, grants a PharmD to students after six years of study. Before any confusion arises, this differs from another accelerated pathway known as the 2-4 Pharmacy pathway. The latter is structured to have a minimum of 2 years of pre-pharmacy study followed by an application process to enroll in a traditional 4-year PharmD program.

The 0–6-year program admits students directly from high school and they may advance to the professional portion of the program pending completion of their pre-pharmacy courses and interview requirements. The good news is you won’t have to take the PCAT for such programs.” 

Due to the accelerated nature, students in these programs bypass a bachelor’s degree that traditional pathways follow. Schools that offer these accelerated programs maintain many students initially admitted and fill the rest of the seats via a standard application process. For high school students applying for colleges and deciding that pharmacy and this accelerated pathway suit them, an excellent opportunity to become a pharmacist is now in play. These students can bypass other programs' health science and pharmaceutical science requirements. If you’re interested in taking this path, check out our breakdown of these types of schools, specifically Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Ohio Northern University, and St. John’s University.

The 2-3 Program Structure

Now, a 2-3 program structure is somewhat similar. However, instead of direct admission as a high school student and the full 4-year PharmD curriculum, there’s an application process after pre-pharmacy studies, and you also get the benefit of finishing your studies even earlier with a 3-year PharmD curriculum. Again, due to this accelerated nature of the program, no bachelor’s degree is granted, as you will only be completing the pre-requisite requirements needed to apply. 

Important note: Don’t forget to check the PharmCAS site to see if you need to take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test). Only a handful of schools list this as a requirement for admission. Since this is a 3-year pharmacy program, your PharmD experience is shortened by a year. This means the professional curriculum is much more rigorous and scheduled year-round. The tradeoff you make in this case is that your breaks are shorter, and much more time is dedicated to learning. 

Another difference to mention is that the pre-pharmacy curriculum is scheduled for you in your undergraduate program. Research the primary courses you must meet to apply to your PharmD program. Most pharmacy schools will have similar requirements here and there to make the process easier; however, ensure that you are not missing anything. Some programs to research include Roosevelt University, University of the Pacific, and Chapman University.

Early Assurance Programs

In addition, the early assurance program is a growing opportunity among pharmacy programs. Students already enrolled in an undergraduate program can participate or enroll in this pathway early to gain admittance to a PharmD program. These programs allow prospective students to streamline their path into pharmacy school. The early assurance program is an alternative for students looking for flexibility (completing only minimum pre-requisites or obtaining their bachelor’s) while still having the benefit of a reserved seat in pharmacy school. A guaranteed seat is still contingent upon completing pre-requisite courses and a successful interview. Most schools will have direct application processes through their portals, such as research schools such as Northeast Ohio Medical University, Marshall University, The Ohio State University, and Oregon State University.

Find the Right Accelerated PharmD Program For You

The opportunities above are some of the most common pathways, but there are many more that prospective students can pursue and research.

For High School Students

If you’re a high school student who knows that pharmacy is the career that you want to pursue, the 0-6-year program may be the suitable choice for you. Remember that you are locked into that pharmacy school once you begin your pharmacy curriculum. 

For Those Certain About a Pharmacy Career

A 2-3 program may be suitable for students who view pharmacy as their guaranteed career path but still want flexibility in choosing pharmacy schools after pre-requisite completion. Remember that your pharmacy curriculum could be more rigorous (you will learn more in a shorter period) and that a quicker path to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree doesn’t necessarily mean getting the best education. Programs that offer a year-round academic calendar leave minimal time for intern experiences. 

Since many employers may want to see ‘real-world’ experience practicing as a pharmacy intern, these experiential education opportunities will be more challenging to acquire while embedded within a continuous learning program.  

For Those Who Want a Guaranteed Spot

Similarly, the early assurance program is great for students who want guaranteed seats in the College of Pharmacy. The flexibility of completing a whole undergraduate experience may also be a plus. Remember, you’ll be locked into that pharmacy school once you reach the minimum requirements or graduate with your bachelor’s. Each program has different strengths and comes down to what you want.

Final Takeaways

  • 10 pharmacy school programs accept high school students into an accelerated 6 or 7-year program,

  • 24 programs that require 2 years of undergraduate schooling plus 3 years of year-round pharmacy school, and

  • 56 programs that offer 4 years of pharmacy school after 2 years of undergraduate requirements, and 5 pharmacy programs that offer 4 years of pharmacy school after 3 years of undergraduate requirements.

Visit the navigation and click "Get Matched" to get matched to the right accelerated PharmD program for you.

portrait of Hong Chen

My name is Hong Kui Chen and I am a graduate of The Ohio State University Pharmacy Class of 2022. I am currently working as a clinical research associate at Medpace, Inc, a contract research organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio. My work mainly consists of traveling to various sites around the country and providing protocol training on new clinical trials or monitoring data. While I enjoyed the traditional pharmacy role of working in retail or hospital, I wanted to expand and pursue this non-traditional role to see how clinical trials operate. I have a passion for being able to impact patients in a grand scale and even though I don’t have the 1-on-1 patient interaction, the work that I do can have long lasting contributions to overall patient health. 

Opinions and information published by the author here on PharmDDegree.com are of my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of my employer.

Education: Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD), The Ohio State University
Knowledge: Clinical Pharmacy, Digital Health