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Pharmacy School: Application Process


The Application Process

Pharmacy schools generally admit students once a year for the Fall

Applications are submitted 12-15 months before the desired medical enrollment date.  However, the timing depends on when you will complete the necessary prepharmacy coursework and degree (if necessary), and successfully take the PCAT (if necessary).

While applying early in the cycle has advantages, the best time for you to apply is when your application is the best it can be.

Pharmacy school requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information on their requirements.

Before any submitting application, have people with an unbiased eye go over each entire application to catch any errors. Your Preprofessional advisor is happy to do this for you.

Pharmacy School Application process includes 3-5 main components

  1. The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)—Required by some schools
  2. Primary Application
  3. Supplemental Application materials—Required by some schools
  4. Letters of Recommendation
  5. Interviews

Follow social media of programs of your interest, visit their website, attend webinars, and visit their campus if possible.

Choose schools that are of serious interest to you, but give your list enough variety to maximize your chances for admission.

Types of Schools to Consider

  • one or two “reach” schools where your GPA and PCAT might be on the low end
  • at least one to two solid "back-up" schools at which your chances are very good
  • several school where you are likely competitive, but in the middle of the pack

On average, students apply to 5- 10 programs. Assess your credentials realistically and give your school selection careful thought.

Graduate Program Directory will assist students in searching for pharmaceutical education programs.

Ask these questions as you select schools you want to apply;

  • Size of School and size of individual classes.
  • Location and environment--do you prefer a large metropolitan area or a smaller city atmosphere? What about surrounding area, quality of life, etc.?
  • Compound labs and other facilities--the quality of compound labs, tutoring and other academic support services, adequate staff, study/meeting space, open hours, etc.
  • General “personality” of School--what are your impressions from their faculty representatives you meet?  Are you looking for an intense, more competitive environment or more of a community feeling?
  • Special interest areas: combined degree programs; specialized courses, student organizations in your area of interest; early decision program availability, etc.
  • Student/faculty ratio.
  • Student body--How do you fit in with GPA and Standardized Test Score averages of students previously admitted? How balanced and diverse is the student body? How is the student morale? Do students have input in operation of School?
  • Faculty diversity—Are they largely all from the same background or relatively diverse with respect to race, creed, gender? Are they well-balanced in educational experiences or only from the same School or schools? What is the extent of their research and professional activities? 
  • Faculty-student relationships--Are faculty accessible and committed to teaching? Is there an “open door” policy?
  • Opportunities for clinical programs, research, international clinical rotations, student-run free clinics etc.
  • What student support programs are available? If applicable, what minority or disabled student services are available?
  • What are the board certification exam passage rates?
  • What are the residency match rate (if you are interested in residency)? Where do graduates go for residency?
  • Are graduates finding employment in the geographic areas you are interested in?
  • What are the average or median salaries of graduates?
  • Tuition costs. You cannot ignore the cost, but neither can you use it as your only criterion. Consider the cost and potential indebtedness along with the other factors, and make sure you are choosing the right schools for the right reasons.

The PCAT is administered in July, September, October or November and January. Taking the exam by spring will enable you to apply earlier. November is the last PCAT accepted by most schools for the following fall’s entering class. It is recommended PCAT be taken within a year of your planned application, but the score is good for 5 years. It usually takes about 3-5 weeks to get the result, but an expedited score is available for an additional fee.

The PCAT is divided into 5 multiple choice sections and 1 essay.

The essay will test problem solving skills, and skills dealing with conventions of language, and will be given a score from 1-6.

The multiple choice sections include the following, and the score for each is reported as a scaled score between 200-600 and as a percentile between 1-99%.

  • Verbal Ability
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Quantitative Ability
  • Reading Comprehension

The exam may be repeated, but the best strategy is to prepare thoroughly and take the PCAT once. More information about the PCAT.

The University of Utah College of Pharmacy (UUCP) requires PCAT for all applications. PCAT score will be taken into consideration as a whole with a student’s application. The minimum % score accepted in the past has been 65%, but the average score has been 85%.

Primary Applications are processed through a central application service called the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS). Primary applications are not school specific. The same information is sent to all schools to which you are applying.

Deadlines: PharmCAS is available online in mid July through early June. Program deadlines range from November – March. University of Utah College of Pharmacy (UUCP) deadline is December 1.

Because many schools use a rolling admission process (they begin reviewing applications and admitting before deadlines), it will enhance your chances if you submit your application early regardless of when you take the GRE.

Make sure you will have plenty of time to fill out the application. Completing the application will take at least one week, and most students take several weeks. READ ALL INSTRUCTION MANUALS AND DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!

The PharmCAS Application will include:

  • Your PCAT score, if applicable
  • A list of all college classes taken, as well as official transcripts from each college where you have earned credit.
  • A list and descriptions of your activities since graduating from high school
  • A Personal Statement outlining your motivation for pursuing a career as a Pharmacist
  • Letters of Recommendations

NOTE: To help us advise other students, we would appreciate it if you would release your statistical information from your applications to the Health Professions Advisor when prompted. This information will always be kept confidential.

NOTE: To help us advise other students, we would appreciate it if you would release your statistical information from your applications to the Health Professions Advisor when prompted. This information will always be kept confidential.

The personal essay is about you and your motivation for pursuing a career as a dentist. Remember, why you want to be a dentist is different from how you were inspired to become one. Describe your current passion for the field with specific examples from recent experiences. Try to choose a theme rather than random thoughts. The primary application activities section provides a list of accomplishments. Your personal essay is an opportunity to provide additional, more in-depth information.

REMEMBER, your audience is smarter, has more medical knowledge, and knows what is like to be a dentist. Don’t try to impress them with your knowledge of the field.

Get feedback! Have 3 or 4 people you can trust to be honest with you (professor, dentist, dental student, parent, advisor, Writing Center, tutor, etc.) read your essay and offer feedback.  Do not ask too many people to read it. Having too many opinions can become confusing.


DO answer the questions “Why do you want to be a pharmacist?”

DO concentrate more on actual experiences rather than speculation about future accomplishments.

DO focus more on what you can give rather than on what you can get by becoming a pharmacist

DO limit the number of “I” statements you use

DO share your background if it is appropriate

DO describe meaningful experiences

DO use all five senses as you tell your story

DO pay careful attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation


DO NOT devote too much space to writing about other people (family, patients, pharmacist you shadowed)

DO NOT summarize or simply repeat what is on the activity list on your primary application

DO NOT use overly flowery language or words you do not know how to use

DO NOT overuse medical terminology or abbreviations

DO NOT assume everyone knows what you know

DO NOT try to make jokes

DO NOT use foreign language

DO NOT begin your essay with a quote

Submitting Letters of Recommendation

You will have your letters submitted to PharmCAS. From there they will be distributed to the Pharmacy schools to which you apply.  These programs will request Letters of Recommendation (LORs) after they receive your PharmCAS Application, so do not delay submitting your primary application while waiting for letters to arrive.

Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early and know what you need. Most schools require 3 letters.

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

  • Ask if potential writers if they feel capable of writing a supportive letter. If anyone is hesitant, you should probably try someone else.
  • Get business cards with your recommenders’ contact information.
  • Ask if recommenders would welcome any written background material. You could include a brief biographical sketch or resume, your interests and activities, career goals, and motivation toward your intended profession. You could also include a snapshot, a copy of a paper or assignment from their class, or transcript.
  • For recommenders who are unsure of how to write a good letter, the PPA Advising office provides a Guide for Letter Writers.
  • Always give recommenders ample time. Two to three weeks at a minimum. Follow up to make sure that your letters have been sent.
  • Send thank you notes.

For more detailed check out our “How To” Guide

 Some pharmacy schools will require a Supplemental Application once they receive your Primary Application. These are specific to each school, and will often require one or more additional essay.  FOLLOW DIRECTION CAREFULLY.

Supplemental Applications usually have a fee attached, so it is a good idea to reevaluate your list of schools at this point. If you have changed your mind about applying to a school, you do not have to complete their Supplemental Application.

The final stage of the application process is the interview. If you receive an invitation for an interview, that is an indication that a program has decided that you are a qualified applicant and they want to get to know you better. Most PA Programs hold “interview days” where they bring in a group of applicants for a day that may consist of some or all of the following: Interviews, task-based assignments,  written essays, school tours, and opportunities to meet students and faculty. Remember:  the entire day is the interview, not just those times when you are in a formal meeting. Be on your best professional behavior all day!

Interviews can take many forms, so it is important to research your schools and be prepared for each kind. The PreProfessional Advising office can help you with preparation tips and practicing your interviewing skills.

The most common types of interviews are:

  • One-on-one interview
    • Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
    • 7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow up questions, or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
  • Group interview
    • May be either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.

PrePharmacy Mock Interviews Offered Through PPA

The PreProfessional Advising Office offers traditional one-on-one mock interviews for current and former University of Utah prepharmacy students. 

  • Our tranditional mock interviews are one hour long.  The first half will consisit of the actual interview and the second half consists of the advisor providing verbal feedback.
  • To schedule a traditional mock interview, please call our office at 801.581.5744 to have our reception team schedule this appointment.  Students cannot schedule these mock interviews online; they must call.  If a student schedules a regular 45-minute appointment online, the advisor will not conduct the mock interview


General Timeline

When to Submit

Applications are submitted 12-15 months before the desired pharmacy school enrollment date. However, the timing depends on when you will complete the necessary coursework, complete your degree if necessary, and successfully take the PCAT if necessary.


The PharmCAS website has a very basic timeline for the application cycle.

Create your Timeline

It is helpful to create a timeline for yourself when applying to dental school but your timeline should be flexible. Course scheduling, extra-curricular activities, deadline changes, etc. all contribute to the need of having flexibility in your timeline.

Check Specific Deadline Dates

For specific application deadline dates, you should always check the PharmCAS website.

Prior to Applying

Letters of Recommendation

Talk to potential writers of your Letters of Recommendation. Give them plenty of time to write the letters. The PPA Website has helpful information on asking for letters and guidelines that you can give to your writers.

Continue Extracurriculars

Continue with your volunteer, work or research activities until you have received an acceptance letter from a medical school.

Do not stop these activities until you have an official offer of admission. It may take two or more application cycles to gain admission, so you need to be continually improving your application until you do.


Prepare for and take the PCAT. You should try to take it by summer of the year that you submit your application.

Research Specific School Requirements

Consult online Pharmacy School Directory. Always confirm school-specific requirements by checking each school’s website directly.

The Application Year


  • The Primary application through PharmCAS opens in July
  • Order official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended to be sent to PharmCAS
  • Application Services verify primary applications, and notify applicants of verification or problems with verification
  • Some Pharmacy schools require Supplemental Application materials with specific deadlines. Complete these sooner rather than later.

August - September

  • PharmCAS will begin forwarding completed applications to Pharmacy schools in August.
  • Continue working on and submitting supplemental applications.
  • Begin to check Pharmacy school application status websites for schools where applied.

September - March

  • Prepare for and attend interviews. The PPA Advising office offers mock interviews so you can practice. If you have an interview scheduled, call the office 801-581-5744 and ask to schedule a mock interview.
  • Continue to complete and submit supplemental applications (check deadline dates).
  • Admissions committees meet and decide status: accept/reject/waitlist. Applicants are notified. You may choose to hold multiple acceptances until March 1.
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA , in October.

April - May

  • Admits with multiple acceptances must choose one school by March 1.
  • Additional acceptance offers may continue after March 1. To accept a new offer you must first rescind you must rescind your previously accepted offer.

June - August

  • Applicants on waitlists are notified of an admission offer. This could come as late as the first day of class.


LOR Guides and Resources

Last Updated: 10/5/22