The Pre-Pharmacy Pathway, followed in conjunction with a major area of study at Carroll College, will prepare students to enter careers that will allow them to administer the safe, effective, and affordable use of medicines. Students will take courses from a variety of subjects that will encourage them to become critical thinkers, compassionate healthcare professionals, and advocates for healthy living.

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About the Program

Pharmacy is a career that requires a sound educational background in math and science as well as good communication and social skills. Pharmacy programs vary from college to college, but all pharmacy schools in the nation now only offer a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree. This type of program usually requires at least two years of pre-pharmacy undergraduate study and four years of professional education in the actual pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools might require additional coursework prior to admission, which make it necessary to do three or four years of pre-pharmacy coursework. Most students from Montana apply to the University of Montana.

Successful applicant profiles, which indicate the number of applications received, number of admitted students, demographic information, average GPA, and other information, are available on pharmacy school websites. 

The profile for the University of Montana can be found by searching for Skaggs School of Pharmacy Successful Applicant Profile.

Prerequisite Courses

Each pharmacy school requires the completion of 15-20 selected prerequisite courses in chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, writing, communications, and social sciences. The requirements at each school are unique, which means that students need to select their target pharmacy school early in their academic careers and plan their Carroll coursework carefully. Those Carroll students who complete the pre-pharmacy requirements in two or three years and who are successfully admitted to a college of pharmacy need not fulfill the actual requirements for an academic major at Carroll. 

A list of the prerequisite courses can be found on each school's website. Find a typical class schedule for students applying to the UM pharmacy program below in the FAQs.

Professional Observation Experience

It is always a good idea to observe and visit with members of the professional community. Some schools require volunteer or paid experience serving a patient population in a medical or social field. UM requires 20 hours of such exposure in a medical or social field, preferably in a pharmacy, along with an evaluation of the applicant by the person who supervised his or her work. There are several pharmacies in the Helena area that welcome Carroll students as observers. Students may also observe in a hometown pharmacy during the summer. The following attributes of an experience are important:

  • opportunity to demonstrate effective interpersonal communication,
  • opportunity to provide a helping service for clients,
  • regular supervision of the student and observation of the quality of service provided for clients or patients, and
  • opportunity to demonstrate responsibility, sound judgment, maturity, and dependability.

Most of the pharmacy schools in the Northwest U.S. reported that a significant number of their students admitted in 2021 had completed three years of coursework or received a bachelor's degree. Some pharmacy schools actually require the prior completion of a bachelor's degree. In contrast, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana reported that 63% of their fall 2021 admitted students had no prior degree.

Pre-pharmacy Two-year Plan for the University of Montana Skaggs School of Pharmacy1.

Fall Year OneCreditsSpring Year OneCredits
Alpha Seminar3General Chemistry II4
General Chemistry I4Social Science Elective23
Biological Principles I4College Composition4
Calculus I3Basic Communication3
Total credits14Total credits14-18
Fall Year TwoCreditsSpring Year TwoCredits
Organic Chemistry I4Organic Chemistry II 
Human Anat. and Phys.4Human Anat. and Phys. 
Microeconomics3Elementary Statistics 
Physics I4Elective?33-4
Total credits15Total credits11-15

1Other pharmacy schools with very similar requirements are Idaho State, Minnesota, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Utah and Wyoming. These schools may require some of the following additional classes for admission: Microbiology, Calculus II, Physics II

2must be PSY 105 or SO 101

3Although not required for admission to the University of Montana, taking Native American Studies along with any fine arts or theatre class will fulfill a UM graduation requirement and relieve course load later in the pharmacy program. UM encourages its students to have their electives done in the pre-pharmacy years as there is little room in the professional curriculum for electives.

AP Courses

Occasionally students meet Carroll's requirements for one of the courses listed above through high school advanced placement (AP) credit. These courses are listed on the students Carroll College transcript. It is important to note that the following courses are not acceptable at most pharmacy schools, including UM, when awarded as AP credit: all chemistry, biology and physics courses, basic communication (and at some schools, college composition).

Absolutely. Academic performance in the required courses is important, and students should have a minimum GPA of 3.4 to have a good likelihood of admission. In 2021 the incoming students at UM had an average GPA of 3.28 in the required prerequisite courses and an average overall GPA of 3.27.

A standardized test such as the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) may also be required for admission. The subject areas of this test are biology, chemistry, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, writing, and verbal ability. The test is now computer-based and is given in the summer fall and winter.  UM recommends, but does not require the PCAT test, and recommends that students complete the PCAT exam by the last 2022 testing date (shown below). The average score of admitted UM applicants in 2021 was at the 51st percentile. For information on this exam, contact:

Pearson Education
800-622-3231 | 210-339-8710 is external)

Yes! The Pharmacy Is Right for Me website includes information on different careers in pharmacy and has biographies from pharmacists.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy ( is an excellent resource on educational and career opportunities in pharmacy, as well as links to the pharmacy web pages for each school.  

To quote the AACP website: "If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career within the health professions, consider pharmacy. Be sure that your academic background provides a solid foundation for the pharmacy curriculum, and take the time to investigate the variety of pharmacy programs that are available to you."

Yes. Please contact:

Dr. Kyle Strode
Professor of Chemistry
Office: FC 217
Phone: (406) 447-5564

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