A pharmacy major may be for you if you want to enter a health profession that will identify, resolve, and prevent drug-related problems, and provide patient care to achieve positive drug therapy outcomes that improve the quality of a patient's life. In the past 10 years, 19 Luther students have been admitted to pharmacy schools.

Pharmacy School Curriculum Requirements

Pre-pharmacy students often pursue a chemistry or biology major although a major in another discipline is possible after consultation with an academic advisor. It is possible to complete the course of study in six years of coursework, laboratory experience, and patient care. To complete the pharmacy program in six years, the minimum of two years of pre-pharmacy study (at the university of the pharmacy school or at a place like Luther) and four years in a college of pharmacy are required. Luther does not have a pharmacy school, but we work with pharmacy schools to assist Luther students in doing pre-pharmacy studies here. Sixty percent of students attending pharmacy school hold a bachelor's degree before entering professional school, and of the other 40 percent, most have at least three years of undergraduate coursework.

Admissions requirement for pharmacy schools in the United States vary greatly; students should research what is required by the schools where they want to apply. There are some commonly required courses for most pharmacy schools, including:

  • one year of general biology (Biology 151-152)
  • one year of general chemistry (Chemistry 151-152)
  • one year of organic chemistry (Chemistry 241-242)
  • one semester (or year) of general physics (Physics 151, or 181 *)
  • one semester of calculus (Math 141 or 151)
  • one semester of statistics (Math 115 or 321 or Bio 256)
  • one semester of microbiology (Bio 248)
  • one semester of anatomy (Bio 115 or Bio 368)
  • one semester of physiology (Bio 116 or Bio 255)
  • two semesters of English/rhetoric (Paideia 112, and Coms 132)
  • two semesters of social and behavioral sciences (Econ 248 (required for many), Psych 130 or other electives)

Other courses that may be required or recommended include biochemistry, advanced biology such as genetics, ethics, and/or philosophy.

* University of Minnesota now requires a calculus-based physics class (1 course)

The above are required for University of Iowa and University of Minnesota pharmacy programs, some private schools have a shorter list of 'required' pre-pharmacy courses.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Luther grants academic credit for health-career internships (Biology 380B) and for directed research (Chemistry 389 or Biology 389). Most internship experiences are arranged during January Term or summer sessions (independent). Internships are primarily observational, but they provide a very practical introduction to the pharmacy profession. Most pharmacy schools expect applicants to have some experience such as an internship would provide.

Although not required, many pharmacy students have had research experience (required for chemistry major, not for other Luther majors). Luther offers students the opportunity to do research with faculty members. Current research opportunities at Luther include organometallic synthesis, organic photochemistry, cardiovascular physiology, pulmonary physiology, biofilm bacteriology, genomics, evolution of genome size, and developmental mutations. Directed research can be done during the semester for academic credit or during the summer at Luther or at other institutions.

Pharmacy School Application Requirements

Pharmacy schools require pre-pharmacy students to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). This exam has five sections: verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, and quantitative ability. The PCAT can be taken during the summer between sophomore and junior year or the junior and senior years of college (depending on a student’s course sequence). It is administered at computer testing centers four times during the year. Most pre-pharmacy students apply for admission to pharmacy school during the summer between their junior and senior years. Science faculty advisors are available to assist students in the application process. Health Sciences Club also provides pertinent information for students planning a pharmacy career.

Sample Pre-Pharmacy Curriculum: Biology Major Plan (graduating from Luther)

First Year

Fall semester
Paideia I (English and history)
Chemical Principles
Foreign language
Personal Fitness and Wellness

Spring semester
Paideia I
Chemical Principles
Additional math, foreign language or elective
Physical education skills

Sophomore Year

Fall semester
Principles of Biology
Organic Chemistry
Human Behavior (Psych 130)
Coms 132

Spring semester
Principles of Biology
Organic Chemistry
Human Behavior (Econ 248)

Junior Year

Fall semester
General physics
Microbiology (Bio 243)
Physiology (Bio 255)

Spring semester
General physics (if needed)
Statistics (if take biostats, this is an elective)
Human expression course
Upper level biology (Biostats)

Senior Year

Fall semester
Paideia II
Elective or intercultural course
Senior project

Spring semester
Upper level biology xlass
Elective or history course

Find Your Place

There are internships available in a variety of locations: large medical complexes, county hospitals, medical laboratories, public health programs, and private practices.