To practice as a pharmacist in the United States, one must have a degree in pharmacy as well as a license issued by their state or District of Columbia.
There are two paths to a pharmacy degree. Some schools offer a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program that is preceded by at least two years of undergraduate college study, while other schools offer a straight six-year Pharm.D. program.
As of November 2006, 98 pharmacy schools in the United States and Puerto Rico were accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Most programs include almost a quarter of their time in clinical settings, and nearly two-thirds of all pharmacy programs require students to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) before granting admission.
Other pharmacy degrees one can earn after earning a Pharm.D. include a master of science and Ph.D in pharmacy. Those particularly interested in drug research or teaching tend to pursue these advanced degrees, and more than 65 colleges and universities in the United States offer such programs. Graduate programs are offered in a variety of specialties, including pharmaceutical chemistry, toxicology, pharmacy administration, and pharmacology.
Pharmacists also often pursue residencies and fellowships for specialization, such as in research or clinical practice. More than 700 residency programs are available for pharmacists nationwide.
After completing a Pharm.D. program, prospective pharmacists must be licensed to practice. All states require pharmacists to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). In addition, 43 states and the District of Columbia require the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) to test pharmacy law. In states where the MPJE is not required, pharmacists must pass a similar state exam. Most states also require continuing education for pharmacists to maintain licensure.