Like any college, university, graduate school, or professional school, pharmacy schools are not all created equal. Some programs are better than others and carry more prestige for those who graduate from the program. These graduates may have better residency and employment opportunities purely by virtue of the pharmacy school they attended. It is important for interested students to look beyond geographical location and to assess the quality of the program they are looking to attend. Four years of tuition is best spent at the most reputable program one can gain admittance to.
U.S. News and World Report ranks the top pharmacy schools. The top schools currently are:
- University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy
- University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy, Chapel Hill
- University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy
- University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy
- Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
- University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy
- University of Michigan Ann Arbor School of Pharmacy
- University of Washington Seattle School of Pharmacy
- Purdue University West Lafayette, IN, School of Pharmacy
- University of Arizona Tucson College of Pharmacy
These pharmacy schools all have characteristics that make their programs stand out amongst the more than 100 other programs that are available.
One common thread amongst most of the top-ranked programs is the stature of their faculty members. Many have faculty members who are internationally known as leaders in pharmacy, education, and research. For a student to be able to say he or she has studied under one of these renowned professors is invaluable. For example, the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy is known for its teaching excellence, something that is important for students.
Other programs, like the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, are ranked high because of the specialty training they can offer to students. Their faculty members are well known for their contributions and research in the fields of drug design, delivery, therapy, and policy. At the University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy, students have the opportunity to study under leaders in areas from neurological disease, to computer-aided drug design, to drug delivery. For those with a particular interest in one of these areas, these programs could be the best option.
Some programs, like the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy at Chapel Hill, focus heavily on clinical experience and personal interaction. This emphasis, when combined with required practical internships, trains one exceptionally well for the pharmacy work environment and makes this one of the best programs in the country. The program at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, School of Pharmacy has wonderful international clinical internships available which allow students to experience pharmacy problems outside of the United States. Other programs, like the University of Michigan Ann Arbor School of Pharmacy, pride itself on its interdisciplinary approach to producing the most well-rounded pharmacy school graduates.
Both the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy and the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy have state-of-the-art research facilities, laboratories, and libraries. The University of Washington Seattle School of Pharmacy’s claim to fame is its small class size and the large sums of money garnered by its faculty members in the form of study grants. Likewise, the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is routinely among the top ten pharmacy schools due to the sums of money garnered for research that establishes the college as a leader in toxicology research and training.
Those considering pharmacy school would be wise to research their schools of interest and to take note of the schools’ strengths and weaknesses.