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    University of Southern California
  Nov 24, 2017
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Pharmacy (PharmD)

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The USC School of Pharmacy offers a full-time, four-year course of study leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). An undergraduate BA or BS degree is required for admission to the program. A description of the curriculum is listed in the following pages. The degree will be conferred only upon successful completion of all Doctor of Pharmacy degree requirements. The USC School of Pharmacy Doctor of Pharmacy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, which is the sole agency providing accreditation for professional degree programs in pharmacy.

Application Procedure

The School of Pharmacy requires applicants to complete both the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) and a supplemental application for admission. The supplemental application is available at

Both the PharmCAS and the supplemental applications deadlines are November 1. Applicants are encouraged to follow the instructions carefully for both the PharmCAS and supplemental applications. Applications will not be reviewed until both applications have been received by the Office of Admission and Student Affairs. An on-campus interview is required for admission. Only applicants with complete application files are evaluated for an on-site interview and only highly qualified applicants will be granted interviews. Not all applicants will be invited for an interview. Applicants are encouraged to apply well before the November 1 deadline to allow time for file review.

All documents mailed directly to the School of Pharmacy and received from PharmCAS by the Office of Admission become the property of the university and cannot be returned or duplicated for other than USC's purposes.

Admission Guidelines

The Admission Committee considers several factors in making admissions decisions including: previous academic performance; the on-site interview including a writing component; letters of recommendation; and other components of the completed application. The committee also considers a candidate's motivation to pursue pharmacy, interpersonal skills, oral and written communication skills, and leadership abilities. While the School of Pharmacy gives equal consideration to every qualified applicant, the school cannot accommodate all qualified candidates who apply for admission.

International Students

Because the Doctor of Pharmacy is consistently oversubscribed, the University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy does not admit holders of international visas to the program.

Entrance Requirements

Admission to the School of Pharmacy requires completion of a baccalaureate degree; completion of the specified prerequisite college courses, with a grade of C or better; and a minimum 3.0 (A = 4.0) grade point average, both in the prerequisite courses and cumulative grade point average.

Pre-pharmacy Requirements*

*Courses for science majors are required to meet the Pre-Pharmacy Requirements

To be eligible for admission to the School of Pharmacy, applicants must take required prerequisite college courses, including general biology (one-year course with laboratory, excluding human anatomy and physiology), general chemistry (one-year course with laboratory, including inorganic and qualitative analysis), organic chemistry (one-year course with laboratory), biochemistry (one course upper division), microbiology (one course), calculus (one semester or two quarters), statistics (one course) and human physiology (one course for science majors). The science requirements should be completed at an accredited four-year university.

Prerequisite courses are subject to change, and applicants are encouraged to check with the school prior to submitting an application.

Recommended Courses:

Upper-division molecular biology, physics (thermodynamics and electromagnetism), microeconomics, statistics (non-business), human behavior in either general psychology, introductory sociology, or cultural anthropology

Grades of pass/no pass or credit/no credit will not be accepted (unless a course is only offered on a pass/no pass basis). Online courses are not accepted for science courses with a laboratory requirement.

Mathematics and Sciences

Courses must include calculus, general biology, microbiology, human physiology, general chemistry, biochemistry, and organic chemistry. Only courses for science majors are acceptable. It is highly recommended that math and science courses be completed during the regular academic year and not during a summer term.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Examinations

Applicants may use AP and IB courses to meet certain USC School of Pharmacy prerequisites with the following provisos. AP results are acceptable only with scores of 4 or 5. Results for IB courses are acceptable with a score of 5. Credit for AP or IB  courses is limited to a maximum of two courses (total). In addition, the AP or IB courses taken may be applied to a maximum of one semester/one quarter of general chemistry or general biology; they may not be used to satisfy the laboratory requirement. Note: AP/IB courses used to meet prerequisites will be for course credit only (i.e., they will not count toward the GPA). The Admission Committee recommends that applicants enroll in all of the required pre-pharmacy courses. Please contact the School of Pharmacy Office of Admission for specific information.

Entrance Examination

An in-person interview is required for admission. The PCAT is not required at this time; however, the examination may be required beginning in 2017.

Special Admission Program for Entering Freshmen

The Trojan Admission Prepharmacy (TAP) program provides priority consideration for admission to the USC School of Pharmacy's four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program for USC undergraduates who are accepted to the program. The TAP program is designed to attract highly qualified, mature high school seniors applying to USC. Students accepted into the TAP program apply to the Doctor of Pharmacy program during their final year of undergraduate education. Students  must meet all regular admission criteria to the School of Pharmacy, including a BA/BS degree from USC, specific academic performance standards (GPA) and complete an on-site interview. Students in the TAP program are required to complete all prerequisite courses at USC and meet regularly with a TAP program adviser.  A specific listing of USC courses and a recommended program for TAP participants may be obtained from the School of Pharmacy Office of Admission or online at

PharmD Curriculum Requirements

The completion of the four-year professional curriculum is required for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. The PharmD curriculum is a "block" program, meaning all students enroll for specified courses each semester and progress as a "class" through the curriculum. Students do not have a choice in the course sequence and must remain full-time students throughout the program. Students have a limited number of elective course choices and a list of electives offered is available to students prior to registration each semester. Student progress is permitted only when the prior semester has been successfully completed. Students should view the curriculum outlined here as advisory only and subject to modification. A minimum of 138 units is required for graduation.

Students enrolled in the Doctor of Pharmacy program are required to hold an Intern Pharmacist license in good standing (clear of restrictions) issued by the California Board of Pharmacy as an intern pharmacist for the entire length of the program. Licensure is required because completion of the pharmacy program requires placement in health care settings for experiential learning during each academic year. The School of Pharmacy has developed technical standards to inform students of the non-academic requirements of the program. Placement in health care settings requires the applicants pass criminal background screening and/or drug screening tests.

The School of Pharmacy has developed technical standards to inform students of specific non-academic requirements of the program.

The pharmacist of tomorrow will provide preventive and therapeutic pharmaceutical care, provide drugs to patients, communicate in health care matters, meet the ethical and legal requirements of the practice of pharmacy and maintain professional expertise.

The curriculum committee of the School of Pharmacy has developed guidelines and patient care competencies consistent with interpretations of this new role. An appropriate and dynamic educational program is needed to develop these competencies. Therefore curriculum changes may be necessary in order to meet scientific advances, population profile changes, increasing health expectations, technological advances, or changes in health services.

Core Curriculum

Foundation courses in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, social-administrative and clinical sciences comprise the first three years of the program. Students complete Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) along with classroom-based courses. The final (fourth) year of the program includes the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE), which are set in health care setting throughout the greater Los Angeles area, and a capstone course leading to a final paper/project.


*Elective courses: Students choose elective courses from courses approved by the School of Pharmacy Curriculum Committee and available during that semester. Students will be provided a list of courses approved each year. Students MUST complete a minimum of 3 units of elective courses for the degree.

**APPE courses are described below. Students begin their APPE series during the end of the P3 academic year. Students may be assigned to any of APPE listed below during the P3 year.

Degree Requirements

All students in the Doctor of Pharmacy degree program must meet course requirements, grade point average requirements, licensure requirements, competency assessment requirements (PCOA, OSCE) and program residency requirements. In addition, all students must successfully complete a required "Capstone" project for graduation.

Course requirements (see above for a listing of the required courses): All course requirements must be completed with a grade of "C" or better for letter graded courses and a grade of Credit (defined as A or B quality work) in non-letter graded courses. .

Grade point average requirements:  Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum to meet graduation requirements.

Licensure requirements: All students must obtain and maintain a license in good standing (clear of restrictions) as an Intern Pharmacist issued by the California State Board of Pharmacy at all times during the program.

Competency assessment requirements: Students are required to take and demonstrate satisfactory performance on the national PCOA Exam (Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment). The PCAO exam is administered by the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) and is required by ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) for a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The OCSE (Objective Structured Clinical Exam) is administered by the School of Pharmacy to assess the attainment of clinical practice skills prior to entering APPE courses.

Residency requirements: Students must complete all requirements for the degree within 6 years. The degree will not be conferred until the student has successfully completed all Doctor of Pharmacy degree requirements. Students are subject to the degree requirements in the USC Catalogue current for the semester of their admission into the Doctor of Pharmacy program unless progression is delayed.


Details of the School of Pharmacy registration procedure will be included in the orientation program prior to the first week of classes.

Cancellation of Registration

During the didactic portion of the Doctor of Pharmacy program (P1, P2 and P3), a student may only withdraw from the entire block of courses enrolled in a semester and may not selectively withdraw from a single course or group of courses. During the APPE portion of the curriculum, students may not withdraw from an APPE after the completion of the 4th week of a six-week course and must contact the School of Pharmacy Office of Admission and Student Affairs. Procedures for readmission into the program or makeup of incomplete courses are included in the school's brochure on academic policies and procedures.

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