Career options in pharmacy range from filling prescriptions at neighborhood stores to conducting research, engaging in clinical practice, and teaching. Pharmacists also consult with and counsel patients and other health care professionals. Many are involved in medication therapy management, providing drug therapy to improve patients’ lives.

Along with their science training and expertise in drug selection and preparation, pharmacists must have the business and communication skills necessary for multifaceted careers.

Iowa offers a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree that is a professional degree. It is not offered as an undergraduate major. Students should apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and designate a Pharmacy Interest in order to receive specialized advising and course work to help them prepare for applying to the PharmD program. Typically, the PharmD curriculum includes two years of preprofessional college-level course work followed by four years of pharmacy study.

Why Iowa?

Iowa’s College of Pharmacy has a superb national reputation. Its PharmD program is ranked 17th in the nation by U.S.News & World Report.

The college is the fourth-oldest pharmacy college at a state-supported university and has been educating pharmacists since 1885. In that time, it has developed nationally and internationally recognized research programs in pharmaceutics, medicinal and natural products chemistry, clinical pharmaceutical sciences, pharmaceutical socioeconomics, and pharmacy practice. Its faculty is recognized worldwide.

The PharmD program is widely known for its personalized atmosphere and emphasis on individual attention—a result of its low student-to-faculty ratio—and its location on a world-class health sciences campus. It is adjacent to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, one of the nation’s largest public university teaching hospitals. Its research facilities include a unique university-affiliated, full-service, FDA-licensed drug development and production lab.

Assured Admission

The College offers an Assured Admission Program for high school students who are committed to pursuing a career in pharmacy. The program provides assured admission to the PharmD program to academically qualified high school applicants who know they wish to attend the University of Iowa. 

Students who are admitted to the program are guaranteed a seat in the program, pending successful completion of all prerequisite and PharmD application requirements. Typically during the sophomore year, students in the Assured Admission Program will complete an early decision application via PharmCAS and complete a face-to-face interview at the college. Once all requirements have been met successfully, students will enter the College of Pharmacy, usually after two years of undergraduate study in Pre-Pharmacy. 

If not accepted under the Assured Admission Program, qualified applicants will remain in the Pharmacy Interest program within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and will be eligible to apply for competitive admission. 

Admission Requirements

Admission to the PharmD program requires completion of about two years of college-level course work. Students who have not yet completed the prerequisites need to meet requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the PharmD program is highly competitive and satisfying the admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance to the program. Minimum admission requirements include:

  • Satisfactory completion of the prerequisite college course work and a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.50.
  • Completion of the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)* by January in order to be considered for admission the following fall semester.

Applications for admission to the PharmD program are accepted online through PharmCAS, the national pharmacy application service. Qualified candidates will then be invited to interview at the college before an admissions decision is made. Review the College of Pharmacy website for more details about the admission requirements and application process.

*The PCAT is optional. If your math and science GPA are below a 3.0, the PCAT is highly recommended as a way to strengthen the application. Decisions for admission for any students with a science and math GPA below a 3.0 and no PCAT score will not be made until at least three semesters of grades have been posted. Scores from any January PCAT will be accepted for that year's fall admission. PCAT scores are valid for two years.


Preprofessional program(s)
Preparatory Course Work for PharmD Applicants
  Competitive Admission
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

The College of Pharmacy has had a 100 percent placement rate for many years.

Many pharmacists practice in a community pharmacy or a hospital setting. Others work in clinical pharmacies, government, independent businesses, home health care, consulting, managed care facilities, higher education, or the pharmaceutical industry. This broad range of career options offers graduates considerable flexibility in their personal and professional lives.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad programs and multiple undergraduate research opportunities.

Pharmacy students have multiple opportunities to become involved in the profession locally, statewide, and nationally through the college’s eight pharmacy student organizations. Students attend national conferences, participate in community service, educate children, assist with immunizations, and organize social events.

Pharmacy students also have opportunities to become involved in the college by serving on committees and attending meetings with the dean, advisory councils, and alumni boards.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid also are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


First-year students with a declared pharmacy interest typically take prerequisite course work in physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, and rhetoric during their first year at Iowa, and courses including organic chemistry, human anatomy, microbiology, and microeconomics during their second year.

Course work is designed to teach critical skills needed to practice as a pharmacist: problem-solving, critical thinking, and use of technology-based information retrieval sources.

The prerequisite course work (which needs to be completed before applying to the PharmD program) can be completed in two years, although many students choose to complete it over three years, or over four years while completing a bachelor’s degree in another area.

Visit the College of Pharmacy website to review more details about the Prerequisite Course Work required for admission to the PharmD program. You may also review Pharmacy in the UI General Catalog.