Graduating with a PhD degree allows students access to careers in various industries within the private and public sector. Similarly, graduates with the PharmD degree also have access to rewarding careers as pharmacists in public or private pharmacies. Although both degrees produce graduates in professional careers, students entering these degree programs have very different experiences. In addition, graduates of both PhD and PharmD degrees have different types of careers, salaries and expectations.
Nature of the PhD vs. PharmD Degree
Although both the PhD and PharmD degree are doctorate degrees, the PhD is referred to as a "research" graduate degree while the PharmD degree is a "professional" doctorate degree. Specifically, the purpose of the PhD degree is to prepare students for careers in research fields and teaching at the higher education level. Conversely, the PharmD degree prepares students for a professional career in pharmacy.
Entrance Requirements for a PhD vs. a PharmD Degree
The entrance requirements for a PhD and a PharmD degree vary slightly. Entry into most PhD programs requires a Masters degree in a related subject. For instance, to enter a PhD program in mathematics, students often need to have an advanced degree in mathematics or a related subject such as statistics, computer science or finance. In some cases, students may enter a PhD degree program with only a Bachelor's degree. At most schools, PhD students acquire enough credits to obtain a Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) degree in the course of obtaining the PhD degree.
On the other hand, for the PharmD degree students need to have 60 to 90 credits completed in a related subject such as biology, chemistry or some other subjects. Students can enter a PharmD degree with an Associates (two-year) degree or a four-year degree. Unlike the entrance requirements for the PhD degree, requirements for the PharmD degree include a passing score on the PCAT exam. The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) exam is a four-hour exam with 280 questions broken into seven sections on writing (two parts), verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension and quantitative ability.
Completion for a PhD vs. a PharmD Degree
The completion requirements for most PhD degrees involve the execution of original research which can take a few years to complete. In fact, PhD degrees often take at least five years to complete, which is longer than the four years needed to complete the PharmD degree. This is primarily because the purpose of the PharmD degree is to train professional-level pharmacists.
Salaries for Graduate PhD Degrees vs. PharmD Degrees
The salaries for PhD degree holders is often lower than those with PharmD degrees. According to a Payscale.com survey of PhD graduates, salaries for research scientists averaged between $49K and $108K. In addition, PhDs that teach in higher education make on average between $45K and $76K (assistant professors) and $56K and $96K (associate professors). Conversely, another Payscale.com survey of pharmacists reported that the salaries of those working in hospitals ranged from $82K to $112K. Salaries for those working in commercial retail chain pharmacies ranged from $85K to $113K.