All pharmacists in training must take pre-pharmacy coursework through a school of pharmacy. Undergraduate degrees are not required by many pharmacy schools, but they can be helpful in helping the student to understand some of the material learned during the pharmacy coursework, which is heavily based in math and sciences. This pre-pharmacy coursework takes most students two years to complete. Some students with recent degrees might be able to cut down on the amount of coursework they are required to take in the pre-pharmacy program if they had similar courses for their degree. These students need to discuss their ability to transfer those credits to their pre-pharmacy coursework with an adviser or school counselor. Some students with a bachelor's in chemistry or biology might be able to reduce their pre-pharmacy work to just a handful of classes which can be completed in less than two years.
The next step is the professional training. These classes are taken after the pre-pharmacy coursework has been completed, and these classes, coupled with the internships last about 4 years. This professional training is the practical material taught to students seeking their pharmacy degrees. During this time, labs will be taken as well as more focused coursework. Once the classroom training is completed, the student will be sent to do their hands-on clerkship (internship) at a pharmacy in the area. Professional training coursework can take just over three years to finish.
This last portion of the professional pharmacy degree program lasts about 10 months, and it is a program in which the student will work under close guidance in a pharmacy assigned by the school. This final phase is done only after all of the pre-pharmacy and professional coursework classes have been successfully completed. Once the internship is finished, the student will have earned his PharmD (professional pharmacy degree) and is eligible to apply to become a pharmacist.
From the start to finish the entire PharmD program typically takes six years to complete, including the two years of prepharmacy coursework.