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Pharmacy is not only a rewarding and high-income career, but also a demanding one. A pharmacist is a direct link between the doctor and the patient. As such, a pharmacist has to be able to identify a good over-the-counter drug for minor ailments, and must have an excellent understanding of which drug would work best in a given environment, which combinations of drugs should be avoided and which ones are beneficial.

There are numerous career options in pharmacy all over the USA, viz. hospitals, clinics, online pharmacies, universities, research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, public health services etc.

A career in pharmacy offers excellent remuneration; highly trained pharmacists with adequate experience can earn a salary upwards of $100,000. Due to the virtually ever-present demand for competent pharmacists, there are more than 100 pharmacy schools in the US.

It is very tricky to determine the best pharmacy school in the US, as they are ranked in various ways, but here's a pointer.

Prerequisites for Pharmacy School

The basic prerequisite for pharmacy school is the 2-year course of pre-pharmacy at college level. But all the finest pharmacy schools within the US require you to take the PCAT -- Pharmacy College Admission Test -- to obtain a seat in college. The colleges offer a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, and the final step in obtaining a license involves an internship period under a licensed pharmacist, graduation from an accredited pharmacy school and passing a state examination. Though you would be allowed to practice in more than one state, some states require you to appear for test for every license renewal.

Top US Pharmacy Schools

1. University of California (San Francisco)
Established: 1868
Address: 1700 4th Street San Francisco, BH 216-D, CA 94143
Contact: (415) 514-3559
In a US News and World Report survey, the UCSF was ranked the top pharmacy school in the US.

2. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)
Established: 1795
Address: CB #7360 Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Contact: (919) 966-9429
The UNC is the only university in America to have issued degrees in the 18th century -- 1798.

3. University of Minnesota (Minneapolis-Saint Paul)
Established: 1851
Address: 308 Harvard Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
Contact: (612) 624-9490

4. University of Texas (Austin)
Established: 1883
Address: 1 University Station A1900 Austin, TX 78712-0120
Contact: (512) 471-1737

5. Ohio State University (Columbus)
Established: 1870
Address: 217 Parks Hall Columbus, OH 43210
Contact: (614) 292-2266

6. Purdue University (West Lafayette)
Established: 1869
Address: 4821 East 400 South Columbia City, IN 46725
Contact: (260) 244-7290

7. University of Kentucky (Lexington)
Established: 1865
Address: 410 Administration Dr Lexington, KY 40506
Contact: (859) 257-9000

8. University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison)
Established: 1848
Address: 702 West Johnson Street, Suite 1101, Madison, WI 53715-1007
Contact: (608) 262-3961

9. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
Established: 1817
Address: 503 S State St Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Contact: (734) 764-1817

10. University of Washington (Seattle)
Established: 1861
Address: Seattle, WA 98195
Contact: (206) 543-2100

Some other universities that definitely deserve a mention as some of the top pharmacy schools in the US are these:
  • University of Arizona (Tucson)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City)
  • University of Florida (Gainesville)
  • University of Illinois (Chicago)
  • University of Maryland (Baltimore)
  • University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh)
Though these are the best schools in pharmacy, what matters most is finding the school that best fulfills your needs. The best way to find the pharmacy graduate school most suited to you is to consider factors like cost, location, reputation, scholarships, placements, internship opportunities etc. Rankings should be used as just another criterion -- admittedly a rather important one, but not at the cost of everything else. For an aspiring pharmacist living in NY, there's no point in traversing the entire country to get into Washington. However, if your local universities do not have a reputable history of placements, campus facilities or faculty, it makes sense to choose a farther university.