Do Grades Matter In Pharmacy School? (How Hard Is Pharmacy School?)

girl studying pharmacy school

When you are getting into Pharmacy School you know it is going to be hard work to keep your grades up and also mentally draining. You are going to want to make sure you have the right mindset right from the start so you can make year 1 through 6 as easy as possible not making up ground on the back end.

So do grades really matter in Pharmacy School?

Grades do matter just how much depends on your post graduate plans. If you are going to just get into Retail a 3.0 will get you into almost any opening depending on how many people are applying of course. If you are going Specialty or Resident then you should probably push as close to a 3.5 or higher if possible. 

Now there are many reasons behind this on why you should be pushing for at least a 3.0 that we will discuss further.

Grades In Pharmacy School

Grades matter the most when it comes to scholarships and residencies. So if you are looking for simply going into retail a 3.0 should be sufficient. I myself decided to go into retail early on (read my other articles on how you should probably look for a residency or specialty pharmacist role instead) in my pharmacy school adventure.

So I knew that my grades wouldn’t be the main focal point on getting hired so I focused more on the experience and involvement in learning in school and on the job as an intern. You can search for how many people put their GPA’s on their resumes outside of a pharmacist residency and most will say that they never have and it never came up in their interviews.

Now the pharmacy profession isn’t what is was when I first graduated meaning there is more competition since more Pharmacy schools keep popping up graduating more students. So I would still try to get the best GPA possible. The best thing to do is get involved and become friends with people of all class years 1-6 so you can learn from their experience from the year ahead and also help guide those following in your footsteps.

It is harsh in today’s world where grades are looked at as the only measurement to success in pharmacy school. Since it is the main focus if you don’t get good grades nothing else will be looked at. I am not saying if you get a 2.8 GPA nobody is going to look at you because all you need to do is get an interview and explain yourself.

Real life happens and people have to deal with situations.Trust me, I know, I had to take a semester off and lost some of my scholarships. However it was the correct decision I had to make personally for myself and family.

Focus on the main basic concepts as they will get you the furthest in your career. You are also going to have to cram at times because things are going to come up and you need to make up for them. That is okay, that is what caffeine was made for.

Scholarships – holding onto a scholarship is very hard at an undgrad school so pharmacy school will be much harder over the course of 6 years or 4 more at a 2 + 4 pharmacy school.

It will come down to what your scholarship specifically says. Most smaller basic scholarships require at least a 2.0 GPA which is much easier then a 3.0 but in order to get into a pharmacy school after your 2 years of required classes you need a 3.0.

Most Merit scholarships require that you maintain a 3.5 GPA which is much harder to manage. Again know what you are getting into beforehand.

Pharmacist Residency- GPA requirements can range quite a bit for residencies. Overall you should have at least a 3.5 but ultimately shoot for a 4.0 to get you accepted anywhere you want.

GPA’s aren’t an end all be all for all residencies as they will dig deeper into your transcripts to make sure you did very well in pharmacotherapy or pharmacokinetic courses. This will help them determine if you are a great student when it comes to challenges versus just getting good grades in the easier classes and rotations.

So if you have a less then stellar GPA and want to get a more specialty job or into a residency make sure your letter of interest is amazing and you have a great letters of recommendations.

Your grade does matter, but you need to also build relationships with your peers, preceptors and the other health professionals you will interact with throughout your college and professional career as this matters just as much.

I know of people that got less then a 3.0 in their undergraduate and under a 3.5 in their PharmD, but because they built up those relationships, a great letter of interest, along with recommendations they were able to get into a residency.

Repeating A Year In Pharmacy School

Listen things happen and such is life. If life was easy everybody would be happy at all times and that includes succeeding in pharmacy school. Whatever the reasons may be either failing or having to deal with family circumstances it may happen and it is something you need to move forward with no matter what if it happens.

I personally took a semester off for personal circumstances and it is not easy coming back the following year a year behind and having to make all new friends. That is why in years one and two I always suggest making friends with people ahead and behind you. You are all on the same team trying to reach basically the same goal of graduating pharmacy school so why not help out one another.

The hardest part is the friends thing. Most if not all of your friends will be a year ahead of you. But guess what this can actually be in your favor as if you need a tutor or assistance with a certain subject why not go to somebody that has already gone through it recently? You always have to take the good with the bad.

I can’t say this is the norm during pharmacy school but it does happen much more frequently then you are thinking. Don’t believe me go search on forums such as and you will find some stories on there covering this specific subject.

The only thing that matters in repeating is how you move forward. The goal is to finish and graduate pharmacy school and how your grades are overall.

Again it is not the end of the world if you have to repeat a year. Explore options to see if you can take a particular course over the summer to make up for why you have to repeat or to get ahead for the next year.

How Hard Is Pharmacy School?

It is very hard to become a pharmacist you are looking at a minimum of 6 years if you do everything right in college and the classes get very hard and intense. That includes undergraduate and graduate classes followed by rotations. If you want to get into a pharmacist residency program you need great grades to most likely get accepted.

On top of all that if you don’t get a scholarship and grants you are looking at 6 figure student loans after college. It needs to be something you really want to do with your life and thoroughly enjoy. That’s why I would suggest become a pharmacy technician today if you want to be a pharmacist to see what they do in there day to day.

Pharmacy School is a major commitment and could be the biggest commitment you make in your life especially when it comes to the financial burden you could be left with.

The most difficult subjects you will be confronted with probably are: Pharmacology, Drug Law, Organic Chemistry, Clinical Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy, and Medicinal Chemistry. I am not saying these are the only hard classes they were just the hardest for myself and friends.

It isn’t only hard because it is mentally challenging it is hard because some of the tasks can be very tedious so you have to be on point at all times and have a passion for this job or else you more then likely won’t make it.

Is Pharmacy School Worth It?

Of course it is worth it if this is what you want to do with your life. If you are committed fully you will succeed no matter what. If you miss a year you will still make it if you just move forward and do everything you can to get it done.

Pharmacy school is a must to get your PharmD and become a Pharmacist. Talk to people, students, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, etc. to make sure this is what you want to do.

Honestly if you are going to a 2 + 4 school and are in your first two years of undergraduate school you can still change your mind in those first two years and transition to another healthcare based degree pretty easily.

Failed Out Of Pharmacy School Now What?

So if you didn’t make it through pharmacy due to academic reasons it really depends on what year you failed out. If it was years 1-2 then just going somewhere else and re-applying may be your best option.

Another option may be to just start from scratching taking the required classes needed and getting great grades for the next step of pharmacy school.

If you are further along years 3-5 then you may look to other professional options. I have heard of people going into be a Physicians Assistant or a RN even Nurse Practitioner.

Obviously it comes down to why you failed out as well. If your WHY to become a Pharmacist isn’t big enough then definitely look for another career that you can be passionate about. Life is too short to go back through the same thing to only fail again.

Or let’s say you do get through it and graduate only to find out you never really wanted to be pharmacist in the first place. So take your time to think about it.

Course Of Action:

  • Why did this happen – figure out what exactly went wrong and why. Will it happen again if I go through the pharmacy school again.
  • Make a plan – it might be time to make a change. Maybe change schools or change careers.
  • This is not the end – whatever you decide this is not the end. Relax and think about this ask your family and friends for advice. Then make your decision when you are ready. This doesn’t have to be a decision made over night.

If you think you want to be a pharmacist but maybe just not retail or residency look into specialty. Just think outside the box maybe even one of these:

  • NASA Pharmacist – yes NASA employs more then just astronauts and scientists. The have an amazing pharmacology lab. Dr Bayuse at the time of this writing is the Director of Pharmacy for the John Space Center Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Pharmacist – I actually did one of my rotations at the Cornell Veterinary Pharmacy which was amazing. We have horses, dogs and other farm animals so I was very into this rotation. This I could still see myself doing maybe after I retire from my current job.
  • Nuclear Pharmacist – this is a specialty where you will be dealing with radioactive materials to improve healthy and safety with effective use of radioactive drugs.

These are just a few examples and there are many more with lots of room to grow with career opportunities.

Related Questions

How Hard Is Pharmacy School Compared To Undergraduate?

Pharmacy school is difficult that is a given, but it really comes down to what you make of it. Just like with any schooling you can skate through and make things easier by barely getting by.

Or you can dive into it fully with passion and try to get the best grades possible. If you are good at math and can memorize everything you come across you are going to do really well in pharmacy school.

I have heard from many people that 400 level science courses or engineering undergrads that say it was as tough or tougher then pharmacy courses.

I would say in my experience pharmacy school was very tough and demanding. I was challenged with the tasks, tests, and memorizing. But if planned out accordingly it can be much easier.

What Is A Good GPA For Pharmacy School?

A good GPA for pharmacy school is anything over a 3.0, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. I would suggest shooting for that 4.0 because even if you finish with a 3.8 or 3.9 you can pick and choose more where you go. Especially when it comes to specialty or residency.

If you fall below that 3.0 it can get much harder to pick and choose where you go even in retail. Not that it is impossible. Make sure you are keeping up with your business relationships and with your professors to use as recommendations.

Always try very hard with your rotations as all of those preceptors are potential recommendations to your career then can literally open the door to where you want to go.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

Recent Posts