Is Pharmacy School Harder Than Med School? -Pharmacy VS Med School

med school vs pharmacy school

So you are trying to pick between becoming a pharmacist or medical doctor and that definitely is no easy choice. Overall it shouldn’t matter as much as to how difficult either one is it should come down to what you really want to do and what you have a passion for.

So which one is harder pharmacy school or med school?

Both med school and pharmacy school are very challenging as long as you are passionate about what you doing it makes the work more worth it and enjoyable. When people go to school most want to get into their career quicker and that drives them to finishing. Med students takes longer to actually get into their careers so that would definitely make it harder in and of itself. 

Pharmacy school you need to take two years of required classes before actually being accepted. But you can take those required classes faster you go year around just like with some pharmacy schools that offer summer courses so you can speed up the process.

Medical school starts out very similar to pharmacy school where you will take some basic required classes the first couple years along with some labs and basic interviewing patient questions.

Read on to see more details on the both of these schools so you can make the right choice.

Pharmacy School VS Medical School

Med School Summary:

  • How Long Is Medical School? – Actual medical school takes only 4 years which is deceiving since it takes another 3-7 years of resendency before you become a doctor.
  • The Beginning – the first couple of years consist of both classroom and lab time. Some of the classes you will be taking are pathology, pharmacology, microbiology, biochemistry, anatomy, etc.
  • Clinicals (Rotations) – once you get to years 3 and 4 you get more on the job experience. You will be doing rotations at hospitals and clinics that are more then likely affiliated with the specific school you are attending. You will be assisting residents with their patients doing basic medical tasks. This can be a very frustrating time for students as they are learning on the job so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Although in the end you will learn a ton from your on the job experience it won’t provide enough to let you go into a specialty area that is where residency come in so do your research on what direction you want to go with your career.
  • Aftermath – Med school is considered by many the easy part on the pathway to becoming a doctor. This is really just the start to your education and demand of becoming a doctor. You still need to pass the board exam and get into and spend three to seven years as a resident at a teaching hospital. This also could mean having to move again of course since not everybody gets into every residency they choose.

Pharmacy School Summary:

  • How Long Is Pharmacy School? – this depends somewhat on the approach you take. You either need two years of required classes plus 4 years of pharmacy school. Or you can go to a 6 year program where all your classes are in succession along with the graduate program.
  • The Beginning – You start with the foundational more basic courses similar to med school. Required classes include calculus, science, biochem, and statistics.
  • Clinicals (Rotations) – After taking your required classes and getting into pharmacy school. You also need to take 3 1/2 more years of advanced pharmacy courses followed by the last semester being rotations. Rotations just like with med school you will be on the job learning about the day to day experiences of what goes into being a pharmacist. You can get some major experience into specialty areas. Like for example one of the areas I went into was a Warfarin Clinic and also was able to attend a rotation at Cornell Veterinary Hospital. Both were amazing learning experiences. These are once in a life time so make them count. If you want to visit some area like Alaska for example they have rotations there you can attend to have these amazing experiences for yourself.
  •  Aftermath – Pharmacy school can be the end of your formal graduate education and you can move onto a retail or specialty pharmacy trade from there. Or you can go on to residency just like med students the choice is yours. Before you can be officially a pharmacist in any matter you need to take and pass the NAPLEX and get licensed in the state you wish to work. You need to keep up to date with your license paying a fee. I myself am licensed in New York State and Virginia. I keep up to date with Virginia just in case we ever move back there. You also are required to take what is called CE’s (continuing education courses) which are relatively easy you just need to pay attention during the learning experience.

Pre Pharmacy School

Now before you go strictly off this list you should make note to get an actual list from the school you wish to attend since it can vary from institution to institution.

Having said that here is a general look at what your class schedule will entail to complete the required course work to enter and be accepted into a pharmacy program. This example was taken from Albany School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences website. You can also get the PDF printable version here.

Fall Semester
 Spring Semester
PSC 341 Pharmaceutics I 3 PSC 342 Pharmaceutics II 3
PSC 321 Physiology/Pathophysiology 4 PSC 322 Physiology/Pathophysiology II 4
CHE 311 or PSC 311 Biochemistry 3 PSC 312 Molecular Biology 3
PSC 315 Immunology 3 PHM 329  Self Care/OTC 3
PHM 318 Foundations of Pharmacy 1 PSL 332 Pharmacy Skills II 2
PSL 331 Pharmacy Skills I 2 IPS 302 Integrated Problem Solving Workshop II 1
IPS 301 Integrated Problem Solving Workshop I 1 PSC 369 Molecular Foundations of Drug Action I 3
Total 17 Total  19


Summer Semester
CLK 798 Community 4
Total 4


Fall Semester
Spring Semester
PSC 370 Pharmacogenomics 2 PTP 425 PTP&M – Endocrine 2
PSC 441 Pharmacokinetics 3 PTP 431 PTP&M – GI/Nutrition 2 2
PTP 440 PTP&M – Cardiovascular 4 PTP 446 PTP&M – Infectious Disease 4
PTP 410 PTP&M – Respiratory Disease 1 PAD 451 US and Global Health Care Systems 3
PHD 410 Drug Information/Biostatistics 2 IPS 402 Integrated Problem Solving Workshop IV 1
IPS 401 Integrated Problem Solving Workshop III 1 PSL 432 Pharmacy Skills IV 2
PSL 431 Pharmacy Skills III 2 PSC 451 Scientific Literature Evaluation** 1
PSC 451 Scientific Literature Evaluation** 1 Professional Elective* 3
Professional Elective* 3
Total 15-19 Total  14-18


Summer Semester
CLK 807 Institutional 3
CLK 803 Team Based Care 1
Total 4


Fall Semester
Spring Semester
PTP 525 PTP&M – Nephrology/Toxicology 2 PTP 515 PTP&M Rheumatology/Oncology 3
PTP 528 PTP&M – Genitourinary 2 PAD 510 or 511 Jurisprudence 3
PTP 549 PTP&M – Neurology/Psychology 4 ETH 510 Health Care and Human Values 3
IPS 501 Integrated Problem Solving Workshop V 1 PAD 521 Pharmacy Administration 3
PAD 515 Pharmacoeconomics and Health Policy 3 IPS 502 Integrated Problem Solving Workshop VI 2
PSL 531 Pharmacy Skills V 2 PSL 532 Pharmacy Skills VI 1
PHM 911 Orientation to APPE No Credit Professional Elective* 3
Professional Elective* 3
Total 14-17 Total  15-18


CLK 929 Community Core Rotation 6
CLK 843 or CLK 930 Institutional Core Rotation 6
CLK 812 – CLK 999 Inpatient Core Rotation 6
CLK 812 – CLK 999 Ambulatory Care Core Rotation 6
Flexible Core Rotation 6
Elective 6
Elective 6
Total 42


One thing people tend to forget or not know of is that you can start on your required classes above in high school. Taking college credits in high school is a way to get ahead quickly in your career. Not only do you get a head start it can be much cheaper then college tuition after high school along with counting towards your high school credit as well.

Leaving Pharmacy School For Medical School

So you are looking to get into med school after attending pharmacy school. We won’t get into the reasons of why this is a good or bad idea but just talk about the transition.

If you have good grades and GPA this can definitely work in your favor when getting into medical school. You will definitely have a huge advantage over most students that are entering into med school with no experience like what you have gained.

You may get some mixed messages from admissions as to why you are switching both good and some just saying why. Some my think you will fly through the pharmacology portion which you should. Definitely don’t make it seem like you are trying to get as far away from pharmacy school as possible.

Check first with the medical school you wish to apply for on what will transfer over to help you get through med school quicker. Call and talk to admissions and ask them any questions you have at all.

Don’t let the debt of loans scare you away from your true calling whether that is being a pharmacist or medical doctor. There are ways to still get grants and scholarships along with debt forgiveness like with working for a non profit.

Related Questions

How Hard Is Pharmacy School?

Pharmacy school is very hard and takes a lot of discipline to get through. There will be long nights of studying and you will also have to be very good at math and science. Plus the ability to memorize things will also work heavily in your favor.

Do Pharmacists Go To Medical School?

Yes there are pharmacists that go medical school either leaving during the middle of their curriculum or after. Pharmacy school is similar to medical school the first couple of years with the courses you take.

Does A Pharmacist Make More Than A Doctor?

Pharmacist can make more then a medical doctor and a doctor can make more than a pharmacist as well. There are many variables that can go into this including location, specialty, experience, advanced degrees beyond trade, etc.

So if you want to make the most as a pharmacist or doctor look into the specialty as they normally pay much more the more specialized you can be.


Again it is hard to compare pharmacy school and med school as they are about the same when looking from the outside. I never went to med school, but I can tell you that pharmacy school was very hard and I learned a lot that helps me out in my pharmacy career.

You also have to remember that when you graduate from med school or pharmacy school you are not done you have a long way to get to get where you want to be. Your education will also be ongoing with things such as continuing educations credits among other things.

So make sure you are 100% committed to being the best pharmacist or doctor you can be.

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.

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