Frequently Asked Questions

Admission

Does USC require a background check?

The USC School of Pharmacy does not require a background check or a drug test for admission to the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. However, all admitted students to the PharmD program are required to be fingerprinted for criminal background checks by the California Board of Pharmacy as a requirement of licensure. Students must obtain a license from the Board of Pharmacy to participate in the clinical portions of the PharmD Program. In addition, many of the clinical facilities affiliated with USC may require additional background checks and/or drug testing for student placements.

What are the criteria for admission?

The School’s admission criteria include academic strength, motivation to pursue pharmacy, maturity, communication skills, special talents, achievements and the unique contribution you will be expected to make to the profession. For more information, see the School’s admission requirements.

What is the School’s GPA requirement?

The minimum GPA requirement for the cumulative and the pre-pharmacy courses is 3.0. The average GPA of admitted students is approximately 3.5 for both.

Do I need to send in my transcripts to USC?

You need to send in an official copy of all of your transcripts to PharmCAS when you apply.

When do I need to complete my pre-pharmacy courses?

All pre-pharmacy courses must be completed by the end of the spring in your entering year.

Where should I send my letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation must be submitted online through PharmCAS. Three letters of recommendation are required. One letter must be from a science professor with whom you took a class and/or did research. The remaining two letters may be from professors, advisors, researchers, pharmacists or employers.

Re-applicants only need to submit one new letter of recommendation.

How many students are accepted each year?

The USC School of Pharmacy receives approximately 1,300-1,600 applications each year, and interviews 400 to 500 applicants. Approximately 185 students matriculate into the program.

Is preference given to California residents?

No. The School uses the same criteria to evaluate out-of-state applicants as California residents.

Do California residents pay less tuition than out-of-state students?

USC is a private university; therefore, tuition and fees are the same for all students regardless of state or country of residence.

Is a bachelor’s degree required?

Yes.

Do I need to take the PCAT, TOEFL or any other standardized tests?

No. The School does not require any standardized tests.

Can I enter in the spring semester?

No. The School of Pharmacy admits in the fall semester only.

Do you accept transfer students?

Yes. Transfer students are considered on a seat-available basis.

Can I enter with advanced standing status?

If vacancies exist, the School of Pharmacy accepts a limited number of applicants who hold a recently conferred baccalaureate degree in pharmacy from a college of pharmacy accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education. Such applicants may not be required to meet all pre-pharmacy requirements in order to qualify for admission. If admitted to the PharmD program, these students may be accepted at an advanced level for a minimum of two years (72 semester units) of full-time study.

When is the application due?

November 1, this applies to the PharmCAS Application and the USC Supplemental Application.

How do I know if my application is received?

You will receive email confirmations from PharmCAS and from the USC School of Pharmacy when you submit your applications successfully.

Do you have rolling admission?

Yes. It is advisable to submit your application as early as possible.

Can I submit my application package materials separately?

Yes. You must first submit your application through PharmCAS. You may then submit your USC Supplemental Application. You must also submit updated transcripts to PharmCAS reflecting academic updates between December 15, 2013 and February 15, 2014.

Do you give preference to any major?

No. The School of Pharmacy does not give preference to any major. Most applicants are science majors. The most common majors are biology, chemistry, biochemistry and psychobiology.

I already have a bachelor’s degree. Do I still need to complete all the prerequisites?

Yes, all applicants regardless of degree or major must complete all the pre-pharmacy required courses before they enter the PharmD program.

Where do I take the pre-pharmacy courses? How do I know if my classes have met your pre-pharmacy requirements?

You may take your pre-pharmacy courses at any accredited institution in the United States, except vocational or technical schools. All pre-pharmacy coursework must be completed for a letter grade. Consult the School’s Course Equivalencies section, which lists equivalent courses for California institutions and many universities outside of California. For institutions not listed, course descriptions will be required. The course descriptions must meet USC transfer requirements. You may contact the Admission office if you have questions.

Do you accept online/distance-learning courses?

The School accepts distance-learning or online coursework for psychology, sociology, micro-economics and statistics, as long as they are on the Course Equivalencies list. The School does not accept online classes for biology, chemistry or physics requirements.

Can I meet with a counselor to go over my transcripts and application?

The School offers Information Sessions on campus for prospective applicants. These sessions give you an opportunity to visit the USC Health Sciences Campus and its facilities, meet with Pharmacy students and admission staff, and learn about the School’s programs and the application process. Your coursework/transcripts will be evaluated once your application is submitted.

Can I change my proposed course schedule for the pre-pharmacy requirements?

Yes. Please submit an updated schedule of courses in writing to the USC School of Pharmacy Office of Admission and Student Affairs. Make sure you are taking equivalent courses as listed in the Course Equivalencies section.

Can I submit my application before I complete my prerequisites?

Yes. You should have completed most of your pre-pharmacy coursework by the time you submit your application. You must indicate on your application when and where you will be taking the remaining prerequisites. All pre-pharmacy courses must be completed by the end of the spring of your entering year.

Do you accept international transcripts?

Holders of international/foreign visas are not eligible for the PharmD program. Applicants with U.S. permanent resident status and/or naturalized citizenship with international coursework and/or degree(s) must submit evaluations of your international transcripts completed by WES (World Education Services) to PharmCAS. If you are accepted at the USC School of Pharmacy, your original international transcripts and course descriptions must be sent directly to the USC School of Pharmacy Admission Office by the institution(s) you attended.

The following courses must be completed in the U.S. at an accredited four-year degree granting college or university: human physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry and microbiology.

In addition, you must take a one-year, college-level English composition course and a communication course in the Untied States. The communication course requirement can be satisfied by a course in either interpersonal communication or public speaking. Applicants from English-speaking countries are exempt from the English and communication requirement.

Please note: applicants with study-abroad programs may submit transcripts from the institution where international coursework was completed, if those courses are listed with letter grades.

Applicant Interviews

Do I need an interview?

To be accepted into the PharmD program, you must be interviewed. However, not all applicants will be interviewed. In general, the School interviews between 30-35% of applicants.

Is there a minimum grade point average required for an interview?

Competitive applicants who meet a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average and above, possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, and have a general knowledge of the field of pharmacy are the most sought-after candidates. Unfortunately, the School is unable to interview all qualified applicants.

How do I know if I am selected for an interview?

If you are selected, you will receive an E-mail invitation two to three weeks prior to the interview date. Scheduled interview session dates are available here.

What should I expect for the interview?

The interview consists of two parts: the oral interview and a writing test. The purpose of the interview is to assess your oral communication skills, writing skills, leadership ability and your motivation or potential to be a pharmacist.

Can I reschedule my interview appointment?

No. If you miss your assigned interview or arrive late, your application will be canceled. However, under some rare circumstances, such as a medical emergency, the Admission Committee will make an exception. If you know you will be attending an important event or studying abroad during one of the School’s interview sessions, please inform us early so that we will not schedule your interview during that session.

How should I dress for the interview?

Professional attire is recommended.

When will I be notified of my admission status?

All applicants will be notified by mail or email approximately four weeks after the interview date. Status updates will be mailed to you about four weeks after each interview session or as soon as decisions are made. The School does not release status information over the telephone.

What does “active consideration” mean?

Active consideration is a status for those candidates who have been interviewed, but are not admitted after an interview. Candidates on active consideration are placed on hold/wait list, until a final admission decision can be made. They are re-evaluated after each additional interview session, and could receive admission, denial, or continued active consideration status.

What can I do if I’m placed on “active consideration”?

Our PharmD program is very competitive. Only about 30-35% of our top candidates are interviewed. When you are on active consideration, you should continue with your unfinished coursework. When you finish a term, please send in your updated transcript(s) as soon as the grades and/or your degree are posted.

What if I have a change of address?

You should notify the admission office of all changes of mailing and e-mail addresses, as well as phone numbers.

How do I withdraw my application? Do I need to notify PharmCAS?

You should notify the admission office as soon as possible of your decision to withdraw. An explanation and/or information about what school you choose to attend is appreciated. You do not need to notify PharmCAS about your decision to withdraw.

May I apply again if I am denied the first time?

Yes. Each year, the School receives some 200 submissions from previous applicants.
Re-applicants must submit following the same process as new applicants, including filing both a PharmCAS Application and a USC Supplemental Application. However, you are required to send only one new letter of recommendation.

Contact Us

For more information, contact us at pharmadm@usc.edu or 323.442.1466.