Frequently Asked Questions

Admission

Do you accept online/distance-learning courses?

Beginning the Spring 2020 Semester/Term, the USC School of Pharmacy will accept Pass/No Pass and online courses listed on the Course Equivalencies page to fulfill your Pre-Pharmacy requirements. For colleges and universities not listed, you may copy and paste the course description along with a link and email to the admission office (pharmadm@usc.edu) with any questions about whether specific courses you have taken meet the equivalency requirements.

Any online courses taken prior to the Spring 2020 semester are reviewable by the admission committee on a case by case basis. If you have completed any online pre-requisite courses prior to Spring 2020 and would like to check if the course meets our requirement, please email a copy of the course description to pharmadm@usc.edu with a description of your request.

Do you participate in the Early Decision program through PharmCAS?

Yes, we do. The Early Decision application deadline for the fall 2021 admission cycle is September 8, 2020. For more details, please click here.

Do you accept international students?

Yes, we do accept students with international visas. For more information, read our Application Guidelines for International Students.

Do you accept international transcripts?

Applicants with U.S. permanent resident status and/or naturalized citizenship with international coursework and/or degree(s), and/or holders of international visas must submit evaluations of their international transcripts completed by WES (World Education Services) to PharmCAS during application or by IERF (International Education Research Foundation) if they will complete their bachelor’s degree after submitting their application.

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

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.

Does USC require a background check?

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. Therefore, USC participates in the PharmCAS-facilitated Centralized Criminal Background Check (CBC) Service Program through Certiphi Screening. Upon admission to our program, you will be emailed by Certiphi to initiate the background check. Please follow the instructions in the email to proceed with your background check. It is highly recommended that international applicants apply as early as possible, since it takes longer for you to complete a background check after admission.

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 3.4 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. You can send in your updated transcripts to USC after PharmCAS’s Academic Updates end.

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

We highly recommend that all pre-pharmacy courses are completed by the end of the spring term in your entering year. However, summer courses are acceptable if they are completed by mid-August before Orientation.

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 700 or more applications each year and interviews about 400 applicants. Approximately 195 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?

No. We do not accept transfer students from other PharmD programs.

When is the application due?

Early decision applications are due early September and regular decision applications are due early December. See How to Apply for more details.

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 separately?

You must first submit your application through PharmCAS by the deadline of December 1. You must also submit updated transcripts to PharmCAS for Academic Updates.

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, or for-profit institutions. Consult the School’s Course Equivalencies page, 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 (pharmadm@usc.edu) if you have questions.

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 by email 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 page.

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.

Can I defer my admission?

No, if you are not able to start our program for the admitted term, you will need to re-apply if you are still interested.

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 up to 70% 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. Students who fall below our minimum 3.0 GPA but otherwise demonstrate the ability to be successful in our PharmD program will still be reviewed for admission on a case by case basis by the admission committee.

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

If you are selected, you will receive an email invitation one to three weeks prior to the interview date. Scheduled interview session dates are available at https://pharmacyschool.usc.edu/apply/admission/apply/

What should I expect for the interview?

Beginning the 2020-21 admission cycle, the interview will be conducted virtually and will consist of a traditional two on one interview, followed by a real-life scenario. The traditional two on one interview will include one faculty member or alumni, plus a current student. Once the traditional interview is completed in approximately twenty minutes, the interviewers will provide the applicant with a real-life scenario that the applicant must address. It is important to note that the scenario does not test for specific knowledge, but rather, is developed to offer a better representation and a more holistic view of an applicant by assessing their skills to react in the moment and navigate real-life situations. We hope that the applicants are able to showcase their proficiency in areas of communication, leadership ability, interpersonal interactions, critical thinking and ethical decision-making.

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 email approximately 2-3 weeks after the interview date. Status updates will be emailed to you about 2-3 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 50%-70% 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) to PharmCAS for Academic Update as soon as the grades and/or your degree are posted.

What if I have a change of address?

You should notify PharmCAS and 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 greatly appreciated and provides us with information that reflects our admission results. You do not need to notify PharmCAS separately about your decision to withdraw.

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

Yes. Each year, the School receives more than 100 submissions from previous applicants.
Re-applicants must submit following the same process as new applicants, including the PharmCAS 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.