How to Get a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree in New York

New York is one of the most populated states in the nation, and with such a large population, pharmacists are in significant demand in the state. In 2020 there were over 19,000 pharmacists working in New York City alone. Fueling the demand for pharmacists, the Big Apple is home to very large pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novo Nordisk Inc, Eli Lilly & Company, and many more. 

Pharmacists are frequently viewed as highly respected and vital individuals of a complete health care team. The services they provide along with inclusive patient care, help individuals consistently hold pharmacists in a favorable light. There will always be high demand for the services of professional, caring and patient-oriented individuals in this career field.

To become a part of this enormous workforce, you need to get a Doctor of Pharmacy degree that’s recognized by the Accreditation Council in Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Then you will have to pass the required exams to receive your pharmacist license. 

Currently, there are eight ACPE accredited schools offering a PharmD degree located in New York state. Here we will list the top 4 institutions in the state according to North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) first-time pass rates. 

Average Annual Pharmacist Salary In New York

On average, a pharmacist in New York state can expect to make $172,205 annually. This is a bit of a jump compared to the national average of $143,147. Retail pharmacists make up the vast majority of the workforce. You’ll find these job openings in stores such as CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens. Hospitals and outpatient care centers hire a much smaller number of pharmacists, but they typically pay much more than retail outlets. 

PharmD Program Prerequisites

Before applying to Doctor of Pharmacy programs, you typically have a few prerequisites to accomplish first. If the college does not have a PharmD undergraduate program, you will have to finish two to four years of college prerequisites first. These studies will focus heavily on science and mathematics courses.

You will also have to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test for most schools and have two to three letters of recommendation. Check out each college’s admissions policy before applying to make sure you have all the required exams and paperwork ready.      

Top Four PharmD Colleges in NY 

University at Buffalo

The first school that offers a Doctor of Pharmacy program is the University at Buffalo (UB). Their 2020 first-time NAPLEX pass score was an astounding 95.1%. 

Perhaps what makes this university so great is that the UB School of Pharmacy was founded in 1886, making this school one of the oldest pharmacy schools in the state. Another thing that makes UB unique is that this is one of the only PharmD schools focusing on the role genes play in an individual’s response to particular medications. This is an imperative component of this school’s curriculum. 

Students at the University at Buffalo can expect an environment based on an atmosphere of community and teamwork. This includes small classrooms—there are typically ten students per faculty member on campus—state-of-the-art technology, laboratories and up-to-date “smart” classrooms. 

UB also offers an Early Assurance Program. With this program, the Pharmacy College Admissions Test and letters of recommendation are not required. Accepted high school graduates enter directly into the fall semester and start two years of PharmD prerequisite classes. From there, as long as they keep an accepted GPA, students will automatically be enrolled in the four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program. 

If you want an extra advantage in this fast-paced, competitive career, you can pursue a dual degree program at UB. If you are more interested in the business and management aspects of pharmacy, you could pursue a PharmD/MBA degree. 

You could engage in public health research that helps to improve patient health and outcomes by working on a Doctor of Pharmacy/Masters of Public Health degree. 

For those more interested in how chemical and physical aspects of drugs affect performance with a focus on research, you could pursue a PharmD/MS (Masters of Science) degree. 

The University at Buffalo also had a PharmD/Ph.D. program and PharmD/JD for those who want to go on and earn a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) or get into legal training (JD) concerning the pharmaceutical industry. 

St. John Fisher College

Number two on the list is St. John Fisher College (SJFC), located in Rochester. Their average first-time NAPLEX pass score over the past four years is 92.4%. SJFC is part of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy, a highly ranked, accredited school that also offers online classes across the United States. 

Online classes offer students the benefits of small class sizes. They get more focused attention from faculty along with the flexibility of online learning. Students are still receiving experiential learning, as 30% of classes are hands-on laboratories and clinicals. The first three years focus on the foundations of pharmacology, while the fourth year of studies is solely experiential learning that builds on the previous years’ lessons. 

SJFC students can also participate in medical service mission trips to El Salvador, Honduras and India. 

Right now, SJFC is making it easier to apply and get accepted by waiving the PCAT requirement for admissions. 

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

The 3rd school on the list is the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS). The Wall Street Journal ranked ACPHS the number 1 value-added college in the nation for 2019. Their NAPLEX pass rate for the year 2020 was 88.4%. 

ACPHS is another college located in New York that offers high school students an Early Assurance program. 

ACPHS offers several different and unique learning opportunities. The college sponsors two pharmacies—one in Albany and another located in Schenectady—that are operated completely by students. Students in the PharmD program have the ability to gain valuable hands-on experience at either of these facilities. You can also acquire a pharmacy intern permit after the first year of the program, which will allow you to help immunize patients. Another unique opportunity that exists for Doctor of Pharmacy students is the ability to participate in faculty-led research in areas such as infectious disease, epigenetics and public health. 

ACPHS offers clinical rotations in over 600 retail pharmacies, hospital settings, research labs, and ambulatory clinics. Students also have opportunities to gain valuable experiential learning overseas in countries such as Italy, Switzerland and Japan. 

St. John’s University

The fourth highest PharmD college in our list is St. John’s University, located in Queens. In 2020 the first time NAPLEX pass rate was 90.6%. Though the school is a Roman Catholic institution, students of all religious backgrounds attend school here. 

The facilities at St. John’s include high-tech classrooms with well-fitted laboratories and a massive university library. The library boasts some 1.7 million volumes located on the vast shelves of the building. They also have a newly built D’Angelo Center that consists of 127,000 square feet and five stories of lecture halls, a full-service food court, and a Starbucks cafe. 

St. John’s University focuses on studies abroad, and students who are able and willing to study in foreign settings can winter and summer semesters learning in Rome, Italy or Paris, France. During a student’s last year, they can take a 3-credit elective course located in St. John’s Rome campus and then take four weeks to travel and learn farther abroad. 

PharmD students at St. John’s will need to purchase malpractice insurance and obtain a New York Pharmacy Intern Permit at the beginning of their third year of study. 

NAPLEX and MPJE Requirements

Getting your Doctor of Pharmacy degree is among the last steps to getting into your new pharmacist career, but before you start applying for jobs, you will have to pass both the NAPLEX and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). Both exams must be successfully completed before you can be issued a license to practice. Don’t worry too much, though, because, with proper preparations, students typically do well. 

The NAPLEX is an adaptive, computerized examination that tests students on the practical aspects of pharmacy studies. You will have to pay approximately $575 to take the exam. You will have five chances and six hours to pass the 240-question examination. After approximately seven business days, you will be informed whether you have passed the test or not. There is no grade aside from a pass or fail. 

The MPJE is different for each state. Nearly all states require taking the exam before being issued a pharmacist license. New York State requires students to pass the MPJE before they can be licensed pharmacists. This test isn’t as extensive as the NAPLEX because it focuses on your comprehension of regulations and laws relating to pharmacy. This test is approximately 120 questions and costs around $240. 

Once you have passed both of these exams, you will be a licensed pharmacist, able to practice anywhere in the state.