How to Get Your Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) in South Carolina

If you’re looking for a job in healthcare but don’t want to be a part of surgeries or are a bit squeamish when it comes to bodily fluids, getting a pharmacist degree might be right for you. Pharmacists have to work hand in hand with doctors to help get their patients back onto the road to recovery. They measure out correct doses of medications, look out for drug interactions and offer consultations with patients to answer questions about drugs and patient health. Some pharmacists also can now give immunizations. As you can see, pharmacists are quite indispensable in the healthcare field, and there is always a place for them in virtually every state and country. 

South Carolina PharmD Requirements

To get your PharmD in South Carolina, you will have to complete the required prerequisite courses, then become accepted into an accredited Doctor of Pharmacy program. The prerequisite courses can be completed at any recognized college, university or community college. These courses will have a heavy focus on biology, chemistry, anatomy and mathematics. You will need to complete about 65-75 credit hours on your prerequisites, which will take you about three to four years. 

The Doctor of Pharmacy degree takes three to four years to complete. Once you have your degree, you will also be required to pass a few extensive tests to gauge your knowledge about pharmacy, patient health, and everything you learned in school before you are issued a pharmacy license. 

There are two public and two private colleges or universities in South Carolina that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). The average first-year tuition in a PharmD program from one of these schools is about $37,000. That’s not including books, expenses such as food and lodging, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Without further ado, let’s look at these individual schools and then later, we’ll focus on testing requirements.  

University of South Carolina

With over 150 years of experience teaching students how to be exceptional pharmacists, the University of South Carolina knows what they are doing. In 2020, their four-year graduation rate was 91%, and they definitely excelled at student satisfaction with a near-perfect score of 93%, which was 9 points higher than the national average. 

The University of South Carolina has partnered with the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center (KPIC) to set this university apart from others in the area. The KPIC offers students a pharmacist education with a focus on the innovative, entrepreneurial and business side of pharmacy. Students can also explore non-traditional pharmacist career paths, participate in advanced drug compounding, and find help with scholarships and stipends through KPIC. 

To be accepted into the University of SC, you will need to have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher from all your completed undergraduate work and have completed 66 credit hours of pharmacy-related courses. The undergraduate courses don’t have to be completed before you apply, as many prospective students start submitting applications before their four years of undergraduate studies are completed. For the current 2021-2022 application cycle, the University of South Carolina does not require completion of the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). That being said, if a student’s GPA is less than 3.0, it is advised to take the PCAT, especially if the student’s scores on this test are very high, as the high test score will reflect positively on the overall application. 

The UofSC College of Pharmacy will not require the PCAT for admission into the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program for the 2021-2022 application cycle. Applicants can submit their PCAT scores if they feel that it would strengthen their overall application. Applicants with less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA are strongly encouraged to submit PCAT scores as part of their application.

Medical University of South Carolina

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is located in the city of Charleston, which has been designated as one of America’s most livable cities and is a hub for the high-tech industry. The first-year tuition is slightly lower than the state’s average at $26,626 for in-state students. MUSC is a four-year university that offers a dual degree pharmacy program. You can earn a Master’s degree of Science in Health Informatics, a Master of Health Informatics and Information Management, or even pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacy.

MUSC offers an Early Assurance Program for exceptional high school students interested in a career as a pharmacist. This program provides conditional acceptance into the PharmD program after they have successfully completed the college-level prerequisites. 

Students enrolled at MUSC get cutting-edge instruction with exceptional research opportunities. This is because their nationally acclaimed clinical pharmacists use unique teaching practices that are set in an academic medical center. MUSC also has three research centers available to students and the SC Drug Discovery Core. 

Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy

Tuition costs for private schools are typically higher. Still, with that extra cost, students get smaller campuses and class sizes which may give some a better learning experience. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy is one of the private colleges located in South Carolina that fit into this criteria. However, it is an excellent school, allowing future pharmacists to gain relevant experience with dedicated professors on a more personalized basis.

In the PharmD program at Presbyterian college, classes focus on managing the best healthcare for patients. Students will learn through patient simulations, lectures and labs. They also get integrated classroom learning through practical experience. Presbyterian College likes to emphasize community engagement and patient care by directing student development toward community service, attending professional meetings, and stressing involvement in professional organizations. 

To get accepted at the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy, you must complete the PCAT. Although a Baccalaureate degree is not required, you will still have to finish 64 semester hours of prerequisites. No less than two letters of recommendation are required as well. 

St. John Fisher College

St. John Fisher College (SJFC) offers an online PharmD program through the Wegmans School of Pharmacy. This is a fully accredited, four-year program that prepares students for the rigors of a career in the health field. The PharmD program through SJFC combines the flexibility of small, online classes with plenty of experiential learning. In fact, over 30% of learning through SJFC is hands-on experience. 

Graduates from SJFC consistently outperform their peers in employment placement and licensing testing scores. In 2020 100% of the graduates from Wegmans School of Pharmacy had found employment, and over 87% of students passed the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) on the first try. We’ll cover the basics of NAPLEX further down in this article as well.

SJFC has partnered with many local communities to offer internships and employment in the students’ local area. This means that students can finish their required training without having to travel long distances, and often they get employed nearby. 

Another benefit of joining SJFC is that they are waiving the PCAT requirement. It is no longer necessary to spend the extra money on this test to become accepted.

Required Testing

Once you have finished the Doctor of Pharmacy from your school of choice and you get your degree, South Carolina requires you to take and pass both the NAPLEX and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). 

The NAPLEX is a multiple-choice, computerized exam that will test your knowledge and skill in basic pharmacy competency. The test is about 250 questions long, and you will have 6 hours to complete it. Students have five chances to pass the test, but students that are prepared and do plenty of studying beforehand will often pass on the first try. The cost of the exam is $575. 

The second required exam you must pass before getting your pharmacist license is the MPJE. This exam is designed to test your understanding of laws and regulations for the specific state you plan to practice as a pharmacist. It isn’t as long or as expensive as the NAPLEX. The MPJE has 120 questions and will give you two and a half hours to answer them all. The fee for this exam is $200.  

Pharmacist Outlook in South Carolina

Newly graduated pharmacists in South Carolina can expect to average around $72,780 per year. However, after at least five years of experience, you can expect to see that number grow closer to the state average of $119,090. South Carolina has a lower cost of living than many of the other states in the union, so the average pharmacist salary in this state is 5% lower than the national average. 

The projected job growth for pharmacists in South Carolina is just over 3%. Though that’s a low amount of progress, South Carolina is still expected to see at least 220 pharmacist job openings a year until 2028. Though pharmacist positions have been excessively cut in the last five years, pharmaceutical companies such as Walgreens, Novant, and other medical centers look to employ many more pharmacists across South Carolina. Thus, leading to a more considerable need for pharmacists in the coming future.