What Are the Differences in the Pharm.D. degree and the PhD. degree in the Pharmacy Field?

If you have been wondering what could be the differences between a Pharm.D. degree and a PhD. degree in the pharmacy field, you will find the perfect answer in this guide.

Students who want to choose a future career in pharmaceuticals must decide the type of degree that is suitable for them. Making this decision is crucial for students interested in becoming successful in the pharmaceutical field.

We all know that a PhD degree is the highest academic achievement any could wish for. It’s an academic journey that begins in high school and then college-level education.

On average it takes three to four years of undergraduate pre-professional coursework, followed by four academic years in the professional program for one to earn a Pharm.D. degree.

The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program and the PhD degree program are designed for students with different interests. Students who want to become pharmacists and those who are interested in careers in research both have options to settle for.

Pharm.D. degree and the PhD. degree

What Is the Best Way to Reference a Pharmacology Degree?

The field of pharmacology is vast and intensive research is required if you are considering a career in pharmacology. The internet is one place where you will find valuable information and it’s the best place to start.

Since you want to pursue a career in pharmacology, you should do your research to find the best institution and available PhD program.

However, searching for a Doctor of Pharmacy on the internet can be confusing sometimes. People often type “Pharm D or Pharm D degree.

The abbreviation for Doctor of Pharmacy is “Pharm.D. And not a Pharm D degree.

If you type in the word “Pharm.D. or PharmD” it’s correct and valuable information will be provided to you. But the word that is most recognized in Google search is Pharm.D.

There will always be thousands of answers whenever you search for the word “Pharm.D.” on Google. Read the information on the first website whenever you use Google to search for Pharm.D.

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What Degree Does a Pharmacist Need?

The pharmacy field is vast and if you are interested in becoming a pharmacist, you need to earn your degree. Yes, you must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to become a pharmacist.

A doctorate in Pharmacy is offered by several institutions both online and on campus. Within three to four years, students can earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.).

Becoming a pharmacist requires adequate and formal education. If it were to be that easy, most students still at the undergraduate level could have become pharmacists.

Before a student will be considered a pharmacist, he or she must earn that achievement through different levels of education.

Now, there is this confusion between a Pharm.D. Vs. pharmacist. As of January 2003, all pharmacist students in the United States were required to obtain a Pharm.D. degree. 

Before 2003, pharmacists who graduated from various institutions in the United States held the title of “Registered Pharmacist (RPh). These were graduates with years of pharmaceutical experience and they have done the hard work involved in the process.

After the new development in 2003, many pharmacists had no other option than to get a Pharm.D. degree. They were in a situation of losing their position and the only way to get along with the new development was to obtain a Pharm.D. degree.

Jobs in the pharmacy field at that time required a Pharm.D. degree and those with a PhD degree recently obtained from an institution had a better chance.

Undergraduate Degree Requirement

Since a Pharm.D. degree was required for pharmacy students to get jobs in the pharmaceutical field, it’s quite understandable to see the importance of earning a PhD in pharmacy. A Pharm.D. degree is a postgraduate professional degree offered at various institutions.

Generally, there are entry requirements students must satisfy before enrolling in a program. Entry requirements vary by program and most applicants need to complete at least two years of undergraduate study to get into some programs.

Applicants are also required to obtain a bachelor’s degree to gain entry into some programs.

In some cases, applicants are required to pass the Pharmacy College of Admission Test (PCAT).

Now if you are wondering how long it takes to complete a Pharm.D. program, expect nothing less than three years. Generally, a typical Pharm.D. program takes three to four years. Accelerated programs let you graduate with a Pharm.D. degree in just three years.

All pharmacy program covers various coursework. The academic coursework includes courses like pharmacology, medical ethics, chemistry, and clinical internship in hospitals.

Becoming a pharmacist is not just about obtaining a Pharm.D. degree and undergoing an internship. There is more to it.

Now, once you graduate with your Pharm.D. degree, you will also need to earn your licence to practice in every state. To achieve this, you must pass the North America Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).

You will also need to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). The North America Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is designed to assess an applicant’s knowledge of pharmacy, while the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) is a state-specific examination.

What Does a Doctor of Pharmacy Do?

We are still discussing the differences between the Pharm.D. degree and the PhD degree in the pharmacy field. Here, we want to look at what a doctor of pharmacy does.

A pharmacist is a health care professional who controls, prepares, preserves, formulates, and distributes medicines and also advises the public on the correct use of medicine.

Pharmacists are concerned about drug safety and how patients use them. They are the health professional that will give you the best advice on medicine, based on your health condition.

Pharmacist are essential healthcare professionals and their job include the following;

  • They provide medical instruction to patients and their caregivers/families on how to take prescriptions given by a doctor.
  • Pharmacists inform patients of possible side effects of a specific drug
  • They verify drug prescriptions from doctors and provide the proper dosage for patients
  • With their licensure, they may be allowed to administer flu shots
  • They also perform administrative tasks like supervising interns, keeping records, and completing insurance forms

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What Are the Entrance Requirements for a PhD and a Pharm.D. Degree?

There is a slight difference in the entry requirements for a Pharm.D. in the pharmacy field and a PhD degree.

Generally, the requirement to gain entry into a PhD program is a master’s degree in a related study area to the program. Let’s not forget that a bachelor’s degree is also required in the process to get into a master’s program in the first place.

Now let’s say you want to gain entry into a PhD program in mathematics. So what could be the requirement to gain entry into a PhD program in mathematics?

If you want to enter a PhD program in mathematics, you need to present an advanced degree in mathematics or another related subject like statistics, computer science or finance.

Students in the United States can enter a PhD program with a bachelor’s degree. This is because most PhD programs are combined with master’s programs into a single doctorate program.

Now for those who want to gain entry into a Pharm.D. program, the requirement includes 60 to 90 credits completed in a related subject like biology, chemistry, and other subjects.

Students can also gain entry into a Pharm.D. program with an associate degree or a four-year degree obtained at accredited institutions.

Keep in mind that you also need to pass the Pharmacy College of Admission Test (PCAT). 

Here is what to expect in the Pharmacy College of Admission Test (PCAT) exam;

  • The PCAT exam last for four hours
  • You are required to answer 280 questions separated into even sections
  • Writing section (2 parts), biology, verbal ability, chemistry, reading comprehension, and quantitative ability

Registered Pharmacy (RPh) Vs. Pharm.D.

I believe you are familiar with the entry requirements for a PhD and a Pharm.D. degree in the pharmacy field. Now let’s look at the appropriate titles for an RPh and a Pharm.D. degree holder.

Many pharmacists sign their name using the Pharm.D. credentials and the title “RPh”. For instance, a pharmacist with the name John Walker may have a signature that reads “John Walker, Pharm.D, RPh.

But most pharmacist starting their career today prefer to use the Pharm.D. title alone. However, between the “Pharm.D.” and the “RPh”, they both look like a title and a degree earned.

Now there have been many questions asked about a Pharm.D. being a doctor. Well, pharmacists are health professionals and if they decide to use the title of a doctor when at work, they are not wrong.

However, pharmacists using the title of a doctor when at work must let patients know of their specific profession. In some cases, it’s confusing for patients to differentiate between a pharmacist and a medical doctor if things are not explained to them properly.

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What Are the Courses to Expect in a Pharm.D. Program?

A Pharm.D. program offers a variety of coursework to students. The program’s coursework allows students to cover study areas in biostatistics, drug interaction, physiology, anatomy, biopharmaceutics, pathology, etc.

What Are the Career Prospects of a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree Holder?

A Pharm.D. degree holder can get a job in private or public health establishments. As a doctor of pharmacy degree holder, you can work in a pharmacy in your locality or with other health establishments.

What Are the Differences between a Pharm.D. degree in the Pharmacy Field and a PhD. degree?

We have discussed using the title of doctor by pharmacists and also the difference between a Pharm.D. and an RPh.

The Pharm.D. program is designed for students who are interested in becoming pharmacists, while the PhD program involves research. The Pharm.D. program does not focus on intensive research like the PhD program.

One thing the Pharm.D. is good at is providing patient care and knowledge of biological science to students.

The PhD program is the best option for students who want careers in research in the pharmaceutical field.

What Are the Salaries for Graduate PhD Degrees Vs. Pharm.D. Degrees?

Since a PhD degree is more of an intensive research, does it mean that PhD holders earn more than those with Pharm.D. degrees? Well, we only have to find out.

Pharm.D. degree holders earn more than graduates with PhD degrees. According to statistics by Payscale.com, annual income for research scientists is between $49,000 to $108,000. PhD holders teaching in higher education earn an average salary between $45,000 to $76,000 (assistant professors).

Associate professors earn between $56,000 to $96,000.

The statistics show Pharm.D. degree holders earn more. The average salaries of pharmacists working in hospitals range from $82,000 to $112,000. For those working in commercial retail chain pharmacies, their salaries range from $85,000 to $113,000.

Now, this shows how society appreciates healthcare workers, especially professionals in specific medical areas. A PhD degree program takes students through intensive research, while a Pharm.D. program provides patient care and knowledge of biological science to students.


A PhD program involves intensive research, while a Pharm.D. program offers coursework in biostatistics, pathology, anatomy, medical chemistry, and, more.

The differences between a Pharm.D. degree in the pharmacy field and a PhD degree is the coursework and research involved. Pharmacists earn more money working in various health establishments, than PhD degree holders in teaching in higher education.

Now you know the difference between a Pharm.D. degree in the pharmacy field and a PhD degree.



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