Skip Sub Menu

Doctor of Pharmacy

Degree Option

Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)

Doctor of Pharmacy web site

Program Overview

The practice of pharmacy is an integral part of total health care. The pharmacist serves as a vital source of drug use information for other health care professionals and members of the community. The special knowledge of the pharmacist can maximize the effectiveness of disease treatment and minimize the possibility of adverse effects that could develop during drug therapy of diseases.

Pharmacy practice environments are diverse and challenging. While many graduates pursue careers in community and hospital pharmacy, others choose careers in the pharmaceutical industry, research, government service, consultant pharmacy or other diverse professional specialties.

The principal goal of the pharmacy program, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, is to provide an educational experience that prepares graduates for careers in pharmacy. The curriculum provides a balance between theoretical principles, practical applications and structured practice experience. Since 1984, pharmacy graduates have enjoyed a placement rate near 100%.

Pharmacy History

The first college of pharmacy in Des Moines was the Iowa College of Pharmacy. It was organized in 1882. This college affiliated with Drake University in 1887 and operated as one of the colleges of the University until 1906 when it was discontinued.

The Highland Park College of Pharmacy was organized in Des Moines in 1889. Highland Park College, in 1918, changed its name to Des Moines University, with the college of pharmacy continuing as an integral part of the university.

In 1927, the faculty of the College of Pharmacy of Des Moines University organized an independent college of pharmacy, the Des Moines College of Pharmacy. This college operated as an independent institution from 1927 until 1939, when the Des Moines College of Pharmacy Corporation was dissolved and the college’s staff and facilities became part of Drake University.

Educational Goals and Objectives

The purpose of the Pharmacy Professional Program is to provide the graduate with the relevant knowledge base, skills, attitudes, ethics and values to engage in the entry-level practice of pharmacy. The curriculum is designed to provide the graduate with competence in these areas:

  1. Problem-solving and decision-making. In order to provide pharmaceutical care, the pharmacist must have the skills of inquiry, abstract logical thinking and critical analysis to identify problems, make judgments and decisions based on available data or identify additional needed data.
  2. Management. Pharmaceutical care entails managing drug therapy, including developing and implementing care plans and measuring therapeutic outcomes. In addition, pharmacists manage personnel, supplies, practices and departments. The effective and efficient delivery of pharmaceutical care requires the effective and efficient management of a pharmacy practice.
  3. Lifelong learning. Practice is a learning experience. The pharmacist must be able to learn from problem-solving experiences. Pharmacists must acquire a continuing flow of new knowledge. Lifelong learning is dependent on the development of self-learning abilities and habits.
  4. Communicating and educating. The pharmacist must communicate with colleagues, other professionals and patients. Pharmacists, as members of society, communicate with other citizens about health. Pharmacists must have the basic knowledge, confidence, attitudes and skills to read, write, listen and speak effectively. Pharmacists must be able to deal effectively with dissent, being able to disagree articulately and persuasively about patients’ therapies.
  5. Policy formulation and professional governance. Pharmacists must be able to take active roles in shaping policies, practices and future directions for the profession. Pharmacists must look beyond their immediate practice settings to the environment of pharmacy and the health care system. Pharmacists must be prepared to deal with issues of organization, financing, delivery, payment, access, quality and regulation of drugs and pharmacy services. Pharmacists must be aware of methods of shaping change in the profession through policy formation in the public and private sectors.
  6. Professionalism. Pharmacists must understand and accept their duties and responsibilities to patients, health care professionals and their profession. Pharmacists are expected to have developed value systems and ethical standards that guide their behavior. Pharmacists must have a sense of the obligation they owe their patients and their duty to ensure that obligation is fulfilled.

Upon graduation from the Drake University pharmacy program, the graduate also shall fulfill the outcomes of the Drake Curriculum.

Requirements for Major

211 semester credit hours required.

The four-year professional program is preceded by two years of pre-professional coursework. The curriculum for the pre-pharmacy and professional programs can be viewed at: Please note that courses in the professional program may change.

Admission Requirements

Students may apply to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences as pre-pharmacy students. Students admitted to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences as pre-pharmacy students are selected from a pool of applicants who have met the Dec. 1 application deadline. Students admitted into Drake’s pre-pharmacy program are offered the Drake Pharm.D. Difference, through which students receive full consideration for the professional program. In addition, they are assigned a pharmacy faculty advisor, are able to belong to professional student organizations, and participate in orientation courses and interview preparation activities. The PCAT is not required for students who are part of Drake’s Pharm.D. Difference. Additional information is available at

Students who are not selected for pre-pharmacy admission to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences may be admitted to their second choice program. These students may apply for admission to the professional level of the pharmacy program once all prerequisites are completed. The PCAT is required for any student who was not admitted to into Drake’s pre-pharmacy program.

Students who have completed the pre-pharmacy course requirements at other institutions may also apply to the professional program.

All students desiring to enter the professional program must complete the Pharmacy Centralized Application Services ( application and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Supplemental Application Form.

Additional information regarding the admission process for pre-pharmacy and professional programs can be viewed at

Specific Regulations / Academic Requirements

Pharmacy students should become familiar with the General Information section of this catalog, which covers many regulations that affect all Drake University students. The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences also has a number of specific regulations and requirements that must be met to progress through the pharmacy curriculum. Some of these are listed below; others are available in the Pharmacy Student Handbook

Many pharmacy courses have prerequisite requirements. Admission to a course is denied if prerequisite courses have not been successfully completed. Therefore, deviations from the curriculum as it is structured require careful consideration. Course prerequisites may be found in the course descriptions, as listed in blueView, located at

Pharmacy students may apply a maximum of 9 hours of elective coursework on a credit/no credit basis toward graduation. Courses regularly graded on a credit/no credit basis are not included within the 9 hours maximum. The student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 before registering in a course on a credit/no credit basis.

Candidates qualifying for the degree must complete the required credit hours for graduation and have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA. The standard grading scale for pharmacy students enrolled in pharmacy-labeled courses is "A", "B", "C", "D" or "F". All courses in the pre-pharmacy curriculum and the first three years of the professional curriculum must be successfully completed before a student enrolls in fourth-year (final year) coursework.

Students may not progress onto rotations unless a "C" or better is earned in each required course. Students are permitted to retake a pharmacy required course for a passing grade (2.0 GPA or "C") one time only. Students who do not obtain a 2.0 (or "C") in a pharmacy required course after two attempts will be dropped from the Pharm.D. program.  Once a student enters the professional program, all didactic coursework must be completed in four years. Students who are unable to complete the didactic course work in this time period will be dropped from the program.

All fourth-year pharmacy students are required to complete 40 weeks of experiential rotations (PHAR 285) prior to graduation. During these experiential rotations, students apply pharmaceutical principles related to diagnosis, treatment and patient care; monitor drug utilization and drug therapy and interact with patients, physicians, nurses and other health care providers. Due to regulations at many of the experiential sites, the college will complete a criminal background check and drug screen prior to admission into the professional program and again prior to entering the experiential year. Students who have a history of a felony are referred to the State Board of Pharmacy where they plan to practice pharmacy to determine if their record would prohibit licensure. Experiential sites have the right to refuse to accept a student for rotations based on the results of the criminal background check even if the history would not prohibit licensure as a pharmacist. Many of these sites also require that a copy of the background check is forwarded to them. Students who have positive drug screens and will be entering rotations will be referred to the Chemical Dependency Policy.

Candidates for the Doctor of Pharmacy degree are required to be in residence in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for at least the last 30 credit hours before becoming eligible for graduation. Credit earned by examination may not be counted toward fulfillment of the last 30 credit hours.

Pre-pharmacy and pharmacy students are assigned a pharmacy faculty member as their academic adviser. Faculty advisers help students:

  • Adapt to the college environment
  • Assist in the development of the student's education plan by providing input and feedback
  • Encourage discussions about the appropriateness of their chosen career track and the career options within the profession
  • Assist in identification of opportunities for professional skill development and
  • Make appropriate referrals to university student service offices when academic or personal difficulties arise.

The Academic and Student Affairs Office is responsible for coordinating the registration process, verifying appropriate registration of courses, approving educational plan waivers and transfer credit requests, updating degree audits with regard to substitutions, waivers and transfer courses, answering student questions regarding registration, credit completion, course transfer process and study-abroad opportunities, serving as a resource for students in combined degree programs (M.B.A., M.P.A., Law) and coordinating and communicating opportunities for internship, study abroad, research and postgraduate study. The final responsibility for completion of graduation requirements, however, belongs to the student and, accordingly, each student should become familiar not only with the curriculum but also with the academic regulations of the college.

Joint Degree Programs

Pharmacy / Master of Business Administration

Students may earn a Master in Business Administration in conjunction with the Pharm.D. Students who pursue this combination have opportunities in management and administrative positions. This program requires a careful selection of prerequisite courses for the M.B.A. degree as electives in the pharmacy curriculum. Students start at Drake in pharmacy and apply to the College of Business and Public Administration after completing the foundation courses. The combined degree program typically takes an extra semester to complete beyond the pharmacy degree, rather than an extra two years.

Pharmacy / Master of Public Administration

Students may earn a Master in Public Administration through a joint program established in cooperation with the College of Business and Public Administration. Students are admitted to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and during their first professional year may seek admission to the M.P.A. program. Students who pursue this option have management and administrative opportunities in the public sector.

Pharmacy / Law

Students may elect to earn both a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Doctor of Jurisprudence (law) degree in a joint degree program offered in cooperation with the Drake Law School. The program allows students to focus their education on legal and health care issues. Participating students are admitted first to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. A student pursuing this program should plan to take the LSAT and formally apply to the Law School during the spring semester of the first professional year. Each student’s schedule is tailored individually in consultation with the joint degree adviser.

Please visit for additional information on these joint degree programs.

Students may use electives to pursue a second major, a minor, or a concentration. The college currently offers a Diabetes Care Concentration. Please visit for additional information on these options.

University News