Pre-Professional Pathways are not offered as majors at Western, nor are they at most other universities, but they can be incorporated into or taken alongside any degree-granting major offered at Western.
Western provides a series of courses which prepares students for application to institutions that offer a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. Pharmacy schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. Although Western does not offer a Pre-Pharmacy major, examples of majors popular among pre-pharmacy students are Biology, Environmental Science, Psychology, Spanish, and Business.
Beyond the Classroom
Western's Pre-Healthcare Professions Advising Office provides mentoring and advising to students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare professions. The office works with students to enhance their chances of gaining successful admission to the professional school of their choice. Services range from individual academic advisement to preparing students for the final application process.
Western's Associated Students is home to 200+ clubs, including those for students pursuing healthcare professions.
Careers and Graduate Studies
Admission to institutions that offer a PharmD degree is selective and may include: evaluation of GPA (both cumulative and science), letters of recommendation, pharmacy related experience, and an interview as well as legal and social records. Due to variations in admission requirements, students are encouraged to research the schools of their choice for detailed information.
Health Professions Advising Events
Typical programming events offered include (but are not limited to):
Orientation Session: Getting you from WWU to professional school (PRESCRIBE)
Health Professional School & Grad School Info Fair, October 17
Winter Registration Walk-in Advising: Nov 13 and Nov 14, 12-2 in BI 415
Spring Registration Walk-in Advising: Feb 26 and Feb 27, 12-2 in BI 415
The Healthcare Professional School Application: A session overviewing the process
Fall Registration Walk-in Advising: May 20 and May 21, 12-2 in BI 415
What does it mean to be Pre-Pharmacy at WWU?
Pre-Pharmacy students are those who identify themselves as such, formally or informally. Western does not offer a "Pre-Pharmacy" major, and there is no formula for getting into pharmacy school. Selection committees evaluate applicants across multiple areas through a holistic review process. Important components include GPA (both cumulative and science/math), letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, community service, pharmacy awareness, diversity awareness, PCAT scores in some cases, an interview, and background checks (including legal, conduct, and social records).
Pharmacy schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. This gives you flexibility in planning your educational program. Use your undergraduate years to explore many academic fields, to develop basic skills and knowledge, to demonstrate expertise and to experience a field of study (major) of your choice. Align with a major in which you both excel and enjoy. While Biology and Chemistry are popular choices, Pre-Pharmacy students have majored in a diverse range of disciplines including Anthropology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Business, Kinesiology, Languages (i.e. Spanish), Literature, and self-designed programs. Some pursue combined majors such as Biology/Anthropology, Biochemistry, and Cellular & Molecular Biology.
Regardless of your major, certain prerequisite courses expected by most schools include:
(a sequence of eight courses)
NOTE: It is imperative that students begin general chemistry as early in their program as possible
- General Chemistry series (includes labs): CHEM 121, 122, 123 [or Honors equivalent]
- Organic Chemistry lecture series: CHEM 351, 352, 353;
- with two accompanying labs: 354 and either 355 or 356 (depending upon major)
- Biochemistry: CHEM 471, 472 [WSU also will accept CHEM 375]
- General Biology series (includes labs): BIOL 204, 205, 206
- Microbiology (with lab): BIOL 345, 346 or 256 [upper-division preferred]
- Human Anatomy & Physiology: BIOL 348, 349
- Additional courses under advisement
- Calculus: MATH 124
- Statistics: MATH 240 [or major equivalent; i.e. BIOL 340 for Biology majors]
- English (2-3 courses): ENG 101, 202, 301, or 302
- Introduction to Psychology: PSY 101
- Introduction to Microeconomics: ECON 206
- Introduction to Moral Issues: PHIL 112 [or logic or ethics: PHIL 102, 202, or 320]
- Fundamentals of Speech: COMM 101
- Interpersonal Communication or Public Speaking: COMM 327 or 331
This document is for preliminary advising purposes only.
We encourage you to meet with a Health Professions Advisor on a regular basis to determine a plan that is best for you.
- WWU students may join the Advisor’s Pre-pharmacy Listserv. To join, go to www.wwu.edu/careers, click on Health Professions Advising (on the lefthand side of the page), and click Join Listserv
- Pre-Pharmacy Club: Join this and other WWU Associated Students clubs at www.as.wwu.edu/clubs/.
Check with targeted schools whether they recognize AP as college-earned credit. Not all do. It is better to view any earned credits as qualifying to enroll in upper-division courses rather than as “testing out” of prerequisites.
Declaring a Major
Departments vary in how to declare majors. Behavioral Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry, Kinesiology, and others allow students to declare as a “pre-major” while taking their specified prerequisites. Some majors require a specific GPA in certain courses. Declare early, even as a “pre-major”, to help shorten your time to degree. While working on any pre-major content, explore many disciplines to keep your options open.
Access to Classes
High demand exists for upper-division courses, especially in the sciences. Many departments grant enrollment priority to students declared in specific majors over those seeking enrollment for professional school purposes. Registration access procedures for impacted courses can change, and departments generally provide updates via their websites and email notifications, or by checking with the department’s program coordinator.
When you repeat a course, only your most recent grade is used when Western calculates your GPA. However, the class still shows up on your transcript. Although some students think that repeating a course will help them get into professional schools, this is almost always untrue. Professional schools will take into account ALL college-level coursework when performing their own calculation of your GPA, and this will include any courses you have repeated at Western. Still, in some circumstances it may be appropriate to repeat a course so talk to an advisor to be sure. Also, dropping a course can have an impact on eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and athletic participation so consider your options carefully and speak with an advisor before making a decision.
Students should gain shadowing experience with a non-relative pharmacist. This helps one to gain exposure to the profession and generate a professional letter of recommendation.
Approximately 2/3 of pharmacy schools require the Pharmacy College Admission Test. Test dates occur in January, July, September, October, and November. Take the exam within the cycle of application, which opens each July (one year before projected matriculation). PCAT information is available at http://www.pcatweb.info/.