Blueprint MCAT Formerly Next Step
Return to Blog Homepage

Are Pharmacy Programs That Don’t Require The PCAT Too Good To Be True?

  • by Sam
  • Dec 12, 2017
  • Advisors, PCAT Blog

You read that right: some pharmacy schools do not require the PCAT for admission. Then why do thousands of students sign up for the PCAT every year? Is this too good to be true? Well, it depends. It may (or may not) be in your best interest to take the PCAT anyway. Here are 5 things to consider before deciding whether or not the PCAT is for you:

1. About 85% of pharmacy schools require the PCAT

The programs in the United States that do not require the PCAT as of November 2017 are the following:


  • California Health Sciences University
  • California Northstate University
  • Keck Graduate Institute
  • Loma Linda University
  • Marshall B. Ketchum University
  • University of the Pacific
  • Touro University California
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Southern California
  • West Coast University
  • Western University of Health Sciences


  • Florida A&M University


  • South University


  • University of Hawaii at Hilo


  • Idaho State University


  • Butler University
  • Manchester University
  • Purdue University


  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Manchester
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Worcester

New York

  • St. John’s University
  • Touro College


  • Ohio Northern University


  • Oregon State University
  • Pacific University Oregon

Rhode Island

  • University of Rhode Island

South Dakota

  • South Dakota State University


  • Washington State University

If you’ve set your sights on California, then you’re in luck! However, by not taking the PCAT, you restrict yourself to applying only to these programs. Keep in mind that admissions at some public universities may favor in-state students, and tuition is often significantly lower for in-state students as well. This means that your best chances of admission (and affordable tuition) may be at schools that are not on this list.

2. Admissions is more competitive at schools that do not require the PCAT

The reason for this is the same reason you’re reading this blog post: who wouldn’t apply to programs that don’t require a PCAT score? This is one reason for competitive admissions, and for California universities, the sunshine effect is another. California schools in general tend to have competitive admissions because the state is considered a desirable place to live for many applicants. For example, about 1 in 15 applicants is admitted to the University of California, San Diego School of Pharmacy and 1 in 10 applicants is admitted to the California Health Sciences University College of Pharmacy. In contrast, 1 in 4 applicants is admitted to the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and 1 in 3 is admitted to the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.

3. In lieu of your PCAT score, your GPA will be one of the main determinants of your admissions

As a result, the mean GPA of matriculants can be higher than average at programs that do not require the PCAT. If you are a freshman or sophomore, this is all the more reason to keep up your grades and finish strong during finals. If you are preparing to apply to pharmacy school, research the mean GPA of matriculants at each of the programs that interest you and compare them to your own GPA. Pharmacy programs are also interested in your science GPA, so by excelling in your science classes, you are sure to impress admissions committees. On the other hand, a strong PCAT score can oftentimes compensate for lower grades by demonstrating that you’re capable of mastering difficult material, even if you had a rough semester or two.

4. Taking the PCAT can still give you an edge …

when the PCAT is recommended, not required. Many students simply interpret this as PCAT not required, but the competitive applicant will see an opportunity to stand out in the applicant pool. You never know how you’ll do on the PCAT until you try! By submitting a strong PCAT score, you show that not only were you able to learn an incredible amount of material while juggling a heavy course load, but you’ll also demonstrate that you will be successful as a pharmacy student.

5. Admissions requirements change – and have already started to change

Some schools that did not require the PCAT in the past now do require an official PCAT score, and there are reports that other pharmacy programs may follow suit in upcoming years. For this admissions cycle, a list of programs that do not require the PCAT in 2017-18 is published by the AACP, but there is no guarantee that this may not change in future years.

If you haven’t yet decided where to apply, taking the PCAT can help you stand out as an applicant and give you the best chance of admissions at as many schools as possible. Since schools that do not require the PCAT tend to be more competitive, a strong PCAT score not only improve your candidacy, but it will also allow you to apply to more schools, including your dream pharmacy school. If you’re aren’t quite sure if the PCAT is for you, feel free to sign up for a free PCAT consultation or check out some free PCAT resources to figure out what steps you need to take to reach your goals.

Submit a Comment