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If you wish to gain skills and graduate-level knowledge for future career advancement in a particular discipline after completing your undergraduate coursework, getting a master’s degree is the answer.
The healthcare industry is a truly rewarding career for healthcare professionals, especially if you hold a master’s degree. In the pharmaceutical world, pharmacists are the very first professionals to come to mind when we think about dispensing medicines and treatments to patients and medication therapy management.
However, there are so many different fields within the pharmaceutical industry. This often leads to confusion among students as to which educational path they can take to pursue their careers.
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A master’s in pharmacy degree (MPharm) is a five-year program that prepares a student to obtain a license in pharmacy practice in European countries and other parts of the world.
In the US, however, students are required to complete any accredited PharmD degree (Doctor of Pharmacy) before they qualify for admission for a master’s in pharmacy and become pharmacists. After completing the degree, passing the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and other relevant state licensure examinations is required to be allowed to practice.
The Master of Pharmacy Graduate degree is a professional program designed to prepare students for work in the field of pharmaceuticals. It is a specialized program including coursework in pharmacy management, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacotherapeutics. The program emphasizes the development and application of advanced knowledge and skills related to the safe and effective use of medicines in diverse healthcare settings.
This degree allows graduates to enter a wide range of professions in the pharmacy field, including pharmacists, pharmacists in clinical settings, pharmacists in educational settings, and researchers in drug-related industries.
By earning a Master of Pharmacy Graduate degree, students become part of a unique and ever-evolving profession and gain a broad range of skills and knowledge to meet the challenges of the field.
A career in the Pharmacy industry requires a mastery of the many complex, all-important principles that point to excellent service in the medical and health care arena. Earning a master’s degree in this field requires not only successful completion but also superb university selection!
Our list of the Best Online Master of Pharmacy Graduate Schools round-up the institutions that take pride in these superior features:
- Offered 100% or partial web-based coursework for flexible scheduling and attendance of students comprised mostly of field professionals seeking to bolster their credentials. While available online for coursework discussions, Master of Pharmacy graduate schools usually require in-person attendance from students. The hybrid format guarantees experiential learning for students.
- Rigorous online or blended coursework that takes an in-depth look into Pharmacy as a discipline and a profession, including, but not limited to, the areas of pharmaceutical regulations, scientific drug or medical product discovery and development, ethical practice,
- Online or blended format teaching staff who hold terminal degrees in Pharmacy and are leading practitioners and contributors to the industry,
- Financial assistance programs for qualified Pharmacy graduate students at the master’s degree level,
- Readily available support and online resources for students delivered thru a proven effective Learning Management System platform,
- Generous credit transfers and accelerated completion programs, if any,
- Accreditation from academic organizations, as well as recognition from related institutions and agencies focusing on the field of Pharmacy,
- Stellar feedback from students and alumni who have gone on to become professionals in Pharmacy and related fields.
The 10 Best Online Master of Pharmacy Graduate School
Drexel University offers an online Masters in Clinical Researcher for Health Professionals. This non-thesis, fully online graduate program is designed for residents, clinicians, pharmacists, and other health professionals.
- The program is for professionals in the health system. This prepares independent investigators and other practicing researchers to familiarize the health industry.
- Most graduates pursue careers in pharmacy leadership or biotechnology and translational research.
- Students are given access to different courses, plus the opportunity to improve their confidence in scientific research and writing.
Standout Features of Drexel University Online Master of Science in Clinical Research for Health Professionals
The program is 36 units and can be completed in 2 to 3 years. It has no thesis and residency requirement, making it a perfect choice for workers in the health system who will enroll. The courses are led by notable administrators, researchers, and scientists with extensive clinical research backgrounds.
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Drexel University’s College of Medicine is nationally-ranked for its impressive education programs. Aside from the online program mentioned above, they also offer other online clinical research certificates and master’s programs like the MS in Clinical Research Organization and Management, Certificate of Study in Clinical Research, and Quantitative Principles for Clinical Research.
Working professionals and graduate students looking for the best online programs to make them become health-system pharmacists and practice pharmacy operations, in general, should look no further. The MS in Pharmacology program at the University of California, Irvine School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is the perfect science degree for integrative pharmacology and health care.
- This online MS in Pharmacology is created to meet the demands of non-traditional students by giving them ample flexibility and access to understanding health system pharmacy in an online format.
- The program is ideal for those considering a career advancement and seeking leadership positions in public health and medication use systems and other organizations and fields.
- Practical and theoretical applications, coupled with an interdisciplinary approach, are this curriculum’s primary professional development content.
- This is a two-year online learning curriculum that allows for flexible learning.
Standout Features of the University of California, Irvine, Online Master of Science in Pharmacology
There are so many online master’s degrees related to the pharmacy field, but UCI’s program revolves not only around pharmacy operations (e.g., becoming a staff pharmacist or pharmacy technician), health sciences, or healthcare systems. The curriculum prepares students for interesting careers in biotechnology, research institutions, private research institutions, or federal and state agencies.
Did you know?
All pharmacology faculty of the UCI School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is considered one of the best in the field and recognized internationally and nationally for their publications and scientific research. Most of the faculty members have also worked in pharmaceutical companies. Others are even working pharmacists. Some even hold patents on drug development they made.
The Online Master of Science in Clinical Research Management- Regulatory Science is a one-year program at Arizona State University. The program focuses on regulatory science and affairs and includes courses like quality assurance, regulatory writing techniques, pharmaceutical regulation, and medical devices and drugs to avoid medication errors.
- This PharmD degree takes a transdisciplinary approach to clinical research management.
- The program focuses on managing trials and clinical research, with a special emphasis on the research’s regulatory aspects (regulatory affairs and regulatory science).
- This master’s program aligns with the science regulations of medical products to ensure medication safety.
Standout Features of the Arizona State University Online Master of Science in Clinical Research Management
This online master’s degree is very flexible, especially among adult learners and working professionals. The 33-hour credit program can either be enrolled full-time or part-time. And while the program, filled with professional development content, is online, you are still required to complete a 6-semester capstone clinical research project.
Did you know?
AZU’s Clinical Research Management Graduate degree is the first to receive accreditation from CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs). This organization, recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in the US, is the biggest programmatic accreditor in health and science.
Michigan State University offers an online Master of Science in Integrative Pharmacology. This two-year, 31-credit online master’s is ideal for laboratory professionals who wish to stand out in their respective fields but have no plans of pursuing a doctoral degree.
- The program was made in association with different biomedical industry leaders and is intended for people wanting to advance their careers.
- This is for individuals who want to learn more management skills in preparation for leadership positions in the academic field, industrial laboratories, or the government.
- The Online MS in Integrative Pharmacology offers the necessary professional development courses in pharmacy practice settings like drug development, project management, and patent law for researchers.
Standout Features of Michigan State University’s Online MS Degree in Integrative Pharmacology
The online MS teaches students extensive knowledge of organ systems-level and whole-animal-level pharmacology, coupled with the right management skills in health-system pharmacy administration.
The program also features a capstone applied project where students will develop their planning and analytical skills and improve their scientific writing capacities, both very crucial to patient safety and the health system as a whole.
Did you know?
MSU’s online degree programs have been offered for more than 20 years already. It is a testament to the high quality of education experienced and enjoyed by online students.
The medical cannabis industry is continuously expanding. Thus, the University of Colorado Denver offers an online Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences-Cannabis Science Medicine. The program aims to sharpen students into becoming scientists and health care professionals who can boost plant-based research and offer innovative medical care.
- You will gain a solid foundation in the pharmaceutical field, specifically in cannabis therapeutics, pharmacology, and drug safety and action principles.
- Research is focused on scientific investigation, clinical evaluation, and quality assurance in cannabis-based products.
- More than a science degree, students should have hands-on projects, engaging discussions, and innovative coursework to help them build successful health outcomes research and results.
Standout Features of The University of Colorado Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences
This graduate study program is 100% online. Students who wish to grow their healthcare informatics and knowledge can learn from various international experts. The program is designed not only for pharmacists but also for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
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The University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus is known for its excellence and innovation in research, education, patient care, and public health advocacy. It has award-winning faculty members, an innovative curriculum, and cutting-edge technologies to prepare students to become leaders in various pharmaceutical careers.
University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy is home to several online courses, one of which is the Master of Science in Pharmacometrics. Offered exclusively online, this program focuses on giving students the most practical and application-oriented skills in Pharmacometrics necessary to meet the demands of future employers.
- The program aims to teach students to perform, interpret, and plan pharmacometrics analyses.
- Students will understand how they influence regulatory affairs, therapeutic decisions, and key drug development.
- MS in Pharmacometrics focuses on applied technical and theoretical knowledge and business skills based on the pharmaceutical sector.
- All the courses of the program follow case-based studies and teaching.
- This is designed for working professionals with either a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree and with a handful of experience in medical product development.
- This is also for professionals who wish to become quantitative translational scientists or decision-making pharmacometricians.
Standout Features of the University of Maryland Online Master in Science in Pharmacometrics
The online master’s in Pharmacometrics at the University of Maryland is perfect for graduate students and professionals with part-time or full-time jobs in fields like pharmacology, statistics, engineering, infectious diseases, pharmaceutical sciences, or epidemiology.
Students enrolled in this MS degree can complete the program at their own pace or opt to complete the whole distance learning 30-credit program in 5 or 8 semesters.
Did you know?
University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy has three departments: the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS), the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC), and the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR). Aside from teaching students about basic drug discovery and development, professional and ethical behavior, disease management skills, and drug delivery mechanisms, the school also joins many professional practice activities.
The faculty partnered with more than 200 community pharmacies, nursing homes, hospitals, and other agencies in providing services to practitioners and citizens around the state.
University of Southern California
The Online Master of Science in Management of Drug Development is offered at the University of Southern California. It teaches skills needed in translational research careers, focusing on the transition between pre-clinical drug discovery and clinical drug development.
- This is for students who have some background in preclinical pharmaceutical and biological science.
- The program aims to produce scientists (entry and mid-level) with the skills and knowledge necessary for the practice of translational research.
- It emphasizes the transition between early-stage preclinical drug discovery, drug information, and managed care.
Standout Features of the USC Online MS in Management of Drug Development Program
This pharmacy master’s program is completely online. Full-time enrollees can complete the program in two years and three years for the part-timers. The accreditation council FDA can provide students with several employment opportunities in almost 40 distinct disciplines within regulatory and quality sciences, including careers in research and development, government affairs and policies, and many more.
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USC master’s degrees can be taken in-person, online, or thru a combination format. These programs are designed for working professionals who wish to improve their average salary, thus furthering their education despite their busy schedules.
The online master’s degree in clinical toxicology at the University of Florida is handled by experts in the field. Students can complete this 32-credit program in just 2-3 years, although you still have up to seven years to finish your coursework.
- This master’s degree is ideal for professionals working in hospitals, emergency departments, or poison control centers.
- Nurses, pharmacists, physicians, emergency medical assistants, and pharmacy technicians are usually suitable for this program.
- According to the BLS, these careers’ average salary is relatively higher than the average US career overall.
Standout Features of the University of Florida Online Master of Science in Clinical Toxicology
By completing this program, students can find several career opportunities that will make them an in-demand asset in the health system – whether you are in clinical pharmacy, you become a pharmacy technician, or in the health system pharmacy administration.
Did you know?
The clinical pharmacy degree is completely offered online and is fitted for working and busy professionals. Thus, this self-paced course is a stepping stone for those who wish to learn more and earn better.
Stevens Institute of Technology offers a hybrid Master’s program in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. Good manufacturing industries (GMPs) like biotech, pharma, cosmetics, and personal care always need future leaders and trained professionals who can introduce new technologies and handle modern facilities in a global regulatory environment.
- The program is designed to integrate concepts in pharmaceutical manufacturing with the latest in engineering design and scientific methodologies.
- This 30-credit degree program concentrates on industries related to commercial manufacturing like GMP, facilities design, and manufacturing technologies.
Special Features of Stevens Institute of Technology Online Master in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Engineering
The program is available fully online, although those who wish to mix on-campus and online courses can do so for maximum flexibility. You can also choose the one-year fast-tracked master’s program option or the optional dual-degree program. The program offers Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment for international students.
Did you know?
Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier graduate program school internationally notable for its impressive education in biotech, the global pharmaceutical industry, medical device professionals, and nutraceuticals. The programs are designed for recent science, engineering, or pharmacy graduates seeking more career credentials.
The University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology offers pharmacy students and developing scientists a solid background in molecular physiology and biology, biochemistry, and cell biology. The school offers two online master’s degree options: the Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology- Literature-Based, and the Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology- Laboratory-Based.
- Both the literature-based and laboratory-based master’s programs in Pharmacology and Toxicology provide research interests in advanced training in cellular, molecular, and organ systems pharmacology and toxicology and scientific writing.
- The literature-based curriculum is purely online and a literature-based research thesis.
- The laboratory-based program combines online learning and hands-on research training at an approved distance site with a research-based thesis.
- All the online courses may be completed in eight weeks (without the literature research proposal).
Standout Features of the University of Kansas, Online Master in Pharmacology and Toxicology
KU’s Department of Pharmacy is noted for its Mentorship and Collaboration approach, where students are paired with a faculty advisor/mentor. They both study alongside during the whole duration of the program. Students also can join in collaborative research with the departments of medicinal chemistry, molecular bioscience, pharmaceutical chemistry, the Life Span Institute, and the Higuchi Biosciences Center.
Did you know?
The department has solid research in clinical pharmacology and clinical trials in neuropharmacology, especially in neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s. They also do drug research in integrative pharmacology for stroke, mood disorders, energy control, and more.
Skills You Need to Become a Pharmacist
If you wish to become a pharmacist because you love how a pharmacy practice goes, you need the right skills to become successful and be qualified to work in various health systems. Here are the skills you need to acquire:
In a pharmacy practice, accuracy plays a crucial role. Your primary job as a pharmacist is to deal with medicines, from production to marketing and dispensing. Knowing the right drug information is not enough. You need to handle medicines accurately. Working pharmacists are expected to deal with medicines expertly, leaving no room for errors.
Sometimes, a doctor misses out on the medication-to-drug interaction and wrongfully prescribes medications. A pharmacist proofreads and double-checks the prescription and informs the doctor of a possible prescription change. But to do this, a pharmacist must first be knowledgeable about medicines to guarantee patient safety.
In any healthcare system, communication is very important. In pharmacy, this is even more crucial. A pharmacist communicates with patients most of the time. Having a good command of English and other languages in your area is important. Regardless of whether a patient has a foreign language, you can easily communicate with them in English, the universal language.
As a pharmacist, you communicate with your patients about proper dosage, storage, when to take the medicines, and how to take them. Pharmacy is patient-centered care, and the least you want to happen is miscommunication with patients about their medications.
In the field of managed care, your interpersonal skills are essential. Pharmacy deals with patients, and patients come in different types and attitudes. It can be tough for pharmacists to have their patients cooperate in taking medications if they lack interpersonal skills. You must be diplomatic, patient, and have a great sense of humor.
Patient care and counseling
The primary job of a pharmacist is to advise, assist, and provide information to patients about medications, making sure that the patients properly take their medications. Thus, a pharmacist must have good patient counseling skills and deep knowledge about medicine to communicate effectively to patients.
In health care, pharmacists are some of the busiest professionals. From dispensing to restocking medicines to checking for the expiration dates, a career in pharmacy needs you to have multitasking skills to handle the big and small tasks assigned to you.
Health systems, especially in pharmacy, need working pharmacists with professional ethics. Ethics is something everybody has to maintain in life, especially in health care. Pharmacists should avoid disclosing details of their patients. Professionalism should always be one of the core qualities of pharmacy practice.
Personal Qualities of an Excellent Pharmacist
- Detail Orientated: The ability to pay attention to small details and review prescriptions and patient records thoroughly is essential for pharmacists.
- Analytical Skills: Being able to take into account medical information and assess patient reactions is necessary for any pharmacist.
- Communication Skills: Pharmacists must be proficient in communicating with both patients and health care professionals.
- Interpersonal Skills: Being able to interact effectively with a range of people is important for pharmacists.
- Patience: Appropriately answering patient questions and providing guidance requires patience and understanding.
- Self-Motivation: Pharmacists are expected to take the initiative, manage tasks independently, and be proactive with the current resources available.
- Leadership Skills: Good leadership skills can help a pharmacist manage staff and plan efficiently.
- Flexibility: Dealing with new regulations and policies requires the ability to adjust practices on the fly.
- Integrity: Good pharmaceutical practices, such as accurately measuring and preparing medications, require a high level of integrity.
- Problem-Solving Abilities: These skills help pharmacists handle any unexpected complications that can arise in the course of their work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pharmacy a good career?
Pharmacists are one of the most trusted and respected workers in the medical profession. In a 2015 Gallup Poll, it was revealed that pharmacists are the second most ethical and honest professionals (next to nurses).
A Pharmacy master’s degree also opens many career opportunities and, potentially, a better income. On average, licensed pharmacists earn $128,570 every year based on BLS data. Without a doubt, getting a pharmacy degree is worth it.
Is a Master’s degree required to practice Pharmacy?
You need a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to become a pharmacist in the US. However, one can still become a pharmacist with only a master’s degree. Other graduate degrees will prepare students for other careers related to pharmacy. Some of these degrees are:
- Master’s in Pharmaceutical Science
- Master’s in Pharmacology
- Master’s in Medicinal Chemistry
- Master’s in Biomedical Science
- Master’s in Biotechnology
Will the university you attend matter?
When scouting for the best pharmacy school, enrollees are usually concerned about many factors like cost, location, graduation rate, housing, student ratio, job placement assistance program, or whether the school offers online programs or hybrid settings.
Regardless of which university is the best option for a master’s degree, what’s important is the quality of education. After all, pharmacy education is about preparing the students for the workforce with the best job opportunities. The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong when choosing the ideal university. The school you attend for your pharmacy degree is not what matters but your competence, experience, knowledge, and soft skills will be the key to your success.
Aside from becoming a Retail Pharmacist, what other careers should you consider with a Pharmacy degree?
While a PharmD degree is required to become a pharmacist, this degree can also prepare you for other careers. You can find so many avenues to pursue in traditional fields like:
- Community Pharmacy
- Clinical Pharmacy
- Institutional Pharmacy
- Consultant Pharmacy
- Pharmaceutical Pharmacy
- Veterinary Pharmacy
- Geriatric Pharmacy
- Public Health
- Legal Pathways
Watch this YouTube video about the career of a Pharmacist:
Today, pharmacy has remained one of the most trusted careers because of its importance to the health field. And with the demand for pharmacists growing in community pharmacies, government agencies, long-term care facilities, and the pharmaceutical industry, this career will always remain a good choice for students looking for the best options in college.