Before modern medicine was developed, you wouldn’t have been able to go to your local drugstore and pick out a few pills or syrup to help make your minor cold or flu go away. There also wouldn’t be any regulatory system to circulate ailments for cures safely to the general public. Nowadays, we thankfully have pharmacists who can help us at our local store when we are deciding which medicine to choose from. Pharmacists also work more broadly to determine which medicines are safe and if they follow federal laws.
Before 2006, licensed pharmacists were not required to get a Doctor of Pharmacy degree – it was considered optional, and a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree was sufficient. However, today it is a requirement for all new pharmacists. College Choice has compiled a list of the most affordable online Pharm.D. programs. Although there are only four schools listed on this ranking, all of these schools have been included due to their quality teaching, low student indebtedness after graduation, and positive student outcomes.
What kind of Doctorate in Pharmacy should you get?
The two most common degrees that people often confuse are the Doctor of Pharmacy and the Doctor of Pharmacology. The Pharm.D. is for future practicing licensed pharmacists who will most likely work directly with patients. On the other hand, the Pharmacology Ph.D. is for Pharmacologists who wish to work in academia, testing, and research. Think of the Ph.D. as more of an “academic” degree, while the Pharm.D. is a “clinical” degree.
An online Pharm.D. is meant for already licensed pharmacists who just want to increase their knowledge and practice in the field. These pharmacists most likely received their licenses prior to 2006. Online students can continue their normal full-time jobs in the daytime as pharmacists and take classes at night or on the weekends. Online courses are ideal for professionals as most classes are asynchronous, meaning that students don’t have to meet at scheduled times. However, due to the clinical nature of the field, students will most likely need to participate in some live classes and come to campus or a local facility in person to learn certain skills.
How much does a Doctor of Pharmacy make?
Whether you earned your Pharmacy degree online or not, the method in which you completed your degree will not affect salary. Being a pharmacist is not only a great career that directly impacts the health of others, but it also offers great pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median 2018 pay of pharmacists is $126,120. Those who work in general merchandise stores made the most, with a median salary of $131,460. The top 10% of earners make about $161,250. Alaska, California, and Vermont are the highest-paying states for this career.
What can you do with an online Doctor of Pharmacy?
Those who get their online Pharm.D. will usually continue in their careers as pharmacists but with more knowledge and practical experience. They may be eligible for higher positions within their place of employment, such as being a manager or one who trains new employees. Of course, there are other jobs besides being a traditional “behind the counter” pharmacist that an online Pharm.D. holder can apply for. Some other positions include:
- Pharmacy school program developer
- Pharmacoeconomics professional
- Hospital pharmacist
- Government worker (i.e. Food and Drug Administration)
What are the requirements for an online Doctor of Pharmacy?
The online Pharm.D. is a relatively quick program that can generally be completed within two years if taken full-time. Depending on the school, about half of the program consists of regular coursework on specific topics. These include areas such as pathophysiology on certain disorders, developing drug therapy plans for patients, or an in-depth history of pharmacy. A Pharm.D. does not usually have any official concentrations or specializations for students to choose from.
Because the Pharm.D. emphasizes practice over academia, you won’t have to complete a lengthy thesis or research project, unlike in Ph.D. programs. Instead, you will be required to complete “rotations” that specifically go over clinical skills such as diagnosing patient symptoms. Rotations can occur online via live sessions, but you will likely have to go to campus a few times or regularly train at a local institution such as a hospital.
University of Colorado Denver
Average Net Price: $14,586.00
Whether or not you are a traditional on-campus or distance-learning student, the University of Colorado Denver offers the same top quality teaching. Since 1996, CU Denver has been providing online courses to students around the world. Today, there are over 50 online degrees and certificates that are available. CU Denver was founded over 100 years ago in 1912 in a present-day growing city. People love the city so much that about two-thirds of the university’s alumni choose to stay in Denver after graduation. The U.S. News & World Report ranked the city the No. 1 place to live in the country in 2016.
CU offers an online Pharm.D. program for licensed pharmacists who wish to expand their education. There are two pathways: the North American Trained Pharm.D. and the International Trained Pharm.D., depending on where the pharmacist received his/her original education. Here are some highlights of the program:
- Completion time: 12 to 18 months
- Didactic curriculum
- Two to four hours of class time/coursework per class each week
The North American program can be completed completely online, with only some live training sessions required. However, the international program requires students to come to campus for four weeks at the beginning and end of the program.
Average Net Price: $21,061.00
Howard University is dedicated to uplifting and creating the next generation of young black scholars in both STEM and humanities. It is a historically black private institution that was established in 1867 in Washington, D.C. Since its founding, Howard has produced many accredited pharmacists among other highly esteemed professions. Howard is proud to uphold a tradition of pushing for justice and equity within the community. Faculty and staff of the university are heavily engaged in meaningful research, community outreach programs, and serving people through the university hospital.
Howard believes in providing more accessible education and thus created the Non-Traditional Pharm.D. offered online. There are three different phases of the program: an orientation stage, a 16-week fundamental study course, and a six-month, hands-on period dedicated to experiential learning. Other key features of the Pharm.D. are:
- Completion time: two years
- About three hours of live class weekly or bi-weekly
- Offered full-time
Students will only come to campus twice throughout the program during “executive weekends.” This is a great opportunity for students to get to know the faculty and facilities, should they need guidance. Between these weekends there will be a few work items assigned such as pre-readings for the program.
Average Net Price: $29,248.00
Take advantage of Shenandoah University’s tight-knit community and get an education that will allow you to be both well-rounded and prepared for your career as a professional. Shenandoah is a private university located in Virginia that was founded in 1875. Although the school has historical roots with the United Methodist Church, students of all faith backgrounds are welcome. There are six different campus locations with a total enrollment of just over 4,000 students. Shenandoah also offers completely online degrees from the undergraduate to doctoral level. Several online college ranking sites have recognized Shenandoah for its programs in Pharmacy.
Licensed pharmacists who received their training in the U.S. are eligible to apply to Shenandoah’s online, non-traditional Pharm.D. degree. The program will take about seven semesters to complete, with a total of 53 credit hours required. Some classes that are currently being offered are:
- Integrated Pharmaceutical Care and Science (Infectious Disease)
- Essentials of Pharmacogenomics
- Principles of Pharmacokinetics
There are two mandatory executive weekends on campus: The first is an orientation that teaches students how to use online technology, and the second is dedicated to training students in clinical skills on how to assess patients.
Average Net Price: $31,481.00
St. Ignatius was a Catholic priest who founded the Society of Jesus whose members are presently known as Jesuits. Creighton University is proud to be a private, Jesuit Catholic school that upholds the teachings of St. Ignatius. Not only are students encouraged to grow in their faith, but they are also given many opportunities to develop professionally for their future careers. Creighton is located in Omaha, NE but also offers degrees online. There are more than 30 distance-learning degrees currently offered at the school. Creighton is also a “Best Value School” according to the U.S. News & World Report, who ranked it No. 4 in the nation.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, Creighton’s pharmacy graduate school is No. 40 in the nation. Earn your online Pharm.D. from a nationally-recognized school and complete courses in a flexible manner. This is a full-time program for experienced pharmacists. Other program features include:
- Eight five-week clinical rotations
- Live online courses
- Merit-based and financial aid scholarships offered through the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
During the summertime, students will be expected to come to campus to complete laboratory courses. Summer sessions last between two and four weeks. Students will also participate in clinical rotations in placements located near their homes.