Where To Study To Become A Pharmacist

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

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How to become a pharmacist

A student in Waterloo's pharmacy degree program holds a tray of pills while wearing a white lab coat.

If you’re passionate about the health of your community and want to play a role in improving the lives of others, a career in pharmacy may be right for you.

A pharmacist is vital in helping people get well, and as our population ages and treatments become more complex, the need for pharmacists continues to grow. Whether through prescriptions, vaccinations, or asking about a remedy to an ailment, pharmacists are on the frontline of health care, ensuring the safe and effective delivery of drugs.

How do you know if pharmacy is right for you?

If you value helping people and working in teams, enjoy science, like challenges, and are an effective communicator, then pharmacy may be for you.

“Pharmacists need to be able to take initiative, adapt to different situations, handle stress, think critically and solve problems, work well with others, show leadership, handle ethical dilemmas, and commit to lifelong learning,” says Kaitlin Bynkoski, director of admissions and undergraduate affairs at Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy.

Key characteristics and skills needed to be an effective pharmacist


  • a good memory
  • attention to detail
  • aptitude for science
  • interest in continual learning
  • empathy
  • altruism


  • interpersonal communications
  • team work
  • leadership
  • analytical thinking
  • counselling
  • problem solving

Source: Pharmacy4me

How to become a pharmacist in Canada

  1. From high school, you’ll study at university in what’s called an undergraduate program. You would normally study science and typically for two years or more.
  2. You’ll then apply to a pharmacy program at university, which takes a further four years to complete.
  3. Once you finish your pharmacy degree, you’ll write a national board examination through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC).
  4. You also need practical hands-on experience though co-op, an apprenticeship, or an internship; and be fluent in English and/or French.

From high school, you should choose an undergraduate program that gives you the flexibility to take the courses required for admission into a pharmacy program.

What should you study first?

If you want to become a pharmacist and are applying from high school, there isn’t a specific undergraduate program you must take first.

An undergraduate program usually takes three or four years to complete, but you can apply to a pharmacy program after two years if you’ve taken the courses required for admission.

Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy provides a list of the required university courses you need to take for admission to the program.

From high school, you should choose an undergraduate program that gives you the flexibility to take the courses required for admission into a pharmacy program.

At Waterloo, we recommend the Biology, Biomedical Sciences, or Honours Science undergraduate programs as they offer the most flexibility to meet these requirements.

Where can you study to become a pharmacist?

There are 10 schools of pharmacy in Canada, including Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy which is home to Canada’s first and only co-op pharmacy program.

  • Dalhousie University
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Université de Montréal
  • Université Laval
  • University of Alberta
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Waterloo

Pharmacists wear white coats and many hats

There’s more to pharmacists than you think. In addition to being at your community pharmacy, pharmacists are on the frontlines of every aspect of healthcare — helping to ensure better outcomes for patients. (Source: pharmacistsforhealthierlives.org)https://player.vimeo.com/video/355566456?color=ffffff&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0Watch video on Vimeo

My experience volunteering at a pharmacy has inspired me to continue my studies towards becoming a pharmacist. It’s motivated me because I can give back to the community and do something that I enjoy.TIFFANY, WATERLOO SCIENCE STUDENT

As part of learning how to become a pharmacist, a Waterloo student reviews notes with a professor with pill bottles in the background.

Being a pharmacist involves strong communication skills, the ability to work in a team, attention to detail, and empathy when helping community members.

Canada has approximately 42,500 licensed pharmacists working in more than 10,000 pharmacies. Of those, 70% work in community pharmacies, 15% work in hospitals, and 15% work in settings such as the pharmaceutical industry, government, associations, colleges, and universities.CANADIAN PHARMACISTS ASSOCIATION

Tips for students considering pharmacy as a career

“Volunteer at a pharmacy and make sure you enjoy every aspect of it. It’s important to choose a career that you love and won’t get tired of. You can get some great experience and advice from pharmacists that can help your applications,” says Tiffany, a Waterloo science student who plans to study pharmacy.

She recommends researching the different pharmacy requirements and planning out when to take the required courses.

Tiffany says that there isn’t a rush on taking the required courses, and that it’s important to have a balance of courses you need to take and courses you’re interested in.

She adds that “it’s a good idea to research the pharmacy programs since they’re all different in how the courses are taught, campus life, co-op opportunities, etc. Each university is unique and it’s important to select a program that fits your needs the best.”

The business side of pharmacy

Pharmacists may work as a salaried full-time or part-time employee of a drugstore chain or independent pharmacy. They may also be employed as managers, taking on duties such as business administration, budgeting, hiring staff and handling customer complaints.

Some pharmacists own their own pharmacies. In addition to their roles as pharmacists, owners also undertake management duties and business operations such as building rental and maintenance, utilities and bill payments, book-keeping and payroll, business registration and licensing and government and regulatory reporting (Source: Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada/National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities)

Pharmacists play an important role in Canada

Watch video on YouTube

Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin


What is Pharmacy?

Pharmacy is the study of all aspects of drugs, both natural and synthetic in origin, including their chemistry, their uses in medicines, and how they work within the body. Pharmacists work in a variety of settings – community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and within the pharmaceutical industry, to name just a few. In many respects, their role as a key healthcare professional is to help people achieve the best results from their medications.

Pharmacy: The course for you?

While this degree is an essential requirement if you wish to practise as a community or hospital pharmacist, Pharmacy at Trinity opens up a wide variety of professional opportunities in both industry and the wider healthcare sector. A strong interest in science is important to fully enjoy the course.

Pharmacy at Trinity

Trinity is ranked in the top 50 universities in the world for Pharmacy and Pharmacology (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020). The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has world class facilities with research space in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI), which develops Trinity’s leadership position in immunology, neuroscience and cancer. The School also has purpose built teaching spaces in the Panoz Institute, including the Boots Unit, a technology-enhanced learning space which allows students to dispense drugs and develop communication skills.

Structured professional placements are integrated throughout the new programme and these take place in second, fourth and fifth year. A particular strength of the Trinity programme is the undergraduate research project, which may take place abroad and gives students the opportunity to develop focused laboratory or field research with one-to-one supervision.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

As an expert in the discovery, development and optimal use of medicines, many career paths are open to pharmacists. Your career prospects as a Pharmacy graduate are excellent. Employment opportunities exist in community, hospital and industrial pharmacy, as well as in state services such as medicines licensing. In addition, you can opt to undertake research, or apply for entry to one of the postgraduate courses in hospital, industrial or community pharmacy. See: www.pharmacy.tcd.ie/postgraduate for further details.

Would you enjoy…

  • Combining science with a healthcare profession?
  • Being a healthcare leader in your community?
  • Becoming part of a community of scientists advancing knowledge to improve health and healthcare?

Your degree and what you’ll study

The Pharmacy syllabus has been designed to provide you with an all-round education in both the basic and pharmaceutical sciences and in the practice of pharmacy itself. The five-year integrated Pharmacy programme comprises a variety of approaches to teaching Pharmacy including: lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, small-group teaching, problem-based learning, site-visits, computer-assisted learning, web discussion boards, wikis, online group assignments, communication skills, career planning, clinical case studies, inter-professional learning, laboratory and dispensing practicals, and a research project.

The programme is delivered as a series of integrated modules, examples of which include:

  • Natural Sources of Drugs and Substances used in Medicines
  • Formulation and Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Molecular and Chemotherapeutic Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics
  • Blood, Cardiovascular and Renal Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics
  • Neuropharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics
  • Physical Pharmacy, Formulation and Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Sterile Products and Advanced Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
  • Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Drug Discovery and Design
  • Addiction Pharmacy
  • Practice of Pharmacy and Integrated Pharmacy Skills
  • Professional Practice and Public Health
  • Organisation and Management Skills

Modules are assessed by final examinations and continuous assessment, such as written assignments, essays, lab reports, OSCEs (objective structured clinical examinations), etc. which contribute to the overall mark in a module. There are approximately 16 hours of lectures, 6 hours of laboratory classes and 1 tutorial per week over the course of the first year. Work experience in clinical and non-clinical settings will take place over all five years of the integrated Pharmacy programme.

In the fourth and fifth year, you will undertake a research project. The following are some examples of research projects which students have undertaken in the past:

  • Medicines use and burden in people with intellectual disability
  • New targets for old drugs: Development of novel beta-lactams with anticancer activity
  • The development of dapsone cocrystals for pulmonary drug delivery

Click here for further information on modules/subject.

Study Abroad and internship opportunities

We encourage our students (second and third year students) to undertake the summer research placement programme. This programme allows pharmacy students carry out their research projects abroad (UK, Germany, Austria, France, US, Canada) over the summer (12 weeks) as part of their undergraduate degree programme. Students are either funded by the Erasmus programme or the School.

Study Pharmacy at Trinity College Dublin

Overview of 5-year integrated MPharm Pharmacy Programme by Prof. Gilmer (Head of School) and Dr. Sasse (Director of Teaching and Learning Undergraduate).

Course Details


B.Sc. (Pharm.) Honours Bachelor Degree and M.Pharm (NFQ Level 9) Optional: B.Sc. (Pharm.) only (NFQ Level 8)

CAO Information

CAO Points 613 (2021) CAO Code TR072

Number of Places

75 Places 

students working in library/>

Course Options

Graduate Entry:

A graduate entry route to this degree is also available. See link for further details.

Admission Requirements

Special entry requirements

Leaving Certificate O4 or H6 mathematics

H4 chemistry or physics/chemistry

H4 in one of physics, biology, mathematics, applied mathematics, geography, geology, computer science or agricultural science

GCSE Grade B mathematics

Advanced GCE (A Level) Grade C chemistry

Grade C in one of physics, biology, mathematics, geology, geography, or further mathematics

International Bacccalaureate: SL Grade 5 Mathematics

HL Grade 5 Chemistry

HL Grade 5 in one of physics, biology, mathematics, geology, geography, applied mathematics and computer science

Combinations of subjects not permitted:

Physics/chemistry may not be presented with chemistry or physics to satisfy requirements.

Graduate Entry:

A graduate entry route to this degree is also available. Click here for further details.

Students will have to undergo a Health Screening.

Students will be required to undergo Garda vetting.

Note: In order to qualify to register as a pharmacist with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland students must also complete a fifth year, culminating in a M.Pharm. degree. There will be a postgraduate fee associated with the fifth year on the postgraduate register in Trinity, payable by the student.

A full listing of fees may be found on the Trinity website. The M.Pharm. degree carries with it an entitlement to apply for registration as a pharmacist in the Republic of Ireland.

Course Fees

Click here for a full list of undergraduate fees.


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Non-EU Applicants

  • Pharmacy – 5 Years – Full-Time30/JUN/2022

Advanced Entry Applications

Read the information about how to apply for Advanced Entry, then select the link below to apply.

  • Pharmacy – 4 Years – Full-Time30/JUN/2022

Get in Touch

Telephone Number

+353 1 896 2809


[email protected]




What our current students say

Karen Padden

“The School of Pharmacy at Trinity College Dublin provides a welcoming and close-knit teaching and learning environment, in which all aspects of pharmacy, both theory and practice are delivered to a degree of excellence.”

Mark Lyons

“If you have an interest in science, a desire to learn more about how medicines and diseases work and want to be part of one of the most rapidly expanding industries in the country then this is the course for you.”

Negoescu Eduard

“Choosing Pharmacy in Trinity, a course that ensures a successful career, has been the best decision ever. I love all the placements we have undergone each year. I feel like part of a large family, thanks to the super-friendly staff and the Pharmaceutical Students’ association (DUPSA), who arrange social gatherings, wine receptions, and memorable events like the Pharmacy Ball.”

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