About the Program

This is the best time to earn a UCSF PharmD.

One program, two aims

The UCSF PharmD degree program prepares you academically for a wide-open future in pharmacy practice while supporting your professional growth and well-being as a student.

Academic preparation

Our unique three-year, year-round curriculum is based in scientific thinking. Coursework is integrated across subject areas, and students routinely learn in groups. It’s upon this foundation that you’ll build the core knowledge, pharmacy practice skills, and patient care experiences that you’ll need for a career in pharmacy as a caring, patient-centered expert in the safe and effective use of medicines.

Well-being and professional success

We want to be sure you thrive as a pharmacy student, develop skills to balance priorities, attend to your own health and well-being, have the learning resources you need to succeed, and take advantage of opportunities to lead and participate within teams and organizations. And we help prepare you for next steps after you graduate, including post-graduate training.

Ready for practice

At the end of the program, you’ll set out ready to:

  • Identify, examine, and systematically solve complex pharmacy problems from all angles—not just from a single point of view
  • Apply your well-developed clinical expertise—through compassionate, patient-centered care
  • Be visible, accountable, and effective—whether as part of small, interprofessional teams or within complex systems
  • Learn continually—as a matter of course
  • Adapt—to meet the needs of changing situations
  • Explore advanced postgraduate training—and combine your pharmacy expertise in new ways with further training in pharmacy and in other fields

UCSF PharmD program: a closer look

Curriculum grounded in scientific thinking

Our PharmD curriculum is science-based, tightly integrated, and experiential. Scientific thinking underlies all coursework. Students actively engage in their learning as they build core knowledge, experience pharmacy practice firsthand from the first day of class, and explore new ideas and innovations in science and practice.

For more information, take a look at the courses our current first-year (P1) students are taking.

What is scientific thinking?

It’s an underlying approach to teaching and learning that enables you to build and integrate knowledge while challenging you to question, consider possibilities, identify issues, and address problems effectively. This way of thinking is essential to patient care and pharmacy practice. It will serve you well regardless of how you choose to apply your PharmD degree over the course of your professional life.

For more, see Curriculum.

Program length and breaks

This is a three-year, year-round PharmD degree program with ten breaks; most breaks are one to three weeks long, with an extended five-week break between year one and year two. For comparison, most PharmD programs are four years long, with extended summer breaks.

Program timeline

Larger and accessible versions are at Program Timeline.


Student progress is competency based as evaluated against specific standards. The level of competence is reported as pass/no pass. This approach to evaluation emphasizes development of the critical knowledge and skills needed for pharmacy practice and patient care, rather than grades.

Program cost

Our program allows students to begin their professional pharmacy careers sooner than graduates of traditional four-year programs. And, by comparison, our students save one year of living expenses while in pharmacy school. These financial and professional advantages are important considerations in evaluating the comprehensive estimated annual cost of PharmD attendance and post-PharmD plans.

More than 94 percent of UCSF PharmD students receive financial aid by applying through the UCSF Student Financial Aid Office, whose staff members are experts in assisting students with funding their professional educations.


Each UCSF PharmD entering class has 127 students. We work to build highly diverse classes filled with inquisitive students who are passionate about pharmacy and the health of patients and communities.

Our admitted students come from very different backgrounds and have diverse points of view and personal experiences. They reflect the School of Pharmacy’s underlying commitment to diversity and inclusion, as stated in our mission, and the UCSF PRIDE Values (professionalism, respect, integrity, diversity, excellence) that inspire all members of the UCSF community.

Though the nearly 400 pharmacy students in the PharmD program represent diverse backgrounds and experiences, they share a common commitment to patient care and to gaining as much as they can from their pharmacy education. Students' active involvement in student organizations and in the community creates a rich and vibrant environment for learning and professional development. Students contribute to a culture of collaboration both inside and outside the classroom and a thriving student life.

The UCSF PharmD is a highly prized degree. And it is within reach.

Meet some of our PharmD students in Student Perspectives.


The strength of a UCSF PharmD education is evident through our success indicators, including:

  • Graduation rates of our students
  • Pass rates of our students on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)
  • Post-PharmD plans of our graduates in pursing residencies, fellowships, and other degrees
  • Residency match rates of our graduates—among the highest in the nation
  • An impressive cadre of alumni professional leaders.

Working while enrolled

The UCSF PharmD program requires a full-time commitment to coursework, Monday through Friday.

While students might be able to balance the demands of both work and study on weekends, working while learning is difficult—and we do not recommend it. We ask that students not commit to working while enrolled until after beginning the program, and after consulting with our PharmD advisors.

Careers and opportunities beyond the PharmD

As part of the UCSF PharmD degree program, we help students prepare for success after graduation, and we encourage all students to consider and pursue post-graduate training, including licensure as an Advanced Practice Pharmacist.

For more information, see:

Other related degrees

UCSF PharmD graduates have the opportunity to earn a master of science in clinical research (PharmD-MSCR program) or a PharmD-PhD dual degree in pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics.

School and faculty

At the UCSF School of Pharmacy, science is at the heart of our pioneering research, education, and patient care. Our drive to seek and apply new knowledge underpins everything we do.

This drive has fueled our work throughout the School’s history, beginning in 1872 when the School was founded to “advance pharmaceutical knowledge and elevate the professional character of apothecaries.”

group poses in front of Victorian building.
Bob Day Collection

Pharmacy Class of 1889, 10 years before what was then called the California College of Pharmacy moved west from downtown San Francisco to our current home on Parnassus Heights.

As one sign of success, School faculty members have received more National Institutes of Health research funding than any other pharmacy school in the United States, every year since 1979. And they continually receive among the most prestigious professional honors and awards. (See School of Pharmacy honors and awards.)

As a UCSF PharmD student, you’ll learn from faculty members recognized worldwide for their innovations in basic science research and in pharmacy professional education. You’ll work alongside expert faculty preceptors in clinical settings to hone your patient care skills; many of these preceptors are themselves UCSF PharmDs.

Why pharmacy?

Pharmacists today are:

  • Managing entirely new types of therapeutics that lead to new possibilities for prevention and treatment
  • Encountering sea changes in where and how pharmacy is practiced and health care is delivered
  • Beginning to work under significantly expanded scopes of practice, providing aspects of primary care

Pharmacists have unprecedented opportunities to apply their expertise in novel ways and across many fields. The UCSF PharmD graduate—equipped with a scientific mindset, unmatched professional skillset, and keen patient focus—is uniquely prepared to seize these opportunities.

The UCSF PharmD is like no other

  • Scientific mindset.
  • Unmatched skillset.
  • Patient focus.

Learn more: The UCSF PharmD.