Admissions Frequently Asked Questions and Tips


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About the students and applicants

  1. How many people do you accept each year?
    Each year, we accept 127 students from a pool of about 500 applicants. Competition can be affected by the size and composition of the applicant pool for a particular year.
  2. Do you give preference to applicants from California colleges?
  3. Do you admit non-US citizens?

About the program

  1. Do you have rolling admissions?
    No. We have a Priority deadline and a Final deadline. For more information on our deadlines, visit our Admissions Director's blog.
  2. Do you offer an advanced standing program?
    No. All students enter our program at the first-year level and must complete the entire three years.

Minimum eligibility requirements

  1. Should I still apply if my grade point average is just above the minimum of 2.80?
    Admission is competitive and our evaluation is based on all aspects of the application in addition to your grade point average. This includes your science grades, curriculum, recommendations, essays, and interview results. Competition also varies from year to year depending upon the size and strength of the applicant pool. You should consider all of these factors and should not base your decision to apply solely on your GPA.
  2. Is a bachelor’s degree required for admission?
    No, only the pre-pharmacy requirements are required. However a degree may make an applicant more competitive for admission, and in recent years a large majority of our successful applicants have held bachelor’s degrees.
  3. Do you accept community college courses towards fulfilling prerequisite requirements?
    Yes. It’s quite common for applicants to use community college courses to fulfill prerequisite requirements
  4. Do I have to take the PCAT?
    No. The PCAT is not required. The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) was retired on January 10, 2024. No PCAT testing dates will be offered during the 2024–2025 admissions cycle or beyond.
  5. Do I have to take the TOEFL or GRE examination?
    We do not require the TOEFL or GRE.

Admissions deadlines

  1. Are you on a quarter system or a semester system?
    Quarter system.
  2. Can I enter at winter or spring quarter?
    No, we admit one class per year.
  3. When is the application deadline?
    Priority deadline: October 1.
    Final deadline: December 2.
    For more information on our Priority deadline and Final deadline, visit our Admissions Director's blog.

International students

  1. Can international students apply, and be admitted, to the PharmD program?
    Yes! We’ve admitted many international students who’ve successfully completed our program. For more information and application details, visit International Student Admission.
  2. Is Curricular Practical Training (CPT) available in the PharmD program?
    CPT is not available in UCSF’s PharmD program as the practical experience requirements are built into the PharmD curriculum. As a UCSF student, there may be opportunities to work on-campus for which you are eligible, but not through CPT.
  3. How much Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to PharmD international students?
    The PharmD is not a STEM degree. Therefore, you have one year of OPT.
  4. Can I work or have a paid internship?
    Because the PharmD degree does not provide CPT, you will not be eligible for a paid off-campus internship. As an international student, you are not allowed to work off-campus. However, as an international student, you can work on-campus up to 20 hours a week.
  5. Can I have an unpaid internship?
    All volunteer work must be in line with your visa. Due to patient confidentiality and liability considerations, volunteer or unpaid internships at healthcare facilities are rare. We encourage students to focus on the curriculum experiences and on-campus opportunities.
  6. If I cannot hold an internship, what else can I do to build my skill-set and develop my resume?
    The UCSF PharmD curriculum includes an experiential component through Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs). These experiences allow you to develop skills in patient care that are essential for post-graduate training and practice. Students also develop their leadership, communication, and professional skills through participation in student organizations and community service activities. Some students work on-campus in labs to gain additional experience. The faculty are confident that our comprehensive curriculum provides the preparation necessary for our graduates’ next professional steps in post-graduate training and employment. Outside internships are therefore not essential to a UCSF student’s preparation to practice pharmacy. However, if this is an important component for you, we want you to be aware of these positions.

Letters of recommendation

  1. How many letters are required?
    We require at least three letters be received (by PharmCAS) by our application deadline. PharmCAS allows you to submit four letters. If four letters are included in your application by the deadline, we will review all four. More info: Are Letters of Recommendation really THAT important?
  2. Who can I select to provide letters of recommendations on my behalf?
    We leave it up to you to determine who best can provide letters of recommendation as part of your application. We will not accept letters from personal friends or family members.

  3. Does one of my letters of recommendation need to be from a pharmacist?

  4. Does one of my letters of recommendation need to be from a professor?
    Although not a requirement, we would like to receive a letter from an individual who could speak about your academic abilities. Perhaps this is a professor in one of your science courses. Perhaps this is a professor for a non-science course. Perhaps it’s a teaching assistant who can speak (in detail) to your academic ability. Again, we leave it up to you to determine who best can provide letters of recommendation as part of your application.

  5. I have been out of school for several years. Whom should I ask for a recommendation?

    Select recommenders who are able to write about your intellectual ability, communication skills, and personal qualities in detail. Your supervisor, co-worker, or volunteer coordinator, are just a few examples of those who may fill this role. If you have returned to school to fulfill prerequisites, you may also decide to ask a current instructor.

  6. I have letters of recommendation that were written for me last year. May I submit these?
    We recommend that applicants submit the most up-to-date letters possible. More recently written letters better reflect your current accomplishments, skills, and qualities. Furthermore, recommendations must be submitted through PharmCAS, and PharmCAS will only accept letters from a letter service or from the recommender; they will not accept recommendations submitted by the applicant.


  1. What is a degree conferral transcript?
    A degree conferral transcript is a copy of your transcript that includes the following:

    • the degree you earned (BS, MS, etc.)
    • the major in which your degree was earned (e.g., Biological Sciences, Art History), and
    • the date the degree was awarded.

    A transcript that does not satisfy all of these is not a degree conferral transcript.

  2. Why can’t I wait until my degree is posted before sending you the final copy of my transcript?
    Grades are normally posted to transcripts within 3 weeks after the end of an academic term. However, it takes much longer for the degree you earned to be posted on your transcript -- at some schools this delay can be as long as 3 months. Since these grades are used as part of our evaluation of your application, it is important that you submit copies of your transcripts as soon as grades are posted.
  3. I already sent you a transcript with grades from my last term. Why do you need another copy with my degree posted if a degree is not required to apply?
    A degree conferral transcript is the only document the University will accept as verification that a degree was earned, and the fact that you earned a degree was something we considered during our evaluation process.
  4. The registrar from my school gave me a statement that verifies I have completed all the requirements for my degree. Can I submit this statement instead of waiting for the degree conferral transcript to become available?
    No, completing the requirements for a degree and being awarded a degree are not the same thing. The only document we can accept is a degree conferral transcript.
  5. I graduated this winter but my transcript won’t be ready this May like you request. What do I do?
    Your degree may not be posted, but your grades for a winter term should be posted by this time. If you submit a copy of your transcript with grades you will meet the deadline. The deadline for a degree conferral transcript is later. If your school tells you that the transcript will not be ready by our deadline, ask your school to send us a letter verifying the date that degrees for that term will be posted to transcripts. This is the only way to extend the deadline.
  6. When I was first applying I thought I would be earning a degree. My situation has changed and I will not be able to finish my degree when I said I would. This means I don't have a degree conferral transcript to give you. Will you withdraw the offer of admission I received?
    Not necessarily, but we reserve the right to re-review your application materials. Any changes from what was originally reported in the PharmCAS application should be reported to our office as soon as you become aware of those changes. Your file will be reviewed again with this information taken into consideration. However, failure to report a change in your degree status, whatever the reason for the change, is misrepresentation and could affect your admission status. Don’t delay reporting this change—tell us about it immediately.
  7. I found a grading error on my copy of my transcript and am trying to get it corrected. Can I wait until the correction is made before I submit my transcript?
    No. All transcripts must be submitted by the posted deadlines. You may notify us by e-mail about the error and your attempts to correct it, but you must still meet the deadline or you will jeopardize the status of your application. After the correction has been made, request that a new copy of the transcript be sent.
  8. Do I have to submit transcripts for college courses I took while I was in high school?
    Yes. You must submit official copies of transcripts for all college level course work.


  1. Do you have rolling admissions?
    No. We have a discrete admission cycle that ends in spring when all applicants are notified of their status.
  2. Will I be given special consideration if I submit my application early or in the summer?
    No. All complete applications received by the admissions deadline are given the same evaluation. There is no advantage to submitting an application early.

Interview process

  1. Is every applicant interviewed?
    No. We receive applications from many more individuals than we are able to interview. This number is not fixed, but on average, we issue approximately 250 invitations per year.
  2. Can I reschedule my appointment?
    Our office grants permission to reschedule an interview only for the following 4 reasons:

    1. medical emergency or illness
    2. conflict with religious observances
    3. conflict with a professional exam
    4. conflict with a college course examination
    5. conflict with another pharmacy school interview

    Additional details are provided with your interview invitation notice.

  3. How should I dress?
    Although we have no dress code requirement, most applicants opt for professional attire.
  4. Are the interviews open-file or closed-file? (Will the interviewers read my application before the interview?)
    Our interviews are closed-file. The interviews are standardized and interviewers do not have access to your admissions application before meeting you.
  5. What should I bring with me to the interview?
    You should bring:
    1. your letter of invitation
    2. your valid photo ID, and
    3. a pen to write your essay.
  6. What if I am late for my interview? or What if I miss my interview?
    Extenuating circumstances beyond your control will be considered, but if you fail to appear at your assigned interview day and time, your application will most likely be canceled.

After applying

  1. I really need to know if I’ve been accepted. Can I call you to find out?
    We notify every applicant as soon as possible. Please do not call our office to check on your status. This hinders the process and delays notification for all applicants. Be patient and wait to hear from us.


  1. How do spaces in the entering class become available?
    Admitted applicants decline, usually for personal reasons; or, we withdraw the offer for not fulfilling all of the requirements for admission. For example: financial issues, personal issues, or medical issues sometimes prevent an applicant from accepting an offer. Every year some applicants are also administratively canceled. This could be for failing a prerequisite, not completing all the prerequisites, or not submitting documents or other verification materials required by the University.
  2. Where am I on the waiting list?

    Please do not contact our office to verify your position on the waiting list.

    We contact all alternates on a regular basis to let them know their position on the list. We will contact you immediately if we are able to offer you a place in the entering class.
  3. What are my chances?
    Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how many accepted applicants will decline their admission offer or be canceled.
  4. How soon will I know?
    Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict when accepted applicants will decline our offer or be canceled. The waiting list remains open until the first day of classes. If your name is on the waiting list, but you are not offered admission by this day, your application will be formally denied via email.
  5. How many alternates are accepted each year?
    Since the reasons for declining an admission offer or for being canceled are often related to personal or unexpected situations, it is impossible to predict the number of alternates that will be offered admission in any given year. In the past, we have offered acceptance to as few as 3 and as many as 50 people on the waiting list.
  6. If I am offered admission, how will I be contacted?
    We immediately contact the first person on the waiting list. Therefore, it is very important for you to keep us informed if your contact information changes. If we cannot reach you by telephone or e-mail, or if you do not reply within the allotted timeframe, we assume you are no longer interested in attending UCSF. Your application is canceled and the position is offered to the next person on the list.

Denied applications

  1. Is there a process to appeal a decision of denial?
    Yes. To receive instructions on the process, contact our office.
  2. May I apply again in a future application cycle?
    Yes. You will have to submit a new application through PharmCAS.

Submitting a change of course schedule

  1. I’m changing courses that aren’t related to the pharmacy prerequisites. Must I notify your office of these changes?
    Yes, since we also consider your course load in evaluating your performance, you must still inform us of your current and planned course schedules -- even for courses unrelated to the prerequisites.

Have a question that isn’t answered here?

Ask us!



  • Learn about the opportunities in pharmacy; speak with pharmacists working in your community to gain a better understanding of the rewards and challenges in the field.
  • Collect and review information from schools of pharmacy as well as pharmacy professional organizations.
  • Volunteer at a local hospital or find a job in a community pharmacy to get a first hand glimpse of pharmacists in action.
  • Attend recruitment programs offered by the pharmacy program to learn more about careers in pharmacy, the curriculum and admissions requirements.


  • Research prospective colleges on the Web or contact colleges to request brochures and catalogs.
  • Learn about the curriculum, features of the PharmD program, faculty, services, and opportunities for students.


  • Demonstrate your commitment to the field by participating in pre-pharmacy and pre-health organizations on campus; these organizations provide a great way to learn about the field and meet other students with similar interests.
  • Establish a record of service to others through volunteer experiences, extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, tutoring, active membership in service organizations, etc.


  • Develop a plan for completing the academic prerequisites for admission.
  • Take the initiative to get to know your instructors; develop good relationships so that the faculty can assist you when you need a letter of recommendation.
  • Study hard—there is no substitute for good grades. Learn as much as you can and enjoy yourself in the process. A strong academic record is one indication that you are prepared for the rigor of pharmacy school.
  • Be prepared to make personal sacrifices to make sure you can compile a competitive academic record and demonstrate leadership and commitment through outside activities (organizations, community service, volunteer work, etc.).
  • If you are having difficulty in a prerequisite course, evaluate your options. Consider using tutors, visiting with the professor during office hours, changing study habits, or studying with peers.
  • Take higher level science coursework whenever possible (e.g., biochemistry, microbiology, quantitative analysis) to better prepare for pharmacy school.
  • Demonstrate your potential to carry a full academic load (14 to 16 units per term) with 2 or more sciences.
  • Pace yourself in fulfilling your prerequisites.
  • Demonstrate a good balance between your academic and personal life.


  • Be clear on your motivation for pursuing a career in pharmacy and be able to discuss it clearly at your interview and in your application.
  • Be sure your application conveys what you can bring to the pharmacy program—and the qualities you possess to make you an outstanding pharmacist.

Application forms

  • Avoid procrastination in the preparation of your application. Complete all application materials as early as possible.
  • Pay close attention to details such as policies, procedures, due dates, and deadlines.
  • Follow instructions completely and accurately.
  • Take time to develop your statements; be certain that your essays and answers are clearly written and that each word counts!
  • If there are extenuating circumstances that have affected your education and academic achievement (e.g. working while in school, family responsibilities, emergencies), be sure to communicate these challenges as you complete your application.
  • Present your application in the most professional way possible—always type or word-process the application forms.
  • Make a personal copy of application materials for your records and order an extra copy, for yourself, of any official documents you are asked to submit.

More on this topic in our admissions director’s blog

Although not required reading, you’ll find additional comments in Pre-Pharmacy Club: Join one (or start one!), a blog post by Admissions Director Joel W. Gonzales.

Go to: More Admissions Topics