Pharmacists are important members of the healthcare profession. Because of their many job requirements, pharmacists must have knowledge in the sciences and the safe use of medicines in addition to good communication skills. After all, in addition to filling prescriptions, pharmacists can also provide wellness screenings and give their patients advice on healthy lifestyles.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for pharmacists overall will decrease by 3% in the next ten years, the need in certain settings is actually predicted to increase. That is, more pharmacists will probably be needed in clinics and hospitals to help patients with their medications as well as providing other services like cholesterol and blood sugar testing.
Before pharmacists can practice, they must be licensed, which can only be obtained with a Doctor of Pharmacy (or PharmD). And before graduates become licensed pharmacists in the United States, they must pass the NAPLEX, or the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination.
So, students considering a career as a pharmacist should also consider the PharmD degree. However, some schools offer other degrees and certificates that allow graduates to work in other pharmacy-related healthcare positions, such as pharmacy technician. Or, students who are more interested in research or teaching should look into a master’s of science (M.S.) degree or a Ph.D. Furthermore, dual degree programs are becoming more common, allowing students to study the intersections of pharmacy with business, economics, and healthcare policies.
Texas has some of the best pharmacy schools in the country. And although in-state students flock to these colleges, the schools also attract some of the brightest pharmacy students both nationally and internationally. The following list of the best pharmacy schools in Texas is based on rankings from U.S. News and World Report. In the case of a tie between two schools, the College Gazette editorial team will choose the tiebreaker.
8. University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy (San Antonio, TX)
Although the school was not founded until 2004, the Feik School of Pharmacy has quickly risen to become one of the country’s top institutions. In addition to a PharmD program and a master’s in applied pharmaceutical sciences, students can also join the 20-65-week pharmacy technician program. U.S. News and World Report ranks FSOP as the #108 pharmacy program in the country.
Beyond its high academic standards, the Feik School of Pharmacy is known for its diverse student body. From 2014 to 2019, FSOP’s percentage of Hispanic students was in the top three among U.S. mainland pharmacy schools.
In fact, FSOP received the Health Professions HEED Award for diversity in 2020, one of only three pharmacy schools in the U.S. to receive the honor. And FSOP’s commitment to diversity doesn’t stop with the student body, either. The optional Spanish Certification, which students can pursue in their last year of schooling, gives graduates basic verbal and written communication skills in Spanish, allowing them to serve their patients better.
7. University of Texas at Tyler Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy (Tyler, TX)
At its Tyler campus, the University of Texas offers the PharmD degree through an innovative curriculum delivered by healthcare experts. Specifically, the program uses team-based learning instead of traditional classroom lectures, giving students more opportunities for hands-on learning.
The Fisch College of Pharmacy was actually one of the first pharmacy programs in the country to use this kind of curriculum. Basically, students are expected to come to class after reading new material, which is reinforced during the class period through applied activities instead of lectures.
Even the new facilities in the program’s home base, W.T. Brookshire Hall, were designed with team-based learning in mind. Through this approach, students also strengthen their communication skills and learn how to work together to solve problems.
In U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of the top pharmacy schools, UT-Tyler ties with the Feik School of Pharmacy at the University of the Incarnate Word for #108.
6. Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (Houston, TX)
Also tying for the #108 spot among the best pharmacy schools, Texas Southern University offers the PharmD degree as well as master’s and Ph.D. programs in pharmaceutical sciences for students looking for a research career.
As an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), TSU is especially committed to diversity and is ranked #1 in Texas for its number of African-American graduates from the pharmacy program. Moreover, the school is the #3 producer of Black pharmacists in the country, with students coming from all over the United States and Africa to attend TSU.
The school also sponsors the Center for Biomedical and Minority Health Research, which has received over $8.6 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health. This new facility, which recently opened in 2020, plans to research diseases that disproportionately affect minority communities. For example, the center will focus on how and why cancer and infectious diseases impact these communities more than non-minority groups.
5. University of North Texas College of Pharmacy (Fort Worth, TX)
Ranked as the #90 pharmacy school in the U.S. by U.S. News, the College of Pharmacy at the University of North Texas prepares graduates to be patient-centered pharmaceutical professionals. Students at UNT learn by doing, receive significant laboratory time, and participating in experiential learning activities.
In addition to a PharmD degree and a research-based master’s-to-Ph.D. program, students at UNT can also specialize in niches like pharmacy compounding or pharmacometrics. Plus, the school also has several certificate programs offered 100% online, allowing students to study fields like drug development through flexible delivery methods.
What’s more, UNT understands that the healthcare industry is constantly changing and is adding two new master’s of science degrees, pending final approval. Through these new programs, students can study drug discovery and development. Or, in the new Applied Outcomes Research track, students will gain a solid background in research and learn how data-backed decisions can improve healthcare practices.
4. Texas Tech University Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy (Lubbock, TX)
U.S. News and World Report ranks the Hodge School of Pharmacy as the #46 program in the country, tying with the Rangel College of Pharmacy at Texas A&M. The school has a variety of master’s and doctorate-level degrees for students to choose from, ranging from the PharmD to M.S. degrees in pharmaceutical sciences.
Texas Tech’s pharmacy program is known for its emphasis on clinical training. In fact, Texas Tech claims that their students receive more clinical hours than pharmacy students at any other U.S.-based program. Spread across four different campuses in Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene, and Dallas, students gain practical experience in state-of-the-art laboratories and simulation facilities. Furthermore, they can work on projects side-by-side with faculty who are conducting groundbreaking research in cancer, immunology, and therapeutic drug therapy.
In addition, Texas Tech also has the largest PharmD + MBA program in the country. This innovative curriculum encourages students to have an entrepreneurial mind and become leaders in the changing landscape of pharmacy business models.
3. Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy (Kingsville, TX)
Also ranked at #46 by U.S. News and World Report, Texas A&M started the Rangel College of Pharmacy in 2006 due to a severe shortage of pharmacists in southern Texas. But since that time, the school has quickly become one of the most well-respected pharmacy colleges in the U.S.
Texas A&M follows a balanced curriculum of pharmacy instruction coupled with research and service to the surrounding community.
For instance, students in the PharmD program spend about 30% of their time learning outside of the classroom. Specifically, the final year of this four-year program is wholly devoted to hands-on training in clinics and hospitals in the surrounding area.
Students are exposed to various healthcare settings and learn from professionals through rotations at six different locations. Moreover, these professionals become part of a student’s network, and students are often offered job opportunities once they have completed the pharmacy program and receive their diplomas.
2. University of Houston College of Pharmacy (Houston, TX)
The University of Houston has the #31 college of pharmacy in the country, according to U.S. News. Students can choose from a PharmD degree or several Ph.D. and master of science programs that focus on the pharmaceutical sciences in addition to leadership and administration. UH even has a unique option to pair a Ph.D. in pharmacy with a master of arts degree in applied economics.
UH has been designated as a “Tier One” public research university, meaning that the faculty have aggressive research agendas and are making an impact in the field. Plus, the students themselves are encouraged to engage in research or participate in national scientific organizations to become new leaders in pharmacy and healthcare.
And what’s more, UH graduates are well-prepared for the NAPLEX exam. For example, in the last four years, UH had the highest first-time NAPLEX pass rates in the entire state of Texas. Plus, it had the #8 NAPLEX pass rate across all of the United States last year.
1. University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy (Austin, TX)
And finally, as the #1 pharmacy program in Texas and the #7 program in the country, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas’s Austin campus offers PharmD, Ph.D., and M.S. degrees in pharmaceutical sciences. Students must all participate in UT-Austin’s Experiential Program, which allows students to gain training in community hospital settings and long-term care facilities under the guidance of a faculty member.
In addition to outstanding academic programs, UT-Austin and its faculty are internationally recognized for their contributions to pharmacy research. For instance, the school has received more than $10 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, private foundations, and even pharmaceutical companies.
And while many of the top pharmacy schools in the country might have one or two research centers, UT-Austin has an impressive list of six centers and research institutes with dedicated facilities and faculty involved in some of today’s most important pharmacy-related research. These centers are promoting research as diverse as addition science to toxicology to therapeutic drug development.