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Medical College of Wisconsin Pharmacy School Frequently Asked Questions


PharmD Program-Specific Questions

Student smiles at crowd during 2023 Hooding Ceremony, marking the achievement of his Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
How long does it take to earn a PharmD at MCW?

The Medical College of Wisconsin is one of only 18 pharmacy schools in the country that offers an accelerated, three-year PharmD program.

We also offer an innovative Undergraduate Dual Degree program, where students who attend one of our 13 partner undergraduate institutions can earn their bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Pharmacy degree in six years, instead of the traditional eight. Visit our Undergraduate Dual Degree Program page to learn how you can save both time and money as you start your pharmacy career.

What are the prerequisites for the MCW PharmD program?
Please visit our Requirements page to view eligibility requirements and a list of prerequisite courses.
What do current students like about the MCW PharmD program?

Current students value our small class sizes, which help build camaraderie with classmates and professors. “Your professors know you, your face and your name. You’re not just a number in an auditorium,” one student said.

Our three-year accelerated curriculum is important to students as well. “I’m a nontraditional student who is older, so it was easier to convince myself to pursue this program because it was only three years,” said one student.

Other students pointed to the partnership with Froedtert and Children’s Wisconsin, which are located on the same campus as the Medical College of Wisconsin. Through experiential education opportunities that begin your first year, you’ll have the opportunity to reinforce skills in a variety of real-life practice settings. In your third year, our Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences take you out of the classroom and immerse you in the practice setting full time, providing exposure to various pharmacy specialties and guiding you to your future career path.

Student Life-Specific Questions

Class of 2025 pharmacy students pose together for a group photo in the classroom.
What are the housing options at MCW?

While there are a few apartment complexes in Wauwatosa that are within walking distance to campus, a high percentage of pharmacy students live in Milwaukee, Brookfield, West Allis, New Berlin, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha or other nearby communities. The MCW campus has plenty of parking available (both surface lot and parking structure options) for students, faculty and staff.

To learn more, view the Pharmacy School Housing Guide.

For incoming students without MCW credentials, contact Kendra Kalscheur, Program Manager for Student Affairs and Enrollment, for information on housing options and roommate resources.

For current students with MCW credentials, please email A link will be emailed to you to log in with your MCW credentials to view current housing listings.

For more information, please visit the MCW Student Housing Resources page.

What can pharmacy students do for school-work-life balance and wellness?

The MCW School of Pharmacy has a Wellness Committee that organizes opportunities for self-care, meditation and team-building activities with classmates. The Medical College of Wisconsin also hosts wellness events for students, hosting therapy dogs, wellness walks and study break events. MCW has a relationship with the Urban Ecology Center, where students can rent kayaks and take cooking or fitness classes. Events are published in a monthly MCW Wellness Calendar.

Current students say they enjoy using the Tonkens Gym, which is on-campus, free, and open 24/7. MCW students also have access to attend two free classes each month at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, located just down the road from campus.

“There are lots of resources because everyone recognizes that being a student is stressful. There’s a system that’s meant to help you,” says one student.

Current students say that working a pharmacy-related job helps them. “A lot of pharmacists who are managers will help quiz you and give you tips and tricks,” says one student.

“There’s no one right way to find the balance; you adapt and find your own way” says another current student.

For more information, visit the MCW Student Health & Wellness Resources page.

What extracurricular activities are available for students?

Current students say there are lots of volunteer opportunities, and it’s nice to get involved in those.

  • Saturday Clinic for the Uninsured: a primary care clinic offering health services at no cost to uninsured patients in Milwaukee.
  • Bread of Healing Clinic: a free medical clinic designed to serve low-income people who experience barriers to accessing ongoing health care

The Pharmacy Student Alliance (PSA) is the student government and programming body for MCW pharmacy students. MCW has student chapters of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (AACP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW).

There are a number of committees students can participate in, focused on diversity, research, women’s advocacy and wellness. Additionally, students can join clubs (i.e. writing club, book club, plant club) or start their own club based on their own interests.

Please visit our Student Life page for more information.

How do I reach students who currently attend the MCW School of Pharmacy?
If you have questions about the MCW PharmD program, the student experience, or living in Milwaukee, you can chat online with our current students! You can chat online with one of our Student Ambassadors for an inside look at the Medical College of Wisconsin, both in and out of the classroom. Visit our Chat With Us page.

Careers in Pharmacy-Specific Questions

Student wearing PPE draws a vaccine into a syringe in a sterile lab setting.
Are there enough positions available for new pharmacists to practice?

Across the country, pharmacies have scaled back on their hours because there aren’t enough available pharmacists. As a result, many pharmacies are offering sign-on bonuses to attract new employees.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 2.4% employment growth for pharmacists between 2021 and 2031. In that time frame, a projected 7,700 jobs should be created.

Another trend is that consumers want to know more about the medications they’re taking. “Back in the day when people were given a medication, they just took it. Now, people want to know the value of the medication and if there are any concerns with it. So that creates more interaction with the pharmacist than we ever had before,” says founding dean and professor George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, FNAP.

As the U.S. baby boomer generation gets older, overall medication use across the country will increase. This is because prescription drug use increases with age. More pharmacists are needed to assist with this increase in medication use.

Is a pharmacist considered a doctor?
Yes, pharmacists have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The PharmD degree signifies that pharmacists have a unique skillset centered on medications, their appropriate use, the monitoring of medications for their appropriate use, the outcomes associated with their use, and avoiding side effects or toxicologic issues with their use. Pharmacists are medication specialists that are an essential part of every healthcare team. Wisconsin is one of eight states that recognizes pharmacists as primary care providers, meaning their scope of practice allows them to see patients and prescribe medications.
What is the salary range for a pharmacist?
According to U.S. News & World Report, pharmacists made a median salary of $128,570 in 2021, ranking the profession at #20 in Best Paying Jobs.
How many years is a Doctor of Pharmacy degree?

Usually, it takes four years to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. However, the Medical College of Wisconsin offers an accelerated PharmD program where you can graduate in three years. Out of 141 pharmacy schools in the U.S., the MCW School of Pharmacy is one of only 18 that offer an accelerated curriculum.

The MCW School of Pharmacy also offers an innovative Undergraduate Dual Degree program that allows students to earn their bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Pharmacy degree in six years, instead of the traditional eight. Students who attend one of our 13 partner undergraduate institutions are eligible. Visit our Undergraduate Dual Degree Program page to learn how you can save both time and money as you start your pharmacy career.

How much does pharmacy school cost?

The cost of tuition is the same for in-state, out-of-state and international students. For a list of updated tuition rates, please visit the Pharmacy School Tuition & Fees Information page.

The cost of tuition is the same for in-state, out-of-state and international students. For a list of updated tuition rates, please visit the Pharmacy School Tuition & Fees Information page.

Each incoming student at the MCW School of Pharmacy is eligible to receive up to $10,000 in scholarships.

For more information, visit our Tuition and Financing Your Education page.

Is a career in pharmacy worth it?

“I like to think of pharmacy as the engineering degree of the health sciences, and the reason: there are so many different career paths,” says founding dean and professor George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, FNAP. “The community pharmacy and hospital are our two most common practice environments. But we also have pharmacists that practice in long-term care, psychiatric or even correctional facility settings. You can work in industry, where medications are developed and tested to meet FDA guidelines.”

“Yes, I think a pharmacy career is worthwhile. It provides the opportunity to have an income that will support you and take care of all your needs. And like many other disciplines post-pandemic, there are also virtual options that have never been presented before, including telehealth and telepharmacy,” says Dr. MacKinnon.

“In terms of the future of the industry, with developments in personalized medicine and personalized care, developments in pharmacogenomics will continue to grow. The door is open in terms of opportunities.”

What are the requirements to be a pharmacist?

As healthcare professionals, pharmacists need to have a desire to help people. There are many different pharmacy settings – from ambulatory care to community pharmacist to psychiatric pharmacist. One requirement, no matter what career pathway you choose, is a passion for service to others.

Pharmacists must have a desire to continue to learn. Every year, there are new products released, new ways of understanding how to treat patients, new clinical guidelines, and more. Pharmacists are always learning. They are inquisitive and interested in learning why the body responds to medications in the way that it does.

For a list of prerequisites specific to the MCW School of Pharmacy, please visit our Requirements page.

MCW Pharmacy-School Specific Questions

Why did MCW open a Pharmacy School?

In Wisconsin, as in several other states, the profession of pharmacy is changing rapidly. Drivers of this change include:

An increase in the aging population
The elderly population—age 65 and over—will increase rapidly in five-year intervals, from 777,500 in 2010 to 1,535,500 in 2040, nearly doubling in 30 years. The projected rise in the population aged 65 or older is anticipated to result in demands for pharmacy services especially in intermediate care, assisted living and group homes.

A reduction of pharmacists in the workforce due to retirements
There is a projected demand for pharmacists resulting from an anticipated surge in retiring pharmacists. In 2012, the Wisconsin Hospital Association reported that more than 20 percent of pharmacists in Wisconsin are aged 55 or older, and are expected to retire in the next 10-15 years.

Continued demand for primary care and health services in rural and urban areas
Similar to the primary care physician shortage, rural and low-income segments of Wisconsin’s health care system, and other regions within the state, are experiencing greater problems in meeting the demand for practitioners.

Increased demand for new types of pharmacists
There is a need for pharmacists who are trained to provide expanded services, including, medication monitoring, immunizations, and health screenings, as well as chronic disease management, acute ambulatory care and specialty pharmacy care.

How are MCW Pharmacy School graduates different than Pharmacy graduates from other institutions?

The MCW Pharmacy School is preparing the next generation of pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses, fully prepared for the new demands and opportunities of a rapidly-evolving profession.

Graduates of MCW’s Pharmacy School will be:

  • Key providers in improving care for chronic disease and acute care
  • Strategists in helping to ensure medical adherence
  • Partners with patients to help ensure health and wellness across their lifespan
  • Leaders in providing preventive care by increasing accessibility in the community to health screenings, immunizations and other important services
  • Leaders in specialty pharmacy and public health areas, such as pediatrics, geriatrics and psychiatry

How are MCW Pharmacy specialty tracks offered and delivered?

Specialty tracks, traditionally offered through post-graduate training such as fellowships and residencies, provide MCW Pharmacy School students with the opportunity to customize their training to pursue a specific area of interest, such as a research focus area or specific specialty of pharmacy such as pediatrics, geriatrics, psychiatry and behavior health, among several others.

Due to MCW’s diverse faculty expertise and its strong clinical practice partners, MCW’s Pharmacy School will provide students with greater exposure to disciplines and specialty areas that build from the strengths of our specialists at Froedtert Health, Children’s Wisconsin, the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, among other clinical partners.

How does the MCW Pharmacy School program help alleviate the physician shortage?
Pharmacists are in an excellent position to offset the primary care physician shortage, due to their expertise in medication management and patient counseling. In addition to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, training pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses is a logical way to extend the reach of primary care services. Our decades of experience and expertise in training physicians and medical researchers positions MCW optimally to make a positive contribution in addressing the need for pharmacists across Wisconsin.
Why does the MCW School of Pharmacy use a pass/fail grading system?
The MCW School of Pharmacy uses a pass/fail grading system in order to encourage collaboration, not competition, between students. We have found that this format has increased well-being and motivation, as well as decreased competition, anxiety and stress.
How is the field of pharmacy changing, and why is MCW uniquely suited to rise to new challenges in this field?
In April 2014, Wisconsin signed Act 294 into law, enabling “a pharmacist to perform any patient care service delegated to a pharmacist by a physician.” The legislation is changing the face of pharmacy by recognizing the expanded role pharmacists can serve in controlling healthcare costs. That is why MCW’s Pharmacy School implements an innovative and interprofessional curriculum that is designed to train the next generation of pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses.