University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Doctor of Pharmacy Program Admissions Criteria

Charles Taylor, Sr., associate dean of Professional Education

Overview of the Project

The admissions criteria for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program have largely remained the same for many years, dating back to an era in which the number of applicants was low and the pharmacy practice model was more limited. Pharmacists in the past were mainly relied upon for dispensing medications safely and efficiently. This practice model has changed drastically in the past 10-15 years with the advent of new and more numerous drug classes; and more extensive and comprehensive pharmacy education.

Now pharmacists are the medication experts on the health care team, providing their knowledge to physicians, patients, managed care organizations, and more. As the US population ages, and as the number of patients using multiple drug therapies increase, pharmacists will be depended upon for their drug knowledge. New pharmacy patient-care practices are also employed to help solve drug therapy problems in the US that cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and $200 billion per year.

The University of Minnesota PharmD program is highly competitive. The College of Pharmacy is ranked third in the nation and receives 1100+ applicants for 167 positions. The college is nationally recognized as a program that produces leaders of change in pharmacy practice and science. Since the college graduates 99 percent of the students admitted, the Admissions Committee considers applicants not only as potential students, but also potential pharmacy professionals.

At this time, the college is in the process of a major curriculum revision that will more align the PharmD curriculum with the changes occurring in the profession of pharmacy. Given the changes in the practice and in the curriculum, we would like to review our admissions criteria and process in tandem to reflect these changes as well.

By our estimation, we have implemented admissions criteria that are fair and appropriate. However, we have not made a systematic effort to ensure our admissions criteria and interview process are the most effective method of selecting the best future pharmacists. In addition, we have been charged by the College to incorporate an assessment of student leadership abilities into the admissions process, which is currently undeveloped.

Project Goals

Strategic questions for the team to investigate:

  1. What are best practices for admissions in a health professional program?
  2. What criteria do patients, pharmacy faculty, and other health professionals use to measure the success of a professional pharmacist?
  3. What is the best way to measure the criteria of successful pharmacists in an admissions process?
  4. Should the interview in the PharmD admissions process be re-evaluated?
  5. How can the college’s admissions process identify future leaders?
  6. Can and should an admissions process for the PharmD program be identical to an admissions process to the MD, DDS, DNP and DVM programs?


  1. Conduct focus-group interviews with College of Pharmacy faculty and administration to identify entry-level expectations for pharmacy students and graduates.
  2. Compare current admission process with literature-based best practices, as well as other leading health professional programs.
  3. Engage practicing pharmacists, health care professionals, patients who receive pharmaceutical care, pharmacy faculty and students in focus-group interviews to identify important traits of successful pharmacists.
  4. Propose an admission methodology to integrate critical measures in a manner that can be interpreted in a consistent manner by the admissions committee.
  5. Investigate a model for assessing leadership qualities in the prospective students, as well as other non-cognitive variables related to diversity and medically underserved populations.
  6. Provide recommendations on the college’s existing applicant interview process.

Project Team

Team Members

Sophia Anema
Office of Institutional Compliance

Mary Vincent Franco
Associate Program Director
College of Design, Student Services

Michele Lorenz
Retail Manager
Student Unions and Activities (SUA)

Peyton Owens
Assistant Director
McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes

Jody Seiler-Peterson
Technology Project Coordinator
Academic Support Resources