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Washington State University

Frequently Asked Questions

General information
Admissions information
Prerequisite coursework
Honors/Satisfactory/Fail Student Learning Assessment
499 and 599 Electives
Admission changes during COVID-19
Fall 2020

General information

Is the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) accredited?

Yes, since 1938, by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

What is the cost of attendance for 2019-2020?

Resident tuition: $21,990 | Non-resident tuition: $38,644 | Mandatory fees: $766

How do I apply for Washington residency?

The WSU Office of the Registrar Residency General Information page provides the best information about obtaining Washington residency. Note that moving to Washington solely for educational purposes is not sufficient to establish residency. However, because of licensing and certification requirements and relocation, many of our out-of-state students may qualify for residency after the first year.

Does the CPPS participate in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)?

Yes, with WICHE’s Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP). Alaska, Nevada and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands provide support for their residents to attend WICHE schools for Pharmacy.

How long does it take to get a PharmD?

The WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program is four years. Pharmacy students spend the first three years on campus, and gain first-hand experience in summers and their fourth year through pharmacy rotations. Our four-year curriculum gives students plenty of time to truly master the material without giving up their summer breaks.

Admissions information

What’s the difference between Early Decision and Early Admission?

Early Decision is a binding application program which means, if you are admitted, you are expected to accept your offer of admission and cannot apply to other programs.

Early Admission is a priority application deadline where candidates can access the same advantages as previous early decision applicants, but it is not a binding admission process. To apply Early Admission you fill out the Washington State University application via the Regular Admission portal on PharmCas by our priority deadline of September 15.

What is the difference between the Early Decision and Regular Admission processes?

The early decision application period begins in June and closes the beginning of September. Completed applications are reviewed by the admissions committee and interviews are offered to qualified students by early October. Early decision applicants are told of admission decisions in mid-October. Early decision offers are binding and offered students are expected to accept the offer of admission.

The regular admission decision application period begins in the early summer and generally closes in December or January. Deadlines are posted on our Admissions Information page.

Completed applications are reviewed on an on-going basis, and interviews are offered to qualified students.

Can I still apply Early Decision?

In order to have a more inclusive admissions process, which gives you the ability to choose the best Doctor of Pharmacy program that meets your goals, the governing body for pharmacy schools, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), declared in 2019 that Early Decision will be eliminated for the 2021-22 admissions cycle. To support this initiative, the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has decided to end Early Decision for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Early Admissions will replace Early Decision.  With this change you are no longer obligated to enroll in the school if you are accepted. Choosing a Doctor of Pharmacy program is a significant decision for any student and we believe that you should be able to choose the school that best fits your needs.

What is the Save-a-Seat program?

The Save-a-Seat program is for current high school seniors or college students who are working to complete their Pre-Pharmacy requirements and plan to apply to the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program after completion of their prerequisite coursework. Read more on our Save-a-Seat page.

How many students are accepted every year?

We accept around 135 students for our Spokane campus, and around 35 students for our Yakima campus every fall. Approximately 70% of students are Washington Residents, and 30% are current WSU students.

How can I increase my chances of being accepted?

Early submission of a complete application is strongly recommended and could increase a qualified applicant’s chance of receiving an interview and possible offer.

We evaluate applications through a holistic admission process. This means that we evaluate applicants on more than just GPA by considering academic record, evaluations, personal and professional goal statements, and life experiences.

Am I required to have pharmacy experience?

The CPPS does not require students to have pharmacy experience prior to applying for the Doctor of Pharmacy program. We do recommend that each applicant has a strong understanding of what a career as a pharmacist entails and can articulate why they want to become a pharmacist.

How is GPA calculated and what is the minimum requirement?

GPA is calculated through PharmCAS and includes all previous coursework, including repeated courses. A minimum 2.7 cumulative GPA, as verified by PharmCAS, is preferred for admission.

Do I need to send my transcripts to the CPPS?

You need to send an official copy of all transcripts to PharmCAS when you apply. You will need to send final official transcripts to the CPPS only if you are accepted into the Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

We require two letters of recommendation from evaluators who can speak to your professional character, accountability, and notable experiences, such as a professor, teaching assistant, employer or volunteer supervisor. More than two letters are not required but highly recommended and up to four letters may be submitted.

Evaluators should speak to your adaptability, empathy, ethics, intellectual ability, interpersonal relations, judgement, leadership, reliability, and communication skills. It is recommended a supervisor, pharmacist or other health care provider you have worked with submit an evaluation. It is also highly recommended you obtain an evaluation from an academic source that can speak knowledgeably about your academic history. A letter from a pharmacist is not required but highly recommended.

Recommendations are NOT ACCEPTED from family members, friends, politicians, fraternity or sorority advisors, personal health care providers or high school faculty/advisors. Recommendations are not accepted from career services or reference letter centers.

Where can I find the supplemental application essay questions?

The Professional Goal Statements can be found here

May I apply to the program before completing my associate or bachelor’s degree?

Yes. Applicants do not need a degree to be accepted into the Doctor of Pharmacy program.

May I transfer from another Doctor of Pharmacy program?

A student who is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Pharmacy program at another campus in good academic standing is considered a “transfer student.” Students requesting to transfer from their original school/college of pharmacy into the program at the WSU CPPS must follow the instructions detailed here.

Does the CPPS have an alternate list for admissions?

Yes. After the interview process, an applicant may be placed on the alternate list. Applicants can opt-in and remain on the alternate list for future consideration should a space open up. If a space should open up, the college may offer admission to the highest-ranking applicant on the alternate list.
Ranking is based on factors such as cumulative GPA, cumulative science GPA, and interview scores. The alternate list is kept active until after the first day of classes in August at which time all alternates not selected for admission will be sent notification via email.

How do I remove my name from the CPPS alternate list?

If you no longer want to be considered for admission please email us at pharmacy.admissions@wsu.edu. We appreciate your updates.

Does the CPPS require a background check?

Yes. A national background check will be initiated for all students offered admission. The check is done through Certiphi Screening Services, which contracts with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and is facilitated through PharmCAS immediately once an offer of admission is made.

Do you require a PCAT?

At WSU, we recruit students who will thrive and become the leaders of tomorrow. Our admissions team evaluates candidates based on a combination of academic scores as well as soft skills. We encourage students to master their material—not become excellent test takers, which is why PCAT scores are not a factor in our admissions.

Prerequisite coursework

How can I find out if the courses I have taken meet the prerequisites?

We will accept classes from all regionally accredited institutions. We suggest that you meet with an academic advisor from your home institution and provide them with the list of prerequisites so they can assist you with determining the correct equivalencies. See our pharmacy pre-requisites page for more information. If you have taken a course which may meet one of these requirements but is not an obvious match, we can review the course for acceptance. Please send an email request which must include: course description from the college’s website, catalog, or class syllabus, name of the institution from which the course is being taught, the number of credits, and what prerequisite you would like the course to satisfy. Please email this request to pharmacy.admissions@wsu.edu.

When do I need to complete my pre-pharmacy courses?

You must complete all pre-pharmacy courses before entering the Doctor of Pharmacy program. All science-based prerequisites must be completed by the end of spring term and all non-science-based prerequisites must be completed by the end of summer, prior to our orientation in mid-August.

Do you accept advanced placement (AP) credit for prerequisite courses?

AP test scores which appear as credit received on a regionally accredited college transcript will be accepted. If scores are not listed on an official transcript then we will request the official AP score report be sent to us directly.

Do you accept Pass/Fail classes for prerequisites?

No.

However, there is an exception in place for COVID-19 related changes. For more information, please see: My institution changed the grading scheme for one or more of my prerequisite courses to Pass/Fail, will you accept this?

Can one course count for more than one prerequisite?

No. The only exception to this rule is for approved combined anatomy and physiology courses.

May I use the same course prefix for two different categories?

Yes, where appropriate.

Will you accept “science courses for non- science majors” to meet prerequisites?

No. You must complete the science courses designed for science majors with labs.

Are courses taken online acceptable?

We will consider lower division, non-science coursework taken online from a regionally accredited university.

However, there is an exception in place for COVID-19 related changes. For more information, please see: My institution changed course instruction from in person delivery to online, will you still accept my courses?

Do my prerequisite courses expire after a certain amount of time?

Upper-division science coursework should be no more than seven years old at the time of application. However, each situation is reviewed on an individual basis. Please contact our student services office at (509) 368-6605 for more information.

My college does not offer “general biology,” but they offer “botany” and “zoology,” is this acceptable?

We want our applicants to complete the sequence of general biology classes designed for science/biology/pre-health majors at their particular school, with labs, and to meet our requirement for credit hours. General biology courses are sometimes called “botany” and “zoology”, or by other names, so consult with the registration or advising office at your school to make sure you enroll in the right courses.

What if I have taken classes on the quarter system and after conversion I am short?

We round up the credit hours from the quarter to semester conversion.

Will you accept the coursework I completed at a university in another country?

Students with international transcripts must have their transcripts evaluated on a course-by-course basis by a foreign transcript service. The foreign transcript evaluation reports are then submitted to PharmCAS, and PharmCAS will provide us with this information. PharmCAS requires WES evaluations. Upper division sciences will not be accepted from foreign institutions and must be completed within the United States. Please visit the PharmCAS – International Transcripts page for more information.

Are international students eligible for admission?

The college does consider international students for admission to the Doctor of Pharmacy program. International applicants are required to complete a foreign transcript evaluation and send this evaluation directly to PharmCAS and take the TOEFL or IELTS exam.

Coursework

International transcripts must be evaluated by the World Education Service (WES) on a course-by-course basis and include all transcripts. The complete report must be submitted to and received by PharmCAS by the application deadline. Upper division coursework, including Organic Chemistry, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry, should be completed at a regionally accredited institution in the US.

Syllabi for all international prerequisite courses completed must be submitted as PDFs in English and include modules covered, student learning outcomes, course description, and course assessment. Applicant’s from a country that utilizes and supplies consolidated marks sheets must submit individual marks sheets.

TOEFL/IELTS

Minimum TOEFL scores required are a 550 paper based, 90 internet based, or 250 computer based; or minimum IELTS score of 6.5 or higher. Minimum TOEFL sub scores required: Reading 20, Writing 22, Speaking 22, and Listening 20. Exam date must be within one year of application.

Exceptions to English Language Proficiency Exam:

  • Applicants may be exempt if they have completed a BA or BS degree in a native English-Speaking country.
  • Applicants may be exempt if they have completed a minimum of 25 semester/45 quarter credits of equivalent prerequisite coursework from an accredited U.S. based institution.
  • The applicant is coming from a country where English is the official mode of instruction, may be exempt from testing requirement. Documentation confirming English mode of instruction is required.

Honors/Satisfactory/Fail Student Learning Assessment

Why does the CPPS PharmD program utilize an Honors-Satisfactory-Fail (H/S/F) student learning assessment model?

We adopted an H/S/F assessment model or grading system for the following reasons:

  • The college faculty members believe that the focus of a professional Doctor of Pharmacy Program should be on the mastery of all essential knowledge and skills which prepares graduates to become competent pharmacist practitioners rather than on the attainment of over-all course grades.
  • The H/S/F student learning assessment model clearly links demonstration of competency to achievement of well-defined learning objectives and course outcomes. For some students this new grading model may vary from their past educational experiences. Traditional grading models, which are commonly used in undergraduate or pre-pharmacy education, sometimes utilize “grading on the curve”, which evaluates student performance relative to the performance of other students in the course. In the H/S/F model, all students are expected to achieve a pre-defined level of competency that is not dependent on the performance of other students.
  • The educational based research emphasizes the importance of repeated exposure of material, particularly in a testing environment, leads to better long-term retention. Our model provides students with the opportunity to be tested on course content before engaging with a comprehensive exam that has a defined competency threshold.
  • Twice a semester, during the middle and end of the term, no new content is taught and class time is reserved for faculty to host review sessions and revisit difficult course concepts that students struggled with during previous assessments. This approach allows faculty to support students in a proactive way, increasing opportunities for learning and support for students just prior to exams.
  • Initial research indicates that an H/S/F curriculum model may reduce student stress, anxiety and depression and may decrease an atmosphere of competition by shifting the focus from attainment of grades to demonstration of competency.
  • The H/S/F assessment model supports WSU College educational and human health focused mission…To advance human health through excellence in collaborative research, scholarship, and clinical education and to develop outstanding healthcare professionals and scientists.”

What is block testing?

A block test is when all core courses administer a test during the same scheduled testing time in a consistent testing environment.

Testing and exam schedules can be found in the syllabi of participating courses. However, not all courses participate in block testing. These “non-block” tested courses often include labs and other courses that are not amendable to the block testing model. The course syllabus will indicate if a course is block tested or is “non-block” tested.

How is competency defined for block tested and non-block tested courses such as laboratory courses?

Satisfactory: The student demonstrates attainment of knowledge and skills relevant to the defined learning outcomes by achieving at least 70%* on the required comprehensive exams or course unit and overall for the course.

Fail: The student fails to demonstrate attainment of knowledge and skills relevant to the defined learning outcomes by achieving less than 70% on the required comprehensive exams or course unit and overall for the course.

*Some courses require a competency that is higher than 70%. This is noted in the course syllabus of these courses.

How many attempts are provided for students to demonstrate competency?

PY1-PY3 (non-lab based) courses for block and non-block tested formats

  • Students will be provided two opportunities to demonstrate competency on comprehensive exams.
  • Competency will be determined in electives as outlined in the course syllabus.

PY1-PY3 (lab based) courses

  • Students will be provided with a variable number of attempts based on the type of activity/assignment because the nature of activities in these courses can vary substantially. The course syllabus will specifically state expectations, requirements for competency, and remediation opportunities for each activity.

PY1-PY3 Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE)

  • Utilizes a competency-based grading system which is described within each IPPE syllabus.

PY4 Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE)

  • Utilizes a competency-based grading system which is described within each APPE Rotation Handbook.

What is the plan that provides two opportunities to demonstrate competency for comprehensive exams?

The plan includes an initial comprehensive exam and an extended learning experience (ELE) for the comprehensive exam. Each exam opportunity is described below.

Initial comprehensive exam (first attempt):

  • Exams will be given twice every semester during designated comprehensive exam weeks.
  • No new content will be taught during dedicated comprehensive exam weeks.
  • Student pharmacists will be informed of exam results within 2 business days of taking each exam.

Extended Learning Experience (ELE) and ELE for the comprehensive exam (second attempt):

  • Any student who does not successfully achieve a passing score (minimum 70%*) on any comprehensive exam is required to attend an end-of-semester ELE session. ELEs are scheduled during finals week or the last week in the term.
  • Prior to the ELE, the student will be given the opportunity to work with course instructors to prepare for the ELE comprehensive exam.
  • The ELE comprehensive exam is the second and final attempt for a student to demonstrate competence.

*Some courses or course learning assessments require a competency that is higher than 70%. This is noted in the course syllabus of these courses.

How do I earn an honors grade in a course?

An honors grade (H) is available for some, not all, courses. Achievement of honors is determined on a course by course basis. A description is included in the course syllabus. Examples from some courses regarding how the honors grade may be achieved include a requirement the students to earn a certain cumulative course percent or completion of a separate project that meets a certain quality.

How long has WSU CPPS been using the H/S/F grading model?

The H/S/F curriculum and grading model was implemented with the Class of 2017 (entered fall 2013). All professional years of the curriculum are using the H/S/F grading model.

How will course grades appear on my official university transcript in the H/S/F system? Will I receive a cumulative grade point average (GPA)?

Course grades will appear on the official transcript as H (honors), S (satisfactory), F (fail). Cumulative GPA will not be officially calculated through the University.

Are elective courses graded using H/S/F?

Some elective courses are graded using H/S/F and some are not. How the course is graded can be found in the university catalog or in the course syllabus.

How will academic achievement be recognized and communicated?

For each cohort of PharmD students, a course average percent (CAP) will be calculated each semester for each student.

Individual CAP and rankings provide objective measures of academic distinction for the purposes of scholarships, Rho Chi (Pharmacy Academic Honor Society), Dean’s List each semester and residency or employment applications.

Individual CAP and class ranking procedures are outlined specifically in the Student Handbook.

What is the PharmD Honors Program?

The Honors Program is an intensive research program in which students begin to work with a research mentor in the spring of the PY1 year, culminating with a presentation of the research in the spring of the PY3 year (therefore approximately a 2-year project). The Honors designation upon graduation is not dependent on the number of honors grades a student receives.

The Pharm D Honors program provides opportunities for student pharmacists to explore areas of interest that complement and enhance their experiences in the PharmD program through developing and conducting formal research projects. This research component allows a student pharmacist to strategically align his or her personal pharmacy interests and future career goals by providing deeper expertise in that interest area. A detailed overview of the PharmD Honors Program including how to apply may be found on the CPPS website.

Will the H/S/F grading system affect my chances of getting into a post-graduate residency program?

The CPPS is committed to supporting students as they prepare and apply for post-graduate residency programs. For more information about pharmacy residency programs including how to prepare and apply, please contact CPPS Student Services at 509-368-6605 or pharmacy.studentservices@wsu.edu.

Who can I talk to regarding the H/S/F student learning assessment model?

Please contact CPPS Student Services at 509-368-6605 or pharmacy.studentservices@wsu.edu.

499 and 599 Electives

What is the difference between a 499 and a 599 project?

Here are the definitions from the WSU catalog:

499 Special Problems: Independent study conducted under the jurisdiction of an approving faculty member; may include independent research studies in technical or specialized problems; selection and analysis of specified readings; development of a creative project; or field experiences.

599 Special Projects: Laboratory research, clinical research, or comprehensive review of selected subjects.

Therefore, if a student is working on a specific research project with you a 599 designation is the most appropriate. If the student is working on more of an independent study, the 499 designation is more appropriate. The Office of Student Services can help if there are questions regarding the appropriateness of a 599 or 499 designation.

How much time should 499 or 599 courses require from students?

These are both considered courses and therefore fall under the University’s guidance on time commitment for courses. Both 499 and 599 fall under the category of independent study, which is a minimum of 3 hours per week for each credit hour (or minimum 45 hours per credit per semester). The total time per week can vary between the 499 and 599 because of the number of semester credits can be different between these, as noted below:

  • Both 499 and 599 allow for variable credit between 1 and 4 credits per semester, they will require 3 to 12 hours per week as appropriate for the credit assigned (minimum 3 hours per week for each credit or minimum 45 hours per credit per semester). A student can repeat a 499 or 599 for a maximum of 12 cumulative credits.
  • For both 499 and 599 the time can be completed in a flexible manner if needed so that it does not have to be the same amount of time each week. However, the student should be aware of time expectations, and the total time for the semester should reflect the credit expectations noted above.
  • Please note that students who may plan to work with faculty for more than one semester and who may spend a semester doing literature review prior to starting the actual project should use the 499 credit for literature review so that 2 semesters of 599 can be utilized, if needed, for the actual research project.

As a quick reminder, students are required to take 12 elective credits in a minimum of 4 courses. Both 499 and 599 fulfill elective credits. However, a student still must take 4 elective courses even if high credit courses such as a 4-credit 499 might allow her/him to meet the 12-credit minimum with fewer than 4 courses.

How does a student register for a 499 or 599 with a faculty member?

If a faculty member agrees to be the instructor for a 499 or 599, that faculty member must contact Pharmacy Student Services, at pharmacy.studentservices@wsu.edu. Student Services will then enroll the student in the 499 or 599 course. Students are not able to register online for a 499 or 599, and faculty members are required to make the contact with Student Services rather than the student so that there is no question that the faculty member has agreed to be the instructor.

Admission changes during COVID-19

My institution changed the grading scheme for one or more of my prerequisite courses to Pass/Fail, will you accept this?

The CPPS admission policy states all prerequisite coursework must be letter graded and a grade of C- (1.7) or higher must be earned. If the applicant’s institution initiated the change, CPPS will make an exception to this policy and will accept Pass (P) or Satisfactory (S) grades. CPPS will not accept Pass/Fail courses if the applicant initiated the grading change.

My institution changed one or more of my prerequisite courses from credit bearing to no credit, will you accept this?

No, the CPPS admission policy requires applicants to earn credit for the prerequisite courses.

My institution changed course instruction from in person delivery to online, will you still accept my courses?

CPPS will accept upper-division science courses and non-science courses that were modified to an online delivery from regionally accredited institutions.

How should I send updated transcripts to WSU CPPS?

Please send updated transcripts directly to PharmCAS during the spring academic update period until further notice. The spring academic update is currently open and will remain open until July 10, 2020.

See additional COVID-19 updates from PharmCAS

Fall 2020

Should I secure housing?

As everyone’s circumstances are different, we are not in a position to recommend whether or not you should secure housing. At this point, there are a lot of variables to consider and we are following guidance from our governor, public health officials and our own in-house infectious disease experts. We will communicate as much information as possible so that you can make the best decision for your personal circumstances. As you know, guidance from our public health officials continue to be very fluid, and the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remain our primary concern, so we appreciate your flexibility and patience on this matter. Please refer to the question “Will there be class this fall semester?” for more details on instruction options the college is considering for the fall.

Will there be class this fall semester?

The College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will hold classes via virtual delivery this fall with the goal of in-person instruction in spring semester. Our primary reason for this decision is to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. You can read more about the college’s decision in this announcement.

Admission changes during COVID-19