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Frequently Asked Questions

General information
Admissions information
Prerequisite coursework
Honors/Satisfactory/Fail Student Learning Assessment
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.

Admissions information

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 must 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.

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 one professional letter and one academic letter. Academic sources include professors or instructors who have directly interacted with the student in a classroom setting or official, university or college-affiliated academic advisors. Professional sources include employers or volunteer organization personnel with whom the applicant has directly worked. Recommendations are NOT ACCEPTED from family members, friends, politicians, teaching assistants, fraternity or sorority advisors, personal health care providers or high school faculty/advisors.

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 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.

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

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?


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?

At this time we do not accept international students into our Doctor of Pharmacy program.

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

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

Please contact CPPS Student Services at 509-368-6605 or

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

Washington State University