The 10 Best Pharmacy Schools in the World

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a group of pharmacists studying and conducting experiments

Becoming a pharmacist is a rewarding career choice: you play an important role in the healthcare sector, you earn a generous annual salary and your career opportunities are endless. Indeed, you’re helping people on a daily basis while receiving competitive compensation; what more could you want from a career?

Arguably, the toughest part about entering this profession is deciding which pharmacy school to enrol in. This can be difficult for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from affording tuition and having the resources to relocate to another city (or even country), to meeting your chosen school’s requirements.

There’s a lot that goes with attaining an education in this field but, with due diligence and an abundance of research, you can minimise the headache of finding the best institution. So, to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge to make an informed choice of which pharmacy school to choose, we’ve consulted the QS World University Rankings – these are the 10 best pharmacy schools in the world.

10. University of Manchester

Location: Manchester, England

Degree: MPharm

Despite direct competition from other top UK pharmacy schools, the University of Manchester makes the list due to its global reputation for academic excellence and integrity.

It also boasts state-of-the-art teaching facilities, including aseptic laboratories and the SimMan patient simulator, while there is a strong emphasis on exposing students to real-life working pharmacies and hospitals throughout their studies.

9. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Degree: PharmD 

As one of the top public universities in the US, it’s no shock to see UNC’s pharmacy programme consistently ranking highly, and 2020 is no exception.

Taught within the Eshelman School of Pharmacy (so named after alumni and benefactor Dr Fred Eshelman), students are invited to spend time studying health systems around the world, while those with an entrepreneurial streak can even incorporate business modules into their course.

8. University of California, San Francisco

Location: San Francisco, California, USA

Degree: PharmD

Although UCSF is situated in one of the most expensive cities in the US today, it still comes highly recommended; the school’s PharmD programme is regularly ranked in the top 5 US schools in various pharmacy publications.

Students are also heavily encouraged to become involved in extracurricular activities, including taking part in community service initiatives, joining professional pharmacy organisations and getting involved in healthcare and science events on campus.

7. University of Nottingham

Location: Nottingham, England 

Degree: MPharm 

The University of Nottingham's School of Pharmacy is one of the most sought-after institutions in the world. It is nearly a century old, and it continues to attract people from all over the world for its intensive and celebrated studies.

In 2014, it was tied for first place in the UK on quality of research for Pharmacy Schools in the Research Excellence Framework. It is the only School of Pharmacy to possess 100% of research at 4* in the Impact on Society category.

6. University of Cambridge

Location: Cambridge, England

Degree: PhD

While the University of Cambridge does not maintain a pharmacy school, it does possess one of the best pharmacology departments in the UK. Cambridge's pharmacology undergraduate programme is conducted in the second and third years of the Natural Sciences Tripos after related subjects are completed in the first year. All medical and veterinary students also study pharmacology in their second year as part of the school's Mechanisms of Drug Action, or MoDA.

5. University of College London (UCL)

Location: London, England

Degree: MPharm 

Given its long tradition for excellence in teaching and research, it’s little surprise that UCL – one of the finest universities in the UK – that it makes the list of having one of the best pharmacy schools in the world. With an impressive graduate employment rate, the opportunity to study abroad and guaranteed patient contact straight from the start, it’s a definite no-brainer for aspiring pharmacists.

Given its prime location in the heart of London, it’s also a great student destination, with Covent Garden, Regent’s Park and King’s Cross all just a stone’s throw away.

4. University of Toronto

Location: Toronto, Canada

Degree: PharmD

Taught at the university’s Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy, the University of Toronto is the gold standard for pharmacy education in Canada.

As well as lectures, laboratory work and clinical placements, students are also encouraged to develop key soft skills such as communication and problem-solving, too. What really sets Toronto apart, though, is its desire to develop industry leaders, a commitment that students are expected to take seriously.

3. Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Degree: PharmD

Harvard University is one of the finest schools on the planet, celebrated for its curriculum, staff and alumni. If you graduate from this prestigious institution, you’re almost guaranteed employment upon graduation. Many requirements are necessary to enrol in Harvard, and if you meet the criteria, then this is your opportunity to sign up.

Harvard also does not possess a pharmacy school. However, it does maintain an incredible pharmacology programme that teaches students the fundamental concepts, such as how drugs are used by healthcare professionals, the routes of administration and how drugs are used in the treatment and prevention of disease. What's more, Harvard offers an online pharmacology programme that affords you the opportunity to study the subject remotely.

2. Monash University

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Degree: Combined BPharm/MPharm

Located in one of Australia’s largest cities and, thus, situated close to all the necessary amenities, Monash University maintains one of the most well-known pharmacy programmes on the planet. Considered one of the most prestigious institutions in the region, you’ll have access to some of the best and most advanced technology around to facilitate your education.

Tuition fees are affordable, too, which means you can temporarily move to Australia to sit in a class with the hefty savings.

1. University of Oxford

Location: Oxford, England

Degree: PhD

Oxford is synonymous with higher education. If higher education is what you’re after, then the University of Oxford is the go-to destination. For decades, it has routinely made it to various lists of the best universities in the world. You can’t go wrong for an academic facility that has been around for more than 900 years, can you?

While Oxford does not have a pharmacy school, it does offer undergraduate and undergraduate pharmacy programmes. The highest degree level you can attain is PhD.

Being a pharmacist is a tough job, but it does proffer a plethora of opportunities – reports continually highlight that it is one of the fastest-growing jobs today. To get your hands on those possibilities, you first need to enrol in the right school, though.

Everyone’s situation is unique – personal finances, disadvantaged backgrounds and residential location – but if you have the drive, the will and the opportunity, then you should not sell yourself short. Remember: scholarships, grants and other options are out there, so take advantage of them – just be sure you know what pharmacy school is really like.

What do you think about this list? Are you surprised to see any of these universities on the list, or perhaps shocked others didn’t make the cut? Let us know in the comments section below.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 13 September 2017.