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Getting Started as a First-Year Professional Program Applicant

For many students the hardest part of planning for admission to LIU Pharmacy’s Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) professional program is figuring out just where to start. Getting yourself ready takes time and careful thought. If you are reading this then doubtlessly you’ve already given your career goals some thought and have included study of pharmacy among the possibilities for yourself. The information provided below is intended to help you know what it takes to become an informed and competitive applicant for our Pharm.D. program.

LIU Pharmacy’s admission committee reviews each application individually to identify students that have demonstrated strong academic abilities. Good academics alone, however, do not complete the entire picture. We seek students with experiences of community service and leadership. Personal characteristics of honesty and integrity, creativity and talent, as well as enthusiasm in the pursuit of expanding of your experiences and mind are particularly desirable and contribute to LIU Pharmacy’s strengths and diversity.
Admission to LIU Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. program is both competitive and selective since there are many more applicants thaN the spaces available in each class of the program. As a result your admission materials are considered both on their own merits as well as in comparison with the materials submitted by other applicants.

All applicants to LIU Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. program will need to submit an application through the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS), a centralized application service for students applying to colleges and schools of pharmacy. You should apply through PharmCAS in the fall prior to the fall you intend to enroll in the professional program. For example, if you intend to enroll in the professional program beginning in September 2014 you should apply through PharmCAS in the fall of 2013. Application deadlines vary slightly from year to year. Visit our admission deadlines page for details. PharmCAS is only one step of LIU Pharmacy’s admissions process. You must not only meet all PharmCAS requirements but all of LIU Pharmacy’s specific requirements before your application will be processed and reviewed.

planning your college course work

Be sure to take the courses that will prepare you for college work in pharmacy. In consultation with your college academic advisor you should certainly select courses that correspond with LIU Pharmacy’s pre-professional plan of study. You should carefully review the specific courses listed in our pre-professional curriculum. If you are a pharmacy pre-professional student at LIU your academic advisors are thoroughly knowledgeable of these requirements and will be able to greatly assist you in planning your schedule. If you are taking your pre-professional requirements at another institution you should seek out its pre-professional advisors for assistance in selecting the proper corresponding courses at your own campus. Wherever you are completing your pre-professional studies you should plan on completing those requirements in the spring semester prior to fall semester you desire to begin your studies the professional program.

If you have or will have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to beginning the Professional Phase of the Pharm.D. program you will need all required science & math courses however, because you will have met the other requirements for another college degree, any combination of 27 credits (24 credits beginning for students admitted to the professional program in fall 2015 and after) in English, social sciences and/or humanities with a grade of ‘C’ or higher will complete the prerequisite course requirements.

meeting the expectations for quality of academic work

Our applicants are expected to have a high level of performance in their course work and should show an increasingly strong academic record over the course of their college studies. An overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 is required; however, the average GPA for students admitted over the past several years has been 3.40/3.50.  The cumulative GPA includes all of your college courses, including the grades in courses you may have repeated. Grades in repeated courses will be averaged with all your other courses meaning that repeated grades do NOT replace the original grades earned in repeated work, even if your institution excludes them in its calculation of your cumulative GPA. This means that grades earned for all courses, even those not required for your pre-pharmacy coursework, are considered to determine your cumulative GPA.
LIU Pharmacy also separately determines a GPA for your science coursework and a GPA for your math coursework. As with your overall cumulative GPA, a minimum GPA in the sciences as well as a minimum GPA of 3.00 in mathematics are required. Again, as with the calculation of your overall cumulative GPA, all science and math courses are included, even if they are not specific to our science and math prerequisite course. Additionally, grades for repeated science and math courses are included in the calculations. LIU Pharmacy strongly recommends that applicants have grades of B or better in all prerequisite science and mathematics coursework.

LIU Pharmacy strongly encourages students to enroll in 16 credits or more in each semester of pre-professional studies to demonstrate their preparedness for the highly rigorous academic loads of the professional program. This includes enrolling in three or more science and/or math courses per semester. Following the pre-professional plan of study will fulfill this recommendation.

Be sure to keep track of any awards or other special recognitions you may have received for your academic or scholastic achievement. On your PharmCAS application you will be able to list up to five academic honors that you have received, in order of importance to you.

Scheduling a visit

If you will be a transfer student to LIU it’s never too early to schedule a visit to the campus. Not only will you get a better feel for the physical campus, you will find that your tour guide will be able to offer you a wealth of information about all that goes on here. So, be sure to ask plenty of questions!

Campus tours are coordinated through the Admissions Office and take place Monday through Friday; campus tour schedule. Please arrive at the Admissions Office several minutes prior to the start time. What you’ll get to see: cafeterias, computer labs, the library, classrooms, art galleries, the Kumble Theater, the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center and so much more! Reservations are not required.
To set up a private visit or a group tour of LIU Brooklyn, please send an email to admissionsevents@brooklyn.liu.edu with the time and date you would like to visit. (Note: please specify whether or not you will require a tour of the Residence Hall facilities as well.)

taking the pharmacy college admissions test (PCAT)

The PCAT is a national, standardized exam that is required of all applicants to LIU Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. professional program. The PCAT includes seven subtests in verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative ability, and writing. You should plan on taking the PCAT prior to the PharmCAS application deadline to plan to start your professional pharmacy studies. Complete information on applying for the PCAT and the format of the exam may be found at http://www.pcatweb.info. LIU Pharmacy will consider PCAT scores up to three calendar years old.

Your PCAT score is important. LIU Pharmacy makes use of PCAT as part of its process to make admissions decision as it provides a common criterion of pharmacy-related academic proficiency that may be used to compare all of our applicants regardless of the college(s) attended. We encourage you to study and prepare for the PCAT. There are many alternatives toward preparing for the PCAT. These include test preparation books available from most booksellers, in-person or online preparatory courses offered by various commercial companies or even private tutoring. Applicants should take their test preparation seriously and start preparing early.

Applicants may take the PCAT more than once. Our admissions committee will view all presenting multiple valid scores on an application but will only consider the highest set of scores for admission decision purposes. Currently no minimum PCAT score is required however, scores are an integral part of the admission decision process.

participating in community service and extracurricular activities

Grades and exam scores alone do not determine the qualities we desire in applicants. LIU Pharmacy desires students who have given of themselves through service to their schools and/or communities, demonstrated leadership among their peers, have special and unique talents beyond academics and who exhibit a desire to learn beyond the classroom.

For the Pharm.D. program, LIU Pharmacy has a particular interest in students who have demonstrated a compassion and dedication to their fellow humans by participating in service to the community and/or the world at large. Service is a cornerstone of the professional life of pharmacists. Community service should be part of your lifestyle and not just part of your application to the pharmacy program. LIU Pharmacy encourages its applicants to volunteer in a consistent and regular manner. Volunteer service to hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers or other activities engaged in providing support to people with health care needs are particularly valuable toward learning about the types of roles and responsibilities that pharmacists and other health care professionals have toward patients. We realize that every student may not have the opportunity for such service. Other activities that demonstrate desires to improve the lot of humanity are also highly desired in applicants to LIU Pharmacy. Examples of the multitude of activities you might engage in could include charitable efforts for those who are disadvantaged in economic, social or other ways; work toward improving the environment; and assisting the elderly and/or children with special needs.

Activities such as sports, dramatics, newspaper, music and a variety of special interest clubs highlight your talents and demonstrate what you are capable of reaching beyond your studies. Participation in these activities are important toward helping you to learn time-management skills you will need in professional program as you must appropriately balance your time between your activities, attending classes, doing homework, spending time with family and friends and getting enough sleep. Extracurricular activities will also help you develop conflict-resolution skills, particularly if you have assumed leadership positions. There will always be disagreements, personality clashes and power struggles wherever you go in life. Participating in extracurricular activities will aid you in listening to others, exhibiting supportive body language and discovering what is best for the group rather than for particular individuals.

The community service and extracurricular activities that you would like LIU Pharmacy to review should be entered in your PharmCAS application in the order of importance to you. You will be able to list up to 20 activities. If you are NOT currently an LIU student the supplemental application includes space for those extracurricular activities that had the most impact on you. For each activity we ask that you indicate your level of involvement, leadership positions you may have held and any awards which you may have earned through your involvement.

If you are an applicant selected in participate in an on-campus interview you should be prepared to tell your interviewers about community service and extracurricular activities. Be able to discuss what you have learned about yourself and others through your participation and how you have applied what you have learned to your personal and professional development.

In addition to providing you with community service opportunities, as discussed in the section on community service and extracurricular opportunities, volunteer or work experience in healthcare settings, particularly pharmacy settings, may also help you establish the expected perspectives on the profession of pharmacy. Other methods of gaining knowledge and/or exposure to the profession might include talking to pharmacy students and faculty; interviewing practicing pharmacists; shadowing pharmacists in different types of settings; and/or volunteering to work in a pharmacy setting.

Becoming knowledgable about pharmacy

LIU Pharmacy’s admissions committee wants to know what motivates you to pursue a career in pharmacy. Much of the information the committee will receive comes from the personal statement you will submit with your PharmCAS application (see the immediately following section regarding personal statements). Your personal statement should reflect you having a foundational understanding of pharmacy as a profession and what has motivated you to become a pharmacist. If you are selected for an on-campus admissions interview you will be expected to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the pharmacist’s place in the health care system compared to other professionals. You may also be expected to demonstrate some knowledge of the issues faced by today’s pharmacists.

preparing personal statements

You are asked in your PharmCAS application to provide a personal statement that addresses why you have selected pharmacy as a career, how a Doctor of Pharmacy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals and to also describe how your personal, educational and professional background will help you achieve your goals. LIU Pharmacy considers your personal essay as an important part of your PharmCAS application as it provides us with the opportunity to assess how clearly and effectively you express yourself and your ideas. You should carefully follow the PharmCAS instructions for the submission of your personal statement.

All personal statements should be your own work, written by yourself. It is a good idea, however, to ask other people that know you well (friends, family members, teachers) to review drafts of your personal statement and hear their ideas as to how well the statement reflects yourself and your views on the topics you have chosen to write about.

obtaining letters of recommendation

One of the most important parts of your application package will be the letters of recommendation. For applicants to the professional program two letters of recommendation are required. Since you are not writing the letters it might seem as though this is the easiest part of putting together your application. Don’t be fooled as getting the best recommendation you can requires preparation and work.

The letters may be from an employer, professor, supervisor of a community service project, etc.; however, they may not come from a family member, teaching assistant, co-worker, or friend. In particular, those that are able to write the best letter of recommendation are individuals who have direct knowledge of your academic and personal qualifications for study in the pharmacy professional program. We strongly encouraged you to take the initiative to establish academic relationships with professors and other instructors early on in your college career. It is important that the recommenders get to know you as both a student and person so they are best able to include meaningful comments in their letters of recommendation. At the start of fall semester prior to when you plan to enter the professional program consider making a list of people you believe would provide a positive recommendation based on what they know about the quality of your academic, work, community service and/or personal characteristics. Approach each person on your list individually and ask for his/her thoughts about providing you with a letter. Those that have the highest regard for you will likely indicate that they regard it as an honor to be considered to write a letter of recommendation and will be enthusiastic to do so. For most of you, it will probably be among these individuals that you select your final choice to write the letter.

Once you have selected your recommenders make sure you provide them with everything they need to write the letter and submit it in a timely fashion. Carefully review the deadline for the writer of your letter of recommendation to make sure you allow him/her enough time to write a letter that is thoughtful and articulate.

All letters of recommendation are to be submitted through PharmCAS. The letters may be submitted electronically or on paper. Carefully read and follow the PharmCAS instructions for submitting letters and make sure your recommenders fully understand the process through whatever mechanism they prefer. If a recommender indicates he/she intends to submit a paper letter be sure to provide them with the appropriate form from PharmCAS to accompany it. You should also provide your writer with a stamped pre-addressed envelope. Be sure to do this for the convenience of your recommender.

You will also be asked during the PharmCAS application process whether or not you wish to waive your rights to access or view the letter of recommendation your writer submits. This is entirely your decision. Many writers are more comfortable in writing a letter with the knowledge that you will not be able to personally read it. Please be aware, however, that if you do waive your right of access to the recommendation that you will never be given an opportunity to review it.

In addition the PharmCAS instructions you should make sure your recommenders have everything else they need to write their letters and provide them on time. Be sure the writers are aware of the deadline for submitting the letters. You might consider providing your recommenders with the personal statement you’ve written for your application and a copy of your resume and/or a listing of your achievements and activities to aid them in drafting their letters.

Keep in mind that the writers of your letters of recommendation are performing a significant personal favor on your behalf. Be sure to show your appreciation by sending your recommenders a note of thanks.

considering costs and financial aid

A college education, particular one in a professional program, is a big investment in your future - one that will pay off through increased knowledge and better career opportunities. Experts will tell you that it’s never too early to start creating a financial plan for college costs. Review our tuition and fees schedule to begin to develop a sense of what your pharmacy education will cost you. Start discussing the costs with your family and carefully review our financial aid and scholarships pages for information on the various ways through which you may obtain loans, grants and/or scholarships to assist you in meeting the financial obligations of your college studies.

LIU Brooklyn is committed to making a quality, private education affordable. Eighty-five percent of our students receive financial assistance to help meet college expenses. Each year, more than $175 million in scholarships and financial aid is awarded to our students. Through an integrated mix of personal and online services, we have developed a system that supports our students in managing all aspects of financing their education.