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CU Pharmacy implements changes designed to streamline the admissions process

PCAT no longer required

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Written by Sara Knuth on July 17, 2019

The University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences made three major changes to streamline the admissions process and increase diversity in its pool of candidates.

Effective immediately, the school will no longer require the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), will allow all prerequisites to be completed at the community college level and will begin offering the option for a virtual interview.

The school, which used the PCAT for more than a decade as part of its admissions criteria, has shifted its application process to become more holistic in recent years by focusing more on a broad mix of factors, including items such as a candidate’s personal journey or barriers to academic success. The changes will impact students who plan to apply when applications open July 18.

CU Pharmacy Associate Professor Scott Mueller, PharmD, served as the chairman of the school’s admissions committee for the 2018-2019 term and oversaw the modifications. He said the change is part of the school’s strong emphasis on well-rounded admissions.

“It’s something that we on the admissions committee take very seriously because we know that if we didn’t take a holistic approach to these students, we might have missed out on a chance to make them the future great pharmacists that they will be,” Mueller said. “At the end of the day, numbers are numbers, but there’s something you can see in these learners that you know they’re going to be good as they come to school and progress.”

The PCAT can still be included in a student’s application. If submitted, it would be supplementary information only.

Mueller said the change has been in discussion for more than a year and was overwhelmingly supported by the CU Pharmacy faculty, who felt that there were important factors to consider in the process, other than test results. When the school was exploring the change for PCAT, it found that many other schools were making similar decisions by not requiring the test.

“What does this one day in time for a student represent over the career of their learning and their progression?” Mueller asked. “Does that really give you a good indicator of their trajectory over the next four years of pharmacy school?”

The decision to allow all prerequisites to be completed at the community college level decreases a significant barrier for community college students, who were previously required to transfer to a four-year institution to take the biochemistry prerequisite. After extensive analysis and recognition of the quality coursework offered by community colleges, the faculty agreed that students who complete prerequisites at community college are well prepared for success the CU Pharmacy program.

Finally, CU Pharmacy will also allow students to interview for a spot in the program virtually. The school still encourages students to visit campus, but knows there are potential travel barriers for applicants who live outside of the Denver metropolitan area.

“We’re excited about the virtual interview option,” Mueller said. “We recognize it is a barrier for some people to make it to campus on a Friday and that there are a lot of busy, working students, even within the state, who might not be able to make it onto campus for an on-site interview.”

Still, he added, “we always encourage them to come campus because I think a lot of people don’t appreciate how beautiful the campus is, how awesome the buildings and schools are set up, the integrated nature of the different health professions in the education buildings and just how neat Colorado is.”

To that end, applicants who interview virtually will still have the option to visit campus and have a chance to interact with faculty and potential future classmates before admission.

Mueller encouraged interested students to explore the advantages of CU Pharmacy's program. To learn more about the streamlined admissions process, visit the admissions page.

“It’s always worth a call and a look,” he said. “We’re a top pharmacy school. We have excellent faculty here. We have faculty who have written the book chapters that most people use within their curriculum. And it’s a beautiful place.”

To get in touch with the recruitment team, email PharmD@cuanschutz.edu.

Topics: Faculty, Students