Pharmacy Management Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a pharmacy management graduate program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and PhD and potential careers.
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Studying Pharmacy Management: Degrees at a Glance

Pharmacy management studies at the graduate level are often found as concentrations in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs or specializations within PhD programs in pharmacy administration. In these programs you take a number of business and leadership courses. Many times, for a career in pharmacy management, you must also be a licensed pharmacist. A PhD in Pharmacy Administration with a concentration in management differs from a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree and does not lead to a career as a pharmacist.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? Pharmacy workers who are looking to pursue upper-management positions Individuals who want to conduct pharmacy research and drug use studies
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Pharmacy director (requires pharmacist license) ($143,000)*
- Assistant pharmacy director (requires pharmacist license) ($133,000)*
- Pharmacist manager (requires pharmacist license) ($127,000)*
- Clinical pharmacist (requires PharmD and pharmacist license) ($104,000)*
- Nuclear pharmacist (requires PharmD and pharmacist license) ($116,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4+ years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Core business and management courses
- About 5 courses directly related to pharmacy management
- Internship or practicum
- Roughly 10-12 core business and health courses
- About 4-6 pharmacy management courses
- Dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree - Bachelor's degree
- Master's degree
- GRE scores
Online Availability Hybrid programs available No

Source: *Salary.com figures (June 2012)

Master's in Pharmacy Management

Most pharmacy management programs are found within an MBA program. About two-thirds of the coursework in these programs cover business concepts, with remaining courses focusing on pharmacy management. Sometimes, in these programs, you take courses through two departments, allowing you to learn from professors who specialize in business and others who have extensive knowledge of pharmacy practices. This degree could be a necessary step towards earning a PhD, although not all schools require you to have a master's degree to enroll in a PhD program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Program only takes about 2 years beyond a bachelor's degree
  • Can lead to high-paying management positions as a pharmacist manager or pharmacy director if you have a pharmacist license
  • May acquire hands-on pharmacy experience while in the program through internships

Cons

  • Is not a replacement for the PharmD degree needed to become a pharmacist
  • Does not qualify you for most research positions
  • Limited elective opportunities means you can't focus your studies on a specific area of pharmacy management

Courses and Requirements

You'll probably end up taking about 15-20 total courses in an MBA program, with some focusing on business concepts and others designed to teach you about running a pharmacy. The business courses in these programs typically cover topics in financial management, economics and team building. An internship or practicum may also be required, either of which provides you with experience working in an actual pharmacy environment. MBA programs concentrating in pharmacy management are highly structured, meaning you might have limited elective opportunities. Some of the pharmacy management courses you might take include:

  • Health informatics
  • Pharmacoeconomics
  • Drug metabolism
  • Pharmaceutical research methods
  • Parenteral medications

Online Course Info

Some schools give you the opportunity to take most of your business courses in an online format, but you'll need to head to campus for your concentration courses in pharmacy management. You may also have to spend about two weeks in a residency on the campus at some point of the program. Coursework and requirements in the distance learning program are usually identical to the on-campus program.

Stand Out with This Degree

Some pharmacy management positions require you to be a licensed pharmacist, so an MBA alone may not be enough. You'll need to complete a PharmD program before you can become a licensed pharmacist. You don't need a graduate degree for admission into a PharmD program. Therefore, you could have all of your licensure requirements completed before you pursue an MBA with a concentration in pharmacy management.

Gaining additional experience beyond your required internship can also make you stand out after you complete the program. To acquire this experience, you could work as a pharmacy supervisor. This will help you become acquainted with directing other employees and handling minor management responsibilities. You can qualify for most pharmacy technician supervisor positions with some pharmacy experience and a high school diploma, so picking up a part-time supervisor job could give you a huge boost when you start searching for high-paying pharmacy director positions.

Joining a professional organization can also help you stand out. For example, if you join the American Pharmacists Association, you'll have access to training programs and specialized publications focusing on the pharmaceutical industry.

PhD in Pharmacy Management

A pharmacy management doctoral program is typically offered as a concentration within a PhD in Pharmacy Administration program. You may need a master's degree for admission to a PhD program, although some schools may admit you with a bachelor's degree. In these programs you take a combination of business and pharmacy courses during your first two years. In the later years of your studies, you write and defend a dissertation focusing on an area of pharmacy management.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Allows you to pursue high-level research positions
  • Dissertation allows you to focus your studies on a subject of your interest
  • Employers may prefer to hire PhD holders over master's degree holders for top pharmacy management positions

Cons

  • May spend over 10 years in school (bachelor's, PharmD and PhD)
  • Your salary probably won't increase beyond what you'd be able to earn with a master's degree
  • Most of the non-research jobs you qualify for only require a master's degree

Courses and Requirements

Core courses that all PhD students take while studying pharmacy administration may include pharmacy research methods, health economics and pharmacy marketing. You take up to six pharmacy management concentration courses, which could include financial accounting, organizational behavior and marketing management. Seminars covering advanced concepts in pharmacy administration are sometimes a part of these programs.

The latter two years of your PhD program are spent working on your dissertation. Some research areas in which you could focus include pharmaceutical outcomes management and pharmaceutical management. Although an internship or practicum is not required, some schools may give you credit if you participate in one.

Online Degree Options

Although a few courses might be available online, you'll need to complete the majority of a PhD program in pharmacy management on your school's campus. Attending an on-campus program allows you to engage in research and interact with professors.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Since a PhD program in this field prepares you for a career in pharmacy research, you'll want to take advantage of any research opportunities offered during the course of your studies. If your school has a research center or medical facility, you may be able to help a professor with his or her research in addition to pursuing your studies. Possessing advanced research skills may help you stand out against your competition.

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