Pharmacy Schools in California - 2021

California is the nation's most populous state, housing around 39 million people. To take care of the healthcare needs of this large population, pharmacists are always in demand. As of 2018, there are estimated to be 32,150 pharmacists working in the state drawing an average annual salary of $144,050. To become a licensed pharmacist, you must complete the Doctor of Pharmacy program from any of the accredited schools in the state. To help you narrow down on the best pharmacy school, we have ranked ACPE accredited pharmacy schools in CA, based on their NAPLEX performance.

Our Ranking Methodology

The Pharmacy Schools ranking for the state of CA is based on the NAPLEX first time pass rates. Each school was closely evaluated for its NAPLEX performance in the last four years, with 40 % weightage given to 2019, 30% to 2018, 20% to 2017 and 10% to 2016. A pharmacy school that consistently has its students passing the NAPLEX on the first attempt speaks volumes about the quality and success of its program.

NAPLEX Pass Rate YearWeightage

2021 Ranking of ACPE Accredited Pharmacy Schools in California

#1. University of California San Diego

Ranking Score: 99.00
Location: La Jolla
Program Length: 4 Years

About the College: University of California San Diego's Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is known for its emphasis on research. Nearly half of the 60 students who enter its program each fall will go on to pursue a post-graduate degree.

Program Details: The application deadline is November 1 for the fall semester of the following year; promising candidates will be invited for an onsite interview in December. The fall semester begins in late August. In addition to teaching traditional pharmacology classes, the four-year Pharm D curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary collaborations with the University's medical school and with other health science schools on campus; and emphasizes emerging topics within the industry such as pharmacogenomics, computational biology and bioinformatics. Beginning in their third year, students participate in clinical placements at hospitals, community clinics and research institutions in San Diego and the surrounding area.

University of California San Diego NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#2. University of Southern California

Ranking Score: 96.30
Location: Los Angeles
Program Length: 4 Years

About the College: University of Southern California School of Pharmacy provides an enormous number of options for aspiring professionals within the field of pharmacology. The school offers a number of concurrent degree programs that allow students to enroll in a Pharm.D. program in CA and pursue an MBA, a J.D. or an MPH at the same time.

Program Details: To complete a four-year degree in pharmacology, students will be required to take 133 units of classroom coursework with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and participate in a minimum of 1,740 hours of clinical experience. Sponsoring hospitals and community clinics typically require a criminal background checks as well as a drug screening. University of Southern California requires all students to obtain intern licensure with the California State Board of Pharmacy at the beginning of their first year and to maintain that licensure in good standing throughout their enrollment in the School of Pharmacy.

University of Southern California NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#3. Touro University

Ranking Score: 95.80
Location: Vallejo
Program Length:4 Years

About the College: Touro University is a Jewish-sponsored institution of higher learning and professional education. The University is open to students of all faiths, however. Touro admits approximately half the students who apply to its College of Pharmacy, and it has an early admissions program.

Program Details: The University's College of Pharmacy is a unique 2+2 program, which means that students spend their first and second years in a didactic, classroom environment and their third and fourth years pursuing clinical rotations. Classes are small, and faculty members are encouraged to maintain an open door policy. The program has a strong community health focus, and some students may opt to earn a concurrent MPH while simultaneously enrolled in the College of Pharmacy. During their clinical rotations, students are encouraged to become involved in a number of community-based initiatives such as free clinics and health screenings.

Touro University NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#4. University of the Pacific

Ranking Score: 95.50
Location: Stockton
Program Length: 3 Years

About the College: The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at University of Pacific offers three specializations in the pharmacy field: Pharmacy Practice, which prepares students to work as pharmacists in communities; Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry, which prepares students for careers in the pharmaceutical industry; and Physiology and Pharmacology, which prepares students for academic careers.

Program Details: The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy was the first professional pharmacy program in the U.S. to offer an accelerated three-year program. The application deadline is September 4 if you want to be considered for early admission; otherwise, it is January 7 for the semester that starts the following fall. Students begin developing patient care skills in their very first semester. Clinical rotations take place at medical centers, teaching hospitals and related practice areas throughout Stockton and other parts of the San Joaquin Valley.

University of the Pacific NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#5. University of California San Francisco

Ranking Score: 95.10
Location: San Francisco
Program Length: 3 Years

About the College: The School of Pharmacy at University of California San Francisco is one of the most competitive pharmacy colleges in California. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks this pharmacy program among its top ten nationwide. In 2018, the School switched to a new three-year curriculum. Of the 500 people who apply to this school, a little more than 20 percent will be accepted.

Program Details: The application deadline is November 1 for a fall semester that starts in late August. The school maintains a waiting list. The curriculum emphasizes experiential learning as well as applied patient care skills so that students will have a strong foundation in scientific principles. Year 1 focuses on the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and gastrointestinal systems while Year 2 focuses psychiatry, infectious diseases and oncology. Toward the end of Year 2, each student chooses his or her own Discovery Project, which is an applied research opportunity in an area of particular personal interest.

University of California San Francisco NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#6. Western University of Health Sciences

Ranking Score: 94.50
Location: Pomona
Program Length: 4 Years

About the College: The Pharm.D. professional program at Western University of Health Sciences trains pharmacists to take their place alongside other professionals in today's rapidly evolving health care marketplace. The program offers a wealth of clinical experiences, and students have done rotations in many settings outside southern California, including Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Arizona, Utah and Thailand.

Program Details: Though clinical experiences begin early with a rotation through a community or hospital pharmacy, most of the first and second years are devoted to "block learning," during which students are immersed in the concentrated study of one subject area. Intensive clinical rotations begin in the third year. Western University uses 350 sites, which include county hospitals, private hospitals, VA facilities and pediatric hospitals. The program also provides experiential learning opportunities in compounding pharmacies as well as in chain drug stores and independently owned pharmacies.

Western University of Health Sciences NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#7. Loma Linda University

Ranking Score: 90.90
Location: Loma Linda
Program Length: 4 Years

About the College: Although the School of Pharmacy at Loma Linda University is open to students of all faiths, the University itself is part of the Seventh-day Adventist system of higher education. The University regards the health care professions as healing ministries, and instruction emphasizes Christian values.

Program Details: The application deadline for admission into the fall class is January 7. The first year of the four-year program is exclusively devoted to academic work. Clinical rotations begin during the second year, and students must take a minimum of six Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotations throughout their fourth and final year. Concurrent graduate degree programs are available for students who want to pursue Master's degrees in Bioethics or Health Informatics while they are completing their Pharm.D. studies.

Loma Linda University NAPLEX Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

#8. California Northstate University

Ranking Score: 84.10
Location: Elk Grove
Program Length: 4 Years

About the College: California Northstate University College of Pharmacy (CNUCOP) is dedicated to provide progressive educational programs and prepare aspiring pharmacists for a competitive career in the healthcare field. Located in the exotic city of Elk Grove in Sacramento, CA, the college trains students through its three fully equipped departments – Clinical & Administrative, Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Sciences, and Experiential Education.

About the Program: CNUCOP offers a 4-year PharmD program with a sequential coursework, delivered through classroom lectures, independent study which can be done after completion of the first year, lab work, and clinical experiences. During the first three years, you will learn about cell & molecular biology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacokinetics, pharmacoepidemiology, pharmacy law, and introductory level of pharmacy practices. Your last or fourth year will be dedicated to advanced level of pharmacy practices in a variety of settings such as hospitals, community, general medicine, and other patient-care facilities. Graduates of this program upon successfully passing the NAPLEX will be fully capable to efficiently work as pharmacists in the ever-growing field of healthcare.

California Northstate University Performance
Year# of Students AttemptedPass Rate

Typical Pharm.D. Program Details in CA

Why Should I Apply for an ACPE Accredited Pharm. D. Program?

When you apply for an ACPE Accredited Pharm. D. Program you are assured of receiving quality education that is recognized across the nation for the education standards and the professional degree it offers. Moreover, employers are always on the lookout for accredited program graduates, so you can land that coveted job much sooner.

Program Length

The Pharm. D. Program, on its own, usually takes 4 years to complete. However, since the Pharm. D. requires at least two to four years of undergraduate study to complete the pre-pharmacy curriculum requirements, you will require six to eight years of college study to earn a Pharm. D. degree.


Your tuition cost will greatly vary depending on your in-state or out-of-state status. The tuition cost of Doctor of Pharmacy programs in California usually ranges between $150,000 to $250,000. For example, to complete your Pharm. D. from University of California San Diego, you will bear a cost of $161,708 and from Touro University it will cost you $183,200.


The curriculum of a Pharm. D. Program is dynamic and undergoes regular revision, reflecting scientific and technological advances. Covered over a span of 4 years, it varies from school to school and is a combination of required and elective courses. As an example, we look into the curriculum offered by University of Southern California, to give you a general idea of the coursework offered by pharmacy schools in CA. The first three years of the program at USC include foundational courses in biomedical, pharmaceutical, social, administrative and clinical sciences. Students along with the classroom learning, complete Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE). The IPPE gives students an opportunity to apply the newly acquired knowledge in a variety of practice settings. Towards end of third and the entire fourth year students complete the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs), usually set in healthcare settings such as ambulatory care, acute medicine, community pharmaceutical care and hospital.

Sample Curriculum

Year I CurriculumYear II Curriculum
Pharmaceutics IPharmacy Literature Analysis and Drug Information
Pharmaceutics IITherapeutics: Pharmacokinetics
Biological Systems ICase Conference 1
Biological Systems IICase Conference 2
Pharmacy Practice and Professionalism 1Pharmacy Law
Pharmacy Practice and Professionalism 2Therapeutics: Central Nervous System
Calculations and CompoundingTherapeutics: General Medicine and Inflammatory Disorders
Metabolism and Cell BiologyTherapeutics: Endocrine System
Non-Prescription TherapiesCommunity Pharmacy Practice
PharmacogeneticsHospital Pharmacy Practice
Pharmacists' Patient Care ProcessElective Pharmacy Practice
Medicinal ChemistryScholarly Project 1
Pharmaceutics IIIElectives
Year III CurriculumYear IV Curriculum
Therapeutics: OncologyAcute Care Clinical APPE
Therapeutics: Special PopulationsPrimary Care APPE
Therapeutics: Infectious DiseasesCommunity Pharmacy APPE
Therapeutics: Cardiovascular SystemHospital Pharmacy Practice APPE
Case Conference 3Doctor of Pharmacy Capstone (a in the fall, and b in the spring)
Case Conference 4Elective APPE Courses (Must take two courses from list below):
Community Pharmacy PracticeNuclear Pharmacy APPE
Hospital Pharmacy PracticeInternational Pharmacy Practice Experience
Elective Pharmacy PracticeAdvanced Geriatrics APPE
Pharmacy Management and EconomicsPharmaceutical Industry APPE
Scholarly Project 2Advanced Pharmacy Practice Elective (APPE)
Scholarly Project 3 (proposed)Non-traditional Advanced Pharmacy Practice Elective (APPE)
APPE Gateway

Licensure - Passing the NAPLEX and CPJE Exam in California

To become a licensed pharmacist in California you are required to pass both, the NAPLEX, administered by the NABP and the CPJE, developed by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

NAPLEX: This exam is administered by the NABP. Before you apply for the NAPLEX you must check with the California State Board of Pharmacy if you are eligible to take this exam. Once the board determines your eligibility you can pay a non-refundable fee and apply for the NAPLEX through the NABP site.

CPJE: To become licensed in California you must pass the CPJE in addition to NAPLEX. Apply to the state board and allow it 30 days to process your application. You can schedule this exam only after the board has determined your eligibility. You can find in-detail information about the exam here. You can even go through a practice test provided by the state board.

California Pharm. D. Graduates NAPLEX Performance (2016-2019)

The performance of Pharm. D. graduates in the golden state over the past 4 years has been pretty much consistent, barring just the year 2016, where the pass percentage dropped to a 91.33. In 2017, 943 students took the NAPLEX and passed it with an impressive 93.90%. The year 2018 and 2019 saw a remarkable performance, the highest in 4 years, with 949 students passing the NAPLEX with a 94.28% and 856 students passed it with 94.27%.

#TakenPass % #TakenPass %#TakenPass %#TakenPass %
University of CaliforniaLa Jolla5594.60%60100.00%6498.40%58100.00%
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles16996.40%17095.90%17196.50%16996.50%
Touro UniversityVallejo9090.00%9496.80%9297.80%8295.12%
University of the PacificStockton18792.50%20793.70%19095.80%19196.90%
University of CaliforniaSan Francisco11196.40%10798.10%11391.10%10496.20%
Western University of Health SciencesPomona12889.10%12391.10%12697.60%12895.30%
Loma Linda UniversityLoma Linda7483.80%7991.10%8091.20%6492.20%
California Northstate UniversityElk Grove9087.80%10384.50%11385.80%6081.70%
Overall California NAPLEX Performance90491.33%94393.90%94994.28%85694.27%

How Much Do Pharmacists Make in California?

Pharmacists in California take home some of the highest pay packages in the country. On an average, the annual salary of a pharmacist in California is $144,050. The higher cost of living in the state translates into these fat pay checks, which is 12.87% higher than the national average. While, the highest salaries are paid in Vallejo-Fairfield, the lowest are in Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pharmacist 10-Year Job Outlook in California

The projected 10-year employment growth for a pharmacist in California is 6.01%, considering 2018 as the base year. In 2018 there were 33,300 pharmacists working in the state and this number is set to be 35,300 by 2028. The steady demand for pharmacists is due to growing expansion of the pharmaceutical industry along with the rise in population that results in increasing medical care. This demand leads to approximately 1,740 job openings being created each year.

2018 Employment2028 EmploymentGrowthProjected Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
Source: Career One Stop

Past 5-Years Employment Growth in CA

If we consider a 5-year period, taking 2015 as our base year we witness an overall employment growth rate that is favorable for pharmacists in the state. Except for 2016, where the demand for pharmacists was in the negative, California has added a good 3,850 pharmacists to its workforce, since 2015. The state has seen a 13.60% growth rate in the employment of its pharmacists from 2015 to 2019.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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