The School of Pharmacy was established officially in 1898; the University College of Medicine had a school of pharmacy when it opened in 1893. The two-year curriculum gave way to a three-year program in 1925, and in 1932 the school required four years of college work and a Bachelor of Science degree was awarded. In 1960, the program lengthened to a five-year course leading to a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree. In 1975, authority was granted to offer to selected students a six-year program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree and this program was adopted as the only professional offering by the school in 1995. The School of Pharmacy currently enrolls students in a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy program curriculum following completion of at least three years of pre-professional studies taken at VCU or elsewhere. In 1996 a part-time program was offered that permits current Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree holders to earn the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in a nontraditional format requiring students to come to campus infrequently. This program is in the process of being phased out and no longer accepts students for enrollment. Since 1971, all pharmacy students have participated in a clerkship program (now referred to as advanced pharmacy practice experiences) during the final year of the curriculum. Beginning 2008, the school added introductory pharmacy practice experiences during the first three years of the program to gradually transition the student from the academic classroom setting into the practice arena. Students spend their final year in a variety of practice settings under the supervision of highly qualified faculty preceptors.
The authority to award graduate degrees in the pharmaceutical sciences was granted by the Graduate Council in 1952. Departments in the school have the responsibility for administering a graduate program leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences. This program includes areas of specialization in medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutics, pharmacotherapy and pharmacy administration. These programs provide the preparation and research experience for academic, governmental and industrial careers. Graduate degrees in pharmaceutical sciences do not provide eligibility for licensure as a pharmacist.
Students may elect to pursue a joint Pharm.D./M.S., Pharm.D./Ph.D., Pharm.D./M.B.A. or Pharm.D./M.P.H. program. Such students must apply to, and be accepted by, both programs separately.