The Price Tag for a Pharmacy Education

The cost of college education has skyrocketed over the past few years and we have seen average student debt double from 2007 to 2012.[1]  The additional years of education and professional school premium puts additional financial pressure on pharmacy graduates.  According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), just the average tuition alone for a public program for an “in-state” student is $13,000 per year and the average tuition for a private pharmacy school is $28,000 per year.[2]  “Out of State” students for public universities typically pay prices comparable to that of a private institution.

Cost of College

Beyond tuition, students still have housing, transportation and food expenditures while in school and often have to use student loans to cover for these basic living costs.  In addition to basic living, other costs could also arise for a student wanting to enjoy the full “college experience” while earning a degree.[3]  Joining a fraternity, sorority or professional organization while in pharmacy school typically requires annual membership dues.  Travel to professional meetings or going on Spring Break trips with friends can eat up student loan money quickly.  Estimated costs beyond tuition (books and supplies, room and board, transportation and other expenses) for a public in-state on-campus student are $13,596 per year and $14,233 for a private school on-campus student.[4]  Just for the cost of four years in pharmacy school, in-state students could be on the hook for $106,384 and out of state or private school students could owe $168,932 (See Figure 1).  When you tack on the costs for undergraduate education, many students approach the $200,000 mark to become a pharmacist.

Figure 1: Cost of a 4-year pharmacy education assuming zero undergraduate debt.


In-State Public University

Out of State Public or Private




Cost of Living



Total Cost




[1] Ross A. Mortgaging the Future: Student Debt in the Age of Austerity. New Labor Forum (Murphy Institute) [serial online]. January 2013;22(1):23-28.

[2] How much does pharmacy school cost? AACP. accessed on October 22, 2013.

[3] De Baca S. The 12 Hidden College Expenses. Time Magazine. November 16, 2012. Accessed at on October 22, 2013.

[4] Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets, 2012-2013. The College Board. Accessed at on October 22, 2013.

Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy located in Baltimore, Maryland. Joey has managed retail and long-term care pharmacy operations in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Leading Over The Counter is a blog of Joey's views and opinions on the topics of pharmacy leadership and management and do not represent the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Joey can be followed on Twitter @joeymattingly.

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