How to Find Accredited Online Pharmacy Degrees

1/1/11 by Jeff Gordon

Remember the neighborhood pharmacist where your family used to go to get medicine after visiting the doctor? Well, it’s safe to say that your neighborhood pharmacist was making a great living just by dispensing medication and answering your questions. Pharmacists were always well-respected and well-paid, and the same holds true today. Because of the rapid growth of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the growing elderly population, pharmacy jobs boast above-average employment growth. Pharmacists in particular have great earning potential, with median income levels well above the national average.

To get your foot into the door in the pharmacy field, consider pursuing an accredited online pharmacy degree. Online degree programs allow you to study at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. Further, depending on which online pharmacy degree you pursue, your degree will qualify you for jobs as a pharmacy aide, pharmacy technician, or pharmacist. Most employers will only recognize online pharmacy degrees from accredited schools, however, so it’s essential for you to determine whether the schools you’re applying to have been accredited by recognized agencies.

What Is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a stamp of approval ensuring that a school has met certain standards that constitute a quality education. Accredited online pharmacy degrees are deemed to adequately prepare students for pharmacy jobs. They are accredited by accrediting agencies, which are private institutions. These accrediting agencies set the educational standards for pharmacy schools and determine how well the schools meet those standards. Accreditation is usually voluntary, so it’s not always a requirement for online pharmacy degree programs to have accreditation. However, accreditation is the only way that employers and members of the general public can be assured that an online pharmacy degree program is of a satisfactory standard.

Accrediting Organizations

There are two forms of accreditation available: program accreditation and institutional accreditation. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) offers program accreditation that focuses on the pharmacy technician training program. A number of agencies offer institutional accreditation of online pharmacy schools, evaluating the institution as a whole. Those agencies include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).

Tips for Determining Whether a Pharmacy School is Accredited

To find out if an online pharmacy school is accredited, check with the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA). Both the USDE and CHEA list programs on their websites that are accredited by organizations they recognize. Only trust pharmacy schools accredited by agencies that are recognized by the USDE or CHEA. You can easily find a list of accreditation agencies approved by the USDE and CHEA.

One of the simplest ways to determine whether or not a pharmacy degree program is accredited by a recognized agency is by contacting the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). The ACPE will provide you with the most recent accreditation status for a particular institution. Here is their contact information:

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
20 North Clark Street
Suite 2500
Chicago, IL 60602-5109
312-664-3575

All of the agencies and organizations involved in the accreditation of pharmacy degree programs publish directories of accredited institutions, which are typically available on their websites. The institutions themselves should also be able to supply you with their accreditation status upon request. You can check their websites to determine if their accreditation status is visible. Nevertheless, if an institution claims to be accredited, you should always confirm that the accreditation is current by contacting the accreditation agency.

The Bottom Line

Job prospects in the pharmacy field are excellent, and the median salary of pharmacists was a whopping $109,180 in 2009. Many graduates of accredited online pharmacy degree programs earn a six figure income straight out of school. Clearly, there’s no better time than now to research accredited online pharmacy degree programs and pursue a career in the pharmacy field.

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