Frequently Asked Questions - Academic Requirements

1. How long does it take to meet all academic requirements for admission? 

With careful timetable planning it is possible to complete all requirements within two years of university level study.   You may apply during your second year of study if you have either already competed all required subjects, or if you are registered for required subjects to be completed by April of your  second year.     For details related to the academic requirements please click here.  

If you compare our requirements with those of other PharmD programs you may find that we require more courses than most schools, including some very challenging subjects, such as Physical Chemistry. You may wonder why such courses are among our requirements if pharmacists don’t ‘do science’ or use this specific knowledge on a daily basis. Each of the requirements has been carefully determined, based on the nature of our curriculum, to include the subjects that provide a broad foundation for our program. Students will draw knowledge and skills from science and other prerequisite courses throughout the PharmD program, and beyond into their practice. Although we have more specific subject requirements than many other Pharmacy schools, this allows our PharmD curriculum to consist of courses that are truly unique to Pharmacy.

2. What average must I have to gain admission?

There is no average which can guarantee admission as decisions are based on overall performance.  The minimum published requirement for initial consideration is 70% (equivalent to a ‘B-’ at the University of Toronto); however, depending on the applicant pool, the average required for consideration for an interview, or for consideration in the final selections, may be higher. In recent years, the median average of those offered admission has been in the A- (80-83%) range, with a very small number of students in the B- range.

3. Is there a minimum course load that I must take to be eligible for admission consideration?

Preference will be given to candidates who have a proven ability to successfully complete a conventional full-time course load (i.e. a minimum of 5.0 full-credit equivalents) from September to April, during which satisfactory performance in all courses is achieved.  You don’t necessarily need to have 5.0 FCEs in each year of study, but if you have several years of university study it will strengthen the application if you have more years of full-time as opposed to  part-time (or reduced) course loads.   Remember, if it is apparent that you are raising your average through taking reduced course loads this can disadvantage your application.   Remember also, if you take summer courses these courses are not counted in your course load (refer to FAQ #20 for details).  Experience with a full course load is important as it demonstrates your ability to manage a heavy workload in preparation for the demanding PharmD program, which includes up to 6.5 full-credit equivalents per year.

4. What is a ‘full-credit equivalent’ and how can I determine if I have a course load of 5.0 full-credit equivalents in one academic session? 

Different universities use different course weighting systems. For our purposes, a ‘full-credit equivalent’ refers to a full year course that typically runs in the regular academic session from September to April, or two half-year courses that typically run from September to December or January to April. Full year courses typically include at least two lecture hours per week over a period of 24-26 weeks (i.e. a minimum of 48-52 lecture hours in total) to qualify as a full-credit course.

At universities employing a semester system, two courses, each with a minimum of two lecture hours per week, over 12-13 weeks each will qualify as one full-credit equivalent. While some courses may include three hours or more of lectures per week over two terms (i.e. 78 or more lecture hours), plus labs and tutorials, these courses are still classified as 1.0 full-credit equivalents. Extra credit is not given for lab or tutorial hours and no single course can count for more than 1.0 full-credit equivalent.

If labs that are associated with courses are reported separately on your transcript, they will not be included in the calculation of your course load, but will be included in the calculation of your cumulative average. For example, at the University of Waterloo you would need 10 half-credit (0.5) courses in the regular academic year, in addition to any required labs to meet a course load of 5.0 full-credit equivalents. The following table illustrates how courses weighted at other universities will be evaluated as part of the admissions process:

Credit System Example Full-Credit (1.0) Equivalent at University of Toronto Half-Credit (0.5) Equivalent at University of Toronto
9.0, 6.0, and 3.0 York University 9.0, 6.0 3.0
3.0 and 1.5 University of Victoria 3.0 1.5
2.0 and 1.0 Ryerson 2.0 1.0
3, 4, and 5 United States Universities on semester system  - 3, 4, and 5

In all cases, the Faculty will only count courses as full-credit (1.0) equivalents or half-credit (0.5) equivalents. For example, at some universities employing a 6.0 and 3.0 weighting system, there may be courses at a weight of 4.0. For the purpose of determining course load, a 4.0 course would be evaluated as a half credit (0.5) equivalent.

5. How can I find out if the courses offered at my university meet the subject requirements for admission?

We provide a table with examples of acceptable course codes at all Ontario universities, as well as a few non-Ontario institutions - Click here to access this information. The table provided lists examples of various courses that are known to meet the specific subject requirements for the current admissions cycle (for admission in September 2018). 

If you have studied at an institution outside of Ontario, not listed on the table, please view the ‘Information for Candidates Who Have Studied Outside Ontario (Non-Ontario and International)’ section for general information. Due to the large number of post-secondary institutions we are unable to provide a listing of courses for all institutions outside of Ontario. Also, please note that due to time and resource limitations, the Faculty cannot conduct formal reviews of academic qualifications until after an official application has been submitted. Applicants are required to carefully compare the courses completed with those on our list of required subjects to determine, to the best of their ability, whether or not the courses align.  To help you organize your information we suggest you print and use page 7 of the Worksheet which lists the required subjects for the 2018 admission cycle (click here to access Worksheet). If you require guidance, after attempting a course-by-course comparison on your own, you may contact the PharmD Admissions Office directly with specific questions by sending an e-mail message to adm.phm@utoronto.ca (use subject line ‘Course equivalence inquiry’). While every effort will be made to respond to e-mail messages in a timely manner, applicants should understand that there are many factors that influence response times and therefore must send necessary inquiries well in advance of any applicable deadlines.

6. How are the required subjects used in the selection process?

We do not calculate a separate average on the required subjects alone – they are included in your cumulative average calculation.  Although we do not publish a minimum  requirement for the required subjects (other than a passing grade) the Faculty will use its discretion when choosing applicants; failed/repeated subjects, grades below class averages, history of withdrawal, ‘Credit’ designation, etc., may affect an applicant’s overall ranking within the applicant pool. 

Keep in mind that it is necessary to successfully complete all published required subjects in time for the final transcript to be received no later than our June 1st transcript deadline.  This means that your courses must be completed by the end of the second term of the 2017-18 academic year (i.e. by the end of April).   You cannot use a summer course taken in the same year for which you are applying for purposes of meeting a subject requirement (also see FAQ #20).  

7. How will ‘Credit/No Credit’ designations affect my application? 

If you choose to have your final course result reported as a Pass/Fail or CR/NCR, where a letter or percentage grade is normally reported, the following will apply:

For all courses beginning September 2015 and later:

If you are a University of Toronto student and you elect to have final course result(s) reported as a CR/NCR Credit/No Credit), where a letter or percentage grade is normally reported, the Faculty will assign the percentage grade(s) available in the student record system.  These grades will be included in the calculation of the cumulative average.  This applies to all courses. Students from other universities who elect to have their final course result(s) reported as a CR/NCR (or Pass/Fail), where a letter or percentage grade is normally reported, will be required to request that their home university release the grade(s) to our office.  These grades will be included in the calculation of the cumulative average.  This applies to all courses. 

For all courses completed prior to September 2015:

For students from all universities who elected to have a final course result(s) reported as CR/NCR (Credit/No Credit) where a letter or percentage grade would normally have been reported, no grades will be formally calculated into the average.  However, the CR will be interpreted as the lowest passing grade and NCR will be counted among failed courses.  Although not formally calculated into the average, the Faculty will consider the CR/NCR courses on a case-by-case basis if there are academic issues such as weak performance in sciences, reduced course loads, course fails/repeats etc.

8. Will summer courses be considered for admission purposes?  

Summer courses are considered to be of the same difficulty and rigour as courses taken during the fall/winter.  However, summer courses may qualify to meet subject requirements and be included as part of the cumulative university average calculation only if they are reported to us by the June 1st deadline.  Typically, summer courses, taken in the same year for which you are applying, are not reported until much later than our June 1st deadline and, therefore, cannot be considered during the same application year.  Only summer courses taken  at least one year in advance of the application year can be considered (e.g. summer courses completed by August 2017 will qualify for 2018 admission consideration). Remember as well that summer courses are not counted in your course load.  For example, if you take eight  half-credit courses (4 full-credit equivalents) from September to April and another two half-credit  courses (1.0 full-credit equivalent) in the summer, your course load is 4.0 rather than 5.0 full-credit equivalents since the summer session is not part of the regular  academic year – it is a separate session.

9. May I complete academic subject requirements through online studies?

Yes, if scheduling all needed campus-based courses becomes difficult due to timetabling issues, we encourage you to consider completing some of the academic subject requirements through online studies at a recognized university (or at the high school level for Physics).  Do, however, take note of the following:

  • Courses must be degree credit courses offered at a recognized university –for example, U of Waterloo, Queen’s University and Athabasca U are well-known Canadian online course providers.  (The University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies is an exception; although known for offering non-degree, non-credit courses, we do accept Human Physiology SCS2159 and Biochemistry SCS2472 for purposes of meeting these two respective subject requirements.  Although we do allow these two SCS courses we do not include the grades for the SCS credits in the calculation of the overall average.)
  • The ‘Challenge for Credit’ option offered by some online course providers (e.g. Athabasca University), is not acceptable.  You must complete all course components.
  • For the courses which require labs (Introductory Chemistry and Organic Chemistry) we require a wet lab rather than virtual labs.
  • There is no known online equivalent to the Physical Chemistry requirement. 
  • If you complete an online credit (0.5 credit equivalent) over the span of more than one academic term the credit will not be counted in the course load for any term, although it is still used for purposes of satisfying subject requirement(s) where applicable.  For example, if you began a course in the summer term (May, June, July, August) and did not complete it until December of that year (or later) it would not count toward determining your course load.  If you started and ended the course in a regular academic term (e.g. September to December or January to April) it would be included in the course load calculation for the academic year in which it was taken.  
  • Although you may choose to supplement your studies with some online degree credit, you should not plan to complete most of your studies this way. It could significantly weaken the application if your academic record was based mostly on online credit.    
  • For purposes of meeting the Grade 12 Physics subject requirement you may register for SPH4U through the Independent Learning Centre (see information at www.ilc.org) and you may complete the course at the same time you are taking university courses. 
  • The transcript deadline for receipt of final grades remains the same for all applicants (June 1, 2018) regardless of the method you are taking the course.  Remember that you need to take into consideration extra time for scheduling a final exam for any online course(s) you intend to complete. It will also take time for the institution to mark the exam and issue the grade. There is no extension of the deadline for receipt of grades for online credits.    
  • It is suggested that you begin any needed online courses in the fall term to ensure you will be able to complete them on time.

10. Will any of my previously completed university credits be considered as transfer credits? 

Due to the specialized nature of the PharmD program, there are few equivalent courses offered in other programs.  Most of the courses which were considered equivalents to courses in our program in the past have become  admission requirements! Of the courses remaining in our program, for which similar course offerings are given elsewhere, the most common course exemption is currently Human Histology and Anatomy (PHM145H1), and some students also qualify for exemption in Pharmacology (PHM146H1).  There are a few other courses for which students in a Pharmaceutical Chemistry program may be considered.  In addition, students who have successfully completed one or more years of a CCAPP- or ACPE-accredited Pharmacy program may be eligible for transfer credit assessment on a case-by-case basis.  For details of transfer credit assessment and eligibility please click here.  All applicants should note, however, that it will normally take four years of study to complete our PharmD program regardless of whether any transfer credits are awarded.

11. Can I transfer from another Pharmacy program? 

Candidates from other Pharmacy programs are welcome to apply, although  there are no direct ‘transfers’ to our PharmD program from other Pharmacy programs; this is due to differences among the sequencing of courses and differences in course material or assessment methods among the various Pharmacy programs.  Candidates from other Pharmacy programs do not have any advantage in the selection process; all applicants must follow all application processes and meet all published requirements and deadlines when applying for admission. If offered admission, candidates who have successfully completed one or more years of a CCAPP or ACPE-accredited Pharmacy program may be considered for course exemption on a case-by-case basis. Please note that this assessment cannot be done prior to the time admission is granted. Candidates from non-CCAPP or non-ACPE accredited Pharmacy programs would be considered only for the same course exemptions as those applying from general science programs.

Due to the differences in course material and sequencing in Pharmacy programs, it is unlikely that any admitted candidate would be eligible for direct entry into an upper year. Instead, all candidates (even those from other PharmD programs in Canada or the USA) who are offered admission should expect to begin their studies in Year 1 of the program. As a result, it will take a total of four years to complete the PharmD degree at the University of Toronto, though it is possible that you may be eligible for a slightly reduced course load in one or more years. As well, please note that there are no exemptions from the experiential components of our program. In the unlikely event an admitted candidate was granted exemption for all Year 1 courses, s/he would still be required to complete EPE1 (Early Practice Experience) before proceeding to Year 2. The maximum number of allowable course exemptions for any candidate is 9.0 full-credit equivalents. As a result, no candidates will be able to directly enter Year 3 of the program.

12. Can I apply directly to an upper year if I have completed one or more degree programs? 

No. All applicants are considered for admission into Year 1 including those who have already completed one or more degree programs.

13. Does it matter how long ago I completed the academic requirements?

Courses taken more than 10 years ago will be flagged for individual consideration and may not be acceptable in meeting admission requirements. Prospective applicants who have completed their university studies more than ten years ago, or who completed the university-level required courses more than 10 years ago, are advised that upgrading in some of the required subjects may be required to qualify for admission. As a result, preference may be given to those with recent full-time study in relevant courses.