Pharmacy in Canada for International Students: Top Colleges, Courses, Fees, Entry Requirements, Scholarships, and Career Scope
As per the statistics given by the Canadian government, pharmacists are one of the 29 high-demand occupations in Canada. Due to this positive outlook for job prospects for pharmacists in Canada, the number of international students migrating to study pharmacy in Canada has increased drastically in recent years. Let’s take a closer look at this field and talk about the top universities, courses, fees, admission requirements, scholarships, and employment opportunities for pharmacists in Canada.
The table below lists some important aspects of pharmacy education in Canadian provinces:
|Entry-level degree||Pharm D|
|Average tuition fees for Pharm D||11,603 to 22,320 USD*/year|
|Standardized exam||PCAT, CASPer|
|Accrediting body||Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP)|
|Licensing exam||Pharmacist Qualifying Examination|
|Licensing body||Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC)|
|Average salary for a pharmacist in Canada||101,722 USD*/year (Indeed)|
Top Pharmacy universities in Canada
The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) is responsible for accrediting pharmacy degrees in Canada. Here is a list of the top 10 Canadian universities that offer Pharm D programs that have been accredited by CCAPP.
|University Name||UndergraduateDegree||Duration||Tuition Fees (USD*/year)|
|University of Alberta||Pharm D||4 years||11,603|
|University of British Columbia||Pharm D||4 years||18,413|
|Dalhousie University||Pharm D||4 years||22,320|
|Université Laval||Pharm D||4 years||22,304|
|University of Manitoba||Pharm D||4 years||15,655|
|Memorial University of Newfoundland||Pharm D||5 years||13,000|
|Université de Montréal||Pharm D||4 years||13,956|
|University of Saskatchewan||Pharm D||4 years||17,687|
|University of Toronto||Pharm D||4 years||18,060|
|University of Waterloo||Pharm D||4 years||17,759|
Note: The University of Ottawa, although currently not offering any Pharm D courses, will start its first cohort of PharmD programs in September 2023.
Top Pharmacy courses in Canada
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) is Canada’s entry-level pharmacy program. Previously, an entry-level bachelor’s degree in pharmacy was available, but it was quickly replaced by an undergraduate doctoral degree, Pharm D. Only students with a Pharm D degree from CCAPP accredited colleges (a total of 11 colleges) are eligible to take the qualifying exam by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada to obtain a license. Hence students who wish to practice as certified pharmacists should enroll in an accredited Pharm D program only.
Few pharmacy schools in Canada offer dual degrees. For example, a Pharm D/MBA degree is aimed at students who want to work in management or as future pharmacist entrepreneurs. After finishing their Pharm D course, students can go for master’s specializations and PhD courses in pharmaceutical science if they wish to go for research and academia.
The Bachelor of Science courses are available at some universities like the Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Degree by the University of British Columbia but graduates from this program are not eligible to practice as a pharmacist. They need to complete a Pharm D course to obtain their license. Some pharmacy colleges also offer 2-years pharmacy technician courses for students who do not wish to pursue a 4-year Pharm D course. Students can enroll in a pharmacy technician program after their secondary education. Upon completion of the courses, technicians have to take the Pharmacy Technician Qualifying Examination to practice as certified pharmacy technicians in Canada.
Fees and cost of living in Canada
Canada is not a cheap country to study and live in. Students, therefore, should budget their education to avoid graduating with a mountain of loans and debts. Tuition fees for a Pharm D degree range from 11,603 to 22,320 USD*/year on average. The fees for public institutions are in the lower range, whereas the prices for private universities are higher. The cost of living in Canada for overseas students is divided into three categories.
|Expenses||Cost in USD*/year|
|Food||3,500 to 5,000|
|Accommodation||10,800 to 12,000|
|Student health insurance plan||700 to 900|
|Books||1,000 to 2,000|
|Personal expenses||3,000 to 5,000|
|Transportation||924 to 1,000|
Most pharmacy schools in Canada require two years of pre-requisite courses to admit students to their Pharm D courses. The following courses are required:
- General chemistry
- Organic chemistry
Some colleges require students to take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) and CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) tests, while others choose applicants solely on the basis of their academic and interview performance. The academic requirements for Pharm D courses in Canada can be summarized as below:
- A high school diploma or higher secondary education with a minimum average of 65% or higher
- Official transcripts (Canadian equivalency)
- Pre-requisite coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or more
- PCAT score (if applicable)
- CASPer (if applicable)
- English Proficiency proof (TOEFL or IELTS)
- Valid passport
- Student visa
- Passport photographs
- Personal interview
- A copy of bank statement showing adequate funds for at least one academic year of tuition
Students interested in applying should do so through the university’s website. Students can also use Gyanberry admission services to apply to several pharmacy colleges across Canada.
Canada is well known for offering scholarships to prospective pharmacy students, including international students. Every year an innumerable number of scholarships (partial and fully funded) are available for foreign students to study in Canada. These scholarships fall under the following categories:
- Scholarships offered by the Canadian government
- Scholarships offered by embassies
- Scholarships offered by public universities
- Scholarships offered by private universities
- Scholarships offered by global organizations
- Scholarships offered by NGOs
Upon completion of a Pharm D degree, students should take the Pharmacist Qualifying Examination, conducted by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC). They should then complete a one-year internship before applying for the provincial license where they want to practice.
In Canada, a pharmacy career involves more than merely dispensing medications to patients. It also includes health counseling, precision medicine, illness screening, injections and immunizations, prescriptions, and referrals. Pharmacists in Canada have the following job options after their graduation and license:
- Hospital pharmacy
- Community pharmacy
- Primary care
- Long-term care
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Health-focused startup companies
- Education and teaching
- Canadian armed forces
According to the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CphA), there is a nationwide shortage of pharmacists. Therefore, pharmacy is an excellent choice of career for international students who wish to study in Canada.
*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.