In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, individuals who practice pharmacy are required to obtain a state-issued pharmacist license.
While each state board of pharmacy has its own requirements for licensure, prospective licensees will follow a similar path of prerequisites to obtain a license in any state.
- A PharmD degree from an ACPE-accredited school
- Hours of pharmacy internship experience determined by the state (usually 1,500 hours)
- Successful completion of the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)
- Successful completion of the Multi-state Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or other similar exam (Arkansas and California use their own jurisprudence exam in lieu of the MPJE)
- Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification for graduates of non-US schools of pharmacy
Pharmacy Intern Registration
After enrollment in a pharmacy degree program and meeting other prerequisites, individuals can apply for a pharmacy intern registration. Intern registrations allow applicants to accrue the experience hours needed for full licensure while working alongside a licensed pharmacist.
Intern registrations are valid for varying time periods depending on the issuing state. Some states require registrations to be renewed every year, while others issue intern registrations that only expire after six years and do not renew. Click on a state page link below for more information about pharmacy intern registrations in your state.
Initial Application Process
After graduating from a pharmacy program and obtaining the required experience hours, applicants can submit an examination application with the board of pharmacy. This application, if approved, will allow an applicant to take the NAPLEX and MPJE exams. Application requirements vary by state, but applicants are often required to submit proof of meeting education and experience requirements, a passport-quality photo of the applicant, fingerprints or authorization for a background check, a history of any disciplinary action taken against the applicant related to licensing, and an application fee.
Once the application is processed and approved, the board will authorize the applicant to take the NAPLEX and MPJE exams through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Applicants who earn passing scores on both exams will be issued a pharmacist license after the board is notified of the scores.
Thanks to reciprocity, pharmacists who perform services in more than one jurisdiction can apply for additional licenses using a streamlined process. Most states allow for reciprocal registration as long as the jurisdiction that issued the original license has substantially similar licensing requirements. Many states use NABP’s Electronic Licensure Transfer Program (e-LTP) as the method for receiving verified information about a reciprocal applicant.
Some areas of pharmaceutical practice require additional specialty certifications before a licensed pharmacist can practice in those areas. Specialties that may require a separate certification include ambulatory care, nuclear pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, psychiatric pharmacy, and nutrition support pharmacy. In addition to specialty areas of practice, in most states pharmacists who wish to mentor pharmacy interns in an official capacity must first obtain a preceptor certification.
Specialty certifications typically have experience or educational requirements that go beyond what is required for a pharmacist license, and certifications often come with ongoing requirements of their own. In Alabama, for example, pharmacists with a nuclear certification must complete at least two hours of continuing education related to nuclear pharmacy every license period.
Pharmacist licenses typically need to be renewed every two years, but some states require annual renewal and New York-issued licenses renew on a triennial basis. In addition to filing a renewal application and paying the license renewal fee, every state requires pharmacists to complete continuing education (CE) hours. Continuing education requirements vary by state, but most require licensees to complete at least 30 hours of CE per biennial license period. Many states also require that a portion of the required hours be obtained through an in-person format.
Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties. Our licensing services can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and relevant updates to state laws.
Explore Licensing by State
Click on a link below to view licensing information in your state.
Controlled Substance Registration - In addition to a pharmacy license, controlled substance registration registration is required in many states for pharmacies that distribute controlled substances.
NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) - Host a variety of programs and resources relating to pharmacist and pharmacy licensure and examination.
Pharmacist in Charge - A licensed pharmacist designated by a pharmacy to act as the party responsible for compliance with regulations.
VPP (Verified Pharmacy Program) - A program run by NABP that allows state boards to share information and more easily register out-of-state pharmacies.