How do pharmacy courses compare?

The Good Universities Guide 2019 has released pharmacy course ratings as well as the latest stats on grad employment and salary.

The newly released guide has collected ratings for university courses on various measures including graduate employment, student support and teaching quality – providing the top results for each measure.

It rates these top institutions as “five-star universities”.

Within the pharmacy qualification, James Cook University topped the list for “educational experience” with a rating of 92.8%, followed by Curtin University (88.5%), the University of Queensland (87.4%) and the University of Newcastle (87%).

James Cook University also excelled in learner engagement, student support and teaching quality for its pharmacy course.

Meanwhile, the national average for this measure was 95.6% for the pharmacy degree.

The University of Newcastle received a 100% rating for its learning resources and 88.1% for skills development.

Five-star universities for Pharmacy

Source: The Good Universities Guide 2019

According to the Guide, there are currently 7,049 undergraduate pharmacy students, 2,131 postgraduate students, and 1,603 undergraduate international students across Australia.

“The number of universities offering pharmacy degrees has increased significantly over the last decade or so, particularly with the introduction of courses that have a targeted focus on pharmacy in rural and regional areas to counter the demand for pharmacists in country Australia,” says The Good Universities Guide 2019.

Employment and salary

Just over 95% of undergraduate pharmacy students secure a full-time job or internship within four months of graduating, according to pooled survey results from the past four years.

Last year postgraduate pharmacy coursework graduates saw full-time employment rates within four months shoot up to 95.3% – up from a 2016 rate of 88%.

Earlier this year when results from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey were published, PSA National President Shane Jackson highlighted that rates for health professionals in such surveys can be expected to be generally high, because it’s compulsory to complete an intern year after graduating.

“Like medicine and nursing, pharmacy is an in-demand career because of the need for the provision of pharmaceuticals, with demand within hospitals, community pharmacy, academia, etc.,” he said.

“Most graduates will never have a problem picking up an internship.

“In pharmacy, there’s not many at all who are unemployed, and there’s not many who are underemployed.”

Employment prospects for pharmacy graduates are good, according to The Good Universities Guide.

“Pharmacy courses tend to be tightly regulated by the profession and entry is competitive,” says the Guide.

“Graduates who succeed in getting through the demanding four-year courses can, however, look forward to excellent employment prospects.”

Nationally the median graduate salary is much higher for those who complete postgraduate studies in pharmacy, who earn $62,600 compared to $43,800 for undergraduates.

Median starting salary is higher in Tasmania ($50,900) than in Sydney ($45,300).

The latest NAPSA survey revealed student concerns about inadequate remuneration.

According to the National Pharmacy Students Survey (NPSS) 2017, 63% respondents said they do not believe there is adequate remuneration for the services pharmacists offer, and that this remains the biggest issue facing the profession.

Median graduate salary by field of study

Field of study Undergraduate Postgraduate
Pharmacy $43,800 $62,600
Psychology $55,000 $75,500
Nursing $58,000 $78,900
Rehabilitation $60,000 $65,000
Medicine $68,000 $77,500
Dentistry $80,000 $100,000

Source: The Good Universities Guide 2019

The 2019 edition of The Good Universities Guide can be accessed via


This article originally appeared in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy – How do Pharmacy schools compare?

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