When you head to graduate school, you know you’ll be signing up for both a degree and some debt. This is especially true for Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) grads. If you attend Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science (MCPHS), the tuition will leave you swimming in debt.
You’ll have to decide if the MCPHS cost is worth it and how to pay back the student loans.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science tuition
MCPHS is a private university located in Boston. Its graduation rate is 76%, and retention is equally high with 84% of students returning after their first year of school. Well-known for its health programs, MCPHS offers three pathways for obtaining a Pharm.D. degree:
- Direct Entry: A full-time, six-year program that has two years of general education requirements (called the “pre-professional phase”) and four years of professional studies in pharmaceuticals.
- Accelerated: A full-time Pharm.D. program that builds on your previous bachelor’s degree. You can graduate in 34 months.
- Postbaccalaureate: A part-time online program offered to U.S. pharmacists who have a bachelor’s degree and are already practicing. Students can complete most of their required experiential work at their current job.
Each of the programs will result in a Pharm.D. and the potential for increased salary. The average salary for a pharmacist is $126,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The tuition for each of the MCPHS pathways can make a big difference in the amount of debt you’ll take on.
MCPHS cost for the Pharm.D. Direct Entry program
If you opt for the Direct Entry program offered at MCPHS, you’ll pay about $226,465 in tuition and Pharm.D. fees.
- The pre-professional phase costs $33,600 per year. It’s a two-year period, so you’re looking at $67,200 for this phase — tuition only. There’s about $1,265 added on for equipment and certificate fees.
- The professional phase costs $39,500 per year. Multiply that by four and your total tuition for this period is $158,000.
This is a full-time program, so it’s safe to say you won’t be working a full-time job while in school. You may need to take out student loans to pay for your needs.
MCPHS cost for the Pharm.D. Accelerated program
The Accelerated pathway to a Pharm.D. is quick. It can be appealing to get out of school sooner, but the cost of accelerated programs should take into account any student debt you already have. The cost for a Pharm.D. degree is $159,615 with the MCPHS Accelerated program.
- The annual tuition cost is $53,100 per academic year. This program runs 34 months, which is a little less than three years. If you transfer in, you may have to make up some credits, so the estimated total for tuition would be $159,300.
- Fees for the Pharm.D. certificates cost $315.
Let’s add the average debt of an undergrad who attended MCPHS — $27,000. The total student loan debt would be around $186,615 or more.
MCPHS cost for the Pharm.D. Postbaccalaureate program
The most affordable Pharm.D. program offered at MCPHS is the Postbaccalaureate program. The only downside is that this is for working pharmacists with a bachelor’s degree. The program is online, and the cost is per credit. You’ll also need to complete the four-week clinical rotation at the end of the program.
- It costs $990 per credit, and a total of 34 credits are taken online. A portion of these are fulfilled at your current workplace. The total is then $33,660 for this portion of the program.
- The clinical rotations cost $1235 per credit hour. You’ll be full time for four weeks, and it’s counted as three credit hours. Your total cost is $3705.
The program will end up costing about $37,365. This is tremendously less than the other programs. Even if we factor in the average debt of $27,000, the total comes to less than six figures at $64,365.
MCPHS Pharm.D. tuition comparison
The total numbers for each program don’t take into account any kind of living expenses, general fees or books. So you can expect this number to increase based on your individual needs and living arrangements.
MCPHS Pharm.D. Program
Estimated Cost of Tuition with Pharm.D. Fees
Direct Entry Program
Postbaccalaureate (Online) Program
*Based on the average undergraduate debt of $27,000. If you bring more debt with you into graduate school, the numbers would increase.
Unless you can opt for the online program as an already practicing pharmacist, you’re going to end up with over six figures of debt from MCPHS tuition. This isn’t a novelty for pharmacists by any means. What should be a concern is the state of pharmacists’ job outlook.
MCPHS costs won’t be worth it if you can’t find a job
According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) 2019 Graduate Survey, 85% of students borrowed money to pay for their degrees. Students from this survey also estimated that they’d owe about $200,000 after graduating. This number has gone up for pharmacists by 6.2% since 2012.
We see these same numbers from pharmacist clients at Student Loan Planner. Over $200,000 of debt isn’t new, but it’s not something you have to take on.
Before jumping into any Pharm.D. program, looking at the job outlook should be top on your list. Pharmacy is a high-paying career, but the career prospects aren’t so positive.
MCPHS cites “a field of growth” and the need for more pharmacists to dispense medications for the growing number of individuals with insurance as positive reasons to pursue the degree. This is misleading information to give prospective students. The BLS reports a 0% growth rate for pharmacists over the next 10 years. Zero. With about 15,000 Pharm.D. graduates every year and no projected growth, the outlook is bleak.
If you’re going to take on six-figure debt, you want to be able to guarantee a six-figure salary to help pay it off.
How to pay off MCPHS tuition
If you’ve already attended MCPHS or another high-priced Pharm.D. program, then it’s time to figure out how to pay off your student loans. Hopefully, you managed to land a job as a pharmacist; otherwise, you may need to look into deferment.
There are two approaches you can take to pay off your student loans:
- If you owe less than 1.5 times your income: Your best bet is to pay back your student loans aggressively. This should take no longer than 10 years. Look into refinancing to get a better rate and reduce your loan term.
- If you owe more than 1.5 times your income: In this case, you can take the slower route to pay off your loans. Get on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan and make the minimum payments while pursuing a forgiveness program — either Public Service Loan Forgiveness or the taxable IDR forgiveness program.
It’s not impossible for pharmacists to pay off $200,000 or more in debt. It just takes a plan.
You have less expensive options for pharmacy school
The job outlook for pharmacists isn’t looking great over the next several years. We won’t tell you not to pursue your dream job. Instead, we want you to find the cheapest option possible and be prepared to job hunt.
Private universities are notoriously more expensive than in-state public universities. Unfortunately, 75 of the schools that offer a Pharm.D. degree are private universities, according to the AACP. Do your research and compare the programs available in your state to find the school that’s most affordable.
Before taking on six figures of debt for your degree, reach out to our team. Student Loan Planner is here to help you with these big decisions. We’ll create a plan for you, so you won’t be caught in more debt than you know what to do with.