School of Pharmacy
The School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico was initially established on September 22,
1913, as the Department of Pharmacy at the Río Piedras Campus; only ten years after the founding of the main
public academic institution in the Island, the University of Puerto Rico. The first class of twelve (12) students
graduated in 1915 from a two-year program on Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Pharmacy was the first health profession
program to be offered at the higher education level in Puerto Rico, and the first to be accredited. The School
of Pharmacy became a significant milestone in the history of the health professions education in Puerto Rico.
In 1916 the curriculum of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree changed to a three (3) year program. But
soon, in 1919, the School reincorporated the short two-year course leading to the degree of Graduate Pharmacist.
Both academic programs were offered simultaneously for five years.
A major transformation in the University of Puerto Rico’s administrative structure took place in 1924,
with its independency from the Insular Department of Public Instruction and the establishment of the Board
of Trustees as the governing body. Consequently, in 1925, the School was organized as the College of Pharmacy,
under the leadership of a Dean. As early as 1926, the School was incorporated as a member of the American
Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the national organization that grouped and represented the
approximately fifty-five (55) pharmacy schools in existence in the United States at that time, and to which the
School still belongs.
A national trend toward increasing the academic requirements for pharmaceutical education paved the
way for the implementation in 1928 of a four-year pharmacy program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science
in Pharmacy. Six (6) students constituted the first group of graduates who in 1932 obtained the baccalaureate
In 1949, and in response to the advances in pharmaceutical research and the need to provide significant
professional foundation, the School restructured the baccalaureate curriculum to a five-year program; eleven
(11) years ahead of becoming a requirement for national accreditation. Breaking new ground, in 1952 the School
of Pharmacy Baccalaureate Program was granted the American Council for Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE)
accreditation status, which has been held ever since.
Moreover, the School incorporated the Museum of Pharmacy, which inaugurated in 1954 at the College
of Pharmacy in the Rio Piedras Campus facilities and reopened in 2012 at the new state-of-art- building that
currently houses the School of Pharmacy at the Medical Sciences Campus. An Experimental Garden of
Medicinal Plants was also developed at the Rio Piedras Campus in 1936 with the objective of performing
research about the chemical content and the pharmacologic effects of the plants commonly used in Puerto
Rico. In 1949, the Garden was transferred to a more suitable location at the University of Puerto Rico Botanical
Garden, where it is currently situated.
The 1970s brought about a significant transition to the School of Pharmacy. During the 1976-1977 academic year the College was relocated to the Medical Sciences Campus. Innovations in pharmacy practice and education, as well as the increased emphasis on Clinical Pharmacy prompted the move. It was essential the integration of pharmacy students to clinical scenarios during their formative years. Therefore, in 1981 a new curriculum with a broader clinical basis was implemented.
The College of Pharmacy also built a close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry in Puerto Rico, and in 1988 developed a graduate program aimed to fulfill the industry needs for skilled professionals in the field, as well as to shape scientists that could eventually join the academia. Thus, the Master of Science in Pharmacy Program was launched with specialties in industrial pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.
In 1989, the College changed its official name to School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico.
The evolution of new roles for pharmacists in patient care, in which they strengthen their responsibility of overseeing the effectiveness and safety of the pharmacotherapy undertook a major change in pharmacy education. Hence, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) required the doctoral degree as the universal standard of entry-level for the profession. This led the School of Pharmacy to the implementation of the Doctor of Pharmacy program (Pharm D) in 2001, which is accredited by ACPE. Said professional program consists of an abilities-based curriculum, in which theory and firsthand practice experiences are integrated throughout the four years of the program. It also emphasizes the development of professional abilities and the patient-centered concept as well as practice of pharmaceutical care. In 2005, thirty-five (35) pharmacy students received a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D.) degree for the first time in the history of the profession in Puerto Rico.
Since 2001, the School of Pharmacy offers a postgraduate one-year Pharmacy Practice Residency program in collaboration with the San Juan Veterans Administration Caribbean Health Center.
Recently, the School of Pharmacy has diversified its academic offering. In 2021, the School started the Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Sciences program (PhD) with three diverse tracks: Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy; Pharmaceutics & Drug Delivery; and Molecular Pharmacology & Pharmacogenomics. Through high-quality interdisciplinary research and innovation, the PhD program aims to provide scientific knowledge in pharmaceutical sciences to improve patients’ quality of life and will promote graduates to participate in the prevailing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The new PhD program is the highest-level degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences to be pursued at the School of Pharmacy and which replaced the old Master program.
For over a century the School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico has adapted to the wealth of scientific knowledge, emerging technologies on pharmaceutical sciences, patients’ needs and changes in the healthcare system. Since 1913, over 5,000 pharmacists have graduated from its professional programs, and over 150 scientists from the graduate program. These graduates have fulfilled a much-needed service to patients and society in general for decades.