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Which was the first US college to train pharmacists?

February 23rd

1-2-18A0-25-ExplorePAHistory-a0l9k3-a_349February 23, 1821 — The College of Apothecaries is organized today when 68 pharmacists met in Carpenters’ Hall to establish scientific standards and train apprentices.

Less than a year later, they organized and incorporated the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP), the first college of pharmacy in the nation.

The college initially emphasized the biological and chemical sciences as mainstays of the curriculum in pharmacy but later instituted separate curricula in three other areas: bacteriology, biology, and chemistry. As enrollment grew, so did the school’s stature.

The college became coeducational in 1876, and soon after the institution’s name was changed to Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. The school also began offering master’s and doctorate degrees in all four disciplines.

Fast forward: In February 1997, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved the institution’s application for university status. And on July 1, 1998, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science officially unveiled its new identity as University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Words of Wisdom

Elixirs, potions, powders: the practice of pharmacy in the early 19th century still relied on centuries-old folk wisdom passed down from apothecary to apothecary. Pharmaceutical education began at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) in 1821, the first such institution in North America. A new era ushered in with the practice of pharmacy- the identification, selection, compounding and analysis of drugs – the foundation for future advances and discoveries.

— Cate Murway, "Prescription for a Perfect Town." Image: Asa Fabian’s Pharmacy, courtesy of Harold & Carol Mitchener

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