Pharmacy College NAPLEX Fail Rates

Fewer pharmacy graduates are passing the state board examsPharmacy school graduates are failing the State Board exam at a rate never before seen across the nation. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is now used by all fifty states and all graduates from a college of pharmacy must pass it in order be licensed and practice as a registered pharmacist in the United States. Since 2012 when the pass rate was at a peak high of ninety-seven percent (97%), there has been a steady decrease in the pass rate leading to an all-time national low of eighty-five percent (85%) that was documented by the NABP in 2016.

The NAPLEX pass rates for 2017 have now just been released. The 2017 results, although  extremely similar to the 2016 numbers, are slightly up and many are hoping that the trend will continue in 2018 and well into the future. Taking a comparative look at all graduates from ACPE accredited programs for the three year period of 2015 – 2017 we see the following results:
2015: 14,448 graduates took the exam and 91.35% passed
2016: 15,573 graduates took the exam and 85.01% passed
2017: 15,379 graduates took the exam and 86.28% passed
Although obviously well below the pass rate of 97% seen in back in 2012, the slight increase of +1.27% seen in 2017 is an encouraging sign that signals that perhaps the decreasing pass rate trend may have finally ended.

An additional positive sign seen in 2017 was comparing the exam pass rates for graduates who were taking the NAPLEX for the first time (and therefor had not failed in a previous attempt of taking the exam). Taking a comparative look at first attempts for the three year period of 2015 – 2017 shows the following:
2015: 13,786 graduates took the exam for the first time and 92.64% passed
2016: 14,190 graduates took the exam for the first time and 85.86% passed
2017: 14,087 graduates took the exam for the first time and 87.95% passed
Once again, the slight increase of 2.09% for “first attempts” passing the exam is an encouraging sign.

Ranking Colleges of Pharmacy By NAPLEX Pass/Fail Rates

Although there are obviously numerous factors to consider when comparing colleges of pharmacy, for the purpose of this discussion the school’s ranking is based solely on the percentage of graduates who passed or failed the NAPLEX on their first attempt. If one looks simply at the total number of passing and failing graduates, then the size of the school and the number of graduates presents a misleading result.

There currently are a total of one-hundred and twenty-nine (129) pharmacy schools that are accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). One-hundred and twenty-eight (128) have a graduation class of greater than thirty-five (35) students. The rankings below regarding pass/fail rates leaves out the Lebanese American University. Although congratulations go to the school and its graduates for a one-hundred percent (100%) exam pass rate, with only two graduates in 2015 taking the exam and one graduate in 2016, ranking the school number one on our list would be somewhat misleading and unfair. To keep the pass/fail rankings in perspective, let’s take a quick look at the ten largest and the ten smallest pharmacy schools ranked by size (or number of students graduating):
Schools With the Largest Number of Graduating Students in 2016:
1. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy Boston – 327 graduates
2. St. Johns University – 307
3. Lake Erie School of Pharmacy – 298
4. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy Worcester – 264
5. University of Florida – 263
6. Roseman University of Health Sciences – 228
7. Nova Southeastern University – 220
8. Midwestern University Chicago – 204
9. St. Louis College of Pharmacy – 204
10. Albany College of Pharmacy – 202
Schools With the Smallest Number of Graduating Students in 2016:
1. University of Wyoming- 39 graduates
2. University of Puerto Rico- 42
3. Southwestern Oklahoma State University – 47
4. Cedarville University – 47
5. Thomas Jefferson University – 48
6. University of Maryland Eastern Shore – 49
7. Husson University – 52
8. University of South Florida – 53
9. University of Utah – 55
10. Howard University – 59

The Top Ten Pharmacy Schools By NAPLEX Pass Rates In 20016

  1. University of Washington – 98.96%
  2. South Dakota State University – 98.70%
  3. Belmont University – 97.22%
  4. University of Southern California – 96.74%
  5. University of Texas at Austin – 96.64%
  6. Southwestern Oklahoma State University – 95.83%
  7. Lipscomb University – 95.71%
  8. Northeast Ohio Medical University – 95.65%
  9. University of California, San Francisco – 95.58%
  10. University of Nebraska – 95.38%
  11. Ohio State University – 95.00%

The Bottom Ten Pharmacy Schools By NAPLEX Pass Rates In 20016

  1. Hampton University – 60.49%
  2. Husson University – 61.19%
  3. Florida A&M University – 61.88%
  4. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Worcester – 65.42%
  5. Marshall University – 67.33%
  6. Harding University – 67.53%
  7. Chicago State University – 68.67%
  8. Cedarville University – 72.41%
  9. Notre Dame of Maryland University – 72.46%
  10. University of New Mexico – 72.55%
  11. Touro University, New York – 73.74

What To Do If The Pharmacist You Hired Fails The NAPLEX State Board Exam

Many employers in both retail and hospital pharmacy settings hire a recently graduating student from a College of Pharmacy prior to their taking the NAPLEX State Board Exam. This has always been the way to attract the top talent and compete for the new graduates versus the competition and everyone does it. Many graduates will accept a job offer prior to actually taking the state board exam with the job offer contingent on their passing the NAPLEX. Yet what happens when the graduate that a pharmacy owner or hospital pharmacy manager has recruited fails the exam? As one looks closely at the trends discussed, over twelve (12) out of one-hundred (100) pharmacy graduates taking the exam for the first time are failing it. Many pharmacy owners and hospital pharmacy managers are left in a desperate situation and must spend their time and valuable resources in what becomes an exhaustive search for a qualified pharmacist.

HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing can help you in such a difficult situation. Known as the leading pharmacy staffing agency in the USA for 28+ years now, HCC has a professional staff who can find you the right pharmacist to match your needs, whether it be in a retail, hospital or a specialty pharmacy setting. When it comes to pharmacy recruiting, pharmacist placement and pharmacy staffing services, HCC is nationally renowned for our ability to match the right pharmacist to the right employer and job in every type of situation. This includes permanent and long term placements in all 50 states. We also can help with temp-to-permanent situations.

Contact us today online or call us at 800-642-1652 and find out for yourself why HCC is the pharmacy staffing agency of choice throughout the USA!


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