200.004 Admissions Process Policies and Procedures

Approved by the faculty, September 2015


This SOP documents the timeline, standards and methods used in the admissions process for the Marshall University School of Pharmacy.

Review Policy/Procedure

This OP will be reviewed by September of every odd-numbered year (2011) by the Student Affairs Committee and approved by the Dean and the Executive Council.


200.004.001 – Introduction 

MUSOP endeavors to create a method of recruitment and admission that identifies students who have the prerequisite knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a rigorous degree program. MUSOP employs a holistic applicant interview process. The process is designed to create data regarding and allow assessment of student applicant characteristics determined to be indicators of student achievement or potential future achievement. The process requires the consideration of multiple data sources as described below. The process launches once the student completes applications within the PharmCAS system and the school’s supplemental application.

200.004.002 – Applicant Requirements


1. Submission of application through PharmCAS system (www.pharmcas.org),

2. Submission of MUSOP supplemental application materials (http://www.marshall.edu/pharmacy/files/2012/02/Marshall-University-School-of-Pharmacy-Application1.pdf),

3. Completion of all prerequisite course work while obtaining a grade of “C” or better,

4. Recommended overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or better on a scale of 0.0 to 4.0,

5. Recommended prerequisite GPA of 2.75 or better on a scale of 0.0 to 4.0,

6. Required PCAT with preferred composite of 50 or greater

7. Receipt of 3 academic or professional reference letters, and

8. Completion of an onsite interview.

 Prerequisite Coursework (64 SCH required)

• English Composition 6 credit hours or 2 semesters

• Calculus 5 credit hours or 1 semester

• Statistics 3 credit hours or 1 semester

• Biology w/ Lab 8 credit hours or 2 semesters,

• Chemistry w/ Lab 10 credit hours or 2 semesters

• Human Anatomy 4 credit hours or 1 semester

• Human Physiology 4 credit hours or 1 semester

• Microbiology 4 credit hours or 1 semester

• Organic Chemistry w/ Lab 9 credit hours or 2 semesters

• Physics w/ Lab 8 credit hours or 2 semesters

• Social Science elective 3 credit hours or 1 semester

200.004.003 – Description of Onsite Interview

The onsite interview is a daylong event. Students are presented information regarding the MUSOP Pharm.D. program, assessed regarding writing skills, assessed regarding critical thinking skills, complete a group dilemma exercise, and complete a standardized behavioral interview (SBI). An example schedule for an applicant interview is found below.

Example Interview Schedule:

8:00 AM – Program overview

9:15 AM – Assessment of writing skills

10:30 AM – Assessment of critical thinking (problem solving)

11:30 AM – Lunch

12:30 PM – Financial aid overview

1:30 – 4:00 PM – Tour, SBI, and Group Dilemma

4:00 PM – Wrap-up session and student feedback

4:45 PM – Conclude

Writing Skills

The writing skills assessment is targeted at determining student skill in communicating with the written word. This required essay exercise’s prompt is based upon a broad, medically related topic. Adult applicants should have no difficulty in formulating a response to the prompt provided regardless of past, or lack of, experience in health fields.

Knowledgeable experts render all essay grades. Grades are derived using a standard rubric where individual essays may be scored from 1 (poor communication skills) to 5 (excellent communication skills) with minimal competency in writing skills determined to be a score of 3. The standard rubric focuses the essay graders upon applicant skills in thematic development, sentence structure, grammar, and spelling.

Critical Thinking Test

Strong critical thinkers have several characteristics. These characteristics include inquisitiveness over a broad range of topics; desire to be well-informed; self-confidence in ones own abilities; open-mindedness to divergent views; flexibility in considering alternatives; and fair-mindedness in appraising alternatives and opinions.

Skills in critical thinking are necessary for success in a practice or educational environment that is subject to change and reappraisal. Health-related disciplines are not static, but rather evolve at a quick pace. Students pursuing careers in these fields must be strong critical thinkers.

MUSOP assesses applicant abilities in critical thinking through use of a proprietary assessment. The assessment provides the school with information regarding student abilities in inductive reasoning; deductive reasoning; analysis and interpretation; inference; and evaluation and explanation. Student scores on the assessment are returned to MUSOP as a percentile score relative to all test takers completing the assessment within the health-related educational programs.

Group Dilemma

MUSOP Pharm.D. curriculum requires students to have the ability and willingness to work in groups. Collaborative student groups are often called upon to function independently, or with only minor faculty guidance, during mastery of certain knowledge and skills. The ability to work in groups is therefore considered paramount to student achievement in the curriculum. MUSOP employs group dilemmas within the interview process to assess student abilities in the area of group work or group learning processes.

MUSOP group dilemmas are situational, ill-defined problems targeted at requiring group interaction to derive a solution. Dilemmas do not have correct answers, but rather are opportunities for assessment of each student’s ability to meaningfully contribute to a group discussion, logically justify the recommendations they make, and solve problems. Each student in the group is scored both individually within these three domains and the group as a whole is scored based upon their solution’s presentation, solution’s justification, and the collegiality of the group in general.

Group dilemmas are undertaken within groups of 4 – 7 students with target group sizes being 5-7. Generally, one or two trained evaluators are employed to assess group dilemmas. Individual scores are the sum of group and individual student scores. In cases where two evaluators assess a group, each evaluator will be responsible for assessing ½ of the number of students comprising the group.

Standardized Behavioral Interview (SBI)

The SBI is employed to provide MUSOP with information relative to student characteristics believed to be both important to student success in the degree program and desirable for future pharmacy practitioners. The SBI is a scripted interview that assures all students are assessed or interviewed equally and without prejudice. The SBI assesses 9 domains employing 7 prompts. Domains assessed include communication skills, personal presentation, initiative, integrity, problem solving, ability to work in groups, leadership, time management, and decision-making.

All SBI interviewers are trained in the technique, use of the interviewer’s guide, and use of the interview question documentation form. Two SBI interviewers form each interview team. Interview teams are comprised of one MUSOP faculty member and either one MUSOP adjunct faculty member or a current MUSOP student. Scoring procedures are outlined within the SBI interviewer’s guide.

200.004.004 – Applicant Scoring and Ranking

Student applicants are scored upon the basis of overall GPA, prerequisite GPA, reference letters received, PCAT composite, past degree acquisition, and outcomes of the onsite interview. Ranking of individuals is algorithm based, taking into account all of the data collected during the application and interview processes. The ranking is targeted at predicting student performance during the P1 academic year.

200.004.005 – Applicant Selection

The Student Admissions Subcommittee of the Student Affairs Committee is presented all of the data for applicant scoring, ranking and comments made by individuals directly involved in the assessment of the candidate. The faculty members of the subcommittee are asked to vote to recommend accepting, placing on a hold list, or denying admission for each applicant. These recommendations are sent to the Dean for approval.

200.004.006 – Admissions Process Timeline

1. Establish policy changes, deadlines, fees and tuition

a. Approval by Board of Governors for fees and tuition approvals

b. Approval by School of Pharmacy (SOP) faculty for policy changes

c. Approval by SOP Dean for deadlines

2. Disseminate information and prepare to receive applications

a. SOP website posting of policy, deadlines, fees and tuition

b. Coordinate with MU admissions office for student registration, financial aid and other campus services

c. Subscribe to PharmCAS

d. Advertise for applications (see Recruitment activities of the Student Affairs Committee)

3. Collect Applications

a. Student Affairs Office receives and processes applications and fields inquiries by prospective students

b. Prepare application materials for assignment to SAC members for review

4. Initial Application Review

a. SAC committee members abstract information for assigned applicants

b. SAC meets and votes on students who should be invited for interview

5. Interviews

a. Student Affairs Office invites SAC recommended applicants

b. Annual training of all faculty involved in the interviews process will be conducted prior to the interview sessions. This training will include the schedule, the roles and responsibilities of the interviewers, the methodology and materials that will be used in the interview and the rubrics needed for any scoring activity

c. Student Affairs Office schedules interview session, arranges the facilities and lines up the faculty and administration needed for the presentations and interview sessions

d. Student Affairs Office compiles information from the interview sessions and delivers it to the SAC

6. Candidate Review & Notification

a. SAC meets and votes to recommend admission/hold list/denial for each interviewee to the SOP Dean

b. SOP Dean makes final decision regarding admission decisions

c. Student Affairs Office notifies applicants of the decision regarding their candidacy

d. For conditional acceptances the Student Affairs Office will work with the applicant to assure that they will be able to fix their application deficiencies within the necessary time-frame

e. Based upon recruitment activities, Student Affairs Committee may offer admission with contingencies to individuals that must be met before matriculation.

7. Acceptance or Refusal of Offers

a. Student Affairs Office will track and contact accepted applicants as needed to keep their status current

b. Student Affairs Office keeps SAC and Dean informed of ongoing status of acceptances/rejections

8. Matriculation

a. Student Affairs Office will verify that all conditionally accepted students have satisfied all outstanding deficiencies

b. Student Affairs Office will verify that all intake requirements have been met for all students

9. Feedback

a. SAC in conjunction with the Student Affairs Office will create a report of the year’s admissions process which will include statistics on the applicant pool, the final class composition, process issues, areas needing improvement, and suggested modifications to the process