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Have a knack for mixing chemicals? Like being in a laboratory, thriving on the excitement of discovery? Then a career in pharmacy or the pharmaceutical sciences just might be what you're looking for. Here's a look at a couple of the top Canadian universities in the field.

The University of Alberta leads the country with 41 academic staff who have received national 3M Teaching Fellowships, Canada's highest award for excellence in undergraduate university teaching, says a spokesperson for the the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta.

The University offers undergraduate degrees in pharmacy (BSc and PharmD) and graduate degrees in the pharmaceutical sciences (MSc and PhD). Its undergraduate pharmacy program is unique because it offers an optional combination of the BSc and MBA degrees, the first of its kind in Canada. During their third year, students can apply to the MBA through the Alberta School of Business and complete it by taking 11 core courses and three electives. The cost of the MBA is $1,300 per course and various forms of funding are available.

The strength of the MSc and PhD programs is research. Admitting 10–15 students yearly, the Faculty—because of its research-focused approach—in some cases prefers candidates with a pharmacy degree, but any student with an undergrad in science is eligible for admission.

The program takes a student-centred approach. According to the spokesperson, We do not have a one-size-fits-all approach, and we design the program to meet each individual student's needs. During their graduate studies, students must take four courses engaging with students across campus, have some involvement in teaching, and present at least two seminars.

Members of the Faculty are working with government-owned, private, and non-profit organizations such as CanBiocin Inc., Mitacs, and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists Foundation.

Recent graduates have been employed by private companies such as NovartisAbbottTAPGSK, and Apotex, and by government agencies such as Alberta Blue Cross and Health Canada in the roles of hospital managers, research associates, and government managers.

Also highly ranked among Canadian universities for its graduate programs in pharmaceutical sciences is the University of British Columbia. Jimi Galv├úo, director of communications and marketing for the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, says highlights of the graduate programs include leading research relevant to today's societal needs, ample funding, and a track record for having impact in the society.

We offer graduate student trainings in five main research areas: nanomedicine, drug delivery, systems pharmacology, personalized medicine, and health outcomes.

On average, the full-time research-intensive graduate programs admit 12–20 students per year. Students from various science-related backgrounds are welcome to apply.

We place top priority in the training of graduate students, says Galvão. The faculty is committed to ensuring that its graduate programs maintain standards of excellence in academic preparation and research training.

The faculty takes its responsibility for mentoring and training the future leaders and researchers of the society seriously. Graduate students have access to information, up-to-date equipment and infrastructure, continuity of support, financial and technical support, and expert feedback from mentors says Galvão.

The scope of pharmacists across Canada has expanded over the years, and obtaining a licence to practice as a pharmacist is a two-tier process; candidates have to write licensing exams at both provincial and national levels. A two-part exam by the Pharmacy Examination Board of Canada provides a certificate of qualification but for complete licensure, candidates have to pass a jurisprudence exam testing their knowledge about pharmaceutical practices and legal issues at provincial level.

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