Background Checks and Drug Testing

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Criminal Background Checks

Most U.S. pharmacy colleges and schools procure a national background check on applicants upon their initial, conditional acceptance to pharmacy school for the following reasons:

  1. A growing number of national healthcare organizations, institutions and state legislatures require student pharmacists to complete a criminal background check (CBC) at least once during their educational career.

  2. Background checks are commonly required for hospital staff, as well as individuals who work or volunteer with children or other vulnerable populations, which include student pharmacists.

  3. Student pharmacists may be subject to criminal background checks earlier in their educational career and more often than medical school students due to introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs).

AACP initiated a PharmCAS-facilitated national background check service, through Certiphi Screening, Inc. to procure a national background report on PharmCAS applicants at the point of acceptance. Pharmacy schools not participating in this service may also require applicants to undergo a separate national background check process.

Visit the PharmCAS website for more information on the centralized criminal background check and list of participating colleges and schools.

Drug Screening 

U.S. pharmacy schools may procure a drug screening on you upon your initial, conditional acceptance due to a number of issues, including

  1. the need to enhance the safety and well-being of patients and, in so doing, to bolster the public's continuing trust in the pharmacy profession, and

  2. to ascertain the ability of accepted applicants to complete their pharmacy education and eventually become licensed pharmacists.

AACP initiated a PharmCAS-facilitated drug screening service, through Certiphi Screening, Inc. to assist pharmacy schools in procuring drug screen reports and prevent applicants from paying additional fees at each pharmacy school to which they are accepted.

Drug Screening Overview

  • Certiphi uses urine screening methodologies utilizing both laboratory and instant testing technologies.
  • Tests will be performed through Certiphi’s vast pool of more than 8,000 collection sites located throughout the U.S. and Canada.
  • Once a participating school has offered you admission, Certiphi Screening will send you an e-mail with instructions for completing the drug screen. 
  • Individual pharmacy schools may require you to submit to additional drug screenings following the initial screen.
  • Once a drug screen has been completed, Certiphi will provide the report to the student applicant as well as all pharmacy schools offering acceptance.


Upon a student's initial, conditional acceptance by a participating pharmacy school, Certiphi Screening, Inc. will send an e-mail to the preferred e-mail address the student entered in their PharmCAS application. This e-mail will provide you with access to a secure, online form via which the student will provide basic identifying information, consent for this report to be procured, and payment. The student's consent will serve for all pharmacy schools, and they will not be asked to provide consent upon receiving additional, conditional acceptance offers by participating pharmacy schools.

Once the student has provided payment, Certiphi Screening, Inc. will provide additional instructions on available drug screening collection facilities to be used for specimen collection. Upon report completion Certiphi Screening, Inc. will send an e-mail to the student's preferred e-mail address notifying them that their drug screening report is complete. A copy of the report will also be provided immediately to the pharmacy school(s).

The report procured during this process will not be released to any party other than the pharmacy schools requesting this report. Upon testing by the laboratory, if the specimen is found to be positive for one or more of the drugs tested, you will receive a telephone call from Medical Review Officer (MRO) at Certiphi Screening, Inc. The MRO will consult with you and your physician to obtain proof as to why the drug/medication was in your specimen. If the student does not return the call to the MRO within three business days, the report will be delivered as a “positive” drug screen.

For a list of participating schools, go to PharmCAS School Directory and visit the "Program Information" section for each school page.