Johnson C. Smith and Howard universities are collaborating on a dual degree initiative.
Under terms of the agreement, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in science at JCSU, then advance to Howard’s pharmacy program for doctorate studies. The deal, which was signed in May, allows qualified students to matriculate at Howard in their fourth year at JCSU, with three more years of graduate school. Students must satisfy Howard’s admission requirements, including a minimum 2.5 grade-point average.
“Johnson C. Smith University actively searches for new pathways that will enhance the student experience to provide desirable outcomes for our graduates,” JCSU President Clarence Armbrister said in a statement. “The dual degree program with Howard University’s College of Pharmacy is just another way we are setting our students up for success.”
After three years at JCSU, students in the program will transfer to Howard for in-person doctorate program in Washington, D.C. Howard’s pharmacy program is ranked No. 1 among the seven HBCUs offering degrees. Pharmacist salaries average $144,327 annually, according to Salary.com, with Charlotte salaries ranging from $130,000-$160,000.
The profession is also transitioning in terms of ethnicity and age. The percentage of licensed pharmacists of color has increased from 14.9% in 2014 to 21.8% in 2019, according to the National Pharmacy Workforce Study. In 2019, 47.7% of practicing pharmacists were 40 years old or younger, compared to 24.4% a decade earlier.
“While Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, only 7.6% of pharmacists are Black,” said Karen Morgan, JCSU’s senior vice president of academic affairs. “With that disparity, there is a need to help bridge that gap and increase diversity in the pharmacy profession.”
The memorandum of understanding with Howard is JCSU’s latest partnership. In the last two years, the school has struck agreements with Central Piedmont Community College and Gaston College extending bachelor’s degree studies to their graduates. JCSU’s goal is to boost strategic plan initiatives to enhance academic offerings and expand partnerships.
“I’m very excited about this partnership,” said Vijaya Gompa, dean of JCSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “Our team worked hard to make sure our students will get the most benefit from this partnership. It is great to partner with a fellow HBCU to increase the numbers of Blacks in the pharmacy profession.”