Alma College has partnered with Ferris State University to create a pathway for students to attend Ferris State’s College of Pharmacy, providing skills for students to find rewarding careers that are increasingly in demand.

Leaders from both schools signed the five-year agreement on Wednesday, Oct. 25, reserving five seats for Alma students in Ferris State’s Doctor of Pharmacy program. Students also would qualify for a seat in dual degree programs that include a Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Health.

Alma College Provost Sean Burke said he was pleased to partner with Ferris State, a public university based in Big Rapids, Mich., for the opportunity to fulfill Alma’s mission of preparing graduates to engage in a competitive job market.

“We are excited to continue to build on a longstanding partnership between our two institutions,” Burke said. “Community engagement is a hallmark of what we do at Alma, and to the extent that this program will help keep students in Michigan, with well-paying jobs that benefit their local areas, including underserved communities, we are especially excited to participate.”

Pharmacists are increasingly in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the field is expected to grow by 3 percent through 2032, with about 13,400 openings for pharmacists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or retire.

“For years, students from Alma have gone on to pursue graduate degrees through Ferris State University’s Doctor of Pharmacy program. We are pleased for the opportunity to solidify that relationship and provide a clear path to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students who are considering pharmacy careers,” said Nancy Dopke, associate professor of chemistry at Alma College.

Through the partnership, Alma will offer multiple tracks for students looking ahead to Ferris State’s program, including:

  • A traditional track, where students will complete the prerequisite coursework in conjunction with earning a bachelor’s degree from Alma College before matriculating at Ferris State.
  • An Early Assurance Pharmacy Program Track, where students will spend three years at Alma College before transferring to Ferris State.
  • A Cooperative Degree-Conferring Program Track, offering students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in seven years, with the first three years taking place at Alma College and the last four years taking place at Ferris State University.

“The College of Pharmacy is one of Ferris State’s signature programs, and one of its oldest,” said Ferris State Provost Bobby Fleischman. “We’ve long been connected to Alma and welcome its outstanding students. Together, we can address a need in our workforce and make our state stronger.”

Ferris State’s Pharmacy program includes more than 1,700 hours of field experience, and coursework with a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. Students spend the first and second academic years on the Big Rapids campus, and the third year on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.