For the first time, Binghamton University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) is teaming up with Ithaca College to enable students to transfer into BU’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program after three years of undergraduate study.

Rachael Perry, assistant dean for enrollment management and student affairs at SOPPS, said the schools were prompted to pursue the collaboration to help facilitate the transition of Ithaca College undergraduate students into BU’s PharmD program.

“We hope that this program will attract qualified students to both Ithaca College and [SOPPS] … and that graduates from this program are able to help reduce health disparities and positively impact health care in the state of New York and beyond,” Perry said.

The program is known as a 3 + 4 program, named because students spend three years at Ithaca College and four years at BU. One of its advantages is an expedited degree path, which also could save students money — a year’s undergraduate tuition at Ithaca College costs $45,274, according to the school’s official website.

Candidates in good standing can also opt to spend their fourth year completing their bachelor’s degree at Ithaca College rather than going straight to BU for the first year of the PharmD program. However, this option will prolong the length of the program to eight years, instead of the seven years that result from the 3 + 4 program.

Although Perry said she hopes the new agreement will raise the number of applications both schools receive, the program’s size will be restricted to maintain a proper student-to-faculty ratio.

“Our class size will remain a maximum of 90, giving us a student-to-faculty ratio of 10-to-1,” Perry said.

To be considered for the program, which is located at the Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City, students must have successfully completed their prerequisite credits from Ithaca College and apply no later than Jan. 1 of the year they plan to enroll at BU. They also need to have a minimum cumulative math and science GPA of 3.0. If a student meets these qualifications, they will be waived from the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), according to an Ithaca College news release.

Gloria Meredith, founding dean of SOPPS, said the collaboration will produce qualified New York state pharmacy professionals for the future.

“This agreement solidifies the mutual commitment [BU] has with Ithaca College to support the preparation of outstanding pharmacy professionals who will focus on patient-centered care,” Meredith said. “As we expand our reach throughout New York state, it is gratifying to have developed these strong connections and we look forward to enrolling highly qualified students from Ithaca College.”

It is not the first time BU’s SOPPS has established a PharmD program with another school. There is also a 3 + 4 agreement with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, agreements with Wells College, Keuka College, Elmira College and 2 + 4 agreements with Broome Community College, Onondaga Community College and Nassau Community College.

Natalie Young, a junior majoring in chemistry, is planning to join the PharmD program next year. She said while she is optimistic about the collaboration, she also wonders how it will affect her postgraduate career as a pharmacy student at BU.

“As a student who will be attending the pharmacy school next year, I think it’s really great to see that BU is teaming up with another strong school like Ithaca College to recruit more students and ultimately mold as many qualified New York state pharmacists for the future as possible,” Young said. “But I also can’t help but wonder if this could possibly affect the size of my classes, as BU is already a school with very high enrollment.”

Linda Petrosino, dean of Ithaca College’s School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, said the agreement is mutually beneficial to both schools.

“We believe this program will benefit both campuses by attracting academically promising students, ultimately yielding well-prepared professionals for the field,” Petrosino said.