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Criminal History Items in PharmCAS

  • 1.  Criminal History Items in PharmCAS

    Posted 01-06-2022 05:43 PM
    The Ban the Box movement, also known as Beyond the Box, is a national effort to remove criminal history questions from applications for higher education, housing, and employment opportunities and as a means to promote access, equity, and inclusion. Advocates of the movement are seeking to reduce the systemic racial and socioeconomic inequities associated with the justice system. AACP is currently tracking the Beyond the Box for Higher Education Act of 2021 bill that was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House in August 2021. If passed, the U.S. Department of Education would advise institutions of higher education to remove criminal and juvenile justice questions from their admission applications. Multiple states, including Louisiana, Colorado, New York, and California, have enacted related legislation that limits or prohibits the collection of criminal history data in college admissions. Laws and institutional policies vary and may provide exceptions for specific crimes (e.g., stalking) and/or for admission to professional degree programs that lead to licensure. They may also permit institutions to collect related data after acceptance (post-admission) for campus housing, financial aid, and other administrative processes.

    To accommodate the evolving needs of applicants and member schools in states with current or pending legislation, the following felony and misdemeanor questions will be removed from the Personal Information section (Quadrant 1) of the PharmCAS application beginning in the 2022-2023 (next) admissions cycle. 

    • Have you ever been convicted of a Felony? (Yes or No)
    • [If yes] Enter an explanation in this box. Include:
      • A brief description of the incident and/or arrest
      • Specific charge made
      • Related dates
      • Consequence
      • A reflection on the incident and how the incident has impacted your life
    • Have you ever been convicted of a Misdemeanor?
    • [If yes] Enter an explanation in this box. Include: [same as above]

    Pharmacy schools are still permitted to include criminal background questions as custom questions in the Program Materials section (Quadrant 4) of the application during the 2022-2023 cycle and beyond, as applicable laws and university policies allow. AACP strongly encourages schools to consult with their institutional counsel on an annual basis to determine whether there are any new state-specific laws that would impact their ability to capture an applicant's criminal history prior to admission to a health professions degree program. Schools that opt to continue to collect these data may choose to mimic the PharmCAS fields above or create new items, as desired. Please plan to consult with your counsel before the 2022-2023 Configuration Portal opens for PharmCAS in May 2022. All items in the school's Program Materials section (Quadrant 4), including any custom questions, are the responsibility of the institution and are not reviewed by AACP or PharmCAS.

    Felony or misdemeanor convictions may prevent some student pharmacists from completing their experiential education requirements or obtaining licensure after graduation due to site or state restrictions. If not already in place, schools should consider how to best communicate the potential implications of a criminal record on affected students, so they can decide whether to assume the related risks and costs.  The 2022-2023 PharmCAS application instructions will also include related language. 

    The criminal background questions were previously removed from the 2021-2022 PharmGrad application since there are no post-graduation licensure requirements for the graduates of M.S./Ph.D. programs. The following centralized application services (CAS) have also recently decided to remove criminal history questions from Quadrant 1 of the application: 

    • AADSAS, CAAPID, DHCAS (dentistry/dental hygienist)
    • CASPA (physician assistant)
    • CSDCAS (communication science disorders)
    • NursingCAS (nursing)
    • VMCAS (veterinary medicine)
    • SOPHAS (public health)


    Please contact us at with questions. Thank you!

    Libby J. Ross, MA
    AACP Senior Director for Student Affairs