An agreement signed Monday between Roosevelt University and Harper College creates a program grooming new Harper students for a spot in Roosevelt's College of Pharmacy within two years.
Elgin Community College recently reached a similar agreement with Roosevelt and Oakton Community College will soon do the same.
The programs allow students who remain in good academic standing to earn their Pharm.D. degrees in two years less than those who pursue bachelor's degrees first.
"We have to find every way we can to reduce the price burden on students," Harper College President Ken Ender said.
George MacKinnon, dean of Roosevelt's College of Pharmacy, said the programs are tailored to students who want to stay in their native Northwest and Western suburbs throughout their higher education.
The possibility of reaching out to local students in this way is a product of the College of Pharmacy's early years, having graduated its first class this spring, MacKinnon said. While some students in that class had bachelor's degrees already, others did not or were returning to school later in life.
"Students come from all different backgrounds," MacKinnon said. "There's not just one track to success."
Ender said Harper's program, which includes the assignment of guidance counselors to prospective pharmacy students, will begin during the spring 2015 semester.
Once that's established, Harper will be able to reach out to the high school districts within its jurisdiction to advise them how their students can better prepare themselves for the program.
"This program is really for the student who sees a future in pharmacy," Ender said.
Up to 10 students from each of the three community colleges will be eligible to join each new class of Roosevelt's College of Pharmacy. They must maintain a 3.0 grade-point average and complete two years of course work within at least three years of their initial enrollment.
While the program could be extended to other community colleges in the future, MacKinnon said progress with Harper, ECC and Oakton will be evaluated first.