Psychiatric Pharmacy

Psychiatric Pharmacy addresses the pharmaceutical care of patients with psychiatric-related illnesses and disorders. Currently there are over 1,520 BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists.

The BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP) program is a credential for pharmacists who have met the eligibility criteria below and who in their unique practice provide person-centered care that ensures the safe, appropriate, evidence-based, and cost-effective use of medications in the treatment of persons with mental illness.

The purpose of the BCPP program is to validate that the pharmacist has the advanced knowledge and experience to optimize outcomes and recovery for patients with mental illness by:

  • Designing, implementing, monitoring, and modifying treatment plans for patients;
  • Educating patients, health care professionals, and other stakeholders; and
  • Providing leadership in the health system and public policy to improve the health of persons with mental illness.

An applicant for board certification in Psychiatric Pharmacy must demonstrate all of the requirements listed below prior to sitting for the initial certification examination. Once all of the requirements below are met, an applicant will be deemed eligible to sit for the Psychiatric Pharmacy specialty certification examination. If an applicant achieves a passing score on the Psychiatric Pharmacy specialty certification examination, they may use the designation Board-Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist, or BCPP.

  • Graduation from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or a program outside the U.S. that qualifies the individual to practice in the jurisdiction.
  • A current, active license/registration to practice pharmacy in the U.S. or another jurisdiction.
  • Demonstration of practice experience1 in one of three ways:
    • At least four years of Psychiatric Pharmacy practice experience1 within the past seven years, with at least 50% of time spent in the scope defined by the exam content outline; or
    • Successful completion of PGY1 pharmacy residency2 within the past seven years, plus at least two years of Psychiatric Pharmacy practice experience1 with at least 50% of time spent in the scope defined by the exam content outline; or
    • Successful completion of PGY2 pharmacy residency in Psychiatric Pharmacy within the past seven years.

1All applicants intending to demonstrate eligibility for any BPS certification examination utilizing the practice experience pathway must provide an attestation from their employer, on company letterhead, that verifies this experience accurately represents at least 50% of time spent in some or all of the activities defined by the applicable certification content outline. In addition, this practice experience must have occurred within the seven years immediately preceding the application. For more information, click here. A sample employer verification letter is available here: Sample.

2American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)-accredited/candidate status PGY1 pharmacy residency, residencies accredited under the ASHP Accreditation Standard for International Pharmacy Practice Residency Programs, or Canadian Pharmacy Residency Board (CPRB)-accredited Year 1 pharmacy residency.

The rationale for the appropriateness of the requirements for BPS certification programs are based upon the following:

  • BPS recognizes individuals who graduate from a recognized school or college of pharmacy within the candidate’s jurisdiction. Those jurisdictions recognize and evaluate programs on the extent to which it accomplishes its stated goals and is consistent with the concept that pharmacy is a unique, personal service profession in the health science field. In the United States, the responsibility for recognizing schools and colleges of pharmacy falls to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
  • The rationale for requiring licensure or registration of pharmacists within their jurisdiction is based upon the fact that for public protection, all pharmacists must be licensed or registered. This is considered a baseline requirement to be a pharmacist specialist. In the United States, BPS recognizes the licensure process administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) aims to ensure the public’s health and safety through its pharmacist license transfer and pharmacist competence assessment programs. NABP’s member boards of pharmacy are grouped into eight districts that include all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and all 10 Canadian provinces.
  • The experiential component is required to help assure practical application of components of the specialty knowledge being certified. There are multiple pathways to meet the practice experience requirement. The faster eligibility pathways recognize accredited residencies through the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). The ASHP residency accreditation program identifies and grants public recognition to practice sites having pharmacy residency training programs that have been evaluated and found to meet the qualifications of one of the ASHP’s residency accreditations standards. Thus, accreditation of a pharmacy residency program provides a means of assurance to residency applicants that a program meets certain basic requirements and is, therefore, an acceptable site for postgraduate training in pharmacy practice in organized health care.
  • Passing the BPS pharmacy specialty examination helps assure knowledge consistent with the validated content outline for the BPS specialty.

The appropriateness of the BPS program requirements are consistent with the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy’s Resource Paper titled: Scope of Contemporary Pharmacy Practice: Roles, Responsibilities, and Functions of Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.

For the BCPP certification examination, refer to the Psychiatric Pharmacy Content Outline found in the BCPP Examination Specification document for details.

  • Domain 1: Person-Centered Care (65% of examination)
  • Domain 2: Translation of Evidence into Practice and Education (20% of the examination)
  • Domain 3: Healthcare Policy, Advocacy, and Practice Management (15% of the examination)

Updates in 2023: Please note that the Psychiatric Specialty Certification and Recertification examinations will transition to continuous testing starting in 2023.

To learn more about the transition to continuous testing, click here

Pharmacists who earn the designation Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist® (BCPP) will be required to maintain their certification over a seven year period by completing one of the following professional development activities:

  • Option One: Recertification Examination
    Achieving a passing score on the 100-item recertification examination administered by BPS, based on the content outline of the Psychiatric Specialty in their seventh year following initial certification;


  • Option Two: Continuing Education
    Earning 100 hours of continuing education credit** provided by a professional development program approved by BPS. The BPS-approved professional development program for Psychiatric Pharmacy is currently offered by the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (AAPP). Please review the special note below. Contact AAPP for specific information about their program offerings that will qualify for BCPP recertification credit. In November 2021, BPS voted to change the recertification requirement for the Psychiatric Pharmacy Specialty from “must” to “may” complete the Psychiatric Pharmacy Review Course offered by AAPP at least once, but no more than two times, in nonconsecutive years, during the 7-year recertification cycle. Please note that if you have already completed the Psychiatric Pharmacy Review Course once or twice during your recertification cycle, it will count towards your 100 hours, as any other CE. This policy revision is now effective for all current and future BCPPs. The Review Course is revised and released every other year on the even year (2014, 2016, etc.). Given this revision cycle, individuals cannot repeat the current edition of the Review Course for BCPP or ACPE credit.

A current, active license to practice pharmacy is required for recertification.

For full details regarding recertification, please refer to the BPS Recertification Guide.

Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists® are also required to pay the BPS Annual Certification Maintenance fee of $125 each year for years one through six and a $400 recertification fee in year seven. Individuals with more than one BPS certification will only be assessed one BPS Annual Certification Maintenance Fee each year.