In the late nineteenth century groups of Texas citizens recognized a need for formal facilities to educate individuals in the practice of medicine. At the same time, representatives from the Texas Pharmaceutical Association called upon the Texas legislature to appropriate funding to establish an institution for prospective pharmacists. Following establishment of the state's Medical Department, TPA members initiated an effort to garner public support necessary to urge the legislature into action. In 1893, just two years after the Medical Department began operation, a sum of $2,500 was appropriated by the legislature to establish a school of pharmacy. On October 3, 1893, the University of Texas School of Pharmacy offered its first program of instruction centered around two seven-month sessions. Eleven students were enrolled in the first semester. Classes and labs were conducted in the "Old Red" building on the University of Texas Medical Branch campus in Galveston. James Kennedy, a physician from San Antonio who also held a degree in pharmacy, was named to lead the pharmacy faculty. Kennedy resigned before completion of the 1885 academic year. He was replaced by R. R. D. Cline, a Houston pharmacist, who served as head of the school until 1924. He was followed by William F. Gidley, who served until 1947.
Entrance requirements for pharmacy students included an examination to test the applicant's literacy and general scientific background. The School of Pharmacy was elevated to the status of College of Pharmacy in 1920 and became a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy in 1926. By 1925 the UT Board of Regents approved a new Ph.G. (graduate in pharmacy) curriculum, which increased the degree from a two-year to a three-year program, and in 1929 the first four-year bachelor of science in pharmacy degree was awarded. The B.S. degree was expanded to a five-year program in 1959. Approval was given to establish a master of science degree in pharmacy in 1949 and the Ph.D. degree in 1954; in 1976 the doctor of pharmacy degree program received full accreditation. In 1948 the college offered its first continuing-education programs in the form of hospital pharmacy seminars. The Pharmacy Extension Service was inaugurated in 1953.
The School of Pharmacy remained at its original site in Galveston until 1927. At that time the UT System Board of Regents voted to move the college to the university's Austin campus, where it was housed in temporary makeshift quarters. In 1949 the UT Board of Regents authorized expenditures of $1.25 million for construction of a pharmacy building. The entire pharmacy faculty was finally housed under one roof in the new building in 1952. In 1980 pharmacy facilities were expanded with the opening of a new five-story building adjacent to the 1952 structure.
In the early 1970s the College of Pharmacy tested a pilot program to offer a clinical pharmacy program at the newly established University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Following the success of the pilot project, the college established a portion of its clinical pharmacy program and later its doctor of pharmacy program on the UTHSC–San Antonio campus. Instruction between the Austin and San Antonio facilities is linked through an interactive television system that was inaugurated in 1978.
The 1954 establishment of doctoral studies within the college opened the door to increased emphasis on research. Research funding within the college saw its first significant increase in funding in 1974 with the creation of the Drug Dynamics Institute, an effort to coordinate interdisciplinary research programs. Research funding increased from $320,586 in 1973–74 to $1.18 million for 1974–75. Other research institutes established to further the research efforts of the faculty of the college include the Institute for Neuroscience (1986) and the Clinical Research Unit (1990). In 1990–91 research efforts by College of Pharmacy faculty received more than $12 million in grant funding. In 1994 the faculty approved a new Pharm.D. curriculum, reflecting a national trend toward that degree as the preferred entry-level professional degree program, and in 1997 the college completed an electronic classroom, the second of its type at UT Austin. In 1998 Steven W. Leslie became the tenth dean of the college. In 2000 the college opened a new Center for Molecular and Cellular Technology. In the fall of that year the enrollment was 619 and the faculty numbered ninety-nine.