Optometry

To print a copy of this information, click on this link: preoptometry_curriculum_rev_8-2013.pdf

The Major

The “preoptometry curriculum” is just a list of courses that are required for admission to optometry school. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area.

Even if you plan to apply to optometry school after taking only the courses required for admission (minimum of 90 hours for some programs), you need to declare an academic major at USM.

Many students choose a major in one of the sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) but other majors are acceptable including the humanities, social sciences, or business. Students should select the major in which they feel the most comfortable and in which they would like to work if they are not accepted into optometry school.

Students wishing to study optometry must complete at least three or more years in a preprofessional program, for example at Southern Miss. Some optometry schools prefer that students have a baccalaureate degree; other schools require the baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation.

Progress toward a Baccalaureate Degree

Course work toward a baccalaureate degree at Southern Miss must be planned so the student meets all the requirements for the preprofessional curriculum, a major, a minor if appropriate, the University General Education Curriculum, and the College core. At Southern Miss, a minimum of 124 hours is needed for most baccalaureate degrees, with 45 of these hours from courses at the 300-level or above.

Visit the American Optometric Association (AOA) web pages for more information about optometry schools.

Link to main page: http://www.aoa.org/

Link to students and educators page: http://www.aoa.org/students

Requirements for Applicants

The prerequisites for admission to optometry programs are somewhat different, depending on the school, so students must consult the specific admission requirements and application deadlines for the school(s) to which they plan to apply.

There is no optometry school in Mississippi.

Optometry programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, and the University of Houston admit residents of Mississippi

(and other states) to professional study. However, preference is given to residents of the respective states.

UAB:  http://www.uab.edu/optometry

SCO:   http://www.sco.edu/

UH:      http://www.opt.uh.edu/

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Exceptional students may apply with a minimum of 90 semester hours; no more than 60 hours from a two-year college. Those who will have a bachelor’s degree by the time of matriculation are given preferential consideration. All prerequisite courses must be completed prior to the summer term of the matriculation year.

Required courses (grade of C or better)

  • two semesters of biology with laboratory
  • one microbiology course
  • two semesters of general chemistry with laboratory
  • one semester of organic chemistry with laboratory
  • one semester of biochemistry

NOTE: at Southern Miss the prerequisite for CHE 420 (Principles of Biochemistry) is one semester of organic chemistry, but the prerequisites for CHE 421 (Biochemistry I) are two semesters of organic chemistry

  • two semesters of physics with laboratory
  • one calculus course
  • one statistics course
  • two semesters of English composition
  • one psychology course
  • two semesters of social and behavioral sciences (any combination of sociology, economics, anthropology, history, political science, or additional psychology) 

Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, TN)

Exceptional students may apply with 90 semester hours; however, preference given to students with a baccalaureate degree. Deadline for application is March 1 of each year.

Required courses

  • two semesters of general biology with laboratory
  • one microbiology course with laboratory
  • two semesters of general chemistry with laboratory
  • one semester of organic chemistry with laboratory
  • one biochemistry course (or one molecular biology course)

NOTE: at Southern Miss the prerequisite for CHE 420 (Principles of Biochemistry) is one semester of organic chemistry, but the prerequisites for CHE 421 (Biochemistry I) are two semesters of organic chemistry

  • two semesters of general physics with laboratory
  • one calculus course
  • one statistics course
  • two semesters of English composition and/or literature
  • one general psychology course
  • two semesters of social sciences (any combination of sociology, psychology, political science, history, economics, anthropology, geography, religion, or philosophy) 

University of Houston / College of Optometry

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation, including the following required courses. Deadline for application is February 15.

  • two semesters of biological sciences with laboratory (must be courses for majors)
  • two semesters of general chemistry with laboratory (must be courses for majors)
  • two semesters of general physics with laboratory (have an optics section dedicated to the study of wave theory and the propagation of light)
  • one semester of calculus; one or more courses in algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus, or analytical geometry is recommended, but not required.
  • 8 hours of advanced biology; anatomy and advanced physiology are recommended.

Acceptance of other advanced biology courses to satisfy prerequisite requirements is at the discretion of the admissions committee. It is recommended that applicants receive prior approval from the Dean of Students for applicable courses. Courses such as genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, neuroscience, anatomy, physiology, advanced human physiology, mammalian physiology, immunology, and endocrinology will be acceptable.

  • one semester of organic chemistry with laboratory
  • one semester of biochemistry
  • NOTE: at Southern Miss the prerequisite for CHE 420 (Principles of Biochemistry) is one semester of organic chemistry, but the prerequisites for CHE 421 (Biochemistry I) are two semesters of organic chemistry
  • one semester of microbiology with laboratory
  • one semester of psychology
  • one semester of statistics

Suggested Course Sequence & Strategies for Success

The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline to complete the courses required for an optometry program in a timely manner. Courses to fulfill the major must be worked into the student’s schedule.

Students must consult the USM Undergraduate Bulletin, the USM Class Schedule Guide for each semester, and their academic advisor. During the last semester of the Sophomore year, students should develop a more detailed plan for the Junior and Senior years because many upper level courses in all majors are offered in specific semesters (Fall or Spring only) and/or on a rotating two-year cycle.

YEAR 1

Fall Spring  
BSC 110&L OR BSC 111&L a4 h BSC 111&L OR BSC 110&L a 4 h 
CHE 106&Lb 4 hCHE 107&L4 h
MAT 101c 3 hMAT 103c 3 h
ENG 101d   3 hENG 102 3 h
One other coursee,f 3 hOne other coursee,f  3 h

a, The order that students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter; BSC 110/L covers molecular and cellular topics whereas BSC 111/L covers ecology and organisms.

b, Students enrolling in CHE 106&L must have passed high school chemistry or passed CHE 100 at USM. CHE 100 is required when the chemistry background is not adequate. Students may enter CHE 100 directly, if they choose. Students enrolled in CHE 106/L will take a test about two weeks into the class to determine if they should remain in CHE 106/L. If they do not meet the minimum score, these students are strongly recommended to move to a CHE 100 class, which is offered at the same time as CHE 106.

c, Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on the student’s ACT subscore.

Calculus is required for most majors in the College of Science and Technology (CoST), but is not required for med school or for majors outside of CoST.

  • ACT mathematics subtest score 19 or below:  must take MAT 99 (Intermediate Algebra)
  • ACT mathematics subtest score 20 or above:  MAT 101 (College Algebra)
  • ACT mathematics subtest score 24 or above (or grade of C or better in College Algebra):  MAT 103 (Trigonometry). NOTE:  Trigonometry is a prerequisite for Physics I and preoptometry students are advised to take MAT 103.
  • ACT mathematics subtest score 24 or above (or grade of C or better in Trigonometry): MAT 114 (Calculus for the Arts and Sciences)
  • ACT mathematics subtest score 26 or above:  MAT 167 (Calculus I)

Students directly entering Calculus (MAT 114 or MAT 167) can use this course to satisfy the UMMC math requirement, but must take an additional recommended upper level elective course (BCPM).

d, Placement in English Composition courses depends on the student’s ACT English subscore.

  • ACT English subtest score 16 or below:  ENG 99E (Expanded Composition Studio) and ENG 100E (Composition I expanded)
  • ACT English subtest score 17-19:  ENG 100E (Composition I expanded)
  • ACT English subtest score 20 or above:  ENG 101 (Composition 1)

e, “Other” courses include those in the General Education Curriculum (which would include the required psychology, social and behavioral sciences) and courses in the major and/or minor. PSY 360 (Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences) is recommended, depending on student’s major; another statistics course may be recommended or required by a specific major.

f, Students are strongly encouraged to complete the prerequisites for the Hatten Externship (BSC 392) during the first yea (see below). The Externship course is offered in the Fall semester, so students must fulfill the prerequisites by the end of the preceding Summer semester.

Strategy for Success

  • Students should focus on doing well in their academic studies, particularly the required science and math courses.
  • Students should become involved with extracurricular activities, including meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions that will demonstrate effective interactions with diverse people and effective time management skills.
  • Students should maintain a record of the dates and total hours spent performing such activities. This will be needed when it comes time to apply to optometry school.
  • Students should start getting some hands-on exposure to optometry.

Preoptometry students may take the Hatten Preprofessional Externship (BSC 392) if they would like to shadow an ophthalmologist; students are strongly encouraged to complete the pre-requisites for the Externship during the first year. The Externship course is offered each Fall semester, so students must fulfill the pre-requisites by the end of the preceding Summer semester.

Students may participate in the Externship twice; participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended.

Externship prerequisites are ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L; [MAT 101, 103 OR one Calculus course]. Minimum GPA of 3.2 for USM GPA, degree GPA, and BCPM GPA.

  • Students may join AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta), the national Health Preprofessional Honor Society, as associate members at any time even if they do not fulfill the requirements for full membership (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters and meet specific course and GPA requirements). Full members are inducted during the Spring semester.

Information and links to AED Full and Associate Member applications are available on the Southern Miss Preprofessional website: http://www.usm.edu/science-technology/alpha-epsilon-delta

YEAR 2

Fall Spring  
CHE 255&L4 h CHE 4203 h 
PHY 111&L4 hPHY 112&L4 h 
    [ or PHY 201&L5 h ]    [ or PHY 202&L5 h ] 
BSC 380/L  4 hMAT 114 or MAT 1673 h
1-2 other classese, f,g 3-7 h 2 other classese,f,g 6-8 h 

g, Students may take BSC 399 (MCAT Preparation) if they would like to review Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math in a formal class, or they need to prepare on their own before attempting the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) for the first time. Students may take the OAT after completing one year of college courses but most students take after the second (or third) year of courses.

BSC 399 is offered in the Spring semester. Prerequisites include ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L, 255/L, 256/L; PHY 111/L, 112/L; [MAT 101& MAT 103 OR one Calculus course] and one upper level BSC or CHE course. Minimum GPA of 3.4 for USM GPA, degree GPA, and BCPM GPA.

Strategy for Success

  • Students continue to focus on doing well in their studies, particularly the required science and math courses.
  • Students remain involved with meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions.
  • Students continue to participate in hands on exposure to optometry.

Students may participate in the Hatten Externship (BSC 392), which is offered each Fall.

  • Students are typically inducted into AED, the national Health Preprofessional Honor Society, in the Spring semester of the Sophomore year, but may be inducted in Junior or Senior year (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters and meet specific course and GPA requirements).
  • Students may take the OAT after completing the second year of preprofessional study.

YEAR 3

Fall Spring  
Classes to fulfill major, minor 15-18 h Classes to fulfill major, minorg15-18 h 

g, Students may take BSC 399 (MCAT Preparation) during the Spring semester of the Junior year if they would like to review Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math in a formal class. Otherwise students need to prepare on their own before attempting the OAT for the first time.

BSC 399 is offered in the Spring semester. Prerequisites include ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L, 255/L, 256/L; PHY 111/L, 112/L; [MAT 101& MAT 103 OR one Calculus course] and one upper level BSC or CHE course. Minimum GPA of 3.4 for USM GPA, degree GPA, and BCPM GPA.

Strategy for Success

  • Students continue to focus on doing well in their studies.
  • Students remain involved with meaningful community service learning, volunteer
    activities
    , and leadership positions.
  • Students continue to participate in hands-on experiences related to any aspect of
    optometry.

YEAR 4

Fall Spring  
Classes to fulfill major, minor 15-18 h Classes to fulfill major, minor15-18 h 

The Application Process

The application process may begin after the student has completed the prerequisite courses (after the second year of preprofessional study). Look at application process of the specific school(s) for which you plan to apply.  They can differ in deadlines and process. In addition, you may need to meet specific functional guidelines regarding physical, mental, and social abilities.

Students should learn about the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), about the online Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) application process, and about getting letters of evaluation from faculty.

Link to OptomCAS:  http://www.optomcas.org/

The OAT is a requirement for admission to all colleges of optometry and is typically taken after the second or third year of preprofessional study. This is usually in the spring prior to your application.

Link to OAT:  https://www.ada.org/oat/index.html

Students are strongly encouraged to take an online practice OAT before taking the OAT that they will use on their application. There are a number of websites that have practice questions or practice tests; use Google to search for “practice OAT questions”.

Many Optometry schools use the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS), which is a centralized application service (http://www.optomcas.org/), and many schools also require a specific supplemental application, which is described on their respective websites.

The Interview

Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview.

For More Information about a Career in Healthcare, Contact the Preprofessional Office

The Healthcare Preprofessional Office is located in Bobby Chain Technology Building (TEC) Room 103.

Website:  http://www.usm.edu/science-technology/preprofessional

Phone number: 601.266.4741

Mailing address:

Healthcare Preprofessional Office
College of Science and Technology
118 College Dr., #5165
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001

Preprofessional Assistant:

Ms. L. Machell Haynes
601.266.4741
ladonna.haynes@usm.edu

Preprofessional Advisor:

Dr. Jeffrey Evans, Preprofessional Advisor
601.266.4883
jeffrey.evans@usm.edu