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College of Arts and Sciences

Pre-OP

Pre-Optometry Curriculum

The “pre-optometry 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.

  

 

What Should I Major In?

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 strongly prefer that students have a baccalaureate degree; other schools require the baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation. Close to 100% of applicants admitted to optometry school this last year had their B.S. or B.A. degree by the time they entered optometry school.

Even students planning to attend optometry school prior to graduating from USM must declare an academic major. Many students choose a major in one of the sciences (Biological Sciences, Chemistry/Biochemistry, 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 or choose not to pursue optometry.

 

 

Optometry School Possibilities

There are only 23 accredited Optometry schools/colleges in the United States. There is no Optometry school in Mississippi; however, all programs should accept Mississippi students. The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) provides a diretory with information on all accredited schools. The programs listed below actively recruit qualified students from USM. Many of the schools have a certain number of contract seats for in-state tuition for Mississippi residents as part of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) contract seat program. However, preference is sometimes given to residents of the respective states.

 

Local Optometry Schools

College/University Location Website
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL   uab.edu/optometry
Southern College of Optometry Memphis, TN sco.edu
University of Houston Houston, TX opt.uh.edu
University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX uiw.edu/optometry

 

 

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.

 

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Exceptional students may apply with a minimum of 90 semester hours. Those who will have a bachelor’s degree by the time of matriculation are given strong preferential consideration. All prerequisite courses must be completed prior to the summer term of the matriculation year. The deadline for applications is March 1 but it is wise to apply much earlier than the deadline.

Required courses (grade of C or better)

  • BSC 110/L & 111/L

  • BSC 380/L

  • CHE 106/L & 107/L

  • Che 255/L*

  • CHE 420 or 421*

  • PHY 111/L & 112/L OR 201/L & 202/L

  • MAT 167**

  • PSY 360 or another statistics course

  • ENG 101 & 102

  • PSY 110

  • Two social/behavioral science courses (6h total in sociology, economics, anthropology, history, political science, or additional psychology)

*The prerequisite for CHE 420 is one semester of organic chemistry (CHE 255), whereas the prerequisite for CHE 421 is two semesters of organic.

**MAT 114 may be accepted; students should discuss this with admissions at UAB.

 

Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, TN)

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

Required courses

  • BSC 110/L & 111/L

  • BSC 380/L

  • CHE 106/L & 107/L

  • CHE 255/L*

  • CHE 420 or 421* or molecular biology

  • PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L

  • MAT 167**

  • PSY 360 or another statistics course

  • ENG 101 & 102

  • PSY 110

  • Two courses in the social sciences (6h total in sociology, psychology, political science, history, economics, anthropology, geography, religion, or philosophy)

*The prerequisite for CHE 420 is one semester of organic chemistry (CHE 255), whereas the prerequisite for CHE 421 is two semesters of organic.

**MAT 114 may be accepted; students should discuss this with admissions at SCO.

 

University of Houston College of Optometry

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation. Please check with their program directly for deadlines.

Required Courses

  • BSC 110/L & 111/L

  • CHE 106/L & 107/L

  • PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L

  • CHE 255/L*

  • CHE 420 or 421*

  • MAT 167**

  • Two advanced biology courses*** (8h total)

  • BSC 380/L

  • PSY 110

  • PSY 360 or another statistics course

*The prerequisite for CHE 420 is one semester of organic chemistry (CHE 255), whereas the prerequisite for CHE 421 is two semesters of organic.

**MAT 114 may be accepted; students should discuss this with admissions at UH.

***Anatomy and 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 of the College of Optometry 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.

 

University of Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry (San Antonio, TX)

Applicants must have a minimum of 90 semester hours and minimum GPA of 3.0. Strong preference is given to those with a baccalaureate degree. 

Required Courses*

  • BSC 110/L or BSC 111/L**

  • BSC 251/L***

  • CHE 106/L & 107/L

  • CHE 255/L****

  • CHE 420 or 421**** or molecular biology

  • PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L

  • BSC 380/L

  • MAT 167*****

  • PSY 360 or another statistics course

  • PSY 110

  • ENG 101 & 102

*Additional courses will be needed if a student does not obtain a bachelor's degree; these can be seen at UIW's website, listed above.

**Though the UIW requirement is one semester of general biology, both semesters are prerequisites for all upper-level biology courses.

***May be substituted with BSC 111, BSC 360, or BSC 370 (all with labs).

****The prerequisite for CHE 420 is one semester of organic (CHE 255), whereas the prerequisite for 421 is two semesters of organic.

*****MAT 114 may be accepted; students should consult with admissions at UIW.

 

 

Suggested Course Sequence & Strategies for Success

The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline to complete the courses required for application to most optometry programs 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 a  4h BSC 110&L OR BSC 111&L a 4h
CHE 106&L  4h CHE 107&L  4h
MAT 101 b  3h MAT 103 b  3h
ENG 101 c   3h ENG 102  3h
PSY 110  3h One other course d,e  3h

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 Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on the student’s ACT mathematics subtest score.

c Placement in English Composition courses depends on the student’s ACT English subtest score.

  • 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)

d “Other” courses include students to fulfill a student's major and/or "recommended" electives for their chosen optometry program.

e Students are strongly encouraged to complete the prerequisites for the Hatten Externship (BSC 392) during the first year (see below).

 

Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

  • 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 optometrist or ophthalmologist; students are strongly encouraged to complete the prerequisites for the Externship during the first year. The Externship course is offered each Fall semester, so students must fulfill the prerequisites 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; and a 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.

 

 

Year 2

Fall

Spring

CHE 255&L 4h CHE 420 3h

PHY 111&L

 

4h PHY 112&L 4h
[or PHY 201&L 5h] [or PHY 202& 5h]
BSC 380/L 4h MAT 114 or MAT 167  3h
PSY 360 3h 2 other classes d,e,f 6-8h 

1 other classes d,e,g

3h     


f Students may take BSC 399 (MCAT Preparation) if they would like to review Biology, Chemistry, and Physics 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.

g  Students may take the Hatten Externship to gain shadowing experience if they meet the prerequisites (see Year 1).

 

Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue to follow strategies from Year 1.

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

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

  • Students may take the OAT after completing the second year of preprofessional study.

  • 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).

 

 

Year 3

Fall

Spring

Other courses d,g

15-18h

Other courses d,f

15-18h

 

Strategies for Success 

  • Students should continue with previous success strategies.

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

  


Year 4

Fall

Spring

Classes to fulfill major, minor

15-18h 

Classes to fulfill major, minor 

15-18h 

 


Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue with previous success strategies.

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

 

 

 

The Application Process

The application process may begin after the student has completed the prerequisite courses (typically after the third year of preprofessional study). Look at the 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 or technical guidelines regarding physical, mental, and social abilities.

Many optometry programs utilize the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS). Students should check with each school to which they plan to apply in order to determine whether they participate in OptomCAS. Schools that utilize this service may still require a secondary application.

 

The OAT

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 or summer prior to your application. The test has four parts, 1. Survey of Natural Sciences (measures knowledge of Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), 2. Reading Comprehension, 3. Physics, and 4. Quantitative Reasoning.  

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

 

The Interview

Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Perfect InterviewTM resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the preprofessional office (contact information below).   

 

 

 

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

Dr. Jeffrey Evans

Preprofessional Advisor

jeffrey.evansFREEMississippi

Phone: 601-266-4315

Office Location:

Bobby Chain Technology Center (TEC 100)

Destiny DeLancey

Preprofessional Advisor

Destiny.reynoldsFREEMississippi

Phone: 601-266-4636

Office Location:

Liberal Arts Building (LAB 212A) 

 

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