Preprofessional Office


Welcome to students planning on going to a professional school in some aspect of health care after they first complete preparatory coursework at USM. This includes students taking courses to prepare to apply to professional schools such as medical, dental, veterinary, physical therapy, occupational therapy, optometry, physician assistant, dental hygiene, health informatics, radiologic sciences (x-ray technologist), or cytotechnology school. Our website has curriculum information about courses you could take at USM to help prepare you for application to and possible entrance into these professional schools located at different universities. Entrance into professional schools is very competitive. The professional schools set their own requirements that go beyond simply completing coursework and they decide whether applicants are qualified for admission into their programs. Our website and Preprofessional Office provides guidance to students in preparing for and applying to professional schools. We want to assist you in meeting your goal of becoming a healthcare professional.


Upcoming Events for Pre-med and Pre-law Students

We schedule events for our students to meet with professional school admissions officers, scholarship organizations, and student organizations that assist students in preparing for professional school. The list of events for this semester is linked below.

List of upcoming preprofessional events for healthcare professions and law school

Preprofessional Information Form for USM Students

If you are a USM student pursuing a preprofessional set of courses such as those in premedicine, predentistry, prepharmacy, prephysical therapy, preveterinary, or other fields please fill out the contact information form.  This provides our Preprofessional Office a means to notify you with important information regarding your program, inform you about upcoming events, and indicates potential eligibility for consideration for preprofessional scholarships. Students interested in preparing for law school should contact the Legal Studies program in the School of Social Science and Global Studies. Students interested in pursuing nursing should contact the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Click to fill out a Contact Information for Preprofessional Students Form 


Preprofessional Curricula at USM with Course Sequences

Undergraduate students preparing for professional schools should follow a set of courses (or curriculum) that the professional school requires for meeting their prerequisite coursework.  Each curricula is given the name of the profession with a pre in front of the name, in that these are pre or before application and possible acceptance to a professional school. As an example, our curriculum for those planning on applying to medical school is called the Pre-Medical (or premedical) Curriculum and students are in a student group called premedical (or premed) students. These curricula are not majors and you are not awarded a degree in premedical or other pre- curricula. Instead you should choose an academic major that best interests you or that may prepare you for a career if you do not go to a professional school after USM. In your chosen academic major you pursue a Bachelor’s degree while at the same time you make sure you are taking the correct courses in the preprofessional curricula required by your desired professional school.

Click below for more information and suggested course sequences:


Success in Gaining Entrance into a Professional School

The University of Southern Mississippi provides students with many of the resources needed and the opportunity to be successful in gaining entrance into a professional school. Many students have taken advantage of their opportunities and have reached success as physicians, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, physical therapists, veterinarians, etc. Entrance into a professional school is usually decided by an admission’s committee of that school based upon how well students meet a number of the criteria that are listed below:

  • Completion of prerequisite courses with a high grade point average (this takes two to four years depending on professional school)
  • Achieving a high score on admissions tests such as MCAT, DAT, PCAT, OAT, GRE, or other entrance exams
  • Observing health care professionals in practice
  • Demonstrating care for others, often through community service
  • Demonstrating leadership ability, often through being a leader of a student organization
  • Motivation to succeed as a health care professional
  • Personal characteristics such as integrity, critical thinking, empathy, etc.

USM provides the prerequisite course work needed for most of the professional schools.  Its departments or degree programs in Biological Sciences, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Kinesiotherapy, Exercise science, and Psychology are strong and faculty are concerned about the success of their students.


Preparation for a Healthcare Career

Preparation for a healthcare career has two phases:
  1. Course work at Southern Miss (the "preprofessional" phase) and then 
  2. Four or less years in a professional school

For many fields, such as medicine, dentistry, and physical therapy, “preprofessional preparation” typically means a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree from Southern Miss followed by four or fewer years at a professional school. Some programs, such as pharmacy, dental hygiene, and occupational therapy, may consist of two to three years of courses at Southern Miss followed by up to four years in a professional school.

Admission to professional programs is very competitive and the application process must be initiated anywhere from several months to almost a year before the expected date of entry.


Important Links:


Legal Considerations

Effective July 1, 2004, Section 37-29-232 of the Mississippi Code requires that students enrolled in a healthcare professional academic program undergo fingerprinting and a criminal background check before any clinical rotation in a licensed health care facility may occur. The background check typically occurs after the student completes an interview at the professional school. Some students are denied entrance into healthcare professional programs because of criminal incidents from their past or failing to report those incidents on applications.


Preprofessional Office Functions

  • Advise USM students about course selection, scheduling, and strategies for success in preparation for health care professional schools (see list of preprofessional curricula above)
  • Advise prospective students about USM Preprofessional Curricula and services
  • Maintains preprofessional webpages with current information about professional schools’ entrance requirements and deadlines
  • Assists students in the professional school application process
  • Coordinates having speakers from professional schools and scholarship organizations come to USM to talk with students
  • Coordinates USM courses that assist preprofessional students in observing physicians or dentists in practice (BSC 392) and in preparing for admissions tests such as the MCAT, DAT, PCAT, and OAT (BSC 399)
  • Informs students about USM Preprofessional Events
  • Advises the student USM Preprofessional Organizations, AMSA and AED


Contact Information

For more information about health care careers in any of the preprofessional areas, contact:

Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., Healthcare Preprofessional Advisor

Phone: 601-266-6848

Office location: Bobby Chain Technology Center (TEC 100)

For more information about pre-law, contact either of the following:

Philosophy (Pre-Law) Program in the School of Humanities 


Legal Studies (Pre-Law) Program in the School of Social Science and Global Studies - William Newman, J.D.