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Preprofessional Office

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.

Students wishing to study optometry must complete at least three or more years in a pre-professional 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.

Some students already have a B.A. or B.S. and then decide to pursue becoming a physician. Students in this category should consult with our pre-professional office. In general, these students lack some of the science courses required by most optometry schools; in some cases, the required courses may be over 10 years old, which most optometry schools do not accept. It is common for these students to take the prerequisite science or non-science courses for optometry school at USM as post-baccalaureate students while also working on polishing their applications and taking the OAT.

Some post-baccalaureate students take the prerequisite courses as a non-degree student while other students choose a second major to pursue at USM. In either case, students must go through the University Admissions Office to be admitted (or re-admitted for former students) before enrolling in courses.

 

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 directory 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

 

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.

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

  • General Biology - BSC 110/L & 111/L
  • Microbiology - BSC 282/L
  • General Chemistry - CHE 106/L & 107/L
  • Organic Chemistry - Che 255/L*
  • Biochemistry - CHE 420 or 421*
  • General Physics or Physics with Calculus - PHY 111/L & 112/L OR 201/L & 202/L
  • Calculus I - MAT 167**
  • Statistics - PSY 360 or another statistics course
  • English Composition - ENG 101 & 102
  • Introduction to Psychology - 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 (CHE 255 & 256).

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

Exceptional students may apply with 90 semester hours; however, strong preference is given to students with a baccalaureate degree. The yearly application deadline is March 1.

Required Courses

  • General Biology - BSC 110/L & 111/L
  • Microbiology - BSC 282/L
  • General Chemistry - CHE 106/L & 107/L
  • Organic Chemistry - CHE 255/L*
  • Biochemistry or Molecular Biology - CHE 420 or 421* or BSC 476
  • General Physics or Physics with Calculus - PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L
  • Calculus I - MAT 167**
  • Statistics - PSY 360 or another statistics course
  • English Composition - ENG 101 & 102
  • Introduction to Psychology - 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.

 

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

Required Courses

  • General Biology - BSC 110/L & 111/L
  • General Chemistry - CHE 106/L & 107/L
  • General Physics or Physics with Calculus - PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L
  • Organic Chemistry - CHE 255/L*
  • Biochemistry - CHE 420 or 421*
  • Calculus I - MAT 167**
  • Two advanced biology courses*** (8h total)
  • Microbiology - BSC 282/L
  • Introduction to Psychology - PSY 110
  • Statistics - 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.

***Advanced 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.

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*

  • General Biology - BSC 110/L or BSC 111/L**
  • Anatomy and Physiology I - BSC 251/L***
  • General Chemistry - CHE 106/L & 107/L
  • Organic Chemistry - CHE 255/L****
  • Biochemistry or Molecular Biology - CHE 420 or 421**** or BSC 476
  • General Physics or Physics with Calculus - PHY 111/L & 112/L OR PHY 201/L & 202/L
  • Microbiology - BSC 282/L
  • Calculus I - MAT 167*****
  • Statistics - PSY 360 or another statistics course
  • General Psychology - PSY 110
  • English Composition - 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.

Fall

  • BSC 110/L or 111/L (4h) a
  • CHE 106/L (4h) 
  • ENG 101 (3h)
  • MAT 101 (3h) b
  • PSY 110 (3h)

Spring

  • BSC 110/L or 111/L (4h)  a 
  • CHE 107/L (4h)
  • ENG 102 (3h)
  • MAT 103 (3h) b
  • One additional course (3-4h) c

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 Additional courses include students to fulfill a student's major and/or recommended electives for their chosen optometry program.

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 study for long-term retention of knowledge to better prepare them for optometry school and the OAT.
  • 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. 
  • Students should start getting some hands-on exposure to optometry. Students should be sure to maintain a record of the optometrists they have shadowed, how many hours they have shadowed, and 
  • 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.

 

Fall

  • CHE 255/L (4h)
  • PHY 111/L or 201/L (4-5h)
  • BSC 282/L (4h)
  • PSY 360 (3h)
  • One additional course (3h) d

Spring

  • CHE 420 (3h)
  • PHY 112/L or 202/L (4-5h)
  • MAT 167 (3h)
  • Two additional courses (6-8h) d

Additional courses can include courses for the major or supplemental courses for optometry programs. Students should consider taking BSC 392, the Hatten Externship, in the Fall to gain shadowing experience. In addition, BSC 399, MCAT Preparation, is offered in the Spring and also includes material to help prepare for the OAT.

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).

 

Fall

  • Courses to fulfill major or minor (15-19h)

Spring

  • Courses to fulfill major or minor (15-19h)

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 as soon as students have completed the required courses. It is important that students speak with their ideal optometry schools about application deadlines and details.

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 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.

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

 

Pre-Professional Office Contact Information

Dr. Jennifer Regan

Email: jennifer.reganFREEMississippi

Phone: 601.266.6230

Office Location: Bobby Chain Technology Center (TEC) room 100

Destiny DeLancey

Email: destiny.reynoldsFREEMississippi

Phone: 601.266.4636

Office Location: Cook Library (LIB) room 203Q

 

Contact Us

Preprofessional Office
Liberal Arts Building 210
118 College Dr. #5004 Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Campus Map

Email
CoASFREEMississippi

Phone
601.266.4315

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