The biology-health professions concentration curricula enable the pre‑optometry student to schedule coursework along with other course requirements for the respective major.
Pre‑Optometry at Ship
The BS in Biology/Health Professions Pre‑optometry concentration has a curricular focus for students who plan to enter an optometry school program. Most pre‑optometry students are biology or chemistry majors; however, a pre-optometry student can major in virtually any discipline. Pre‑optometry students are advised by the pre-optometry advisors with regard to prerequisite courses required by optometry schools, Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) preparation, optometry school application procedures and current trends in optometry school admissions.
Science classes are small at Shippensburg University, usually having no more than 16 students per laboratory section. Seasoned professors, not graduate students, teach lectures and labs. State-of-the-art laboratory equipment is available to students, giving them hands-on experience with current techniques.
The university has a consistent record of placing qualified students into optometry programs. Pre‑optometry advisors maintain close ties with Salus University by visiting their program during the summer months to stay current with admissions procedures and standards. They attend conferences for health professions advisors where they meet colleagues from other universities and share ideas. This ensures Shippensburg University pre‑optometry students receive accurate, current, and comprehensive information. Pre‑optometry students are given “mock interviews” prior to the time they apply to optometry schools. This experience provides students with interview practice and gives the Health Professions Committee information so a committee letter of reference can be written to support the student’s application.
Shippensburg University has been affiliated with Salus since 1990. Though most of our students pursue optometry school after completing a 4‑year undergraduate degree, several have entered Salus as “3+4” students. Under this agreement, qualified students can apply to Salus early in their junior year. If accepted, students enter Salus after completing their junior year and credits will be transferred back to Shippensburg after they complete their first year of optometry school. Shippensburg then awards the Bachelor of Science degree in biology or chemistry to the student.
Students accepted into the accelerated “3+4” program usually had above‑average credentials and performed very well in Salus University’s program. Salus University and Shippensburg University have developed a high level of appreciation for one another’s program over the last several years as a result of this affiliation and the success of Shippensburg’s students who completed the program.
Admission and Degree Requirements
Competitive pre‑optometry students almost always have QPAs of 3.3 or better, performed above average on the Optometry Admissions Test, and completed internships in optometry settings. Leadership, community/human service and a willingness to volunteer contribute to the personal qualities of a successful pre‑optometry student. Successful students plan a strategy early in their college career with regard to course sequences, preparing for and taking the OAT, internship experiences and application to optometry schools. They also communicate frequently with their pre‑optometry advisor.
The basic course prerequisites for the seventeen optometry schools in the United States and the one program in Puerto Rico are:
- 16 credits of biology (including microbiology)
- 16 credits of chemistry
- 8 credits of physics
- 3 credits of statistics
Certain programs might require other courses so students are advised to examine the specific requirements of the programs to which they plan to apply early in their undergraduate program. The biology-health professions curriculum enables the pre‑optometry student to schedule this coursework along with other course requirements for the respective major. Pre‑optometry students pursuing a non‑science major can include these science requirements as electives; however, optometry schools expect non‑science majors to perform very well in these science courses. A broad selection of courses is available within the biology and chemistry disciplines and pre‑optometry students are encouraged to include some of the following courses among their electives:
- Human physiology
- Cell biology
- Pathogenic microbiology
Qualified Ship students have fared extremely well in the admissions process at various optometry programs throughout the United States. Perhaps because of the geographical proximity and the affiliation agreement, the majority of pre‑optometry students have entered Salus University. Over recent years, Shippensburg University students have also been accepted to:
- Illinois College of Optometry
- Indiana University College of Optometry
- New York College of Optometry
- Ohio State University College of Optometry
Faculty-directed undergraduate research is highly encouraged at Shippensburg, and each year several biology students present the results of their research at regional, state or national conferences.
Pre‑optometry students are encouraged to participate in internship experiences with private and corporate practices, visit Salus University (or other optometry programs) and attend on‑campus presentations by optometry school admissions personnel. Practicing professionals and optometry school admissions personnel are routinely invited to speak to the Health Sciences Club. Additionally, the diverse health professional interests of Shippensburg University students and the variety of health professionals invited to speak at the university expose pre‑ optometry students to other areas of the health care field.