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Pre-Health Pathways


Available pre-health programs 

SFA’s pre-health program is customizable and can be tailored to the health profession of your choice. Still deciding on the one that’s right for you? Looking for more information about becoming an optometrist, pharmacist or a veterinarian? Here’s a list of our most popular programs.

SFA offers the following pre-health pathways:


A dentist has earned either a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Medical Dentistry. Dentists are taught to examine and treat their patients for diseases and injuries of the teeth, mouth and encompassing area. This also includes appearance enhancement through various techniques. The majority of dentists are self-employed general practitioners who handle a plethora of dental needs; however, there are nine areas of further specializations a dentist may take.

No matter the route, a dentistry degree requires four years from an accredited school of dentistry, and further specialization requires supplemental years of training. A pre-dental student does not have to complete an undergraduate degree to apply to dental programs.

To apply for admission to a dental school in Texas, you’ll need to:

  • complete a minimum of 90 semester hours of credit from an accredited four-year university (or hold a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field)
  • and take the Dental Admissions Test.

Graduation from an accredited school of dentistry typically takes four years. Specializations require additional years of training. Dentists in Texas must hold a degree from a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association and must pass a national board examination, a clinical examination and a specialty examination. They must also be licensed by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

Related careers: dental assistant, dental laboratory technician and dental hygienist.

Dental schools in Texas:


Physicians care for the healthy, the ill and the injured. They perform physical examinations and diagnose illnesses, injuries and other conditions. The practice of medicine is evolving and branching as the health care system expands. Physicians may hold one of two degrees: Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine; both use accepted and approved methods to diagnose and treat patients.

Medical doctors are trained in traditional allopathic medicine, which uses treatment actions proved to produce different effects than the disease or condition. Osteopathic doctors are trained in osteopathic medicine, which encompasses all of medicine, including surgery. Osteopathy emphasizes the musculoskeletal system and manipulative therapy in treatment, when appropriate. Both medical and osteopathic doctors may practice generally or specialize in a disease or body system.

To apply for admission to a medical school, you’ll need to:

  • complete a minimum of three years at an accredited college or university (while a degree is not required, most students complete a bachelor’s degree before entering medical school)
  • complete all required undergraduate math and science prerequisites
  • and take the Medical College Admission Test.

To become a physician, you'll need to complete medical school and pass a series of exams sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners. Depending on your area of specialization, you must complete a three- to seven-year residency training program. Once you're certified, you'll need to attend continuing education and professional development seminars to keep your certification up to date.

Related careers: physician assistant and nurse practitioner.

Medical schools in Texas: 


Doctors of optometry examine, diagnose, treat and manage eye diseases and conditions. An optometrist, in many circumstances, prescribes and administers drugs for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Traditionally, optometrists prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, vision therapy and low-vision aids. They also may specialize in working with children, the elderly or partially sighted patients. Almost all optometrists maintain their own private practices and set their own hours.

Other sources of employment for an optometrist are in the health maintenance organizations, multidisciplinary practices, commercial optical facilities and even the military.

To apply for admission to an optometry school in Texas, you’ll need to:

Optometry school typically takes four years. To practice in Texas, optometrists must pass a state licensing exam and hold a Doctor of Optometry from an optometric program accredited by the American Optometric Association's Council on Optometric Education.

Related career fields: optician, optometric assistant, optometric technician, ophthalmologist (physician), ophthalmic assistant and ophthalmic technologist.

Optometry schools in Texas:

Pre-Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists provide services to people whose ability to cope with the activities of daily living have been impaired by physical illness or injury. The overarching goal of an occupational therapist is to assist patients in regaining their independence and health. Occupational therapists work with patients of all ages, from children to the elderly. They also provide patients with adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs and eating aids.

An occupational therapist uses a wide variety of techniques and tools to evaluate, treat and monitor their patients. These include integrating children’s toys and games as rehabilitation equipment, work simulations and self-care tasks.

To apply to a Master of Occupational Therapy program, you’ll need to:

  • complete a bachelor’s degree and take the GRE
    • This has now become the standard for every program in Texas.
  • complete around six months of supervised clinical experience before completing the program (specifically for Texas occupational therapy schools)
  • and pass a certification exam by the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners.

Related careers: recreational therapist, gerontologist, occupational therapy assistant or aide and physical therapist.

Occupational therapy programs in Texas:


Today’s pharmacists are active members of a patient’s health care team. They play a vital role in patient education and communication. Pharmacists often are the first health professionals consulted by patients; they are also likely to be the last health care member with whom a physician consults before prescribing medication. Because of this critical integration in the health care team, pharmacists must be able to communicate with others at various levels. Furthermore, pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions with their working knowledge of the compounds in medications. They may also conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.

Accredited pharmacy programs offer a Doctor of Pharmacy, which requires two years of prerequisite coursework then four years of professional education at an accredited pharmacy school.

You don't need to complete a degree to apply to a pharmacy program. Although a bachelor's is not required, it is highly qualifying as the majority of pharmacy applicants will have completed their degrees. The application process also requires students to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test.

Successful graduates of a school of pharmacy in Texas are eligible to apply to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to take the state licensure examinations immediately after graduation. Unlike other health care professions, no further specializations or internship experience is required to fully practice as a pharmacist.

Related career: pharmacy technician.

The following Texas colleges and universities offer pharmacy programs:

Pharmacy Schools in Texas:

Learn more about the University of Houston-SFA co-op program and UT Tyler-SFA partnership.

Pre-Physician Assistant

A physician assistant works directly with a medical doctor to perform diverse health care services.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, taking the Graduate Record Examination and being accepted into a master’s program, PA students continue their education in professional school. To become certified, they must take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. All newly certified physician assistants must complete a six-year cycle of continuing education and re-certification.

Pre-Physical Therapy

A physical therapist works with patients who have lost certain physical abilities due to injury or illness. They help their patients relieve pain, regain strength, recover the use of an afflicted limb, or relearn how to perform the activities of daily living.

To become a physical therapist in Texas, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

Related careers: physical therapy assistant/aide and occupational therapist.


Veterinarians diagnose and control animal diseases, treat sick animals, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to people, and advise owners on proper care of their pets and livestock. They are also involved in wildlife preservation and conservation, and use their knowledge to increase food production through genetics, animal feed production and preventative medicine. 

To apply for admission to veterinary school, you’ll need to:

  • complete a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university
  • and have at least two years of pre-veterinary study that emphasizes physical and biological sciences.

Important: Admission to veterinary school is highly competitive, and candidates with animal- or veterinary-related experience are preferred.

Texas requires that veterinarians be licensed to practice private clinical medicine. They must pass one or more national examinations and a state examination for licensure. 

Related careers: veterinary assistant and veterinary technician.

Don’t see what you are interested in or have questions? Email us at



Pre-Health Professions Program

Physical Address:
Miller Science Building
Suite 127

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 13076, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962