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Pre-Health Pathways


Lumberjacks make great doctors.

They also make great dentists, veterinarians, physical therapists and chiropractors.

SFA’s pre-health programs provide you with the tools, knowledge and experience you’ll need to pursue a career in a medical field. By the time you graduate, you’ll be ready to apply for medical, dental, optometry, pharmacy or veterinary medicine school. In addition, you’ll satisfy the admissions requirements for many allied health programs, including occupational therapy, physical therapy and physicians assistant. 

As a pre-health student, you’ll work closely with an advisor who will help you design a program of study that will allow you to pursue the medical program of your choice. 

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. 

Don’t see what you’re looking for? We can help. Email us at or call 936.468.2315 to talk to a pre-health advisor.


Chiropractors use non-surgical treatments such as heat, ultrasound, x-rays, massage, diet and exercise to help their patients improve neuromusculoskeletal health and spinal alignment. 

To earn a professional chiropractor degree in Texas, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Graduate from a college that is accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education
  • Complete a minimum of two years of college-level study in an accredited institution of higher learning and graduate from a four-year college of chiropractic
  • Complete a clinical program in an approved setting

In Texas, chiropractors are licensed by the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners . To receive a license, you must pass a three-part exam administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and a state exam administered by the TBCE. Once you’re licensed, there are continuing medical education requirements you’ll need to satisfy to keep your license current.

Related careers: chiropractic technician and chiropractic assistant. 

Chiropractic schools in Texas:

Check out a sample pre-chiropractic program of study.


A dentist has earned the degree of 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)
  • 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. 

M.D.s are trained in traditional allopathic medicine, which uses treatment actions proved to produce different effects than the disease or condition. D.O.s are trained in osteopathic medicine, which encompasses all of medicine – including surgery. Osteopathy emphasizes the musculoskeletal system and manipulative therapy in treatment, when appropriate. M.D.s and D.O.s 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
  • 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: 

Learn more about the pre-medicine program.


Doctors of Optometry examine, diagnose, treat and manage eye diseases and conditions. An optometrist, in many circumstances, prescribes, prescribes and administers drugs for these diagnostic and treatment purposes. Traditionally, O.D.s prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, vision therapy and low-vision aids. An optometrist may also specialize in working with children, the elderly or partial-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 degree 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. Some of the tools and techniques used by occupational therapists 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. To practice in Texas, you'll need to complete around six months of supervised clinical experience before completing the program. You’ll also need to pass a national certification exam as given by the American Occupational Therapy Certification Board, as well as the exam given by the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

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

Occupational therapy programs in Texas:


Think pharmacists just fill prescriptions? Think again. Today’s pharmacists are active members of a patient’s health care team, and 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 degree. A Pharm.D. degree 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, and although a bachelor's is not required, it is highly qualifying; the majority of pharmacy applicants 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:

Axe 'em . . . Coogs?

SFA has a special arrangement with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. Students who participate in the unique UH Pharmacy Co-Op fulfill all of their prerequisites at SFA and then transfer to UH to finish their pharmacy degree. Talk to a pre-health advisor to learn more about this program or a similar program with the Fisch College of Pharmacy at UT Tyler.

Pre-Physician Assistant

A physician assistant works directly with an M.D., performing diverse health care services. Duties include: 

  • Taking a patient’s history
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Assisting with surgery
  • Requesting laboratory tests
  • Diagnosing patients

After receiving 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. The average PA program takes 26 months to complete. PA students complete classroom and laboratory instruction in the following areas: 

  • Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Clinical medicine
  • Physical diagnosis

PA students also complete clinical rotations — in internal medicine, family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine and geriatric medicine — where they study medical and behavioral sciences.

It is mandated by the Texas State Board of Physician Assistant Examiners and national accreditation organizations that PAs must obtain a license to practice in Texas. To become certified, PAs must take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. All newly certified PAs must complete a six-year cycle of continuing education and re-certification. 

Due to a high demand of health care needs, between the years 2014 and 2024, an estimated 30 percent increase in the total number of PAs in the United States is predicted.

PA programs are available at the following Texas colleges and universities:

Pre-Physical Therapy

A physical therapist works with patients who have lost certain physical abilities due to injury or illness. PTs 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 PT in Texas, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

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

Physical therapy programs in Texas:


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, with 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.

In Texas, graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees are available, as well as joint D.V.M./M.S and D.V.M./Ph.D. degree programs. 

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. 

Veterinary programs in Texas:



Pre-Health Professions

Physical Address:
Miller Science Building
Suite 127

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