Biology/Optometry, Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Optometry

St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Queens Campus


Graduate in seven years with a B.S. degree in biology from St. John’s and an O.D. degree from the SUNY College of Optometry. Accepted students attend St. John’s for their first three years, majoring in biology. Upon successfully completing the first year of study at SUNY Optometry, you are awarded a B.S. in biology from St. John’s, followed by the O.D. degree when you complete your full studies at the SUNY College of Optometry.

If you're interested in being a doctor or another health-related career, we have good news. The health-care industry is America's largest source of jobs — and opportunities continue to grow. In fact, health-related fields are expected to generate 3 million new jobs over the next six years.

To prepare for these opportunities, discover the advantages of the Pre-Health Advisory Programs at St. John’s University. Whether you want to be a doctor, nurse or other health-care professional, you’ll need to attend a respected graduate school. Medical and other professional schools search your college records to see if you’ve taken the courses, had the experiences and shown the commitment for advanced study in a health-related field.

Students in the Pre-Health Advisory Programs at St. John's gain the knowledge, skills and confidence needed for success. One reason is the high quality of a St. John's education — more than 100 undergraduate programs in the arts, sciences, business, education, pharmacy and allied health. These programs — especially in biology and chemistry — offer the intellectual foundation for advanced study in health-related fields. Another reason is the high quality of our pre-health advisors, who know the courses, experiences and activities you need for admission to medical and other health-related graduate schools.

All students in our Pre-Health Advisory Programs enjoy support from a personal advisor who reviews each student's program of study, academic progress and activities each semester. Advisors also help students choose internships and volunteer experiences along with preparing for the Medical College Admission Test.

In addition, St. John's offers special, dual degree programs combining an undergraduate degree at the University with a medical degree in a specialized area of study.

Back to top


Back to top


The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee (PHPAC) is organized to guide St. John's University students wishing to enter any of the healing professions except Pharmacy, Medical Technology and Physician Assistant. When you register with the Committee you will receive an advisor experienced in guiding students through the sometimes complex process of gaining admission to a health profession graduate school. You can register for the Pre-Health Advisory Programs at St. John’s by following these convenient steps:

  • Contact Assistant Dean Gregory Gades at or 718-990-1631 to obtain the registration form.
  • Write a clear autobiography, as indicated on the first page of the registration form.
  • Call Assistant Dean Gregory Gades at 718-990-1631 and make an appointment to bring the completed registration materials to the Committee.
    Please note that registrations are not accepted by mail.

Students in the Pre-Health Advisory Programs also are invited to apply for the Watson Premedical Honor Society at St. John’s. The Society provides extra opportunities to increase your knowledge and deepen your experiences in preparation for the health professions. Follow these steps to apply: 

  • Contact Dr. Louis D. Trombetta, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at or 718-990-6025 to obtain the application form.
  • Bring the completed form to Dr. Trombetta located at St. Albert Hall, G024IM.

For more information about admission to this and other acclaimed undergraduate programs at St. John’s University, please visit Undergraduate Admission online. Or contact us directly at the campus of your choice:

Assistant Dean Gregory Gades

Admission Office - Queens Campus


Admission Office -  Staten Island campus

Back to top

Career Outcomes

Graduates of the Pre-Health Advisory Programs at St. John’s go on to rewarding careers in such fields as medicine, osteopathic medicine, podiatry, optometry, and perfusion technology. Recent graduates have been accepted to top medical and health-related graduate schools, including these: 

Medicine is an extremely popular health career goal. Since many more students apply than can be accommodated, admission to medical school in the United States is very selective. The attrition rate among those students who are admitted is very low--the usual reasons for withdrawing from medical school are poor health and loss of motivation. Medical schools are, therefore, very careful that the motivation of each student they admit is both strong and realistic. To have a reasonable chance of acceptance to medical school, you should have a good grade average, good motivation, and a mature and attractive personality. Any suspicion of dishonesty or antisocial elements in your character usually results in rejection. This, of course, applies to all health professions.

There is an admissions examination required of all applicants to medical school, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). You must arrange to take the test before you apply to medical schools. The test is given twice a year, spring and late summer. The best time to take it is in the spring (April) before the application period (roughly mid-June through November) begins. There are more applicants than openings to medical schools. This means that they are choosing those candidates whose records show convincing evidence of excellence of character and intellect, as well as academic achievement. S.J.U. applicants with a CUM GPA of 3.6-3.7 or better have a very good chance of acceptance to a medical school assuming other factors (MCAT scores, motivation, character) are good.

One bit of advice: an excellent candidate is NOT always the one with the highest grades. In fact, if achievement of high grades seems to be the main motivating force in you, then an admissions official may wonder about your sense of values. Think about this. Fighting for high grades is the most common mistake pre-professional students make, and usually alienates the very professors on whose recommendation the student must depend. Good grades should stem only from excellence in academic work.

Most medical schools subscribe to an application service, The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which must be used by students who apply to those schools which subscribe to AMCAS. The AMCAS application is submitted on the Internet. You should open your application account early, often in April, so that your application will be complete and ready to submit on the day sometime in June when applications are first accepted.

The American Association of Medical Colleges catalog contains valuable resources, including MCAT practice examinations and guides, and a vital book, Medical School Admission Requirements, that every pre-medical student should own.

Osteopathic Medicine
Osteopathic medicine (D.O.) is equivalent to allopathic medicine (M.D.) in this country. The admission requirements and training are much the same. The osteopathic college curriculum, however, provides for emphasis on the musculoskeletal system as well as the interrelationship of all body systems. Many government agencies (Armed Forces, Public Health Service, and so forth) and many state licensing boards do not differentiate between Osteopaths and M.D.'s (or allopaths). The one principal difference between the two professions is that an osteopath is more likely to be in family practice while an allopath is more likely to specialize, but this difference is diminishing. There are only a few osteopathic schools and the competition is about the same as it is for medical schools.

In the Fall of 1977, the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine located in Old Westbury, Long Island opened. It accepts students within the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Another nearby college of Osteopathic Medicine is Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, located in Erie, PA.

Interested students should talk with a D.O. and visit an osteopathic facility (e.g. Massapequa General Hospital). It is highly recommended that the student try to get volunteer experience either working with a D.O. or in an osteopathic facility. This would provide the student with a valuable source for a recommendation. S.J.U. applicants with a CUM GPA of 3.5-3.6 or better have a very good chance of acceptance to an Osteopathic School assuming other factors (such as motivation, character) are good.

Students who apply to schools of osteopathy take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) exam. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) processes electronic applications, which are available at their web site.

Podiatry is a profession dedicated to the complete care of the feet. Most Doctors of Podiatry, or podiatrists, treat many types of foot problems, but some specialize in foot surgery or other treatments for congenital defects, diseases and injuries of the bones and joints of the foot. A podiatrist can also specialize in podopediatrics (foot ailments of children) or in podogeriatrics (foot ailments of the elderly). Like other health professionals, the podiatrist has the responsibility for referring patients to other practitioners (usually physicians) when foot problems are symptoms of other health disorders, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Students interested in podiatry should obtain their BS, although the New York College of Podiatric Medicine does accept mature and well qualified students after the completion of 90 credits. Students who apply to Schools of Podiatry take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) exam. Applications to Schools of Podiatry must be made through the American Association of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS).

Note that applicants have until April 1st of the year in which they wish to enter to apply. Podiatry schools also will accept spring MCAT scores in evaluating students for fall admission.

Optometry is a health profession that is concerned with the care of those ailments of the eye that can be treated by physical (rather than chemical or surgical) means, such as lenses and exercises. The Doctor of Optometry or optometrist, is also responsible for detecting other disorders that can be diagnosed or indicated through eye examinations but that involve other parts of the body, among which are high blood pressure, diabetes, brain tumors. In these cases it is the optometrist's responsibility to refer the patients to physicians. You may know that an optometrist should not be confused with an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who has specialized in the care of the eye and often performs surgery and prescribes drugs), or with an optician (who has been trained to make and grind lenses). The State College of Optometry of SUNY requires, in addition to the general courses listed, one year of calculus and one semester each of Statistics and Abnormal Psychology. Applicants should maintain an overall GPA of 3.2 - 3.3, and must take additional Math and Physics (Optics) course.

The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) is administered twice a year, generally in February and October. We recommend that you take it in the spring of your junior year if you plan to enter an optometry school in the fall after graduation from college. Information booklets and registration materials for the OAT examination are available in Dr. Zimmerman's Office, room 221 St. Albert Hall.

Information about optometry school application fees, dates and requirements is available here.

Perfusion Technology
A perfusion technologist is a person qualified by academic and clinical education to provide cardiopulmonary support during any medical or surgical situation where it is necessary to temporarily replace the patient cardiac and/or respiratory functions.

The perfusionist utilizes technology such as heart/lung machines, ventricular assist devices and artificial hearts, as well as pharmacological interventions to maintain the patient during the period of circulatory support.

Most Perfusion Technology programs require two years to complete, with the second year being an intensive clinical experience.

Back to top

Global Approach to Education

Students also benefit from St. John's focus on an international academic experience. The University offers extensive study abroad courses during the academic year as well as the winter and summer semesters. Students can live and learn at St. John's Rome, Italy, campus and Paris, France, location.

In addition, more than 100 of New York's national and international business, communications, entertainment and health-related employers recruit St. John's students on campus each year. Internships are available throughout the entire metropolitan region.

Back to top

Additional Information

Students gain an academic and professional edge by joining any of St. John's more than 180 student clubs and organizations. Academic organizations of special interest to Pre-Health students include the following:

  • Watson Pre-Health Honor Society: Provides Pre-Health students with opportunities to increase their knowledge of and experiences in the varied health professions.
  • American College of Healthcare Executives (Student ACHE): an association for students aspiring to leadership in the healthcare professions.
  • Roger Bacon Scientific Honors Society: Recognizes and promotes excellence in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and environmental science.
  • Sigma Pi Sigma: Recognizes and promotes excellence in physics.
Back to top

Success Story

Miller achieved one of his most prized academic goals when he was selected to assist a Nobel Laureate