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February 16. 2013 2:48AM

Pharmacy, optometry colleges consider merging

New England College of Optometry and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences are considering merging and have entered into a letter of intent to explore a potential combination.

Boston-based NECO, founded in 1984, offers a four-year, post-baccalaureate professional curriculum to approximately 475 students.

MCPHS University, founded in Boston in 1823, has more than 6,000 students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees in approximately 50 academic programs on three campuses, including one it opened on Elm Street in Manchester in 2002 that now has 425 students. Its programs include optometry, pharmacy, physician assistant studies, nursing, physical therapy, dental hygiene, radiological science, public health and pre-med.

A combination with MCPHS University would create an opportunity to expand NECO's expertise in optometry, the schools said in a Feb. 7 news release. Since MCPHS University founded its School of Optometry on its Worcester campus on 2011, there is a natural synergy between the two institutions, they said.

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