An optometrist is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems and other abnormalities. Doctors of Optometry (O.D's) provide treatment by prescribing ophthalmic lenses or other optic aids, providing vision therapy to preserve or restore maximum efficiency in vision, and in some states are authorized to prescribe drugs in the treatment of certain eye diseases.
What Should I Major In?
There is no one prescribed program for admission to optometry school. Students must prepare themselves with a basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology as well as the social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. Beyond this basic preparation, you should choose a major that interests you. Students are advised to consult with the Pre-Professional advisor at each stage of optometry school preparation and the application process; assistance is available through individual advising sessions, mock interviews, personal statement critiques, workshops, and numerous printed materials.
4 Year Suggested Checklist
- Schedule a Meet & Greet with your pre-professional advisor
- Discuss your academic goals and plans
- Discuss course prerequisites for optometry schools and programs
- Build excellent study habits and seek tutorial services, if necessary.
- Seek and begin volunteer/ community experience (and continue throughout undergraduate years)
- Choose a major (if you haven't already done so)
- Explore all health career options
- Start becoming familiar with requirements for optometry programs
- Seek summer internships or research experience
- Research schools in which you are interested, see "Web sites" listed below in this sidebar for a good start
- Attend the University Professional and Graduate School Fair
- Make a list of schools you are interested in and research them thoroughly
- Find out the earliest date to submit an application
- Take appropriate entrance exam
- Reality check: What are your chances? GPA? Experience? Attributes?
- Check-in with your pre-professional advisor to make sure you are prepared for the application process
- Ask people to write letters of recommendation
- Sign up for pre-professional workshops on interview and personal statement writing
- Retake entrance exam, if necessary
- Confirm that you meet graduation requirements
- Complete secondary applications if necessary
- Confirm your commitment
- Seek honors & scholarships for graduate school
- Send appropriate people thank you notes and inform them of your success or future plans
Specific course requirements vary somewhat for each optometry program, but the following courses will fulfill those that are generally required. It is the applicants responsibility to determine the requirements of the school(s) of his/her choice and to fulfill those requirements before the projected date of matriculation. Please consult "the Admissions Requirements for Schools and Colleges of Optometry" available in the PGSP library, or at the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry website: www.opted.org. In general, courses at the University that fulfill the basic requirements for entry into optometry schools are:
- One year college level English
- One year General Chemistry
- One year Organic Chemistry
- Two years of Biology courses: Biol 190, 191 & 192; Biol 223 & 224, 251
- One year General Physics
- Psychology: Psych 101, 261 and/or 441
- College level Math
Economics, Speech, Statistics, Sociology, and Biochemistry
The Doctor of Optometry degree program consists of 4 years of specialized professional education and clinical training. Some programs accept applicants who have completed a minimum of 3 years of undergraduate study; however most programs prefer or will require completion of an undergraduate degree prior to matriculation. You may want to check the website of the American Optometric Association at http://www.aoa.org/.
OptomCAS is the Optometry Centralized application Service. The application process for most optometry school starts approximately 12-15 months prior to your matriculation date. Check with each school to find out the earliest they begin accepting applications; it is best to apply as early as possible. Applicants are also advised to get a copy of "Optometry: A Career With a Vision," which gives descriptions and comparisons of individual programs, entering class profiles, costs, etc. You may obtain this at no cost by writing the American Optometric Association, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd, St Louis, MO 63141, or call (314) 991-4100, aaopt.org.
Optometry Association Test (OAT)
The OAT is currently required by all colleges of optometry and tests academic ability and scientific comprehension. The test is given in February and October each year. It is recommended to take the February exam in order to have an early application. The test covers the following areas: Quantitative Reasoning, Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology and General and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension and Physics. OAT Applications are available from the Optometry Admission Testing Program, (312) 440-2693.
Letters of Recommendation
Three to four letters of recommendation are required for application to optometry school. They should be from a faculty member and from a health science professional, preferably an optometrist who can evaluate your potential in the field (check each school's literature for specifics).
While academics are a very important part of being accepted into an optometry school, the schools and colleges are not just looking for the 4.0G.P.A students. They prefer to see well-rounded applicants who are involved in a variety of extra curricular activities while still doing well academically. In addition, volunteer or paid experience with an optometrist is essential to your preparation for optometry school.