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Pre-Optometry Preparation

Freshman Checklist

  • Meet with your pre-health advisor and your academic advisor
  • Begin basic science courses
  • Join campus student organizations
  • Get tutoring if you need it!
  • Subscribe to and read science journals and/or news magazines
  • Seek and begin volunteer/ community experience (and continue throughout undergraduate years)

Sophomore Checklist

  • Choose a major (if you haven't already done so)
  • Explore all health career options
  • Start becoming familiar with requirements for various 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

Junior Checklist

  • 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:
    • Activities:
    • Scores:
  • Apply to schools (anytime from late spring through mid fall) Consider taking valuable electives: Biochemistry, Genetics, Communication, Microbiology, Ethics, Foreign Language
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Investigate WICHE opportunities

Senior Checklist

  • Retake entrance exam, if necessary
  • Confirm that you meet graduation requirements
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Complete secondary applications if necessary
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Apply for WICHE if applicable
  • Confirm your commitment
  • Seek honors & scholarships for graduate school
  • Send appropriate people thank you notes and inform them of your success or future plans

Web Sites

Miscellaneous Checklist

  • Experience - throughout your time in college you should be getting health care experience and exposure in a variety of settings.
  • Extracurricular activities - health profession schools like to see people who are interested and involved in their campus and local communities.
  • Conduct research with faculty on campus.
  • Develop the ability to read, write and think - science is only one part of health care.
  • Consider seeking leadership positions in organizations in which you are involved.

Investigating Optometry

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. O.D's can also detect general diseases of the human body that have the potential capacity to affect vision, such as diabetes, hypertension, and arteriosclerosis. The optometrist differs from the ophthalmologist, a physician who is highly trained in eye surgery and treatment of eye diseases; and the optician, who fills lens prescriptions written by the optometrist or ophthalmologist.


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.

Course Requirements

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: In general, courses at UNR that fulfill the basic requirements for entry into optometry schools are:

  • English: Eng 101 & 102
  • General Chemistry: Chem 121 & 122
  • Organic Chemistry*: Chem 241/242/345 or 341/342/345
  • Biological Sciences: Biol 190, 191 & 192; Biol 223 & 224, 251
  • Physics: Phys 151, 152
  • Psychology: Psych 101 & 441
  • Calculus: Through Math 182

*Due to the changes in course offerings, please refer to for additional information.

Recommended Courses

Economics, Speech, Statistics, Sociology, and Biochemistry

Optometry Education

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

Application Process

The application process for most optometry school starts approximately 12-15 months prior to your matriculation date. Students need to obtain application materials from the individual schools in the summer or fall one year before they plan to enter optometry school. To request an application, call or write to the school directly, or check the school's website. Check with each school to find out the earliest they begin accepting applications; it is best to apply as early as possible. Since each optometry school has its own admissions process, it is important that you contact each school to determine the admission requirements and application deadlines. Most, but not all, schools interview applicants as part of the process. 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,

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). You may consider storing your letters with a document delivery service such as Interfolio, you can find more information on their website, Interfolio.

Extracurricular Activities

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.

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