Preparing for Admission to Optometry School
This is a summary. Check individual program details on their websites, linked on the ASCO page. Additional information for applicants and advisors.
Note: There are 23 accredited schools in the U.S. that offer a Doctorate in Optometry (O.D.) All of those require specific prerequisite courses, and a few require the completion of a baccalaureate degree, however most accepted students at all schools (>90%) have a bachelor’s degree.
Take these courses in your first three years at UIU (required by most optometry schools as prerequisites for admission and recommended content for the OAT exam):
- Principles of Biology I (BIO 135)
- Principles of Biology II (BIO 140)
- General Chemistry I (CHEM 151)
- General Chemistry II (CHEM 152)
- Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 251)
- Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 252)
- Physics I + Lab (PHY 111 & 112)
- Physics II + Lab (PHY 113 & 114)
- Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry (MATH 115)
Additional courses required by most schools and helpful for the OAT—take them before it if you can.
- Biochemistry (CHEM 330)
- Anatomy and Physiology I (BIO 270)
- Anatomy and Physiology II (BIO 275)
- Microbiology (BIO 210)
- Statistics (MATH 220)
- Basic Composition (ENG 101)
- Expository Writing (ENG 201)
- Calculus (MATH 120)
- Social Science courses (PSY 190, SOC 220, PSY 360, etc.)
Additional courses to earn a major if you complete all the courses listed above, your general education courses (and earn 120 total credit hours):
- General Genetics (BIO 283)
- Cell and Molecular Biology (BIO 381)
- Evolution (BIO 340)
- Scientific Literature Skills (BIO 201)
- Thesis I (BIO 398)
- Thesis II (BIO 498)
- 2 hrs approved electives
While earning excellent grades is essential for admission to optometry school, it is not the only thing you will need to do. Selection criteria for optometry schools also include experience in an optometry-related setting. You should strive to obtain experience in and exposure to optometry during your college career. For example, this might include experiences that you do for credit (BIO 303 Experience in Health Science Careers), or paid experience working in an optometry field.
Although not valued as heavily as optometry experience, research experience is also a great way to make your application to optometry school stand out. There are a multitude of summer research fellowships available, and the research you do need not be on optometry. Deadlines are usually fall/winter for research experiences the following summer. This is a good website with links to lots of different programs: http://people.rit.edu/gtfsbi/Symp/premed.htm
Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)
You may register for and take the OAT exam as soon as you have completed coursework in Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physics. However, most students complete 2-3 years of coursework before taking the OAT. You should plan on taking it during or before the summer between your junior and senior years at UIU. You may take the OAT as frequently as every 90 days, as many times as you like, but only the most recent four scores will be reported. The OAT has four sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. For more information about the OAT, visit https://oat.ada.org.
Application is via a centralized application service, Optomcas. Application deadlines range from December to May, with corresponding final dates on which the OAT test can be completed. Deadlines for specific schools. Your application will include a detailed academic history and a personal statement as well as an account of optometry experience and letters of recommendation from faculty and optometry professionals with whom you have worked.