Optometrists perform eye exams to check for vision problems and diseases. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Careers within optometry are diverse and provide many opportunities for challenging and rewarding service. Most optometrists are general practitioners, handling a variety of vision needs. Other optometrists practice in various specialty areas: 

  • Contact Lenses/Cornea
  • Geriatrics
  • Pediatrics/Infants
  • Vision Therapy
  • Ocular Disease and special testing
  • Sports Vision
  • Binocular Vision
  • Low-Vision/Partial Sight
  • Dispensing Opticians
  • Ophthalmology
  • Vision Therapy

Admission Requirements for Optometry School
The Doctor of Optometry degree requires the completion of a 4-year program at an accredited school of optometry. All states require optometrists to be licensed.

From the time you begin college, you will be assembling components of your application to optometry school. But it takes more than a good GPA and OAT score to get into an optometry program. Work with your advisor to assemble a competitive application! 

Education and Training
A few applicants are accepted to optometry school after 3 years of college and complete their bachelor's degree while attending optometry school. However, most students accepted by a school or college of optometry have completed an undergraduate degree.  

There are 20 colleges of optometry in the U.S. and 1 in Puerto Rico that offer programs accredited by the Accreditation Council of Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association. Admission to optometry school is competitive.

Optometry programs include classroom and laboratory study of health and visual sciences and clinical training in diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. One-year postgraduate clinical residency programs are available if you wish to obtain advanced clinical competence within a particular area of optometry. Specialty areas for residency programs include family practice optometry, pediatric optometry, vision therapy and rehabilitation, low-vision rehabilitation, cornea and contact lenses, refractive and ocular surgery, primary care optometry and ocular disease.

College Major
You are not required to select a particular major in order to be eligible for admission to an optometry program. In selecting a college major, consider how you will satisfactorily complete the prerequisite courses for your designated optometry program(s) in addition to the college/university's degree and major requirements.  Work with your academic and/or pre-optometry advisor to plan your course schedule. 

You have the option to choose from a wide variety of undergraduate majors to prepare you for an optometry program.  Suggested undergraduate majors include Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Neuroscience.

Experience in Optometry
All applicants need to be aware that the Admissions Committee also views one's knowledge of the profession of optometry to be of vital importance.  This is best achieved by visiting one or more optometrists on several occasions to observe patient care on a first-hand basis.  Seeking to volunteer or working in an optometrists's office is a certain way to gain understanding of and appreciation for the profession.  Having strong career experiences and life accomplishments will allow you to validate your professionalism and maturity, which are strongly considered in the application process.

Other qualifications. Optometrists must have self-discipline and the ability to deal tactfully with patients.  The work also requires attention to detail and manual dexterity.

Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.5 cumulative and a 3.5 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to optometry schools is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.

Course Requirements

The choice of an undergraduate major while preparing for optometry school is not especially critical for successful admission, but the selection of certain coursework is important.

Certain basic requirements must be fulfilled before you can be accepted to optometry school. This is a GUIDE only. Students must consult with their advisors AND the appropriate optometry schools on a regular basis for revisions to course requirements and to identify and ensure completion of all required courses. These requirements include:

  • 1 year General Chemistry with labs
  • 1 year Organic Chemistry with labs
  • 1 year Physics with labs
  • 1 year Biology with labs
  • 1 course in Microbiology
  • 1 course in Psychology
  • 1 course in Communication
  • Mathematics

Below are the CMU courses we recommend to meet these requirements:
General Chemistry: CHM 131 & 132, 8 credits
Organic Chemistry: CHM 345, 346, & 349, 8 credits
Physics: PHY 130, 131, 170, & 171, 10 credits 
Biology: BIO 111 & 112, 8 credits
Microbiology: BIO 208 or BIO 320, 3 credits
Mathematics: MTH 132 & Statistics, 7 credits
Psychology: PSY 100, 3 credits
Communication: COM 101 or COM 195, 3 credits

Some optometry schools may have additional courses required or recommended. Review the admission requirements of the optometry schools you plan on applying in advance.

All required courses must be taken for a grade. Each school has its own policy regarding AP credit. Usually, AP credit in these areas should be followed with additional upper level work in the discipline including labs.

Additional Courses

To further strengthen you application and your ability to succeed in optometry school, here are some additional CMU courses you could take:

Anatomy: HSC 214 or BIO 337
Biochemistry: CHM 425 or CHM 521 & 522
Business Management or Accounting: BUS 100 or ACC 101
Developmental Biology: BIO 544
Genetics: BIO 211 or BIO 315
Physiology: HSC 215 or BIO 392
Career Outlook
Optometrists held about 40,600 jobs in 2014.

Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 27% between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The median annual wage of salaried optometrists was $106,140 in May 2016.
Online Resources
OAT (Optometry Admission Test)
The OAT is required by every school of optometry in the U.S. and Canada.  A minimum OAT score of 298 is typical while the average for matriculates is about 327/400.  You should aim to have a score between 300-330 in order to stay competitive.

Most students take this exam the summer before their senior year.  In order to register for the OAT you will need to complete the following:

A Quick Look at the OAT
Physics Test
  • 40 questions
  • 40 minutes
  • Vectors & Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics & Modern Physics
  • Thermodynamics
  • CMU courses with relevant content:
    • PHY 130, 131, 170, and 171
Survey of Natural Sciences
  • 100 question
  • 90 minutes
  • Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • CMU courses with relevant content:
    • BIO 111, 112, 211, 212, 213, & 544
    • CHM 131, 132, 345,& 346
Reading Comprehension
  • 40 questions
  • 50 minutes
  • Ability to read, comprehend, and thogoughly analyze basic scientific information
Quantitative Reasoning
  • 40 questions
  • 45 minutes
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Probability & Statistics
  • Word Problems
  • CMU courses with relevant content:
    • MTH 105 or higher, MTH 106
    • STA 282 or STA 382, or BIO 500
Where is the OAT administered?
  • In multiple locations throughout Michigan and the United States
What is the cost of the OAT?
  • $450
How should you prepare for the OAT?
  • Begin at least 3 months before your test date
  • Questions emphasize problem-solving abilities, not rote memorization
  • Essential to obtain practice tests
Michigan Optometry School
Applying to Optometry School
All 20 optometry schools us eht OptomCAS (Optometry Centralized Application Service) site as a centralized application site.  You may file one application and send it to multiple optometry programs.