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To be "pre-optometry" means you are embarking on a course of study aimed at preparing you for application to optometry school. It means you are taking the classes and gaining the experiences that these schools look for in qualified applicants.

What type of education is required?

A plan to prepare for a graduate health professional program.

Coursework required for most programs

  • 1 year Biology
  • 1 year General Chemistry
  • 1 year General Physics
  • 1 year English
  • 1 year college level math

School-specific requirements.

Career information

Optometrists work either in a general practice, or specialize in such areas as contact lenses, geriatrics, low vision services (for visually impaired patients), occupational vision (to protect and preserve workers' vision and minimize eye strain), pediatrics, sports vision or vision therapy. Others may choose to enter optometric education and/or perform scientific research. They practice in rural communities, suburban areas, and large cities. Some practice alone, with a partner or partners, or with other health care professionals, while others choose a career in the military, public health, or other government service. Still others may practice in hospitals, clinics, teaching institutions, and community health centers, or they may choose to be employed by another optometrist, or in the ophthalmic industry. 

Career information can be found on the website for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.

Major information

Optometry schools do not care what major you choose. They care that you do well in that major and you do well in your pre-requisite courses. Some optometry schools will accept students who have not completed a bachelors degree; however, they prefer if students have obtained an undergraduate degree.

Student groups

Example four-year schedule (in advance of entering a professional program)

Four years beforeChem 142
Math 120
Engl Comp
Chem 152
Math 124
Chem 162
Math 125 1
Recommended activities: • Do some independent research on health careers • Join a health related student group • Take VLPA, I&S classes and/or finish your foreign language requirement
Three years beforeChem 237
Biol 180
Chem 238
Chem 241
Biol 200
Chem 239 2
Chem 242
Biol 220
Recommended activities: • Set-up some informational interviewing • Begin getting healthcare experience • Take classes that will prepare you for your major • Get to know at least one professor
Two years beforePhys 114/117 or 121
Bioc 405 
Phys 115/118 or 122
Bioc 406
Phys 116/119 or 123 
Recommended activities: • Attend information session the application process • Take the OAT • Plan for a "Gap Year" • Take an English writing course • Begin writing your personal statement • Submit your applications • Get to know at least two professors
One year beforeCourse work in this year will focus primarily on your major. By this year you should narrow down your school choices and review each schools' requirements to make sure you have met their prerequisites.
Recommended activities: • Attend an information session on interviewing • Complete your major

1  Approximately half of the schools of optometry require two quarters of calculus.
2  Approximately half of the schools of optometry require only two quarters of organic chemistry.

Websites to visit

Reference materials

Schools and Colleges of Optometry: Admission Requirements Handbook

Applying to optometry school

Applying to medical is a year-long process. The actual application steps are:

  1. OAT Administered in February and October
  2. Submit Admissions Application for each school
  3. Interview
  4. Accept your admissions

However, before you begin you must complete pre-requisite coursework; obtain letters of recommendations, and actively engage in acquiring healthcare experience.

Preparing for the gap year(s)

Consider volunteering with the following organizations: