Most colleges of optometry do not require a particular major. Students planning to attend an optometric college should choose a primary major that best fits their interests. Regardless of major, programs are looking for students who have done well in their coursework and demonstrated proficiency in natural science and mathematics curriculum. Be certain to incorporate all necessary prerequisite coursework into your degree either through your major or as electives. Some schools or colleges may prefer a Bachelor of Science degree. You should verify this for the institutions to which you plan to apply. It is also important that you demonstrate knowledge of the profession by gaining shadowing or volunteer experience and prove your leadership potential through involvement in various clubs and activities.
Optometrists are primary care professionals who work specifically with the eye. They examine, diagnose and treat injuries, diseases and disorders related to vision, the eye and related structures.
Students who plan to go to a college of optometry can pursue any major, as long as they have completed the prerequisite coursework required for admission. Most colleges will require students to complete a bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation, however, some may accept academically strong students who have completed only three years of undergraduate coursework. In either scenario, you should begin preparing early in your academic career to be sure to fulfill all requirements for admission.
Is this career right for you?
- Are you comfortable working in close proximity to other people?
- Do you enjoy working in collaboration with others to solve problems?
- Can you handle repetition in your career, both in action and communication?
- Select a major that interests you and in which you will perform well. If your major is not in the natural sciences, be sure to take optometry prerequisite courses as electives.
- Connect to tutoring, supplemental instruction, attend professor's office hours to ensure that you are mastering the material covered in all courses.
- Establish a strong GPA from your first semester.
- Start shadowing an optometrist.
- Become familiar with college of optometry admission requirements.
- Become involved on campus through social and academic organizations.
- Maintain a strong GPA and continue to build relationships with faculty. Start thinking about who you might ask for letters of recommendation.
- Consider getting involved in undergraduate research.
- Gain additional shadowing experiences in a variety of different settings. Also consider gaining practical work experience in a medical setting, by volunteering or getting employment.
- Begin to research and identify the colleges of optometry to which you think you will apply.
- Continue to maintain a strong GPA in your prerequisite courses and overall degree.
- Visit the colleges of optometry to which you plan on applying.
- Line up letters of recommendation. It is strongly recommended you request at least one letter from a practicing optometrist who is familiar with you and your demonstrated knowledge of the field.
- Prepare additional application materials (i.e. personal statement); varies between colleges.
- Research application deadlines (based on preferred start date) for the colleges to which you plan on applying.
- Begin preparations to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT); register for an exam date and study throughout the year.
- Set up an account with OptomCAS, the Optometry Centralized Application Service. All schools and colleges of optometry participate in OptomCAS. The application with open in late June/early July; plan to apply in late summer or early fall going into your senior year. Application deadlines will vary by college.
- Be sure to submit secondary application materials, if necessary.
- Prepare for interviews.
- Research alternative graduate programs, post baccalaureate premedical programs and jobs to have a parallel plan if not accepted by an optometry college on the first attempt.