Pre-Optometry is not a degree-granting program of study. It is designation for students interested in attending an optometry school after completing their undergraduate education. Pre-Optometry students may select any program of study, such as Biology or English, which grants a Bachelor’s degree to pair with their Pre-Optometry designation. Pre-Optometry students must take a set of prerequisite courses to prepare them for the admission test, the Optometry Admission Test (O.A.T.) and optometry school at which they will study for 4 years and earn their Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) University of Iowa students are encouraged to request a Pre-Optometry advisor at the Academic Advising Center with whom they can work to ensure successful completion of prerequisites and development for a strong profile for application.

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The prerequisites for Optometry Schools can vary from school to school but below are the most common set for courses. You are encouraged to create your own checklist of prerequisites for each optometry school to which you will apply. The semester hours listed below do not necessarily reflect semester hours totals earned with UI coursework.

  • English Composition/Literature: minimum 6 s.h.
  • College Calculus: minimum 3 s.h.
  • Statistics: minimum 3 s.h. A business statistics is not recommended. Biostatistics or social science statistics are recommended.
  • Biology with Laboratory: minimum 6 s.h.
  • Inorganic Chemistry with Laboratory: minimum 6 s.h.
  • Organic Chemistry with Laboratory: minimum 3 s.h.
  • Microbiology with Laboratory: minimum 3 s.h.
  • Physics with Laboratory: minimum 6 s.h.
  • Psychology: minimum 3 s.h.
  • Social Science: minimum 3 s.h. Some schools require a second psychology course; others will accept other social science classes such as anthropology or sociology.

NOTE: Some schools of optometry may require or strongly recommend course in Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry.

Optometry is the field of medicine which examines, diagnosis, treats and manages diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

Optometrist may work in many settings:

  • Individual Practice
  • Partnership or Group Practice
  • Retail Setting
  • Optometric/Ophthalmological Professional Settings
  • Military
  • Academic/Research
  • Consultation

It is important for Pre-Optometry students to have strong knowledge of the working conditions and expectations of optometrist before applying to optometry schools. This would include learning more about what optometrist do and not believing they only make glasses and contact lenses. Optometrist may specialize in areas such as primary care, low vision rehabilitation, and ocular disease.

The best way to explore careers in optometry is to begin with informational interviews with optometrist and job shadowing. Pre-Optometry students often seek out positions in optometrist offices in their community. Students with access to larger hospitals might seek out optometrist who work there as well.

Learn more about Optometry at these websites:

Applying to Optometry schools and colleges occurs through a centralized application service. Students fill out one application that is then sent to the schools and colleges they designate. Letters of Evaluation are also submitted to this application service. Because the application is lengthy, it is recommend that students plan to work on it over several days. To fill out the section on activities, it is helpful if student have kept track of their activities in a journal or log (dates, times, locations, people involved, impressions) as this will help student reconstruct their college experience quickly and more easily.

Students must also take an entrance exam specific to Optometry schools and colleges called the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). This exam contains specific questions on some prerequisite courses like chemistry, biology and physics. The OAT does not need to be completed before submitting one’s application.

To learn more about the application process, student visit the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS):

To be a strong applicant to Optometry schools and colleges, it’s important to have a strong academic background. View the profile of recent applicants here:

Here are 10 ways to be a strong applicant:

  1. Express your enthusiasm for the profession.
  2. Shadow multiple professionals.
  3. Demonstrate ethical values, leadership, and teamwork.
  4. Submit strong letters of evaluation.
  5. Understand each school’s admission process; how do you fit into the school’s culture.
  6. Research each institution's strengths.
  7. Apply early and to more than one program.
  8. Have clear career goals - imagine yourself 15 years after applying.
  9. Communicate clearly and succinctly.
  10. Show self-awareness: understand your strengths and weakness.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you enjoy helping people?
  • Are you comfortable working with people of all ages? Children to Senior Citizens?
  • Are you comfortable being part of team?
  • Are you patient when explaining concepts to others?
  • Are you committed to a lifetime of learning?
  • Why are you interested in optometry?
  • What have you done to explore this career?
  • Have you completed multiple job shadows?