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Academic Preparation for Optometry Programs

Doctors of Optometry specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and management of diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. Optometrists are primary-care providers and must recognize ocular and visual signs of disease, understand the wide range of health problems affecting a patient, and refer patients to appropriate specialists. Some optometrists work in a general practice, while others work in specialties such as contact lenses, geriatrics, low vision services (for visually impaired patients), occupational vision (to protect and preserve a worker's vision and minimize eye strain), pediatrics, sports vision and vision therapy.

Doctors of Optometry must successfully complete a four-year accredited degree program at one of the 24 schools or colleges of optometry in the United States. Optometrists must be state licensed. All states require graduation from an accredited professional optometric degree program to become licensed. Most states accept the results of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.

Prior to admission into a college of optometry, must have satisfactorily completed specific prerequisite courses. All prerequisite courses must be completed with a minimum grade of ‘C.’

Prerequisites for admission can vary by program and the classes listed below are course prerequisites for one or both of the optometry programs in Texas. (SHSU course codes included.)

  • 8 hours of Biological Sciences (BIOL 1406 and BIOL 1407 recommended)
  • 4 hours of Microbiology (BIOL 3470)
  • 8 hours of Advanced Human Biology
    • Suggested options: BIOL 3450, BIOL 4350, BIOL 4381, BIOL 4490, or BIOL 4493
  • 8 hours of General Chemistry (CHEM 1411 and CHEM 1412)
  • 4 hours of Organic Chemistry (CHEM 2323 & 2123)
  • 3 hours of Biochemistry (CHEM 3438)
  • 8 hours of Physics (PHYS 1301 & 1101 and PHYS 1302 & 1102)
  • 3 hours of Statistics (MATH 3379)
  • 3 hours of Calculus (MATH 1420)
  • 3 hours of Introductory Psychology (PSYC 1301)
  • 6 hours of English (ENGL 1301 and ENGL 1302)
  • Recommended: Additional math (MATH 1410), Ethics (PHIL 2306)

OptomCAS is the centralized application service for Optometry schools.  Potential optometry students are evaluated on the basis of GPA, performance on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), extra-curricular and community service activities, personal interview, professional potential, etc. The application opens in late June. Early application is desirable and deadlines range from October to April for the various schools and colleges of optometry. Each institution has its own guidelines; therefore, students should contact the schools or colleges of their choice to obtain a catalog and specific application procedures. Contact information can be obtained at the ASCO website.