The Basics

Preparing to be an optometrist does not happen overnight. Most people know that it is important to have strong grades, but just as important is gaining experience to develop the skills, knowledge, and maturity necessary to be an effective healthcare provider. As with practitioners, optometrists’ decisions and actions affect human life and well-being. Doctors of Optometry carefully consider the interrelationships between all of a patient’s biological systems, and understand the effect of systemic changes on a patient’s health, including ocular health. By treating the whole patient, optometrists have the opportunity to change lives every day.

Knowledge of Self and Profession

Throughout the application process, you will need to demonstrate knowledge of yourself (values, goals, motivations, strengths, weaknesses), an understanding of the profession, and a commitment to become an optometrist. You must clearly articulate your readiness to enter the profession as result of first-hand experience in the field. There should be evidence in your application that you are committed to service and helping others. You must demonstrate your ability to work on a team, to lead others, and to communicate with people with different backgrounds, values, and perspectives from your own.

Major and GPA

And finally, there is no “best major” for pre-optometry students. You can choose ANY major and be successful in your application to optometry school. Admissions personnel will review your GPA from a variety of perspectives…cumulative GPA, math/science GPA, and prerequisite GPA. Choose a major that you will enjoy and allow you to successfully complete the required and recommended courses while also gaining experience outside the classroom. Consider a major that will provide many career options, recognizing that students commonly change majors and career plans multiple times as they learn about themselves and their career options.

Prerequisite Courses

Category Prerequisite Area Minimum Recommendation Course Numbers
Biological Sciences General Biology 2 Lectures and 2 Labs MCB 150/MCB 151, IB 150/IB 151 (Upper level labs may substitute)
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lectures and 2 Labs MCB 244/MCB 245, MCB 246/MCB 247
Microbiology 1 Lecture MCB 100/MCB 101 OR MCB 300/MCB 301
Physical Sciences General Chemistry 2 Lectures and 2 Labs CHEM 102/CHEM 103, CHEM 104/CHEM 105
Organic Chemistry 1 Lecture and 1 Lab CHEM 232/CHEM 233
Biochemistry 1 Lecture MCB 354 OR MCB 450
Physics 2 Lectures and 2 Labs PHY 101, PHY 102
Social/Behavioral Sciences Psychology 1 Lecture PSYC 100
Communication Written 2 Lectures Composition I, Advanced Composition