All states and the District of Columbia require that optometrists be licensed, which requires a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree from an accredited optometry school and a passing score on both a written and clinical state board examination. Licenses are renewed every 1 to 3 years and in all states, continuing education credits are needed for renewal. The Doctor of Optometry degree is a 4 year program. Optometry programs include classroom and laboratory study of health and visual sciences, as well as clinical training in the diagnosis treatment of eye disorders. Included are courses in pharmacology, optics, vision science, biochemistry, and systemic disease. Residencies are not required to develop a specialty. Since the four-year optometry curriculum prepares graduates in all areas, a residency does not introduce but rather enhances experience in a selected area.

Admission requirements at all schools require the completion of a minimum of at least 90 semester units of college coursework; however, a Bachelor's degree may be required and is strongly recommended. Ninety percent of new entrants at most schools have obtained Bachelor's degrees. Applicants should check the specific requirements of the schools in which they have an interest. The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) publishes Schools and Colleges of Optometry: Admission Requirements. Most students major in the sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.) because the prerequisites for optometry schools are science intensive, thought a science major is not required.

Common Components Required for Admission:

Application including personal statement
Official transcripts from all colleges attended
Official Optometry Admission Test (OAT) scores
Letters of recommendation
Optometry experience/exposure
Personal interview
The optometry schools do not participate in a centralized application service. Hence, each applicant should contact the individual schools in which they have interest. In general the schools and colleges of Optometry begin accepting applications in August and September for their classes, which begin the following August or September.

Note: Applicants for optometric study in the United States and Puerto Rico use a common application service, OptomCAS. By utilizing a common application service, prospective students file one application that can be sent to multiple schools and colleges of optometry. The Admissions and Student Affairs Office is thrilled to be a participant OptomCAS school as we strive to make the application process more efficient and convenient for you.

More information can be found here:  

Course Requirements for Optometry School:

A student's academic evaluation is based upon overall GPA, science GPA, college attended, degree progress, and course load difficulty. Prerequisite admission requirements vary from school to school. Please refer to the Schools and Colleges of Optometry: Admission Requirements available for viewing at the HPAO resource library, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) website:

Students maintain responsibility for verifying course selection with individual optometry programs. Listed below are the prerequisite admission requirements for the 2 Optometry programs in California. 

The Southern California College of Optometry
For more information:  
SCCO Articulation Agreement
Application Deadline: March 15
Average GPA 3.4

Required Courses
Calculus 3 units
General Biology or Zoology 6 units
General Microbiology, with laboratory 3 units
Human Anatomy, with laboratory 3 units
Human Physiology, with laboratory 3units
General Physics, with laboratory 8units
General Chemistry, with laboratory 8 units
Organic Chemistry 3 units
Biochemistry 3 units Not Offered
Psychology 3 units
English Composition or Literature 6 units
Statistics 3 units
Bachelor's Degree

Suggested GCC courses
Math 103
BIOL 101, 102, 112, 120, 121
PHYS 105, 106
CHEM 101, 102, 105
ENGL 101 and 104
MATH 136

UC Berkeley School of Optometry
Optometry is a four-year professional degree program that students enter after receiving a bachelor's degree.

New students are accepted in the fall semester only, following completion of all pre-requisite courses listed below. The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is mandatory for all applicants.

AP credit may be used to satisfy prerequisites. Contact Optometry for details.

For more information:  
(510) 642-9537

Application Deadline: December 2, 2013 (requires Oct. OAT)
Average GPA 3.00

Required Courses
General Chemistry (with laboratories) — 2 semesters
Organic Chemistry (with laboratory) — 1 semester
Biochemistry MCB 100B or MCB 102 or UNEX X115A* (laboratory optional) — 1 semester
General Biology Biology (with laboratories) — 2 semesters
General Physics Physics 8A-8B (with laboratories) — 2 semesters

Required Advanced Science Courses:
Human Anatomy IB 131-131L or UNEX X104-X108* (with laboratory) — 1 semester **
Human Physiology IB 132-132L (preferred) or MCB 136-133L or UNEX X109-X406.1* (with laboratory) — 1 semester **
Microbiology MCB C112 or Public Health 162A or UNEX X111* (without laboratory) — 1 semester
Immunology MCB 50 or MCB 150 or UNEX X110* (without laboratory) — 1 semester (EFFECTIVE JULY 2012)

Required Basic Science Courses:
Calculus Mathematics — 1 semester
Reading and Composition — 2 semesters
Statistics Statistics 2— 1 semester
Psychology Psychology 1 — 1 semester

* Please note that these online courses are accepted and we suggest the course offered through UC Berkeley Extension (UNEX): are also willing to review course descriptions from other University and College Extensions to allow for more flexibility in fulfilling our prerequisites

Suggested GCC courses
BIOL 101and 102
CHEM 101, 102
CHEM 105
ENGL 101, 102
MATH 103
MATH 136

Last updated: 7/9/2013 12:54:41 PM