The American Optometric Association defines Doctor of Optometry as the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.* Although not as competitive as medical school, optometry is a growing field. It is important that students prepare themselves well for application to optometry schools during the undergraduate years.
*Description of Optometry taken from www.opted.org.
GPA AND OAT
GPA is a vital part of your application to optometry school. Optometry schools will consider your science, non-science and cumulative GPAs as well as the trend of grades. All grades received for college credit will be calculated into your GPA even if you have retaken the class. If you have taken any classes at a different school or if you have retaken classes, your UVU GPA will not be an accurate calculation for optometry schools.
The OAT is a standardized examination required as part of your application to optometry school. It is a very challenging exam that requires extensive preparation in the form of review and practice. Your preparation for the OAT will begin with the first day of your first pre-optometry prerequisite course. Click here for additional information about the OAT.
Listed below are the current accepted GPAs and OAT scores.
- Average accepted overall GPA: 3.38
- Average accepted Total Science OAT: 336
- Average accepted Academic Average OAT: 332
NOTE: Optometry schools determine their own individual requirements. The courses listed below are a general guide. Refer to www.opted.org and the individual school's website to determine the specific requirements for that institution.
Required by most optometry schools with a grade of C or better:
- Intro to Writing: ENGL 1010
- Intermediate Writing: ENGL 2010 or 2020
- General Psychology: PSY 1010
- College Biology I and II with labs: BIOL 1610/1615 and 1620/1625
- Principles of Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 1210/1215 and 1220/1225
- Organic Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 2310/2315 and 2320/2325
- College Physics I and II with labs: PHYS 2010/2015 and 2020/2025
- Microbiology for Health Professions: MICRO 2060
- Biochemistry: BIOL 3600
- Principles of Statistics: MATH 2040
- Calculus I: MATH 1210
- Bachelor's Degree or Additional Humanities and Social Science Courses
Strongly recommended or required by some optometry schools:
- Human Physiology: ZOOL 2420
- Human Anatomy: ZOOL 2320
It is extremely important to be involved in activities outside of the classroom in order to be competitive for admission into optometry school. GPA and OAT scores are important, but they do not make you unique. Extracurricular activities are a chance for you to set yourself apart and display your motivation for pursuing optometry and dedication to serving the community. Preparing to apply for optometry school is NOT about checking off boxes. Optometry schools are not going to care if you have done the experiences if you have not learned from them. Admissions committees want to know that you are willing and able to learn in any circumstance and/or environment.
The activities you should be involved in and the recommended hours are listed below:
- Volunteer Service: 50 hours during each of the pre-optometry years including the year of application. To be a strong applicant for optometry school you must show dedication to serving the community. Volunteer service can be done with any group or organization and does not have to be medically related. Being involved in 2-3 service opportunities will benefit you more than having several brief experiences.
- Leadership: 3 different leadership positions during the pre-optometry years. These should be experiences that have lasted at least 3 months or more. This includes experiences as tutors, mentors, coaches, teachers or leaders in campus clubs and organizations as well as employment and church leadership.
- Optometrist Shadowing: 2 different optometrists in different settings for a total of 40 hours or more. Students should gain exposure to the optometry field and have a clear understanding of what life as an optometrist entails. Shadowing is an opportunity to observe optometrists as they go through a routine day seeing patients, completing paperwork, talking with insurance companies, etc.