Overview of Profession


Application Process Timeline

Admission Exam- OAT

Additional Information

Overview of Optometry School

Important Websites


To apply to optometry school you can be ANY MAJOR (Art, Biology, Literature, Math, etc.), however you must complete the prerequisite coursework in Chemistry, Biology, Math and Physics in order to apply.  

The table at the bottom shows the courses that are most commonly completed by UC Santa Cruz Students to fulfill optometry school prerequisites.  The Career Center recommends that students complete the courses sequenced listed in this table.

NOTE: The optometry school prerequisites can differ slightly from school to school.  It is important to look at the coursework required for each school you wish to apply to.  A good resource to find the admissions page for each Optometry School can be found in the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optomentry (ASCO) handbook.  The ASCO handbook can be located online.

Course Subject # Quarters UCSC course sequences most students use to fulfill requirements
General Chemistry Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of general (inorganic) chemistry, each with laboratory Chem 1A, Chem 1B/M and Chem 1C/N
General Biology  Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of general biology, with laboratory

BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, and BIOE 20C and three upper-division labs* since UCSC doesn't offer labs with its 20 series.

*Common labs used to fulfill the 1-year of lab are: BIOL 20L, BIOL 101L, BIOL 130L, METX 135L, METX 119L, etc.

Organic Chemistry Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of organic chemistry, with laboratory

Chem 8A/L

Mathematics Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of mathematics.  Check indvidual schools for specific requirments.

Math 3, Math 11A (or 19A), Math 11B (or 19B), Math 22*

*Math 22 is not necessarily a requirment. The 1 year of math can be fulfilled using Math 2, Math 3, Statistics, etc. However, 2 quarters of calculus are prerequisite courses for Physics.
Statistics Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of a statistics course

AMS 5 or AMS 7/L

Physics Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of physics, each with laboratory

Phys 6A/L, Phys 6B/M, and Phys 6C/N


Phys 5A/L, Phys 5B/M, Phys 5C/N

Biochemistry Some schools require biochemistry, most do not.  However, it is usually strongly recommended

Biol 100


BIOC 100A, BIOC 100B, and BIOC 100C

Human Anatomy Some schools require 1 quarter of an anatomy course

METX 135

Human Physiology Some schools require 1 quarter of an human physiology course

BIOL 130

Microbiology Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of microbiology, with laboratory

METX 119/L

Immunology UC Berkeley requires 1 quarter of immunology

BIOL 111

English Composition Requirements vary greatly, check school's admissions requirements

Courses that satisfy the Core Courses (C1) and Composition (C2) requirements at UCSC will fulfill two quarters of the medical school English coursework requirements for most medical schools.  An additional course in Writing or Literature will usually satisfy the remaining quarter.*

* Save your course syllabi in case any medical schools express concern that you did not complete their English requirement.

Psychology Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of an introductory course Psych 1
Speech Some schools require 1 quarter of a speech, oral communication or public speaking course Not usually offered at UCSC

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Application Process Timeline:

  1. OptomMAS:
    • All 20 schools and colleges of optometry are participating in OptomCAS – Optometry’s Centralized Application Service. 
  2. Prior to Applying:
    • Consider these factors when deciding upon where to apply: 
      • Location
      • Cost
      • Size
      • Licensure exam passage rates
      • Faculty interests and reputation
      • Job placement history of program graduates. 
      • Talk with recent optometry graduates, as well as ask optometry employers about various programs’ strengths and weaknesses. 
    • Research each program you wish to apply to before submitting your application. 
      • Admission requirements 
      • prerequisite coursework 
      • Deadlines 
      • Amount and preferences for letters of recommendations 
    • Register and take OAT
    • Write your personal statement
    • Develop a resume of activities and accomplishments 
    • Request your transcripts
    • Arrange letters of evaluation
    • In addition to California programs, consider applying to some public or private schools outside of California that accept many (20+) non-resident or non-contract state applicants. 
  3. Late June/Early July
    • OptomCAS application cycle opens
  4. September to March
    • Applicants are interviewed 
  5. January to April 
    • Deadlines to submit application to OptomCAS
  6. September to June
    • Acceptance notification sent out

Admission Exam:

    1. Overview of Optometry Admission Test (OAT): 
      • All U.S. optometry schools require applicants to submit OAT exam scores. 
      • Many schools do not accept OAT exam scores that are more than five years old.
      • 4 hour and 45 minute standardized multiple-choice computerized-based exam.
      • Unofficial score reports, generated at the test center, are provided for the examinee upon completion of the test. 
      • The OAT exam is computerized and examinees are allowed to take the OAT an unlimited number of times but must wait at least 90 days between testing dates. However, only scores from the four most recent attempts and the total number of attempts will be reported. 
    2. Sections
      • Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry) 
      • Reading Comprehension 
      • Physics 
      • Quantitative Reasoning - require knowledge of basic numerical calculations, algebra, probability and statistics, geometry, and trigonometry, as well as the ability to apply mathematics to word problems. 
    3. Scoring
      • The maximum score is 400. 
    4. When should students take the OAT?
      • You should take the OAT well in advance of applying to dental school but definitely at least one year prior to your intended start date. 
      • If students want to go straight into optometry school, they will need to take the OAT the summer of their junior year.
      • Students should take the OAT when they can do their best.
        • If they can be preparing for the OAT and be taking courses, and do well in both, then they should do that.
        • If the student will compromise their grades and/or score by doing both at the same time, the student should prepare for the OAT during the summer or after they have graduated. 
    5. Dates for exam:
      • Offered daily

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Additional Requirements:

  1. Some schools require applicants to submit a letter of recommendation from a practicing optometrist. 

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Overview of Optometry School:

  1. Overview: 
    • Optometry school lasts 4 academic years. 
    • There are 20 Optometry Schools in the United States, and 3 in California.
  2. Education:
    • Optometry programs include classroom and laboratory study of health and visual sciences and clinical training in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. 
    • Courses in pharmacology, optics, vision science, biochemistry, and systemic diseases are included.
  3. Post-Graduate:
    • One-year postgraduate clinical residency programs are available for optometrists who wish to obtain advanced clinical competence within a particular area of optometry.
    • Optometrists who wish to teach or conduct research may study for a master's degree or Ph.D. in visual science, physiological optics, neurophysiology, public health, health administration, health information and communication, or health education.
  4. Licensure and Certification:
    • Applicants for a license must have a Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited optometry school and must pass both a written National Board examination and a National, regional, or State clinical examination. 
    • The written and clinical examinations of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry usually are taken during the student's academic career. Many States also require applicants to pass an examination on relevant State laws. 
    • Licenses must be renewed every 1-3 years and, in all States, continuing education credits are needed for renewal. 
  5. Specialty: 
    • Specialty areas for residency programs include family practice optometry, pediatric optometry, geriatric optometry, vision therapy and rehabilitation, low-vision rehabilitation, cornea and contact lenses, refractive and ocular surgery, primary eye care optometry, and ocular disease.

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Important Websites:

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