Each Optometry School has different requirements for prerequisite courses. A curriculum based on chemistry, biology, physics and liberal arts is required.
*Please note that Optometry school requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.
The following courses are generally required for most optometry schools:
- Two semesters of biology with laboratories
- Two semesters of general chemistry with laboratories
- One to Two semesters of organic chemistry with laboratories
- Two semesters of general physics with laboratory
- Two semesters or three quarters of English with emphasis on communications
- One semester of microbiology
- One semester of calculus
- One semester of biochemistry
- One semester of Psychology
Optometry schools admit students once a year in the Fall.
Applications are submitted 12-15 months before your desired optometry school enrollment date. This means the application process can begin as early as the spring after your Junior year. However, the timing depends on when you will complete your degree and the necessary coursework (and successfully take the OAT).
Optometry school requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.
Optometry School Application process includes 5 main components:
- The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)
- Primary Application
- Letters of Recommendation
- Secondary Applications (Most Schools)
-Primary Applications through OptomCAS opens in late May-early June. Begin to fill out primary applications as soon as possible.
-Order official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended to be sent to OptomCAS
-Request LORs to be sent to OptomCAS
-Complete supplemental applications as they come in
September – February
-Continue working on and submitting supplemental applications
-Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, in October
-Prepare for and attend interviews. Interviews generally occur from September – February
-Respond to admissions offers
-When you make a final decision, withdraw other admissions offers promptly
Application Materials: Letters of Recommendation/Personal Statement
Letters of Recommendation/Support:
Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early and know what you need. Get to know people from these categories so they can write excellent letters for you. Optometry schools generally require letters from the following:
-Optometrist you have shadowed or worked with
-Academic professors (mainly science) Faculty members who have taught you in a class and are able to make specific observations about your personal and academic achievements and your potential for optometry school are ideal.
The personal statement is about you and your motivation for pursuing a career as a dentist. Remember, why you want to be an optometrist is different from how you were inspired to become one. Describe your current passion for the field with specific examples from recent experiences. Try to choose a theme rather than random thoughts. The primary application activities section provides a list of accomplishments. Your personal essay is an opportunity to provide additional, more in-depth information.
The OAT (Optometry Admissions Test) is administered throughout the year at various testing sites. Ideally, it is taken about 18 months prior to the optometry school class you plan to enter. Taking the exam by spring the year before you wish to enter Optometry school will enable you to apply earlier.
For OAT information, visit https://www.ada.org/en/oat
Most optometry schools hold “interview days” where they bring in a group of applicants for a day that may consist of some or all of the following: Interviews, written essays, school tours, and opportunities to meet students and faculty.
Interviews can take many forms, so it is important to research your schools and be prepared for each kind. The Stuckert Career Center can help you with preparation tips and practicing your interviewing skills.
The most common types of interviews are:
- One on one interview—Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
- Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)—7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow-up questions or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
- Group interview—May be either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.
Involvement allows you to supplement a strong academic record. Optometry school admissions committees like to see evidence of initiative, creativity, leadership and collaboration, and organizational skills. However, it is important to remember that such activities will not substitute for poor grades, so don’t sacrifice study time for activities.
Search UK Student Organizations/Programs at BBNVolved https://uky.campuslabs.com/engage/
UK Student Organizations related to Optometry:
- FORESIGHT-Optometry Club
- The Apollo Society
- Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students
Applicants are required to demonstrate, at the time of application, a minimum number of hours optometry observation/shadowing.
*Each Optometry school is different on the number of hours they are looking for. Research each of the schools you are interested in to see the hours they recommend. Due to COVID-19, the closure or limited opening of optometry offices may affect the total number of shadowing hours that an applicant has completed. If an applicant is unable to complete the requirements prior to submitting their application, they can indicate this in their application.
As a caring attitude is central to the practice of optometry, applicants should demonstrate a commitment to service, more specifically direct service, and a desire to help others. Applicants may wish to highlight volunteer and service activities, including tutoring, assisting seniors, volunteer EMT, coaching youth sports, mentoring, etc.
Search UK Service-Learning and Civic Engagement for opportunities to help in the community: https://servelearnconnect.uky.edu/community-organizational-needs
Optometry Schools in Kentucky
- University of Pikeville: https://www.upike.edu/optometry/
Find an Optometry School
ASCO: Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry https://optometriceducation.org/
OptomCAS: Optometry Centralized Application Service: https://www.optomcas.org/