Optometrists are primary care providers for examining, diagnosing, and treating the eyes and surrounding structures. They are also involved in pre and post-surgical care; their involvement in surgical care depends upon state regulations and practice culture. In addition to assessing and treating typical vision problems, they can be the first to diagnose diabetes or heart disease in patients who do not regularly see other health professionals. 

The Doctor of Optometry program is four years after undergrad. There are 23 O.D. programs in the US.

Job Market: The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate 9% (As fast as average).

Base Salary: $118,050 per year $56.76 per hour


Prerequisites vary slightly from school to school; this list will cover the requirements at many schools. It is a good idea to make your own list of 5-6 schools and develop a spreadsheet of prerequisites.

  • Chemistry 5 semesters
  • General Biology 2 semesters
  • Physiology with lab (lab is taken in a later semester than the lecture)
  • Anatomy with lab
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Recommend Immunology or Developmental Biology
  • Physics 2 semesters
  • Calculus
  • English 1-2 semesters
  • Statistics
  • Psychology and Sociology/Anthropology

Preparation Outside the Classroom

A knowledge of the field is helpful in the application process. Working or extensively volunteering can give you an edge. Working as an optometry technician or assistant is helpful.

Health care is a life of service, and programs are also looking for a consistent interest in the well-being of others, particularly vulnerable groups like those in poverty, asylum seekers, those with disabilities, etc.


Applications are submitted through a central applications service, the OPTOMCAS. optomcas.org

The optimal application timeline is generally from July to September.

Committee letters are not required, and for most schools, three to four individual letters are required. See individual school sites for details.

At this time the OAT is the standardized test required by most schools; you will have results sent to the individual schools.

You should apply to 5-7 programs.