Before becoming an optometrist, candidates must obtain a doctor of optometry (OD) degree by completing a 4-year program from a college or university accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), and pass the National Board Examinations in Optometry exams. Currently there are 19 accredited optometry schools in the United States, 1 in Puerto Rico, and 2 in Canada. Optometry schools are very competitive to get into and only enroll a select number of applications into their program each year. Optometry school takes 4 years to complete with at least 3 years of undergraduate education, so 7 years is the minimum amount of time it takes to finish.
Cost of Optometry School
The cost of doctor of optometry programs will vary from school to school because of various differences in cost per credit, clinicals, and other fees. The estimated cost of tuition for the Indiana University School of Optometry for the 2007-2008 admission was around $63,618.55 for residents, while the estimated cost of tuition for residents at the Southern California College of Optometry was $111,600. Optometry schools also charge fees for other services such as labs and clinicals, equipment and supplies, health insurance and others. This means that optometry schools are going to be quite costly once everything is added up, including tuition, fees, supplies, books, and living expenses.
Optometry School Requirements
Optometry schools all have varying requirements for acceptance into their optometry programs, so potential students should check each one’s particular guidelines, including deadlines for applications and other material. There are some basic requirements that all colleges and universities of optometry share, including undergraduate education, taking the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), letters of recommendation, personal essay, knowledge of the profession, and going through an interview process.
Many of the schools require an undergraduate degree with emphasis on the sciences or at least meet the pre-optometry curriculum for their programs. Others allow for three years or certain hours, generally 90 credits, of undergraduate classes that adhere to the pre-optometry curriculum. This does not require a degree in the sciences, but enough classes to meet the requirements which includes courses in biology, physics, chemistry, anatomy, psychology, and some others. A high GPA is a big factor in making it to the next level of admissions, along with extra-curricular activities that demonstrate leadership skills, community involvement, and other useful actions.
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) like the MCAT or DAT, is a standardized examination for testing applicants in their knowledge, academic ability, and aptitude in problem solving. The test allows students 275 minutes to answer questions on Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. The OAT is a major factor for all optometry schools in determining if candidates make it to the next level of admissions. Candidates should also show some knowledge of the field and have letters of recommendation. One school of optometry recommends visiting a local optometrist, asking to follow them for a day through their routine to learn what they do. This is just one way to learn more about the field and possibly get a recommendation letter from a professional.
Applying to optometry schools has been made easier due to the creation of OptomCAS – Optometry’s Centralized Application Service, which all US optometry schools and the one in Puerto Rico are participating in. OptomCAS has made the application process uniform to a point by allowing potential students to submit their information including college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and honors through a web-based application that will send an application to multiple optometry schools. By doing this, it cuts out the need for multiple applications, transcripts, and letters. Each optometry school still has its own requirements which all applicants must follow.
After Optometry SchoolAfter completing an optometry training program, an optometrist may become licensed and start off their career or may apply for a residency that offers additional training in 1 of 10 different specialties. For more information on these subjects view the optometry license and optometry residency pages.
Accredited Schools and