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Optometry as a Career

Optometrists care for eyes, perform optical exams, prescribe lenses (glasses and contacts) and are involved in research into diagnostic and vision repair techniques.

They may be employed in small practices, large chain stores, or in the military, in teaching institutions, just to mane a few.

Optometrists can diagnose diabetes and high blood pressure and can specialize in ocular diseases, pediatrics, geriatrics, occupational vision and education or research.

The Michigan College of Optometry is located at Ferris State University. The dozen or so other programs are listed at the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.

Academic Preparation

Start with the general pre-med curriculum as you investigate individual school requirements. A general list of classes would be:

  • Chemistry 2 years CHM 115-230
  • Biochemistry (BCM 321) (seems required for most schools)
  • Physics (PHY 112-113)
  • Mathematics through Calculus 1 (MTH 121) and Statistics (MTH 116)
  • General Biology (BIO 120/121)
  • Physiology (BIO 207 or EHS 225/226)
  • Microbiology (BIO 308)
  • Psychology (PSY 121)
  • Speech (COM 111)
  • English 8 credits (100/101/200)
  • Additional credits in behavioral sciences and humanities (overlap nicely with Alma DRs)
  • Also suggested: genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, anatomy, business

Volunteer/Shadowing/Extra-Curricular Experience

Experience with an optometrist and a deep understanding of the profession is critical. A variety of experiences over an extended time frame is preferable to a visit or two.

You should supplement your experience with a selection of appropriate extra-curricular activities. Places where you develop (and demonstrate) leadership. Interpersonal and organizational skills will be the most appropriate. Do something meaningful, don’t just join.

Timetable (see the pre-med timetable/modify as needed)

GPA and the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

Acceptance into optometry school is competitive. You will need an excellent GPA, and evidence of success in challenging upper-level courses. Excellent communication skills (as well as evaluation of a writing sample during the interview) will all contribute to a well-rounded applicant.

The on-line Optometry Admission Test (OAT) must be completed in a timely manner. You should bookmark the site and revisit it often. Purchase a study guide to use in preparation with your basic science courses.

The Michigan College of Optometry (at Ferris State University) expects a minimum score of 300 or higher on each category of the OAT. Please check with other programs for additional information.

Application to Optometry School

Application may be made directly to each school. Check on-line at individual schools for specifics.

Additional Resources

Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry: including the OAT exam

Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University