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Academic & Career Information


The American Optometric Association (AOA) states that “Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.” Optometry is among the nation’s largest independent healthcare professions. Over half the people in the United States wear glasses or contact lenses.

The number of new practicing optometrists is limited by the fact that there are only 21 schools and colleges of optometry in the United States and one in Puerto Rico. For the 2014 academic year, 2,604 applicants submitted a total of 13,164 applications for admission.

Optometrists held about 33,100 jobs in 2012. Employment of optometrists is expected to grow 24% through 2022 (much faster than the average for all occupations) in response to the vision care needs of a growing and aging population. Most optometrists are in general practice. Optometrists usually remain in practice until they retire. Employment growth will be fastest in retail optical stores and outpatient clinics. There continues to be a significant need for underrepresented minorities in this profession.

According to the American Optometric Association, the median wage for optometrists in 2012 was $97,820. The optometrist’s wages, like that of most professions, tend to rise with the number of years in practice. All states and the District of Columbia require that optometrists be licensed, which requires a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree from an accredited optometry school and a passing score on both a written and a clinical state board examination. Licenses are renewed every 1 to 3 years and in all states, continuing education credits are needed for renewal.


The Doctor of Optometry degree is a 4‐year program. Optometry programs include classroom and laboratory study of health and visual sciences, as well as clinical training in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. Included are courses in pharmacology, optics, vision science, biochemistry, and systemic disease. Residencies are not required to develop a specialty. Since the four‐year optometry curriculum prepares graduates in all areas, a residency does not introduce but rather enhances experiences in a selected area.


Admission requirements at all schools require the completion of a minimum of at least 90 semester units of college coursework; however, a Bachelor’s degree may be required and is strongly recommended. Ninety percent of new entrants at most schools have obtained Bachelor’s degrees. A student’s academic evaluation is based upon overall GPA, science GPA, college attended, degree progress, and course load difficulty. The overall average GPA for the fall 2014 entering class was 3.1.


Before applying to Optometry school, each applicant should become acquainted with at least one optometrist and if possible gain some first‐hand experience to see what optometrists do on a daily basis to confirm motivation for entering the field.


The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) must be taken by all applicants seeking admission to schools and colleges of optometry. The OAT is a standardized exam, which exclusively contains multiple choices test items. There are four components to this exam:

  1. Survey of Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry)
  2. Physics
  3. Quantitative Reasoning
  4. Reading Comprehension

The OAT is a computerized test offered at Prometric Testing Centers. The most desirable schedule for applicants is to take the exam between February of their junior year and October of their senior year in college. NOTE: There is a 90 day grace period between exam retakes. Visit  for additional information.


OptomCAS is the central application service for schools and colleges of optometry. OptomCAS will provide applicants a single web‐based application service and an opportunity to apply to more than one participating optometry school or college with one application. For additional information, visit


Prerequisite admission requirements vary from school to school. Please refer to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) website: Most students major in the sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.) because the prerequisites for optometry schools are science intensive and they find a great deal of overlap between major requirements and those required for optometry school, although a science major is not required.

The information above is reprinted with permission from CSULB’s Health Professions Advising Office:

This is NOT a comprehensive list of prerequisites for all programs. Students maintain responsibility for verifying course selection with individual programs.

Listed below are the prerequisite admission requirements for the three Optometry programs in California. 

UC Berkeley - School of Optometry

​UC Berkeley Prerequisites ​IVC Courses
Two semesters of General Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 1A and 1B
​One semester of Organic Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 12A
​One semester of Biochemistry ​BIO 10
​Two semesters of General Biology or Zoology with lab ​BIO 2 and 5, and 16
​One semester of Calculus ​MATH 3A or 3AH
​Two semesters of General Physics with lab ​PHYS 2A and 2B
​One semester of Immunology ​Not Available at IVC
​One semester of Microbiology ​BIO 15
​One semester of Human Anatomy with lab ​BIO 11
​One semester of Human Physiology with lab BIO 12
​One semester of Statistics ​MATH 10
​One semester of Psychology ​PSYC 1 or 1H
​Two semesters of English WR 1 or 1H and WR 2 or 2H

Marshall B. Ketchum University - Southern California College of Optometry
A bachelor’s degree is required for admission.

Marshall B. Ketchum University Prerequisites IVC Courses
​One semester of Calculus ​MATH 11 or MATH 3A or 3AH
​Two semesters of General Biology or Zoology ​BIO 1 or 1H and BIO 5
​One semester of Microbiology or Bacteriology with lab ​BIO 15
​Two or three semesters of General Physics with Lab ​PHYS 2A and 2B, or PHYS 4A, 4B and 4C (must complete the series)
​Two semesters of General Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 1A and 1B
​One semester of Organic Chemistry ​CHEM 12A
​One semester of Psychology ​PSYC 1 or 1H
​Two semesters of English Composition or Literature courses (AP credit accepted for 1 of the 2 required courses) ​Any English Composition and Literature courses; preferably WR 1 or 1H and 2 or 2H, or LIT 1
​One semester of Statistics ​MATH 10
​One semester of Human Anatomy with lab ​BIO 11
​One semester of Human Physiology with lab ​BIO 12
​One semester of Biochemistry (no lab required) ​BIO 10

 Western University of Health Sciences - College of Optometry

Western University of Health Sciences Prerequisites ​IVC Courses
​One semester of Calculus ​MATH 3A or 3AH
​Two semesters of General Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 1A and 1B
​One semester of Organic Chemistry with lab ​CHEM 12A
​One semester of Biochemistry ​BIO 10
​Two semesters of General Biology with lab ​BIO 2, 5 and 16
​Microbiology with lab ​BIO 15
​Two semesters of General Physics with lab ​PHYS 2A and 2B
​One semester of Statistics ​MATH 10
​Two semesters of English (Composition, English Literature, Writing or Critical Thinking) ​WR 1 or 1H and WR 2 or 2H
​One semester of Psychology (general or human development) ​PSYC 1 or 1H
​Human Anatomy with lab (highly recommended) ​BIO 11
​Human Physiology with lab (highly recommended)    ​BIO 12


Tiffany Tran
Articulation Officer
T: 949-451-5324

Jacky Rangel
Articulation Specialist
T: 949-451-5647

F: 949-451-5307
O: Student Services Center, SSC 210 

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