Academic preparation

Before applying, optometry schools expect that applicants develop certain competencies. Students develop some of these competencies through undergraduate coursework, while they develop others through experiences outside the classroom. Optometry schools review your application, looking for indicators that you have developed these competencies. They will expect you to have completed certain coursework, maintain a certain GPA, and achieve a sufficient test score on the OAT in order to gain admission.

Choosing a major #

Pre-optometry students may select any major and degree to combine with the courses required for admission to optometry school. You should select a major that interests you, allows you to build strong intellectual skills, and one that could provide opportunities for graduate work or employment if you choose not to pursue a career in optometry.

Although you can choose any major, pre-optometry students must complete significant coursework in the natural sciences, as well as courses in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences. Pre-optometry students need to develop strong reasoning, analytical, and communication skills. Coursework in the humanities and social sciences can help you build skills in these latter areas.

Pre-optometry coursework #

The course requirements for admission to optometry programs vary from school to school. Below is a chart listing course requirements for IU Bloomington students who plan to apply for admission to the Indiana University School of Optometry. We recommend that students who are Indiana residents follow this plan of preparation, and then consider including additional coursework that would help them meet the admission requirements for other optometry schools.

Students should also consult the prerequisite chart provided by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry or the school's individual websites on the requirements for each optometry school. In addition, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry also provides a great deal of useful information for students considering a career in optometry.

Please also consult the Indiana University School of Optometry for further information on their programs.

Early admission option #

If desiring to apply without a bachelors degree, a minimum total of 90 semester hours is required. The 90 hours must include the IU School of Optometry prerequisites, two Arts & Humanities courses, and two Social & Historical courses. Students who have completed two or more years of a single foreign language in high school with an average grade of C or above are exempt from a foreign language requirement. One must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.6 and for the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), a score of 320 on both Quantitative Reasoning and Total Science with no other category below 300.

Academic record and GPA #

Optometry schools review your undergraduate transcript and the grades you have earned in your courses as a way to measure academic competencies that you have gained. Grades are considered to be a reliable predictor of how you would perform in optometry school. Admissions committees look at your undergraduate transcript for indications of whether you will have the intellectual abilities and self-discipline to succeed in the demanding optometry school curriculum.

Your undergraduate GPA is one of the primary ways optometry schools will evaluate your application for admission. What is a competitive GPA for admission to optometry school? For example, the mean average GPA at the IU School of Optometry for the 2017 entering class was 3.64.

Optometry schools pay attention to grade trends and ranges also. A student who had a difficult first semester as a freshman but went on to earn A’s in rigorous science courses in future semesters could still be viewed favorably.

Keep in mind that no matter how many impressive volunteering experiences you have listed on your application, your transcript must present convincing evidence of your academic readiness for optometry school.

Calculation of GPA #

Applicants apply to optometry schools through a centralized application service called “OptomCAS”. This application service has its own method for calculating your GPA. The OptomCAS application service calculates standardized GPA’s for all applicants, so they more easily can be compared, regardless of the grading system used at the college or university the applicant attended.

When you apply to optometry school you will type information onto the application from the transcripts of all colleges and universities you have attended, including the title of each course, number of credit hours, and the grade earned for each course. This information will be used to calculate your GPA.

Building a strong transcript #

Building a strong transcript requires careful planning, excellent time management skills, and dedication. Make use of resources such as instructor office hours and tutoring. Tracking your study time and devoting about 25-30 hours per week to preparation outside of class times can enhance your success!

Parallel planning #

What is parallel planning? It's a smart strategy to ensure your success. There are many possible paths to your goal of a healthcare career! Some students convince themselves that there is only one career for them – but the truth is that you could potentially be successful in a wide number of fields. A parallel plan is a plan you create that you can pursue right alongside your first choice of a career. Pre-health science courses can be challenging, and parallel planning allows you to efficiently change paths at some point if you discover you do not like or no longer want to pursue your primary career path.

How could you create a parallel plan? Explore your interests, goals, and values. Meet with a career advisor. Think about other goals you would like to achieve alongside being an optometrist for instance, would you like to encourage healthy lifestyles, improve global health, or develop new treatments through research? Your answers to these questions may help indicate additional career paths through which you could find meaning and success.