Schools and colleges of Optometry award the O.D. degree after four years of study. The first two years typically consists of foundational science courses and their application to the study of medicine. The final two years are more patient-focused and the student is exposed to a variety of specialities within the medical field.
Following graduation, some students undergo more advanced, specialized training in a field of their choice, such as pediatric or geriatric optometry, low vision rehabilitation, family practice, hospital or primary care optometry. All students must successfully complete the training in the school or college of optometry and pass a State Board Examination. Optometrists typically work in an office setting, usually in a private practice. Some optometrists work in group practices but most function independently. As with other health care professionals, they may be employed by a health service organization, work in hospitals or other institutions, such as schools or government agencies. They are trained to examine the eye for any abnormalities and test for proper eye function. When problems are detected, treatment can include corrective glasses or contact lenses, eye therapy or prescription drugs (some states only). For more advanced diseases, optometrists refer patients to another medical practitioner, often an opthamologist who is a D.O. or M.D. specializing in care of the eye.
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
What is a competitive Optometry Application?
Prepare for the OAT(for your further research; not endorsed by HPAO)
Recommended University of Maryland Pre-Requisite Courses
Download pdf Recommended Pre-Requisites for Optometry School
Academic Planning and Timeline
Transition to campus climate & culture
Familiarize yourself with campus resources
Attend Pre-Health workshops
Enroll & successfully complete required prerequisite courses
Begin required math sequence
Begin required CHEM sequence in most cases 131/32 and 231/32
BSCI 170/171 (formerly 105)
Develop good study skills & habits
Identify Pre-Health student organizations
Identify volunteer & community service opportunities
Enroll & successfully complete required courses
Meet with Academic and Pre-Health Advisor
Participate in Volunteer, Community service & Research opportunities, and particularly clinical experiences
Complete required math sequence
Continue with required CHEM sequence, 241/42 and 271/72 in most cases
Consider other 200 level BSCI recommended courses (especially microbiology) before moving on to cell biology
Research health professional schools
Consider a broad course selection
Identify courses/majors where you can develop strong foundations in critical thinking, writing, reading & communication
Develop relationships with professors
Junior Year - Senior Year
Attend the Pre-Health workshops that cover the Credentials service and application process
OAT exam taken for optometry school when offered (consult OAT web site for deadlines to register and for exam dates). Ideally by August of application year, though by July 15 is required for priority applicants.
Schedule prep courses for standardized tests if desired
See Timeline for applicants
Submit common applications
Graduate from College
*This timeline is flexible and represents a traditional path to optometry school with no break. It is common for students to take one or more years off before beginning professional school.