Optometry is a primary health care profession focusing on the visual system (eye). Optometrists do a variety of things from examining, diagnosing, treating, and managing disease, injuries and disorders of the eye. Optometry is a four-year program and requires a state license. Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, are medical doctors that have gone to medical school and done additional years of training. They are MDs or DOs and can do everything an optometrist does in addition to surgery of the eye. The courses needed to meet the prerequisites for most medical schools are very straight-forward. Because of this, it is not too difficult to pair the pre-med curriculum with many majors on campus. But you must be committed to academic excellence. The requirements for entry into optometry school vary from program to program but most require a year of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics with additional courses in microbiology and math. For more information on optometry visit the websites of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS).
Applying to Optometry School
Deadlines for application to optometry school vary widely depending on the school. Most deadlines are between January and May of the senior year. Students interested in pursuing a career in Optometry are required to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). The OAT is a standardized exam that measures the general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information of an applicant. The test is composed of four parts: natural sciences (biology, chemistry and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics and quantitative reasoning. The OAT is usually taken during the spring semester of the junior year. Based on current admission trends, an acceptable score is 300 or higher on each section. Students file a single application to a centralized application service (OptomCAS) to apply to all the programs they are interested in. Some schools also require supplemental application materials. Students should check each optometry program that they are interested in applying to for application details and deadlines.
- General chemistry with lab (CH105 and CH106, or CH107)
- Introduction to Biochemistry (CH 361) or Biochemistry 1 (CH362)
- Introductory Biological sciences with lab (BI210 and BI220)
- Microbiology with lab (BI438 for Biology Majors, BI325 for non-majors)
- Human Anatomy and Physiology (BSHS 334/335) or Principles of Physiology (BI 411) or Vertabrate Biology (BI 307)
- Organic Chemistry with lab (CH351 and CH352)
- Physics with lab (PH201 and PH202 for Physics majors, PH107 and PH108 for non-majors)
- Mathematics (MA106 or MA162)
- Psychology (SW250-PS)
Students interested in pursuing a career in Optometry are required to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). The OAT is a standardized exam that measures the general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information of an applicant. The test is composed of four parts: natural sciences (biology, chemistry and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics and quantitative reasoning. The OAT is usually taken during the spring semester of the junior year. Based on current admission trends, an acceptable score is 300 or higher on each section.
As a person desiring a healthcare professions career you should be aware of current issues in healthcare news, take opportunities to volunteer, shadow and learn more about the area you are interested in, you should reflect on why you want to enter a career in healthcare, and you should explore a variety of healthcare fields. Additionally, healthcare programs like well rounded professionals. Seek opportunities that can demonstrate you have broad experiences such as study abroad, research experience, leadership experience in a club, etc. Students are advised not to become over-involved in too many activities. Instead, they should select a few to which they are particularly committed during their four years at Butler University.
Students will submit up to three individual letters of recommendation from professors. In most cases, two of these letters must be from professors who have instructed you in science courses and one letter must be from a faculty who has taught a non-science course. However, each school has specific numbers of letters that they will accept and has rules about how many must be from science or non-science. Check with the specific school’s website to determine which letters need to be sent to which school.
- Identify at least two science professors and at least one non-science professor who might be willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. These professors should know you well (had for more than just one course, you stood out among your peers, they had extensive contact with you outside of the classroom, etc.) and should have observed your academic skills in the classroom as well as a laboratory, recitation, or co-curricular activity.
- Schedule a meeting with the professors to directly ask them to write the letters. Don’t just drop in as the request might get shuffled off and forgotten. Be intentional about asking.
- Bring a list or short narrative of the work you completed in the classes taken under the professor. Professors see many students over the years and don’t always remember specific course assignments or course experiences like you will. Remind them of these experiences.
- Provide an estimated date for submission of their letters. Give your professors enough time to write a thoughtful letter.
- Understand that no professor is required to write a letter of recommendation for you. If they do not feel that they know you well enough (or in some cases maybe know you too well?) or do not feel that they can provide you with a strong endorsement relative to your peers, then it is best for all parties involved if they decline. Refusing to write a letter of recommendation because you refuse to waive your right to see the letter, thus making the letter non-confidential, is within the professor’s rights.
- When you submit your application materials to the online application service, you will need to fill in the professor’s information and email. Be sure you get the correct email address! The application service will send the professor instructions on how to upload the letter. We suggest you waive your right to see the letter of recommendation. Check with the professor by email or by appointment to ensure that they received the request from the application service. Don’t be pushy, but be firm…this is important!
- You can check on the status of your application and the submission status of the letters at any time (though you cannot read the letters – they are supposed to be entirely confidential) by following the instructions on the application service website.