Study Optometry- Complete Guide

Living without ones sight can be frustrating. Aside from the pain, one will be limited to a lot and forced into having shattered dreams. That’s why giving attention to this sensitive part of the body is vital. And to achieve that, having a specialist eye care and checkup is a necessity. This is where Optometrist comes to play.

An optometrist is a trained doctor who examines the eye, detects and diagnose any abnormalities and diseases, and also prescribe glasses or contact lenses. However, to get this knowledge requires you study Optometry.

Studying optometry enables you learn and practice with diverse placement opportunities. Also you will learn about the issues that can affect eyesight.

In this article, you will get to understand all about optometry, what it will take you to get a degree in this field and lots more.

Just scroll the table of contents below to get overview of all the points we will be making in this article.

Study Optometry- What is Optometry?

According to Wikipedia, Optometry is a health care profession that involves examining the eyes and applicable visual systems for defects or abnormalities as well as the correction of refractive error with glasses or contact lenses and treatment of eye diseases.

An optometrist is an eye doctor who has earned the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. An optometrist generally must complete a four-year college degree program in the sciences, plus four years of post-graduate professional training in optometry school.

Generally, becoming an optometrist will involve completing both the undergraduate program and the Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) program. Although no specific college major is required to apply to the College of Optometry, a science major can be beneficial because you will need to take several basic science courses.

What are the Requirements of becoming an optometrist?

Optometrists require a degree of Optometry Doctor, which can be obtained after four years of school of optometry. Depending on the school you select, costs for optometry school can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 a year.

You usually need at least 3 years of post-secondary education with classes in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and English to qualify for an optometry program.

On the other hand, lot of candidates hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in science. Note, Pre-med programs cost, on average, around $40,000 a year but costs vary widely based on the program and the college.

How do I become an Optometrist?

To become an optometrist will take a lot of hard work, time, patience, and determination. You need approximately 7 to 9 years to invest. To break it down for you, below is a thorough step-by – step guide on how to study optometry.

Phase 1-Get a 4-year bachelor’s degree

The process of becoming an optometrist begins with obtaining a bachelor’s degree, preferably with relevance in pre-med or biological sciences.  On the other hand, you may get a post-secondary education of at least three years with courses in zoology or biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and English.

2nd Phase- Passing the OAT

Optometry Admission Test score (OAT) is very important here. You must take and pass the OAT prior to applying for an optometry program. You might ask, What is OAT?

OAT is a computerized test that evaluates the knowledge of science, physics, reading, comprehension, and quantitative reasoning of an applicant.

Phase 3- Degree in Optometry PhD- 4 years

Then you need to complete a four-year Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree that incorporates courses and supervised clinical training to become an optometrist. Once you are done with that, you can proceed to the next phase.

Phase 4- Get certified and pass the exam

After getting an O.D., you must pass all the parts of the National Board of Examiners of Optometry exam. And then you can get a license to practice in any state in which you will be serving.

Any other tests, such as those on clinical practice or laws that may be required by your state, can be taken and passed. Upon receiving your O.D. You will complete a one-year residency program and obtain advanced clinical residency training in field like family practice, pediatric optometry or geriatric optometry, low vision rehabilitation, and ocular disease..

How Long Does it Take to be an Optometrist?

Like I mentioned earlier, becoming an optometrist will take you 7-9 years. The Doctor of Optometry (OD) programs which are prerequisite for licensure take 4 years to complete alone. And you must first apply to the School of Organizational Development through the Optometry Entrance Test (OAT).

Once you are accepted, you are expected to start advanced courses in areas such as anatomy, optometry, and ophthalmology. Note, most courses are completed in the first two years so that students can take clinical courses in the last two years.

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What is Optometrist salary like in 2020?

The average salary of optometrists is $115,250 per annum. Depending on the type of industry, the median annual remuneration varies for optometrists. 

Industry Salary 
Health stores$116,370
Offices of Physicians $122,800
Offices of Optometrists$110,930

What should I major in to be an Optometrist?

Although no major specialization is required for optometrists, these professionals require at least 3 years of post-secondary education before applying to optometry school. Students may consider a variety of health-related biology, pre-medical or undergraduate programs. Any of these bachelor’s programs are likely to contain courses like chemistry, math, and biology, all of which offer excellent career preparation.

And though not overly popular, there are some institutions that can offer a path to advance optometry and vision. These schools can prepare students to apply to the institution’s professional program in optometry and help them fulfill the course prerequisites.

Optometrists wishing to specialize in a particular area of the field must complete a residency program after optometry school. These programs generally take 1 year to complete and may be completed on- or off-campus. Students interested in a residency program may be able to specialize in areas like:

  • Vision therapy and rehabilitation
  • Primary care/contact lenses
  • Pediatric optometry
  • Ocular disease
  • Primary care/community health

How much does it cost to attend Optometry School?

Optometrists require a degree of Optometry Doctor, which can be obtained after four years of school of optometry.

Depending on the school you select, costs for optometry school can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 a year. You usually need at least 3 years of post-secondary education with classes in biology , chemistry, mathematics , physics, and English to qualify for an optometry program.

A lot of candidates even hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in science. Many applicants also hold a bachelor’s degree with a science major. Pre-med programs cost, on average, around $40,000 a year but costs vary widely based on the program and the college.

What are Optometry School Requirements?

You would only need a high school diploma or equivalent if you are interested in obtaining an undergraduate degree in vision sciences or an associate degree as an optometry technician. A college entrance exam such as the SAT or ACT can be required to take you.

You would have to complete undergraduate studies, which include classes such as chemistry, biology, mathematics, and calculus, to qualify for a Doctor of Optometry degree.

You will have to take the Optometry Admission Test if you are applying for a Doctor of Optometry degree, and you can apply through the Optometry Centralized Application System (OptomCAS) to all approved optometry schools in the United States. Enrolment in independent graduate programs includes that you already have an O.D. And be eligible for state licensure.

List of Optometry Schools- Where to study Optometry

Based on the degree you want to pursue, over 50 schools around the world offer optometry programs. That means, you have numerous options when looking considering the school that’s right for you. To get you started in your search, here is a brief list of schools which offer optometry programs to students. Note, these schools are grouped into private and public institutions.

The private Schools include;

  • International American University
  • Pennsylvania College of Optometry
  • Southern College of Optometry
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Pacific University
  • Midwestern University
  • University of Pikeville
  • New England College of Optometry
  • Illinois College of Optometry
  • University of the Incarnate Word
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
  • Southern California College of Optometry
  • Chicago College of Optometry
  • Western University of Health Sciences

On the other hand, some of the prestigious public schools include the following:

  • Northeastern State University
  • University of Houston
  • University of Missouri at St. Louis
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Indiana University
  • Michigan College of Optometry
  • State University of New York
  • University of California at Berkeley

What are the Optometry Schools Ranking in the world?

In ranking the top optometry schools in the world, we considered the schools Tuition fee, admission requirements and the NBEO pass rate. Also, we looked at the degree programs the offer and the class size.

#1. Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University

Address: 1124 S. State Street Big Rapids, MI 49307

Tuition/fee: $30,704

The Michigan College of Optometry is a college specializing in optometry. It is the only optometry school in Michigan founded in 1974 by legislation. Each enrolled class currently consists of 38 students and there is a low ratio of faculty-to-student.

At this school, no graduate program is offered. And to study optometry undergraduate programs, you must have an average GPA of 3.75 and Average OAT score of 339. The NBEO Pass rate as of 2019 was 100%. For years, this college has been a study destination for most students who want to study optometry.

School Website:

#2. Southern College of Optometry

Address: 1245 Madison Ave

Tuition/fees:  $19,497 (in state), $38,697 (out state)

Southern College of Optometry is a private, non-profit institution founded in 1932. It is one of only 23 schools of optometry in the United States with up to 533 student enrollment.

Admission at this college is fairly easy both for national and international students. And to apply, you must have an average GPA of 3.61 and 336 average OAT. Note, this school of optometry is accredited by SACSCOC.

School Website:

#3. University of Alabama College of Optometry

Address: 739 University Blvd

Tuition/fees:  $28,034 (in state), $55,007 (out state)

Next in the list of the top ranking optometry schools is University of Alabama. This school is a prestigious university that offers the top optometry programs in the nation. The university was founded in 1969 as the state’s flagship university.

The graduate programs offered include OD/MBA, OD/MPH and OD/MS. To apply, you must have an average GPA of 3.66 and 321 average OAT score. Note, this school of optometry is accredited by SACSCOC.

School Website:

#4. Indiana University Bloomington

Address: 107 South Indiana Ave.

Tuition/fees: $29,890 (in state), $42,426 (out state)

Indiana University Bloomington school of optometry is a public research institution established in 1956 and among the top ranking optometry schools in the world.

Basically, the graduate programs offered at this school include PHD, MS, and MBA. And to apply, student must have an average GPA pf 3.58, average OAT score of 317 and NBEO pass rate of 91.18%. Note, the programs at this school are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education.

School Website:

#5. Ohio State University College of Optometry

Address: 338 W 10th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210

Tuition/fees: $27,800 (in state), $48,856 (out state)

Ohio State University (OSU) school of optometry is a 4-year public institution that was founded in the year 1914.

Basically, OSU Optometry strives to provide a comprehensive, well-rounded education to best prepare our students for their futures as doctors of optometry in whichever modes of practice they choose.

Furthermore, the graduate programs offered at this school include PHD and MS. And to apply, you must have an average GPA pf 3.72, average OAT score of 317 and NBEO pass rate of 96.92%.


#6. UC Berkeley School of Optometry

Tuition and fees: $19,226.25 per semester for residents / $25,069.75 per semester for non-residents

As part of the University of California, Berkeley in the USA, the UC Berkeley Department of Optometry is an optometry department founded in 1923.

Basically, Berkeley Optometry offers a four-year, graduate-level professional program leading to the degree of Doctor of Optometry (OD). The School also provides clinical optometry specialties with a one-year, ACOE-accredited residency program.

The program offers mentored postgraduate education and clinical training to each resident in one or two specialist areas of optometric practice.

To study optometry at this school, you need an average GPA of 3.42 and an average OAT score of 355. As of 2019, this top optometry school has a class size of 68 and an NBEO pass rate of 93.75%.

#7. Nova Southeastern University

Tuition/fee: $35,194(in state) 39,558 (Out state) 

Optometric doctors are trained by NSU College of Optometry to practice at the highest level of competence, honesty, and professionalism. The four-year NSU Doctor of Optometry program involves two years of fundamental sciences, optics, anatomy, pathology, physiology, and pharmacology, followed by clinical education in pediatrics, primary care, eye disease, contact lenses, and optometry for recovery (low vision).

The Division of Health Professions offers a multi-disciplinary atmosphere that encourages respect and collaboration between osteopathic medicine, dental medicine, pharmacy, optometry and allied health practitioners in the health professions.

Generally, this school doesn’t offer undergraduate degree optometry program, it only offer two graduate degree which are OD and PHD. To study optometry at this school, you need an average GPA of 3.43 and an average OAT score of 323. As of 2019, this top optometry school has a class size of 94 and an NBEO pass rate of 95.92%.

School Website:

#8. Northeastern State University: Oklahoma College of Optometry

Address: 1001 N Grand Ave, Tahlequah 

Tuition/fee: $42,592

The Oklahoma College of Optometry is renowned as one of the leading institutions in the education of optometric doctors in the country. The Optometry Doctor (O.D.) degree is based on the campus of NSU Tahlequah. However, the Optometric Physician has been qualified at the primary care level to diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of eye and vision issues.

To study optometry at this school requires you to have an average GPA of 3.65 and OAT score of 339. And as of 2019, the school NBEO pass rate has been 92% and and the class rate 28.

School Website:

#9. New England College of Optometry

Address: 424 Beacon St

Tuition/fee: $42,592

A private optometry school in Boston, Massachusetts, is the New England College of Optometry. The school enrolls over 500 students and is one of the United States’ longest continuously operating optometry schools. The school aims at integrating innovative education with early and diverse clinical experiences to prepare today’s optometrists for tomorrow’s optometry.

Basically, it offers undergraduate programs and graduate programs in OD/MS, Accelerated Optometry Degree. And to apply, you must have an average GPA of 3.37 and OAT score of 326. Note, the class size of this optometry school is 138 while the NBEO pass rate is 96.52%.

School Website:

#10. Illinois College of Optometry

Address: 3241 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

Tuition/fee: $42,870

Illinois College of Optometry is one of the top ranking optometry schools in the world established in 1872. This school offers undergraduate degree programs and dual degrees too.

Currently, the NBEO pass rate is 94% while the class size is 124. Furthermore, to qualify for admission into this school, you must have an average GPA and OAT of 3.42 and 326 respectively.

School Website:


A career path that leads towards financial success and a life of stability can be attained by becoming a professional optometrist. This is a critical area of service as a large portion of the population now wears some kind of corrective lenses. That means that those who provide professional vision care enjoy a career filled with personal and financial rewards. Making the choice to become an optometrist is one that can lead to a very bright future.


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