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Optometry is a specialty that is at the frontline of eye and vision care. Optometrists are essential health care providers as they diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. They also play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being as they can detect, diagnose, and treat systemic diseases through their presentation in the eye.

What does an Optometrist do?

  • Prescribes medications and corrective lenses
  • Counsels patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs

Please note that Idaho State University does not have a optometry program, however Idaho State University is a great institution to attend for preparing to apply to optometry schools.

Students looking to be admitted into an optometry school or college need to complete a bachelor's degree before being admitted to optometry schools or colleges. The following courses are common prerequisites for optometry schools or colleges, however you should check individual programs for their specific requirements. See a Pre-Health Advisor for assistance with course planning.

Prerequisite Courses:



ISU Course

General Biology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 1101, 1101L, 1102, 1102L

Microbiology and Lab

4 credits

BIOL 2233, 2233L

Anatomy and Physiology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 2227, 2227L, 2228, 2228L or BIOL 3301, 3301L, 3302, 3302L


3 credits

BIOL 4432

General Chemistry I & II and Labs

9 credits

CHEM 1111, 1111L, 1112, 1112L

Organic Chemistry I & II and Labs

8 credits

CHEM 3301, 3303, 3302, 3304

General Physics I & II and Labs

8 credits

PHYS 1111, 1113, 1112, 1114

College Algebra and Trigonometry

5 credits

MATH 1147

Introduction to Statistics

3 credits

MATH 1153


4 credits

MATH 1160 or MATH 1170

English Composition

3 credits

ENGL 1101

Introduction to Psychology

3 credits

PSYC 1101

Average GPA of entering students 

We recommend keeping a record of all extracurricular activities. Be sure to track contact information for supervisors and optometrists you work with or shadow, and write reflections on each activity. The Pre-Health Extracurricular Tracker can help with this and is found under the resources tab.


Shadowing an optometrist helps you understand what the profession is actually like. The more experience and shadowing you can get, the more attractive of an applicant you become. For more information, see the Shadowing Guide.


Any optometric experience you can get will make you a more attractive applicant. Patient care experience is also valuable for applications.


Any volunteer work you can get, healthcare or community settings, shows dedication in your community and in healthcare settings, which is attractive in the healthcare professions.


More important for some schools than others. Consult with your pre-health advisor and research specific programs.


Leadership in any setting will make you stand out from other applicants by showing you are actively preparing for your future in your career and community as well as showing that you are a strong member of a team.


  • Identity 
  • Active Participation
  • Integration
  • Teamwork
  • Collaboration

ASCO Core Competencies

A personal statement is a written description of your achievements, interests, and motivations as part of an application to a graduate program. Personal statements should answer the questions “Why did I choose optometry?” and ”What motivates me?” You should begin writing your personal statement three to six months before your application process. For more information see the Personal Statement Guide.

Letters of recommendation are an essential part of your application. Most schools will require letters of recommendation, check with the individual programs for letter requirements. Some recommended letters come from a science professor, and an optometrist or ophthalmologist. You should avoid asking family members, clergy/bishops, and lab instructors for a letter of recommendation. Your letters will be submitted to OptomCAS and then distributed to the schools you applied to. Schools will request your letters after receiving your primary application, so don’t delay submitting your primary application while waiting on your letters. For more information, see the Letters of Recommendation Guide. Consult your pre-health advisor if you have any further questions.

Before applying, ensure that you are researching schools and making sure they fit your needs and wants.

Applying to a school of optometry can be reduced down to these essential steps:

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) or The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The OAT or the GRE, depending on the program, is the test required for admission into a school of optometry. It is important to plan testing with a pre-health advisor as retesting for the OAT requires 90 days between attempts. Check with programs to determine what is a competitive score. Average test scores for entering classes.

Primary Application

Primary applications will be submitted through a central application service, OptomCAS. The same primary application will be sent to all the schools you apply to. OptomCAS opens mid-July and closes mid- May. Many schools opt for rolling admissions, so it is a good idea to submit early, however don’t rush and make a mistake! Take your time, and submit as early as you can. Most students take a few weeks to complete an application. Your application will include your OAT score, transcripts, extracurriculars, personal statement, and letter of recommendation.

Secondary Applications

Most schools will require supplemental applications and additional fees. It is important to look into individual schools and follow their instructions carefully. Supplemental applications vary, but often require an additional essay. Some schools screen applicants before requesting supplemental materials, and some send out requests to everyone. This is a good time to prioritize applications. You are not obligated to complete a supplemental application.


Programs may invite you to interview with them. This often indicates you are an applicant of interest, and they want to get to know you better. Many optometry schools hold interview days, where they bring in a group of applicants for the whole day to participate in a variety of activities related to the program and your application. For more information, see the Interview Guide.

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