What is Pre-Optometry?

To be "pre-optometry" means you are embarking on a course of study aimed at preparing you for application to an optometry school. It is not a major.

What are the types of eye care professions?

Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians are the main types of eye care professions.

Optometrists, also known as doctors of optometry, or ODs, are the main providers of vision care. They examine people's eyes to diagnose vision problems, and ability to focus and coordinate the eyes. Optometrists may prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses, or they may provide other treatments, such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation.

An Ophthalmologist is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). As a medical doctor, an Ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery.

There are two types of opticians, dispensing opticians and manufacturing opticians. While the manufacturing opticians are involved in the actual process of making eyeglasses, contacts, and lenses for other purposes, the dispensing opticians help clients find the best eyeglasses or contacts to fit them and their lifestyles.

 What type of education is required?          

 An undergraduate degree followed by a four-year professional program.

 What should I major in at NDSU, if I want to go to optometry school?

 Please be aware that pre-optometry is not a major. The students are encouraged to select a major based on their area of interest. Most optometry schools seek applicants with a strong foundation in the natural sciences and have completed the pre-requisites for admission. 

Coursework required for most programs*

  • 1 year of General Biology - BIOL 150/L, BIOL 151/L
  • 1 year of General Chemistry - CHEM 121/L, CHEM 122/L
  • 1 semester of Organic Chemistry (minimum) - CHEM 341/L, CHEM 342/L
  • 1 year of General Physics - PHYS 211/L, PHYS 212/L
  • 1 year of English– ENGL 120+ Upper Division Writing course (ENGL 324)
  • 1 semester of Calculus –MATH 146
  • 1 semester of Statistics –STATS 330
  • 1 semester of Microbiology–MICR 350
  • 1 semester of Psychology–PSYC 111

Recommended courses        

  • 1 semester of Biochemistry–BIOC 460
  • 2 semester of Human Anatomy & Physiology - BIOL 220/L & 221/L
  • 1 semester of Immunology- MICR 460

* Although this coursework will meet the requirements for many schools, students should check for additional requirements of the schools to which they hope to apply. Most schools want the applicant to have completed the required courses prior to applying. Also, note that many schools will not accept AP credit in lieu of the required courses (even if accepted by NDSU). The student must then substitute advanced science courses from NDSU for the traditional requirements satisfied with AP credits.

 What do optometry schools look for in applicants?

  • ·         Cumulative GPA.
  • ·         Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)
  • ·         The personal statement and/or interview.
  • ·         Letters of recommendation.
  • ·         Motivation through experiences


Applicants should consider volunteering at a local hospital or eye clinic to gain practical experience in optometry. A well-rounded sampling of extra-curricular activities or work experiences, both related and unrelated to optometry, will help broaden an applicant's knowledge and development. A letter of recommendation from an optometrist is recommended.

Pre-optometry students are encouraged to participate in student organizations at NDSU such as the Pre-Med Club and American Medical Student Association and Allied Health (AMSA). These organizations are run by students with similar career goals and provide an opportunity for others to discuss career plans and gather details about the professions they are interested in.

The Application Process

Through the OptomCAS (Optometry Centralized Application Service), applicants may file one application and send it to multiple optometry programs. All 21 schools and colleges of optometry participate in this service


Here are some helpful websites to learn about the optometry field, the application process and more:

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