Department: Pre-Professional Programs

The USC Upstate Pre-Optometry program is an advisement track within the biology degree program. Although optometry schools do not generally require a bachelor’s degree, very few students enter without completing one. Students already having a degree and aiming for optometry school should concentrate on taking the specific courses that will best prepare them for taking the Optometry Admission Test (OAT).

Optometry school admission is on a competitive basis. Important factors considered by admission committees are grade point averages (GPA), OAT scores, letters of recommendation, service activities and health-related experiences.

Applications to most optometry schools are coordinated through a central service (Optometry College Application Service or OptomCAS). Students should complete their applications to medical schools no later than October of the year before they expect to enter optometry school.

Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program. All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States and the University of Waterloo, Canada require the OAT.

The OAT exam consists of four sections:
1) Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry)
2) Reading Comprehension
3) Physics
4) Quantitative Reasoning.

The minimum core of courses that are needed before the OAT is taken is:
English 101+102
Mathematics 141 (Calculus) 
Mathematics 102 or Psychology 225 (Statistics)
Biology 101+102 (General Biology)
Biology 330 (Microbiology)
Biology 581 / Chemistry 581 (Biochemistry) 
Chemistry 111+112 (General Chemistry)
Chemistry 331 (Organic Chemistry)
Physics 201+202 or Physics 211+212
Psychology 101

Additional coursework in biology, biochemistry, psychology and sociology are strongly recommended prior to taking the OAT.

Two schools (Southern College of Optometry and the University of Alabama-Birmingham) hold seats specifically for South Carolina residents.

More information on optometrists can be found at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.