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, the majority of students accepted into optometry schools have completed one. Students already having a degree and aiming for optometry school should concentrate on taking the courses that will best prepare them for taking the OAT (Optometry Admission Test).
Optometry school admission is on a competitive basis. Important factors considered by admission committees are grade point averages (GPA), OAT scores and letters of recommendation. Recent optometry school entering classes had an average GPA of 3.45.
OAT (Optometry Admission Test) exam:
The OAT exam tests reading comprehension and analytical skills. The test consists of four parts: natural sciences survey, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension and physics.
The minimum core of courses that are needed before the OAT is taken is:
Mathematics 126+127 (Precalculus) + Mathematics 141 (Calculus)
Chemistry 331+332 (Organic Chemistry)
Physics 201+202 OR Physics 211+212
Pre-Optometry students must start their math and chemistry sequences as soon as possible in order to take the OAT exam at the appropriate time. Students must have organic chemistry and physics completed by the end of the junior year, as the OAT exam should be taken the spring semester of the junior year (preferred) or the fall semester of the senior year. Developmental math students may need an additional year of preparation.
Pre-Optometry students should complete their applications no later than October of the year before they expect to enter optometry school. Completion of the application earlier is desirable.
Other Required or Recommended Courses:
In addition to the "minimum core of courses needed before the OAT is taken", courses that are also commonly required (or recommended) for admission to optometry schools are:
Biology 315 (Comparative Anatomy)
Biology 360 (Comparative Physiology)
Biology 330 (Microbiology)
Biology 581+583L (Biochemistry - recommended)
Statistics (Mathematics 102 or Psychology 225)
Psychology 101 (a second psychology course is sometimes required)
More information on optometrists can be found at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.