The 20 Best Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) Graduate Schools in 2022

Best Doctor of Optometry) Graduate Schools - featured image

Optometrists are in high demand partly because vision impairment and disability are among the top 10 disabilities among adults in the U.S. Sight is widely considered the most important sense and, thus, the maintenance of healthy vision is vital to good quality of life.

But even among healthy individuals, the optometrist’s valuable services cannot be overemphasized… and, even more so as they successfully earn their doctorate from the Best Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) Graduate Schools! 

With optometry being part of the medical field, practitioners must undergo comprehensive medical education and technical training. Aspiring optometrists must first earn a bachelor’s degree and then pursue a professional doctorate, known as Doctor of Optometry (O.D.).

With its didactic coursework and clinical laboratories, the O.D. program typically lasts for four years, usually followed by a one-year residency in a specialization like vision therapy or vision rehabilitation. Think of it as a shorter stint in medical school since non-vision education isn’t included in the curriculum. 

Best Doctor of Optometry Graduate Schools - fact

METHODOLOGY

All institutions featured here have programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), the only agency authorized for this purpose by the CHEA and USDE. Master’s degree and other level students at these colleges and universities are then eligible for federal financial aid. 

Other factors considered in the ranking are: 

  • Selective admission criteria and processes are adopted with applicants considered based on their exceptional academic and non-academic performance, 
  • A well-known reputation for academic excellence among the colleges, as well as a long-time track record for its graduates completing the degree on time and passing the national licensure exam, 
  • A roster of faculty members with suitable credentials and other professional traits like accessibility to students for mentorship or coaching, 
  • A wide range of satisfactory student support services from enrollment to academic advising, financial aid and research

20 BEST DOCTOR OF MEDICINE GRADUATE SCHOOLS

Southern College of Optometry

Southern College of Optometry

: 1245 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
: (901) 722-3200

Doctor of Optometry 

When combined with the professional success of its alumni, SCO’s academic excellence makes it the best optometry school, in our opinion. With nearly a century of rich history, it has produced 13 Presidents of the American Optometric Association so far! 

  • Students enjoy exceptional didactic and clinical education, state-of-the-art facilities, and a low faculty-student (1:9) ratio. 
  • Concentration options include primary care optometry, community health optometry, and refractive and ocular surgery. Students choose their concentration during their residency.  
  • SCO has a rolling admissions policy with applicants requested to submit their OptomCAS Application, OAT scores, and supporting documents. 
  • Acceptance is determined by an early and appropriate application, undergraduate academic record, and optometric experience and etiquette. 
  • Applicants should have completed 90 semester hours (at the minimum) in an undergraduate program with 30 semester hours in a four-year institution. Prerequisites include English composition, general psychology, calculus and general zoology/biology with labs.

Standout Features: SCO has the highest passing rate on the NBEO exam – 100% in two of the last three years – and it’s proof of its on-point and on-trend program of study. 

Did you know?

First-year students participate in the white coat ceremony as a formal welcome into the optometry profession on their first day. This is also a demonstration of their commitment to excellent patient care from their first day in the profession. 

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Illinois College of Optometry

Illinois College of Optometry

: 3241 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
: (312) 949-7400

Doctor of Optometry 

ICO students train in the spacious college complex equipped with a state-of-the-art lecture center, eye care clinic, and learning sites with clinical equipment.

This is the country’s largest optometry school, which offers students hands-on clinical experiences via direct patient care for a diverse population. Students also live in on-site student housing and enjoy membership in various student-led organizations. 

  • Admissions are decided on a holistic basis, with overall GPA and OAT scores considered in addition to personal motivation and suitability for optometry. 
  • The four-year curriculum consists of basic vision science, ocular disease, patient care education, primary optometric, and specialty optometric courses. Classroom lectures are combined with laboratory sessions in most courses aside from hands-on experience with direct patient care. Management courses are included in the program, too. 
  • Both resident and non-resident students enjoy the same in-state tuition and access to a wide range of financial aid options.  

Standout Features: 

Students start their optometry practice with direct patient care in their first year, with limited responsibility. But their responsibilities increase in scope with each semester, with their fourth year characterized by four clinical externships.

Did you know?

ICO was founded in 1941, the oldest continually operating institution exclusively dedicated to optometry education. 

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University of California Berkeley Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science

University of California Berkeley Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science

: Minor Hall, 380 Minor Ln, Berkeley, California
: (510) 642-2020

Doctor of Optometry 

UC Berkeley’s O.D. program consists of four years of didactic and clinical training followed by a one-year residency program with a choice in concentrations. These concentrations are primary care, contact lenses, ocular disease, binocular vision, low vision, and pediatrics.

The curriculum is continuously updated based on the latest developments in the eye care industry.

  • First-year students are trained in the clinical aspects of optometry through a series of courses that increase their skills, from basic case history gathering to advanced exam techniques. Their didactic coursework includes basic math and science courses relevant to optometry. 
  • By their third year, students spend half of their time in the classroom and half in the clinic. Fourth-year students mostly spend their time completing clinical activities. 
  • Every graduating student has experienced over 2,500 direct patient interactions, on average, and gained not only competent skills but professional confidence, too. 

Standout Features: The graduation rate is highest at 93% for the 2016 batch! UC Berkeley graduates also have high NBEO passing rates – 96.9% for the 2021 exam -, and it’s a testament to its success and student quality. 

Did you know?

There’s a book that provides a fascinating look into UC Berkeley’s foray into optometry – it’s John Fiorillo’s Berkeley Optometry—A History. 

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SUNY College of Optometry

SUNY College of Optometry

: 33 West 42nd St., New York, New York
: (212) 938-4000

Doctor of Optometry 

Student diversity at SUNY’s College of Optometry is partly due to its affordable tuition and no-discrimination admission policy for in-state and out-of-state students. Students flock to SUNY, too, because of its reputation for academic rigor and excellence. 

  • Basic vision science courses are combined with other basic sciences and math courses as the foundation of clinical training. Students must develop their higher faculty skills to keep up with the academic rigor and clinical care. 
  • Patient care starts during the first year and continues until the fourth year of matriculation, with increasing responsibilities every year. Clinical training occurs at the University Eye Center while fourth-year externships are in various sites in and out of the country. 
  • Both quantifiable (e.g., undergraduate GPA and OAT scores) and non-quantifiable (e.g., type of degree, extracurricular activities, and personal traits) are considered in the admission process. 
  • Residency specialties include Cornea and Contact Lenses, Primary Eye Care, and Low Vision Rehabilitation. 

Standout Features: 

The five-year average pass rate for the NBEO exam is an impressive 97%! SUNY also offers a combined residency and graduate degree program where students earn either an M.S. or Ph.D. in Vision Science alongside their O.D. degree. 

Did you know?

SUNY participates in the Varilux Optometry Superbowl and even won it in 2007. 

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Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry

Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry

: 19555 N 59th Ave., Glendale, Arizona
: (623) 572-3200

Doctor of Optometry 

Every August, MWU admits only 60 students to its world-class O.D. program at AZCOPT. The four-year program limits its student cohort to ensure academic quality, provide one-on-one student support, and maintain its standing. 

  • First- and second-year students build a strong foundation in basic health and visual sciences while also being introduced to clinical practice. The latter is achieved through introductory didactic courses and simulation laboratories. 
  • Third-year students spend their time between didactic coursework and clinical settings in the classroom. The emphasis is on diagnosing, treating, and managing vision disease and disorders. 
  • Fourth-year students engage in intensive clinical training, including externship rotations in on- and off-campus facilities, including V.A. and military hospitals. 
  • Business management courses relevant to optometry are also in the curriculum.
  • Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree, complete prerequisite courses with a “C” grade, and earn at least a 2.75 cumulative undergraduate GPA. 
  • OAT scores and two letters of recommendation are required for admission purposes. 

Standout Features: Students get hands-on patient care experience at the MWU Eye Institute aside from the off-campus externships. 

Did you know?

MWU’s Glendale Campus and Clinics have multiple awards, including the WESTMARC Quality of Life Enhancement in Education Award and Economic Engine Award. 

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University of Alabama at Birmingham – School of Optometry

University of Alabama at Birmingham - School of Optometry

: 1716 University Blvd, Birmingham, Alabama
: (205) 934-3036

Doctor of Optometry

The UAB School of Optometry trains its students to become leaders in providing compassionate, competent, and comprehensive eye care.

The importance of both didactic coursework and clinical training is emphasized to become skilled professionals at the end of the four-year program. 

  • Small class sizes, usually just 50 students per class, ensure exceptional academic quality and access to student support services. 
  • Students have a wide range of research opportunities in addition to their up-to-date clinical training in vision science and optometry. 
  • The program of study builds a strong foundation in basic and vision sciences alongside basic patient care responsibilities during the first two years. As students progress in the program, their patient care responsibilities increase through on- and off-campus clinical rotations. Fourth-year students spend most of their time gaining diverse clinical experiences, too. 
  • While there’s no specific undergraduate major required for admission, applicants must complete math, science, and English prerequisite courses before matriculation. The OAT score, academic transcripts and letters of recommendation are also required.  

Standout Features: Students engage in community outreach programs that provide eye-related health services to more than 25,000 patients every year. 

Did you know?

UAB has an elephant, Big Al, as its mascot, the only major university to adopt the animal for this purpose. 

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Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry

Nova Southeastern University

: 3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
: (800) 541-6682

Doctor of Optometry 

Students say that the abundance of opportunities to make meaningful improvements in patients’ lives is their foremost reason for their choice. Direct patient engagements occur at the five locations of the Eye Care Institute and other externship sites. 

  • First-year students tackle courses in basic biological sciences, including microbiology, anatomy and physiology. Classroom lectures alongside clinical and laboratory instruction. 
  • In their second year, students move on to advanced topics like psychophysics, ocular physiology and binocular vision, followed by a summer spent at the Eye Care Institute for patient care activities. 
  • Third-year students tackle topics in clinical medicine and ocular diseases. There’s also a two-semester period spent on basic business and management courses. 
  • Students engage in extensive training in specialty clinical rotations, secondary-tertiary eye care, and other clinical practice activities during their fourth year. 
  • Applicants must have completed a related undergraduate program with at least 90 semester hours, with acceptable OAT scores and letters of evaluation. 

Standout Features: NSUCO residents find rewarding programs in and out of the country, and earn as much as $38,000 per year plus benefits while at it, too. Their alumni also have high passing rates at the NBEO exam, proving the program’s efficacy. 

Did you know?

NSU Sharks look forward to the Sharkapalooza, part of the University’s Week of Welcome. 

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Ohio State University College of Optometry

Ohio State University College of Optometry

: 338 West 10th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio
: 614-292-2647

Doctor of Optometry 

Ohio State offers a highly selective O.D. program with a 10-semester program designed for completion in four years. The cutting-edge curriculum is updated with the latest research and development in optometry and related fields. 

  • Students gain direct patient care experiences in their first year. As they progress in the program, their total patient interactions can reach 1,800 through school screenings, clinical rotations, and case reviews. 
  • Faculty members guide students in gaining vital knowledge and skills in primary eye care and sub-specialty areas like advanced ocular care, pediatrics and low vision rehabilitation. 
  • Management courses, including business planning and management, are crucial in developing leadership skills among students. The I-CE Leadership Competency Model is also designed for students to achieve their career goals. 
  • Fourth-year students participate in three 17-week clinical rotations in and out of Ohio. Students train full-time at a V.A. optometry clinic and choose a specialization during their advanced practice internship. 

Standout Features: Out-of-state students pay in-state tuition and a $5 non-resident fee per semester starting on their second year. All students thrive under a supportive, academically competitive environment with small class sizes, personal coaching, and a practice-based curriculum. 

Did you know?

Students get their Pocket Buckeye during their first year. 

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Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

: 179 Longwood Ave, Boston, Massachusetts
: (617) 732-2850

Doctor of Optometry 

Students must be enrolled full-time in MCPHS’s four-year O.D. program, including the summer terms. Graduates are equipped with professional skill sets in practicing and promoting optometry in clinical settings. 

  • This is a 180-credit program with a cohort system. Students tackle basic health science courses during their first year alongside introductory courses in optometry theory, methods and health care. 
  • Students engage mostly in a 3-credit online clinical seminar and three 15-credit internship rotations during their fourth year, each lasting for 16 weeks. The final year is designed for a wide variety of direct patient care experiences and provides students with exposure to the specialties. 
  • Externship opportunities are available in more than 30 states and various settings, from hospitals and private clinics to military bases. 
  • MCPHS has a rolling admissions policy. Applicants must complete the OptomCAS application and possess an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA, minimum. Official transcripts, two letters of recommendation and OAT scores are required.  

Standout Features: Students can pursue the MPH degree along with the O.D. degree, and earning both means completing 210 credits. 

Did you know?

MCPHS is a multi-awarded institution with its most recent recognition being #4 on Money Magazine’s 2020 Most Transformative Colleges ranking. 

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The New England College of Optometry

: 424 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts
: (617) 266-2030

Doctor of Optometry

The four-year O.D. program is characterized by its academic rigor, varied clinical experiences, and excellent laboratory instruction. Students build strong relationships that contribute to their academic success and professional networks for career success. 

  • Students choose from three concentrations – low vision rehabilitation, cornea and contact lens, and pediatric optometry. These concentrations customize their degree, expand their expertise and contribute to their career.
  • Every year in the program has its specific learning objective, too, with its commonality being a strong emphasis on gaining professional competence. The comprehensive didactic coursework complements the 12-month clinical rotations and laboratory sessions. 
  • Year 1 builds the fundamental foundations in optometry and vision science, while Year 2 consists of courses that improve the depth and breadth of your understanding. Years 2 and 3 are dedicated to direct patient care, preparation for the NBEO exam, and completing externships. 
  • Student support services are among the best and include academic advising, tutoring, access to wellness resources, and housing assistance. 

Standout Features: ENCO offers an accelerated three-year O.D. program suitable for practicing physicians and scientists with a doctoral degrees. 

Did you know?

ENCO was founded by an ophthalmologist, Dr. August Andreas Klein, in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics. 

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Marshall B. Ketchum University Southern California College of Optometry

Marshall B. Ketchum University Southern California College of Optometry

: 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd., Fullerton, California
: (714) 449-7400

Doctor of Optometry 

SCCO’s four-year O.D. professional program prepares students in excellent contemporary vision care practice, a legacy of excellence started since its founding in 1904. Once licensed as optometrists, graduates become valuable members of primary healthcare institutions. 

  • First-year students are introduced to the basic sciences, visual sciences, and physical optics fundamentals. Intensive instruction in basic vision exam skills is also part of the curriculum at this stage. 
  • Sophomore students further develop their clinical skills, dive into advanced visual sciences, and get direct patient care experiences at Ketchum Health. 
  • Third-year students expand their patient care skills at Ketchum Health while taking didactic courses in vision therapy, clinical optometry and ocular pharmacology. 
  • Senior students spend most of their time in patient care-related tasks in various healthcare facilities, including Ketchum Health and the clinical outreach program. 
  • There’s a one-residency program with specializations in ocular disease, neuro-optometry and pediatric optometry, among others. 
  • Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with at least 90 semester credits. 

Standout Features: Optometry students work with pharmacy and P.A. students in an interprofessional education program at the Ketchum Health Center. 

Did you know?

SCCO was founded by Dr. Marshall B. Ketchum in 1904. It was in his honor that MBKU was named in 2013. 

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University of Missouri – Saint Louis College of Optometry 

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

: 1 University Blvd. 331 Marillac Hall, St. Louis, Missouri
: (314) 516-5606

Doctor of Optometry 

UMSL offers an outstanding four-year, full-time O.D. program with a comprehensive curriculum rooted in medical and optical sciences. Students learn to work as part of independent optometry practice and as members of an interprofessional team. There’s an emphasis on finding novel approaches and applying new treatments, too. 

  • With an average class size of 46-60 students, the 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio is possible. Students thrive under the personalized learning environment that contributes to their meaningful experiences. 
  • Students have more than 80 externship sites to choose from, many of which are out-of-state sites that enable them to develop their clinical and life skills. 
  • Students must demonstrate their entry-level professional competency in 10 areas before earning the O.D. degree. The domains include optometric knowledge, patient history and care, practice-based learning, systems-based practice, and interpersonal skills. 
  • Competency assessments are conducted through didactic examinations and evaluations of proficiency in clinical skills. 
  • Graduates may choose to participate in the residency programs and choose a concentration, either in Cornea & Contact Lenses or Pediatric Optometry. 

Standout Features: Students have numerous opportunities to advance the optometry profession through research. 

Did you know?

Mirthweek is an opportunity to unwind from the pressures of optometry school! 

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Indiana University Bloomington School of Optometry 

Indiana University Bloomington School of Optometry 

: 800 Atwater Ave, Bloomington, Indiana
: (812) 855-4447

Doctor of Optometry

I.U. Bloomington’s four-year O.D. program covers all the bases, from didactic knowledge to vision science and optometry clinical skills.

Students also get every chance to expand the depth and breadth of their skill sets, such as through an Integrative Optometry course. Here, they solve clinical issues in optics, ocular biology, and vision science under the guidance of faculty members. 

  • Students must participate in interprofessional education sessions designed to improve their skills in collaborative clinical situations. High standards in patient care and professionalism are expected. 
  • On their first day, students work on interdisciplinary cases involving optics, genetics, and vision science issues. 
  • Students gain their clinical skills through classroom lectures and hands-on experiences. In just 20 months, they participate in patient care, from diagnosis and treatment to post-operative management. 
  • Students complete four 12-week externships in various healthcare settings during their fourth year. I.U. Bloomington maintains over 40 externship sites in and out of Indiana. 
  • Post-graduate residences are also offered. 

Standout Features: I.U. offers a four-year, full-tuition scholarship for high-performing O.D. students who also want to pursue an M.S. in Vision Science degree. 

Did you know?

The Little Five is known as “the greatest college weekend,” and it’s for a cause, too! Proceeds of the bike race are donated to a scholarship fund. 

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University of Houston College of Optometry 

University of Houston College of Optometry

: 4901 Calhoun Rd Houston, Texas
: (713) 743-2020

Doctor of Optometry 

Individuals with personal qualifications and the intense drive to become an optometrist are welcome to apply to U.H.’s O.D. program, a four-year rigorous program. But only about 100 students are admitted every year, and admission is only during the fall semester. 

  • The program consists of four academic years, including two summer terms. The coursework builds on the students’ existing knowledge and skills such that their preparation enables them to seek licensure and practice as optometrists. 
  • To obtain a professional degree, students earn 177 semester credit hours of didactic coursework and clinical experience. Their program of study includes exams and quizzes on theory, skills proficiency exams, clinical patient care, and externships. 
  • Every graduate has completed about 1,500 hours of direct patient interactions in various areas, including low vision, family practice and contact lenses. 
  • Third-year students participate in advanced courses and laboratory work concerning pediatric and geriatric vision issues, among other topics.
  • Fourth-year students complete three terms, with two terms exclusively devoted to externships and the other term in clinical practice and advanced seminars. 

Standout Features: Residency programs are also offered with Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas in Texas and Denver, Colorado, as well as Phoenix, Arizona. 

Did you know?

U.H. transforms an area in its campus into Fiesta City in celebration of Frontier Fiesta. 

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University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry

University of Pikeville

: 147 Sycamore Street, Pikeville, Kentucky
: (606) 218-5250

Doctor of Optometry

KYCO’s O.D. program is designed with the ever-changing field of optometry in mind, thus, its emphasis on educational and clinical innovations. Students must keep up with the rigorous curriculum that reflects the current optometry trends, particularly in technological advances. 

  • Students thrive under their personalized mentoring combined with world-class instruction in modern classrooms and laboratories with an exceptional faculty. Student support services include academic advising and other intervention services. 
  • Students are encouraged to develop their critical thinking skills, professional curiosity and love for lifelong learning. Both professional and cultural competencies are valued among students. 
  • Applicant assessments are conducted based on academic performance, including GPA and OAT scores. In addition, non-academic qualifications like extracurricular activities, letters of evaluation, and communication skills are considered. Your letters of evaluation and personal statement will significantly impact your admission. 
  • At least 90 credits, or three years of undergraduate studies, will be sufficient qualifications to apply for admission, but a four-year bachelor’s degree is recommended.  
  • Acceptance is competitive, with only 60 students admitted every year. 
  • The one-year residency program enables residents to engage in the specialty care, research and education of optometry. 

Standout Features:  All textbooks, equipment, and technology are free to all students. 

Did you know?

KYCO is the only optometry-dedicated college in Kentucky. 

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University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg – School of Optometry

University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg - School of Optometry

: 4301 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas
: (210) 829-6000

Doctor of Optometry 

UIW’s Rosenberg School of Optometry is distinguished not just by its record of academic excellence but also by its status as the country’s only optometry school within a Christian faith-based university.

While the four-year curriculum has strong Christian values, students learn based on the contemporary medical model. 

  • Students earn at least 206.5 credits to earn the O.D. degree. 
  • Classroom lectures are integrated with clinical training, including direct patient interactions that provide students with critical early exposure to clinical practices. Hands-on patient care experiences are made through clinical internships and externships in national and international sites, as well as community outreach programs. 
  • Students earn their stripes through grand rounds, case-based seminars and problem-based education, too. Aside from traditional learning methods, technology-based methods are also used. These include digital libraries, web-based learning and video conferencing and podcasts. 
  • First-year students tackle didactic courses and clinical training during their first semester and continue with it until their fourth year. As they progress in the program, their clinical training intensifies until they are suitable for entry-level optometrist positions. 

Standout Features: Students can apply to the Summer Fellowship Training Program and the Inter-Professional Education (IPE) Program to expand their skill sets. 

Did you know?

First-year students can buy customized jerseys and participate in the Flight of the Cardinals. 

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Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry

Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry

: 8360 Old York Rd, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
: (215) 780-1400

Doctor of Optometry 

PCO’s traditional O.D. program accepts students as a cohort and, thus, enables students to learn as a group, although independent learning is a must, too. Students enjoy a good life-studies balance with semester breaks, small group learning and student support services. 

  • The program offers various ways of enhancing the student experience, including elective courses and advanced studies for students and a residency program for graduates. Specializations are also offered. 
  • There are three distinct tracks in the O.D. curriculum – Ocular Immunology and Microbiology, Anterior Segment Disease, and Ocular Pharmacology. 
  • Students participate in comprehensive patient management tasks at The Eye Institute as early as their first year. Their sophomore year sees them engaging in a series of externships over 15 months. Graduates typically have 3,000 hours of clinical training in several areas of optometry. 
  • Applicants must possess at least 90 undergraduate semester hours and complete the prerequisite courses. OAT scores are accepted, as are alternate exams like MCAT or GRE. At least 25 hours of shadowing an optometrist is a must. 

Standout Features: PCO also offers an Accelerated Scholars Program for its O.D. degree along with the traditional program. Both have the same academic requirements, but the accelerated program can be completed in three years. 

Did you know?

The Latin word from which Salus University’s name is derived means “health and well-being,” and the name change happened on July 1, 2008. 

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Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry 

Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry

: 1001 N Grand Ave, Tahlequah, Oklahoma
: (918) 444-4006

Doctor of Optometry

NSU’s O.D. program features four years of comprehensive didactic coursework complemented by intensive clinical training in various healthcare settings.

Students learn crucial clinical skills in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of eye diseases and working with fellow healthcare professionals. 

  • Students earn 172 credit hours consisting of didactic coursework and clinical hours. There’s a distinctive progression from introductory courses to advanced clinical skills, too. 
  • First-year students learn the basic vision and optic sciences, including optometric clinical methods. Their second year sees them learning advanced topics until their fourth year. During the final year, case studies and clinical practice are part of the student experience. 
  • With a strong partnership between NSU and the Cherokee Nation, O.D. students make meaningful service-based contributions to underserved communities. Internship experiences are at the NSUOCO Clinics, Cherokee Nation Clinics and Walls Vision Center.
  • Applicants must have spent a minimum of 30 hours shadowing an optometrist. At least one letter of recommendation from an optometrist is recommended.  

Standout Features: This is a competitive program with only 28 students accepted every year. 

Did you know?

NSU has several notable landmarks, including the Sequoyah bronze sculpture and Seminary Hall’s clock tower. 

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Pacific University College of Optometry 

Pacific University - Oregon

: 2043 College Way, Forest Grove, Oregon
: (503) 352-6151

Doctor of Optometry

Pacific University’s four-year O.D. program acknowledges the importance of eye and vision health in every individual’s quality of life. Thus, its curriculum, including its sequence and delivery, is founded on exceptional patient care and management. 

  • Clinic work is integrated with didactic and laboratory coursework throughout the curriculum. But senior students devote all of their time to four clinical rotations. 
  • Students are deployed to more than 120 national and international sites for their clinical rotations. This means clinical exposure to a wide range of patient populations and, thus, clinical experiences. 
  • Active learning is highly encouraged since it’s proven to retain learning materials more effectively and develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. 
  • Applicants must submit a verified OptomCAS application with supporting documents, including letters of evaluation, valid OAT/GRE scores, and proof of a bachelor’s degree and completion of prerequisites. 
  • At least 10 hours of shadowing an optometrist are recommended since it will be considered during admission. 
  • Academic performance is equally considered with non-quantifiable factors, including letters of recommendation, essay responses, and motivation for success in optometry. Extracurricular activities and community service are also important. 

Standout Features: Students have opportunities to expand their optometry-related skillsets through an elective research thesis, on-campus conferences, and other professional development options. 

Did you know?

New students participate in the Sign, Shake and Ring tradition, dating back to the early 1880s.

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Ferris State University Michigan College of Optometry 

Ferris State University Michigan College of Optometry

: 1201 S. State Street, Big Rapids, Michigan
: (231) 591-2000

Doctor of Optometry 

MCO’s curriculum ensures that students build a robust foundation of theory and practice that will prove useful in their future optometry practice. Students work with experienced faculty members and their peers in their professional and personal development. 

  • This is a four-year professional program designed to produce qualified optometrists with a capacity for leadership and innovation in the industry. Laboratory sessions and hands-on clinical experiences strengthen classroom learning. 
  • Students serve in an on-campus clinic and off-campus sites, including V.A. facilities, hospitals and outpatient clinics. The full-scope experience means that students increase the depth and breadth of their proficiency with each semester. 
  • MCO hosts the University Eye Center, where students gain patient care experiences and modern classrooms, research labs, and pre-clinical practice facilities. Other facilities are low vision rehabilitation and pediatric optometry spaces, a visual aids dispensary, and a wellness clinic run as a partnership with the nursing and pharmacy programs. 
  • Applicants must have completed at least 90 semester hours, or three years, of undergraduate work before admission. Additional courses will be required of applicants without a bachelor’s degree. 

Standout Features: Small class sizes (1:2 faculty-student ratio) ensure that students learn the theories and gain the skills vital for their chosen profession. But the rigorous curriculum also encourages a competitive spirit among students. 

Did you know?

FSU is the only public university in the country founded by an individual! From the start of its founding, it has accepted female students, an uncommon policy at the time.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are the typical duties of optometrists? 

Their typical duties include: 

  • Promote vision health through education and counseling of patients and their caregivers 
  • Perform vision tests on patients and analyze their results 
  • Make an accurate diagnosis of sight issues and eye diseases 
  • Prescribe visual aids like eyeglasses and contact lenses 
  • Recommend or prescribe medications, if allowed under state law 
  • Provide vision treatments and therapies 
  • Perform minor surgical operations and provide pre-operative and post-operative care 
  • Work with patients and other healthcare professionals in the management of diseases with impact on vision 
What are the places of employment among optometrists? 

About 50% of optometrists work in outpatient optometrists’ clinics, while an equal number (about 15% each) work in physicians’ offices and own their private practice. Many also work in health and personal care stores, usually selling vision aids.

Many optometrists also perform research activities in optometry institutions, work as professors, and provide consultancy services in the eyecare industry. 

Most of these professionals work full time, usually the 9-5 schedule during the weekdays. But working during evenings and weekends is also possible. 

What are the steps toward becoming an optometrist? 

Keep in mind that an O.D. degree is a professional degree. Earning one takes an estimated ten years of hard work and dedication. 

  • Earn an undergraduate degree, preferably with an emphasis in science, although it isn’t mandatory. The typical optometry curriculum focuses on science subjects, such as biology and chemistry. 
  • Earn a satisfactory to excellent undergraduate cumulative GPA. Most, if not all, of the best optometry colleges have competitive or selective admissions policies, with GPA being one of their main criteria. 
  • Shadow one or two optometrists, if possible, to get an inside look at the profession and to boost your chances of admission into optometry school. 
  • Get a good grade on the Optometry Admission Exam (OAE), a mandatory exam for aspiring optometrists. 
  • Get accepted and enroll in an accredited optometry school with student support services, campus environment and cost of attendance, among other factors, according to your needs. There are 23 accredited schools in the U.S. and one in Puerto Rico, according to CHEA. 
  • Comply with the academic and clinical requirements of your chosen four-year optometry program. The curriculum includes courses in basic anatomy and physiology during the first year. These courses are followed by three years of clinical skills, including diagnosis, treatment and management of eye health. 
  • Consider undergoing a one-year clinical residency after earning your O.D. degree. While it isn’t mandatory, it’s crucial for professional credibility and development, particularly specialization. 
  • Ace the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) licensure exam. The multi-part exam is a state requirement for a professional optometry license in all states. Many states also require other exams and requirements to supplement the national licensure exam. 
  • Secure a license to practice optometry with information about its requirements provided by your state’s board of optometry. 

Optometrists must also maintain their professional licenses like doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. The requirements typically include continuing education through courses, workshops, and seminars.

Optometrists may also secure board certification from the American Board of Optometry, an optional certification that may boost your credibility and marketability. 

What are the most important qualities of optometrists? 

Due to the wide range of people that optometrists deal with during their workday, from patients to fellow healthcare professionals, they must possess the following qualities: 

  • Effective decision-making skills that allow them to perform their duties  
  • Ability to look at the larger picture while also being detail-oriented, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of patients’ conditions 
  • Interpersonal skills include effective communication and compassion when dealing with patients and their caregivers. Professionalism toward other healthcare professionals and stakeholders is just as important.  

Optometrists must also be updated about the latest developments in their field. 

What’s the pay and job outlook for optometrists? 

Being an optometrist is a rewarding profession and not only because you have the opportunity to provide quality medical services to patients!

Optometrists are also among the higher-paid professionals in the healthcare industry, with a median annual wage of $118,050 (May 2020). Work experience, continuing education, and a good track record are factors in career development. 

The projected employment for optometrists is 9% (2020-2030), meaning there are an estimated 1,700 job openings every year for the next ten years. With an aging population combined with the inclusion of preventive eye health coverage in nearly all health plans, optometrists will remain in high demand, too. 

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor