Overview of the Profession

Course Requirements

View the School-Specific Prerequisites of all Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) member schools and colleges.

To see which UCLA courses satisfy the most common course requirements, refer to the UCLA Pre-Health Requirements Worksheet.

Meet with an academic advisor at UCLA for advice on course planning for optometry school.

Do I have to be a specific major to apply to optometry school?

A: NO. However, a major in biology or chemistry is often recommended for students interested in optometry careers.

Centralized Application System

OptomCAS is the Optometry Centralized Application Service. Through this service applicants may file one application and send it to multiple optometry programs. The schools and colleges of optometry will be able to process applications more efficiently. All schools and colleges of optometry participate in OptomCAS.  

Application Timeline

The Year Prior to Applying

  • Gather Letters of Recommendation.
  • Continue with your volunteer, work or research activities.  Seek out opportunities to develop your leadership skills by initiating new ideas, programs, and leading others toward a common goal.
  • Prepare for the OAT. Register and choose from approximately several dates but it is recommended you not take it later than each school’s OptomCAS deadline.
  • Attend relevant pre-health events including pre-health workshops, Information Sessions and the Health School Fair (April) to meet representatives from your schools of interest. Follow @PreHealthUCLA on Facebook and check Handshake for details.
  • Consult OptomCAS for each school’s prerequisites.  If you need help with your academic planning, meet with an academic advisor.
  • Order and collect official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended.
  • Write your personal statement.

Application Process

Summer

  • Should be taking the OAT or waiting for the release of your score from an earlier test. Taking earlier test dates can help avoid delays in your application.
  • Confirm deadline dates for OptomCAS and optometry schools.
  • OptomCAS application is available at the end of June. Begin to fill out application. Contact OptomCAS directly for specific questions.
  • Have letters of recommendation sent to OptomCAS.  OptomCAS accepts up to 4 letters.
  • OptomCAS verifies primary application.
  • Continue to work, volunteer, etc.
  • OptomCAS begins releasing application to schools in August.
  • Make an appointment at the Career Center for a Mock Interview.

Winter / Spring

  • Continue sending in applications according to institutional deadlines.
  • Complete each school’s supplemental applications by their specific deadline.
  • Schools send out interview invitations and begin interviewing.
  • Admission decisions are made and applicants are informed by April.

Entrance Exam

The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) consists of a battery of four tests on the following: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Physics, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.

View the OAT guide, register for the test, access test preparation resources, and more here.

In the year prior to applying, identify a strategy to prepare for the OAT.  Take a practice test and look into other test preparation options.

Apply to take the OAT.

Letters of Recommendation

Programs have different requirements regarding LORs. Research each program you are planning to apply to individually before your start requesting letters.

While requirements differ for each program, most schools require a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation. (1) From a professor(s) who knows you and your work very well. (2) From an optometrist(s) who can vouch for your knowledge of the profession. (3) From an employer who can speak on behalf of your worth ethic.

Please note that UCLA does not write committee letters.

OptomCAS accepts applicants’ letters of evaluation directly, however, some students choose to use an external letter service instead (such as, but not limited to, Interfolio Dossier).

For additional guidance and UCLA resources for asking for letters of recommendation, visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website.

Personal Statement

For guidance and UCLA resources for writing a personal statement, please visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website

Choosing Schools & Programs

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s (ASCO) Optometry Programs Admissions Directory allows you to find in-depth information about every optometry school’s program and admissions process including admission requirements, deadlines, deposits, application process, profile of students (age, GPA, OAT scores) and more.

Deciding which optometry schools to apply to and attend is a complex and highly individualized process. Visit the Prepare to Apply section of this website for considerations that may help you with these decisions.

Gain Experience

Optometry schools encourage or require applicants to have volunteer or paid experience related to optometry. Having work or volunteer experience in a healthcare and/or optometry setting may be an important factor in the admissions process. If you don’t have work or volunteer experience related to optometry, you may want to contact your selected schools’ admission offices to determine what other experiences they might accept that will adequately demonstrate your knowledge of and commitment to the profession.

Shadowing:

While not all schools require a certain amount of shadowing hours, they do require the experiences and exposure to the field. If you are considering optometry school, you need to find out if this is the profession for you. Take advantage of the shadowing opportunity as a way to experience the profession, and discover how you can contribute to such an amazing health care profession. Also, it is not uncommon to shadow both an optometrist and ophthalmologist so that you can articulate for yourself (and later to the interviewer) why optometry and not ophthalmology.  See Gain Experience for additional guidance finding shadowing opportunities.

Optometry Related Student Organizations at UCLA:

Volunteer/Work Opportunities:

Visit the Gain Experience page of this website for more ideas on how to gain clinical, research, leadership, community service, and/or shadowing experience that can help you clarify your goals, develop your skills, and demonstrate your commitment to healthcare.

Helpful Websites