Pre-Optometry Programs & Courses

Undergraduate students who consider studying optometry have many options. This article looks at programs designed to prepare students for studies in optometry, as well as general programs that may fulfill optometry program admission requirements.

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Information about Pre-Optometry Programs and Courses

Postsecondary programs that are suitable as pre-optometry studies come in a variety of formats. It's possible to complete a pre-medicine certificate to qualify to pursue an associate's degree in pre-optometry, while other students may be eligible for direct admittance to an associate's degree program. These programs require students to transfer after earning the associate's degree and complete a bachelor's degree before pursuing optometry studies. Other students may complete a bachelor's degree. Students can opt to major in subjects as varied as biology and English and qualify for acceptance to an optometry program as long as they have fulfilled the optometry program's admission requirements.

Admission Requirements for Pre-Optometry Programs

Individuals in high school who are preparing to pursue pre-optometry programs should ensure that they have completed the mandated number of courses that colleges and universities require. This typically includes three courses in science and predetermined numbers of courses in other required subject areas. Colleges and universities also typically consider standardized test scores when reviewing applications. Once students are accepted to an institution they may be required to complete specific courses during their first year to qualify for the program of their choice. In some cases they may be expected to maintain a pre-set GPA in their studies or to complete a minimum number of courses each semester.

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Pre-Optometry Programs and Courses

Although there is a wide range of program options for pre-optometry students to consider, those who are planning to pursue a career in optometry will need to complete courses in science, mathematics, psychology and English.

Principles of Biology

How are cells structured? What is genetics and how does that impact a person's development? Introductory biology courses expose students to basic biological processes and information so that they can build on that base of knowledge through more advanced studies in biology. An introductory course in biology or human biology ensures students are familiar with the systems in the human body and how they work.


What are the theories used in calculus? What principles govern this branch of mathematics? How can calculus be practically applied? Students are introduced to concepts related to calculus, and some schools offer calculus courses that are tailored to science students so that they can learn about how calculus is used by scientists.

Introduction to Psychology

What makes one person different from another? Why do people behave the way that they do? An introduction to psychology exposes students to the principles that govern the practice of psychology and different psychological theories about how personalities develop, abnormal psychology and psychopathology. They will also explore ways to treat and diagnose psychological health issues and will be introduced to ethical issues related to psychology.


Students pursuing pre-optometry studies may be required to take courses in English composition or English literature studies. These introductory classes can help develop analytical skills through the assessment of literature and the structure of the works studied. Students may strengthen their writing skills by producing essays and reports related to their studies. Those who choose to major in a subject such as English may take more advanced English courses that explore themes in literature, creative writing and other topics.

Introduction to Chemistry

What is atomic theory? Why do gases behave the way that they do? Students learn about the principles of chemistry and different theories related to the field. They also learn about different chemicals and components of chemicals. Students will learn about organic chemistry and explore the relationship between chemistry and biological substances such as hormones.


What is a microorganism? What do microorganisms do and what is their relationship to health? What is it that scientists are examining when they use a microscope? Students begin to explore ways to test people for illnesses and methods to treat specific health conditions, such as using chemotherapy.

How to Choose a Program Suitable As Pre-Optometry

Due to the fact that it is possible to major in a wide range of subjects to qualify for optometry programs there are many options for pre-optometry students. In some cases, the school's location and nature of their class schedule may appeal to students who wish to live at home or need to be able to work during the day and take courses at night. Other students may want to consider which schools have a direct relationship with optometry programs. Some schools are designed to facilitate students transferring to optometry studies, and those schools may help students ensure that they fulfill optometry program admission requirements.

Career Options with a Degree Suitable for Pre-Optometry

After earning a suitable pre-optometry degree, graduates may continue their original pursuit to complete a 4-year Doctor of Optometry program and earn the required state licensing. Others may decide to explore other career options. Since it's common for students interested in optometry to study biology or chemistry, individuals who earned a related bachelor's degree may also consider entry-level positions as a biology technician, a wildlife biologist, a zoologist or an environmental scientist. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported expectations that zoologists and wildlife biologists would see an 8% job growth rate from 2016 to 2026, the BLS forecasts an 11% job growth rate for environmental scientists and specialists (including health) during the same ten-year period. While the BLS indicated that the 2016 median income for those environmental scientists and specialists was $68,910, the BLS reported zoologists and wildlife biologists took home a median annual income of $60,520 in the same year.

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