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Pre-Optometry Program: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology with a Concentration in Health Sciences

The pre-optometry program is an undergraduate educational track that prepares you to be a competitive candidate for admission to the optometry school of your choice after completing your bachelor's degree.

Optometrists are doctors who specialize in the human eye and related components of our visual systems. They diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and eye disorders. They perform annual eye examinations and prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, medications, and treatments.

Being an optometrist is a rewarding career that requires extensive knowledge, training, and experience. You'll help your patients care for and maintain one of our most important human senses—vision and sight.

The American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) reports that over half of the U.S. population wears glasses or content lenses and, as our population ages, the demand for optometric care will increase. As technologies continue to advance, you must have an interest in being a lifelong learner who stays current on the latest trends, treatments, and developments in the field.

To become an optometrist, you will complete several years of education and training. You'll start, of course, by going to college and working toward earning a bachelor's degree. During your junior and senior years, you will:

  • Prepare to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), a standardized exam that measures your general academic ability and how well you comprehend scientific information.
  • Research accredited optometry schools and apply for admission.

According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), there are 23 optometry schools in the United States, including the Indiana University School of Optometry. These schools offer a four-year doctoral level Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. 

Admission to optometry schools is competitive, with about 70 percent of those who apply for admission being accepted. Having a good GPA and related academic accomplishments combined with applying to multiple schools is the best way to ensure you'll be accepted.

After completing the OD degree requirements, you may complete a one-year residency program to get advanced clinical training if you want to specialize in fields like:

  • Family practice
  • Primary care
  • Geriatric optometry
  • Pediatric optometry
  • Vision therapy and rehabilitation
  • Ocular disease
  • Refractive and ocular surgery

If the benefits of being able to help people see and improve the quality of their lives is important to you, optometry is an excellent career.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the 2017 median pay for optometrists was $110,300.
  • The BLS employment outlook for optometrists through 2026 call for a projected 18 percent in demand, a growth rate that's much faster than average compared to other professions.

Why choose pre-optometry program at Marian?

Marian University's pre-optometry track is intentionally and specifically structured to increase your chances of gaining admission to the optometry schools of your choice. We've taken the guesswork out of preparing to apply to optometry school—which means you can focus on your academic success.

Some universities weigh their admission decisions on certain areas of your application and your academic preparation more heavily than others. 

1.  Completion of prerequisite coursework

  • Most optometry schools will not accept you if you have not completed required prerequisite courses.
  • At Marian, you will complete all required prerequisites by the end of your junior year and before you'll need to apply to optometry school.

2.  Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

  • In 2017, the average OAT scores of students admitted to optometry schools ranged from a low of 303 to a high of 358. We recommend that you strive for a score of at least 325. 
  • Our curriculum combines carefully curated general education requirements with maximum exposure to content, problem-solving skills, and critical analyses covered on the OAT. This approach will help you achieve the highest possible score.

3.  Grade Point Average (GPA)

  • In 2017, the average GPA of students admitted to optometry schools ranged from a low of 3.2 to a high of 3.7. We recommend you strive for a minimum 3.5 GPA.
  • Our curriculum is specifically sequenced to gradually challenge you at increasing levels of difficulty. Faculty and peer tutors will support and help you learn the knowledge and skills required to successfully master your coursework.

4.  Research experience

  • Marian's "research across the curriculum" model embeds authentic scientific research experience within our undergraduate core curriculum, enabling you to become familiar with the scientific process, develop the ability to critically read scientific and medical research, and contribute in a meaningful way to evidence-based health sciences.
  • At Marian, you will have opportunities to work side-by-side with faculty on research projects within the College of Arts and Sciences and/or the College of Osteopathic Medicine, presenting your work at on- and off-campus undergraduate research symposia and conferences.
  • By embedding research experience in your freshman and sophomore years, you'll also have more time to gain clinical experience during your junior and senior years.

5.  Clinical experience

  • In addition to research experience, candidates who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the field of optometry or, more generally, healthcare, through clinical experiences may be viewed more favorably by some schools if they must decide between two or more candidates for the same spot in their next class. 
  • Clinical experience will give you a good idea what it is really like to be a health care provider and to manage patient interactions, treatments, and other services.
  • Paid clinical experiences include part-time jobs or internships in healthcare, like working as a medical scribe or tech positions at local eye clinics.

6.  Letters of recommendation

  • By gaining research experience and working closely with Marian University faculty, you'll build the strong personal relationships that are needed for enthusiastic letters of recommendation, required by many schools as part of the application package.
  • Clinical experiences, whether paid or unpaid, also enables you to begin building a professional network and relationships that can yield strong letters of recommendation for your admission applications.

Internship Opportunities

For information about internships at places like the Indiana Eye Clinic or Cornea Research Foundation, you can talk with your faculty advisor as well as staff at The Exchange.

  • Read this blog post about how Marian's pre-professional students had a great experience last year at the Indiana Eye Clinic.

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Notice of Nondiscrimination
Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
*Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.

Students may make a complaint to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

Marian University is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana.

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