Optometrists evaluate a patient's overall vision health as well as examine, diagnose and treat patients for any conditions affecting vision. This includes prescribing corrective lenses such as glasses and contacts. An Optometrist is different from an opthalmologist, who is a medical specialist who focuses on diseases of the eye and is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. 

Optometry Fact Sheet

EXPLORE Optometry

PREPARE for Optometry School

Confirm your interest in optometry, prepare academically and develop the necessary skills and experience.

Academic Pre-Requisites

Identify School Pre-Requisites pdf and the UCSD classes you can take to meet them. This is a general guideline. Please check individual schools for their specific pre-requisites:

  • Biology + 4 unit lab (BILD 1, 2, 3)
  • General Chemistry+lab (Chem 6ABC, 7L)
  • Organic Chemistry (40ABC) 
  • Biochemistry (BIBC 100 or 102)
  • Anatomy + lab (take at Extension or community college)
  • Physiology + lab (BILD 26, BIPN 100, or BIPN 102). *take human physio lab at a community college
  • Microbiology + lab (BIMM 120, BIMM 121 - lab). *BILD 1, BIBC 100 or 102 (Biochemistry)is a pre-req 
  • Psychology
  • English Composition
  • Statistics (Math 11, Psych 60,etc.)



Click to learn more about gaining experience - clinical, service, leadership, and research.

APPLY to Optometry School

You apply to Optometry school in the summer, one year before you want to start the program. Identify programs that match your skills and interests and complete an application.  Some steps take more time to complete than others, so plan ahead!

Schools & Programs



  • OptomCAS: the application service that compiles your transcripts, letters, essay, and activities
  • Submit supplemental applications from individual schools when required

Personal Essay

  • What inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist?
  • 4500 characters


Click here for more info and resources on your personal essay, interview tips, letters of evaluation and taking a gap year.

Student Organizations