Optometric Medicine

“Doctors of optometry are the primary care doctors of the eye and the frontline protectors of vision—our most valued sense. As primary-care providers, doctors of optometry are educated, just as other physicians are, in general health and systemic disease. Optometrists are often the first to detect critical health issues—from diabetes to hypertension, from stroke to cancer—and refer their patients for timely treatment. Optometrists therefore enjoy the dual satisfaction of having the specialized knowledge to manage their patients’ eye health as well as the medical education to protect their overall wellness.” – Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry

  • Individual Private Practice
    The individual private practitioner usually is a primary care optometrist
    with a stand-alone practice. Such practitioners may specialize in fields
    such as:
    » Contact lenses,
    » Pediatrics,
    » Low vision/geriatrics, and
    » Vision therapy.
    An individual practice may be in a variety of settings and locations,
    ranging from a free-standing to a professional building.
  • Partnership or Group Practice
    This mode of practice is very similar to an individual practice except that
    there are two or more optometrists in the group. Each member of the
    group may specialize in a different area of practice. This is an increasingly
    popular form of practice.
  • Retail/Optical Settings
    In this setting, optometrists usually rent space from or are employed by a
    large retail outlet. However, they remain independent practitioners.
  • Optometric/Ophthalmologic Professional Settings
    The optometrist practices in conjunction with the ophthalmologist and
    comanages the patients in this setting.
  • Military/Public Health
    Optometrists are commissioned officers who work in a hospital or clinical
    setting with other health care practitioners.
  • Interdisciplinary Care
    The optometrist works with other health care practitioners in a
    hospital-based or clinic setting, such as in a Department of Veterans
    Affairs (VA) hospital, as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Academic/Research
    The OD teaches about primary care and/or performs research in a
    university setting. Academics pursue additional training after optometry
    school and have completed a residency, or a master of science or
    doctoral program.
  • Corporate/Industrial
    Optometrists are employed by large corporations to perform clinical
    research or to provide patient care in a clinic within the corporate setting.
  • Consultants
    Optometrists work as consultants to the ophthalmic industry, education,
    sports (high school to professional), and government.

Optometry Programs Admissions Directory

  • Free!
  • Updated each year
  • View detailed statistics for all US programs

Centralized Application Service

Personal Statement

  • Optometric Medicine (maximum length 4,500 characters)
    • Prompt: “Please describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals.”
      • Brainstorming: A well-crafted personal statement takes time. Begin by brainstorming ideas for your statement, thinking about what you would like to share with the admissions committees. Consult with mentors, friends and family on topics.
      • Outline: Look for themes within your list of brainstorm ideas. Choose a few points from your list that seem especially salient, and develop them into an outline of your essay.
      • Working Draft(s): Once you have written a draft, have people read it and give you honest feedback. Incorporate feedback and come back to it in a couple weeks and see if you still feel that it conveys the impression that you meant to give, and make necessary edits. Consider making an appointment with the Writing Center. Make sure that you have a developed draft on MAP, to review during your Application Readiness Meeting.
      • Resources:

Secondary Applications

  • Secondary applications may be included within the primary application or sent directly to applicants by a school’s admissions office. In most cases, you will receive secondary applications after your primary application has been verified by the application service (4-6 weeks after submission).
  • Schools have varying criteria for who they invite to submit a secondary application. Some schools will send them to every candidate who applies to their program. Others will send them only to applicants who meet their GPA and entrance exam score requirements. Some schools will select only candidates who they are very interested in for secondaries. Your application is not considered to be complete until you have submitted your secondary application.
  • Secondary applications are designed by individual programs to learn more about applicants. It is important to realize that secondary applications are both labor intensive and expensive. They typically require answers to essay questions and a fee. Set aside time and money in preparation for writing your essays and paying for submission. Returning your secondary applications within a week or two of receipt demonstrates your continued interest in that program. Waiting longer may hurt your application.
  • When you formulate your list of schools to which you plan to apply, take these secondary applications into account. Don’t apply to so many schools that you won’t have the time or money for secondary applications.

General Timeline

  • June/July of year prior to matriculation- OptomCas application opens
  • August/September – Applications start to be forwarded to optometry schools, supplemental application are sent to applicants
  • September through April of year of matriculation – Interview invitations are sent out on a rolling basis, acceptances are offered on a rolling basis
  • Late Spring  – Make final decision if holding multiple offers (follow OptomCAS traffic rules)
  • Summer – Start optometry program

Optometry Admission Test

  • The OAT is offered year-round
  • Should be taken by early Fall of the year of application

Optometry applicants can begin to prepare for their application cycle by participating in the PreMed and PreHealth Advising Application Readiness Program. This includes completing a self-assessment form through Qualtrics, which encourages applicants to reflect on academic and experiential preparation for their designated health profession program. After applicants complete their self-assessment, they will be invited to set up an Application Readiness Meeting (ARM). This 45-minute meeting will allow the applicant to meet with their advisor to discuss their self-assessment and plan for the upcoming application cycle. This will also be a great time to ask questions about the OptomCas application, OAT, and other elements of the application process.  

Please refer to the following timeline for important dates regarding the Applicant Readiness Program.  

Optometry APPLICATION READINESS TIMELINE*

January 31: Self-Assessment Due 

April 15: Deadline to complete required Application Readiness Meeting with your assigned PreMed/PreHealth Advisor

*To be completed in your application year

Individual Letter Processes

As Committee Letters are not a traditional piece of a optometry school application, those applying to optometry programs will apply with individual letters of recommendation. Please do not request individual letters through MAP. Instead, follow the instructions in the common application for your profession (OptomCas Letters of Evaluation), or the directions of the specific schools if they have a different application process.