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Preparing for Admission to Optometry School
PreMedical and PreDental Advising
Prerequisite Courses Required by Optometry Schools

Most optometry schools require a minimum of

  • 8 credits of biology courses with accompanying laboratory courses
  • 4 credits of microbiology with an accompanying laboratory
  • 8 credits of inorganic/general chemistry with labs
  • 8 credits of organic chemistry with labs
  • 8 credits of physics with accompanying labs
  • 3–4 credits of calculus
  • 3–4 credits of statistics
  • 6 credits of English composition and/or literature courses
  • 3 credits of psychology

Admission requirements vary per school and it is a student’s responsibility to be knowledgeable about the nuances of each optometry school to which they plan to apply. Please refer to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry website which provides links to all of the optometry schools and their admission requirements. All prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of the Spring semester that precedes a student’s expected August matriculation into optometry school; although, the biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, and physics prerequisite courses must be completed before a student takes the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT).

A list of the UMBC equivalents of the prerequisite courses required by Salus University is linked below. It provides the general minimum requirements for most, but not all, optometry schools in the United States.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit for Science Prerequisites

Students frequently ask if they can use AP credit in lieu of taking the prerequisite courses for a grade and credit at UMBC. Pre-optometry students should not rely on AP credits to fulfill optometry school prerequisites. Not all optometry schools accept AP credit, particularly for the science prerequisite courses, even if UMBC accepts AP course credits for those same courses. Each optometry school has the final say if a student meets their admission requirements and every optometry school has different policies regarding AP credit. In order to prepare students to meet the requirements of as many institutions as possible, it is advisable that UMBC students complete the science prerequisite courses at the university-level for a grade and credit and not rely on AP credits to fulfill prerequisite coursework. This is particularly true for the chemistry and physics sequences. First-year students with AP credit in chemistry and physics are urged to begin science coursework at UMBC at the introductory level (with CHEM 101 and PHYS 11 1 or 121).

Slightly more flexibility exists if a situation arises where a student decides to use AP credit for BIOL 100 and BIOL 100 Lab. In such a circumstance, sometimes optometry schools will accept advanced biological sciences coursework at the intermediate level. In this instance, the student would then be required to complete either a 300 or 400 level biological science lecture course that has an accompanying laboratory, such as Cell Biology with lab or Comparative Animal Physiology with Lab. The student could then use BIOL 302 with Lab and either Cell Biology with Lab or Comparative Animal Physiology with Lab towards fulfillment of the minimal 8.0 credits of biological sciences, required by optometry schools. Again, UMBC cannot promise that all optometry schools will function in exactly the same manner and therefore, students are advised to proceed with caution when using AP credits towards fulfillment of the optometry school requirements. 

Also, CLEP (College Level Examination Program) course credit, long-distance or online courses are generally not accepted by optometry schools toward fulfillment of the prerequisite courses.

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit for Non-science Prerequisites

Each optometry school sets its own standards, but generally, most optometry schools are more accepting of AP credit for prerequisite courses in mathematics, English, and the humanities and social sciences than they are for the science prerequisites. For example, most optometry schools will accept AP credit toward fulfillment of MATH 151 or ENGL 100 as long as the AP credit appears on an official transcript from an undergraduate college or university. Students should verify each optometry school’s admissions policies prior to submitting an application.

Research Opportunities

At UMBC, there are many opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in research. Please visit the Office of Undergraduate Education’s Undergraduate Research website and UMBC’s Research and Scholarship website for instructions on how to get started with research not only at UMBC, but also at locations across the country.

The Baltimore-Washington, D.C. corridor also offers a plethora of undergraduate research opportunities at medical schools and government organizations. 

Some off-campus locations where students have completed undergraduate research include:

Extracurricular Involvement and Leadership

With over 200 campus organizations at UMBC, there is a club or organization for almost any interest area. Please visit the UMBC Office of Student Life website for more information.

Unite for Sight
Current UMBC students can get connected to the Unite for Sight organization by accessing the Office of Student Life website. In order to stay informed with optometry-related events, by default, pre-optometry students have always been encouraged to get connected to the PreMedical Society listserv, even though they are interested in optometry. To get onto the Society listserv, please visit Student Life’s linked directory above, retrieve the PreMedical Society information, and email one of the officers of the Society from your UMBC email account with a request that they add you to the listserv. This listserv provides weekly information about workshops, professional school visits, internship postings, walkin advising hours, advising appointment schedules, mandatory advising meetings, and much more.

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