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Thinking About Optometry School?
Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.
--Definition from Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
KU students can take classes and get health care experience to meet entry requirements to graduate-level Optometry programs at other colleges and universities.
Optometry School at a Glance
Track or Major?
PreOptometry is a track made up of pre-requisite courses you complete along with a major of your choice. This prepares you for admission into a Doctor of Optometry graduate school.
- track hours to complete: 51-64
- time to compete: While it’s possible to enter some optometry schools after 2 years of entry requirements, over 90% of candidates complete a 4-year degree, including a major, before going on to 4 years of Doctor of Optometry schooling.
Level of degree - Doctoral
Does KU have a program?
No. Students can complete all of their pre-optometry track requirements and an accompanying major and bachelor’s degree at KU. However, KU does not offer the Doctoral degree program. The closest Optometry School is at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. KU can help prepare you for the Optometry program of your choice.
Quick Tip: If you have specific questions related to courses, contact your academic advisor. Exploring students and pre-professional students may meet with an advising in the Undergraduate Advising Center.
Application due dates differ by program; however, submit your Optometry Central Application Service (OptomCAS) application the summer between your junior and senior years. It will be available in July.
- Register for the OAT. The Optometry Admission Test is computerized so schedule it for a time that suits your preparation and application cycle needs.
- Most student take the OAT in late May, immediately after their junior year; if needed, you can retake after 90 days.
- Recommendation letters and transcripts should be sent to OptomCAS by July 15th to account for differing school application deadlines.
- Complete supplemental application materials, ideally, by August 1st for consideration for August interviews.
- Some schools let you submit your supplemental applications independently from OptomCAS; others, will use your OptomCAS application to invite you to fill out supplemental applications.
- A resume will be required.
- Most schools begin their interview process in the summer and fall of your senior year.
- Observation and work with optometrists and patients is important.
- Strong candidates also must demonstrate a committment to social service. Volunteering is always great!
- Research projects are encouraged.
- Keep a log of your hours, activities and thoughts about the optometry profession for your application and interview.
Gain Experience Before You Apply!
It's important to gain experience working with optometrists and patients. Both the range and the depth of your experiences are important.
You can begin with your own optometrist or by searching for optometrists in the area, and arranging to interview them, asking them what they do, what they like about their jobs, what they don't like about their jobs, what advice they have for people interested in entering the profession, and making arrangements to shadow for a few days.
Most of our candidates gain more substantial experience by working as an assistant in a optometry office or optical dispensary. The University Career Center can help you put together a resume. Then, search for all the local offices. Introduce yourself, and leave a resume that they can keep on file. Check back every semester or so, to update your resume, and let them know you're still interested in a position. Introduce yourself, and leave a resume that they can keep on file.
Explore jobs & internships
Connect with alumni
Also, consider the following:
Is your decision to enter the profession well-informed? Interviewing, shadowing and working with physicians will help you decide whether or not you truly want to join the profession. Ask professionals how they started, what they do, what they like about their jobs, what they dislike about their jobs, and what advice they have for someone interested in pursuing this career. It's good to talk with optometrists you plan to shadow to figure out the best way to sample and understand what they do. You can learn a lot in 10-20 hours. Occasionally, shadowing grows into a longer-term mentoring connection.
HIPAA regulations, liability concerns and patient comfort issues can make it challenging to shadow optometrists; however, it is possible. Most people begin by interviewing their personal optometrist or using friend and family networks to arrange informational interviews and shadowing experiences. Some people try cold calling/e-mailing a list of optometrists. People with last names later in the alphabet and in less well-known specialties won’t get asked as often and might be more open to shadowing. Similarly, optometrists in smaller towns outside of Lawrence may not get asked as often, and those in smaller practices in which they're more in charge may be more willing to allow you to shadow. It’s normal to ask a lot of optometrists to find a few who will let you shadow.
Quick tip: Be sure to send personal thank you cards to the optometrists you shadow!
In addition to optometry experiences, some schools seek a demonstrated commitment to social service. Many of our pre-optometry students, for example, volunteer as readers for the Audio-Reader Program.
More local volunteer resources:
Optometry is an applied science, and it's helpful to know how this knowledge is developed. Working on a research project is also a good way to earn a substantial recommendation letter from a faculty member who knows you well. Most students volunteer their help, some earn directed study credit, and a few are paid for their assistance. To get involved, you can start with the KU Center for Undergraduate Research.