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Want a career as a Optometrist (O.D.)? Most students choose to major in biology or chemistry from UNC before going to optometry school, but you can choose any undergraduate major.

Choosing a major outside of the sciences might extend the time it takes you to earn your degree as you'll also need to complete the graduation requirements for that major.

Contact Information

NHS Advising Center



Ross Hall, Room 1210

Suggested courses

Course requirements vary depending on your optometry school. However, each of the following are usually required for most:

  • Two semesters of introductory biology with lab
  • Two semesters of introductory chemistry with lab
  • One or two semesters of organic chemistry with lab
  • One semester biochemistry
  • Two semester general physics with lab
  • One semester calculus
  • One semester statistics 
  • One semester microbiology
  • One semester psychology
  • Two semesters of English (usually writing courses)

Other recommended courses

These courses could also help you on your next journey:

  • One semester human anatomy 
  • One semester human physiology
  • One semester genetics

Illustration of footsteps


During your time here, you should do your best to stick to this timeline. It will help make sure you're ready for optometry school.

  • First Year

    During your first year, it's important that you focus on your coursework and learn how to be a successful student. Knowing how to study and manage your time is critical and can help you earn a strong GPA. You should also:

    • Begin to work on prerequisite courses, especially both semesters of biology (BIO 110 and 111) and chemistry (CHEM 111 and 112)
    • Shadow an optometrist  either over breaks or during the summer
    • Look into community service opportunities
    • Research medical careers
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Join the Pre-Health Professionals Club (PHPC) student organization
  • Sophomore Year

    You should continue doing as best you can in your courses to earn a strong GPA during your sophomore year, as well as continuing to look for community service and shadowing (or other clinical experience) opportunities. You should also:

    • Continue to complete prerequisite courses, CHEM 331 and 332 and PHYS 220 and 221
    • Look for leadership and research opportunities
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Consider who to ask for letters of recommendation 
  • Junior Year

    During your junior year, you should still strive to earn a strong GPA as well as continuing your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities. You should also:

    • Study for and take the OAT — after completing all prerequisites 
    • Obtain letters of recommendation
    • Work on your personal essay
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Complete and submit OptomCAS
    • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Senior Year

    You should continue your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities during your senior year, as well as continue your research experiences. You should also:

    • Prepare for  and go to optometry school interviews
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor

How to apply to optometry school

Start by completing the OptomCAS application. This will then be sent to the optometry schools of your choice.

We've outlined the general process below, but you can also learn more about the OptomCAS application process.

  1. You will need to complete and submit your application along with your official transcripts to OptomCAS. Each application includes a space for your personal essay, coursework history, list of activities, OAT score and the names of your recommenders (letters of recommendation are typically sent directly to each optometry school).
  2. After receiving your application some programs may send you a secondary application. It requires additional information and asks short answer/essay questions. Fill out and submit to each school.
  3. After reviewing your application and letters of recommendation, optometry schools may then invite you for interviews.
  4. From here, you will either be accepted, denied or placed on a waitlist for each school. The next choice is all yours!

General information about applicants

Students accepted to optometry school typically have an overall GPA of 3.43 and an OAT score of 328.

OptomCAS logo

The application opens at the end of June

Start Your OptomCAS Application