Employment of optometrists is expected to grow over the next decade as the population ages, but it is still a small and competitive profession. Optometry school requires four years of additional schooling after college.

Undergraduate preparation for the study of optometry requires a strong foundation in science and mathematics. UWM offers all of the prerequisites needed to apply to one of the 24 accredited optometry programs in the United States. There are no optometry programs in Wisconsin; the closest one is in Chicago. Although it is possible to enter an optometry program after completing the necessary science and math courses but before earning the bachelor's degree, it is a highly-rare situation. The majority of students accepted into optometry programs have completed their bachelor's degree.

Pre-Optometry is not a major, and students must still choose a major. Since most of the pre-requisites necessary for application to optometry school are in the sciences, many students choose a science major such as biology, though it is not required. Our specialized pre-optometry advisor works with students to ensure they understand all of the milestones that must be met in college in order to be a competitive applicant to optometry school. A significant number of volunteer or work hours is often a requirement for application to optometry school so it is important to work with this advisor beginning in freshman year in order to plan all needed activities into your college career.


Entrance to an optometry program is very competitive. Applicants must take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). The OAT is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. At least one year of college education, which should include courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics, is required prior to taking the OAT. Most students, however, elect to complete two or more years of college prior to taking the exam in order to be better prepared.

Due to the variance in admission requirements, it is recommended that students consult with the Pre-Optometry Advisor every semester.

Although specific admission requirements may vary among programs, recommended coursework includes:

Foundations of Biological Sciences I
and Foundations of Biological Sciences II
Anatomy and Physiology I
and Anatomy and Physiology II
Select a Microbiology course
Select a Biochemistry course
CHEM 102
CHEM 104
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis
CHEM 343Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345Organic Chemistry3
Select one of the following options:10
Option 1:
General Physics I (Non-Calculus Treatment)
and General Physics Laboratory I (Non-Calculus Treatment)
General Physics II (Non-Calculus Treatment)
and General Physics Laboratory II (Non-Calculus Treatment)
Option 2:
Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
Select a Calculus course
Select a Statistics course
PSYCH 101Introduction to Psychology3
Total Credits47

Other common course requirements include, but are not limited to and may vary by program: anatomy and physiology, cell biology, molecular biology, and immunology.