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Student volunteering at Eskenazi Hospital


Interested in a career in optometry?

At the School of Science at IUPUI, students seeking professional careers in optometry are exposed to opportunities that no other school in the state of Indiana can offer. Through comprehensive coursework, hands-on experience in the classroom and labs, one-on-one guidance from professors, and research and leadership opportunities in the School, five surrounding hospitals, the IU School of Medicine and the IU School of Dentistry, graduates of the School of Science are well prepared for optometry school and beyond!

See Pre-Professional Programs

What will you learn?

Optometry school success is largely dependent on the knowledge, experience and habits students pick up as undergraduates. Through opportunities to participate in industry-leading research, community involvement and clinical experience, a pre-optometry student in School of Science will be well prepared for success in Optometry school and life in the optometry field.

Why choose to major in science?

  • Pre-requisites for many optometry schools often favor and lean heavily toward science majors. 
  • By studying science at IUPUI, students have opportunities to work, learn and participate in internships and research in the School of Science as well as the IU Medical School right on campus and surrounding hospitals.

Many science undergraduate degrees are marketable to future employers even if the student chooses not to pursue professional schooling.

What will you do?

Optometrists are primary eye care providers. They write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses as well as examine, diagnose, treat and manage various visual system diseases and disorders. With a pre-optometry concentration in your undergrad college experience, a career in optometry might open the door to various fields including geriatrics or sports vision.

Like most universities, IUPUI does not offer a pre-optometry major. Few colleges in the United States offer these majors  because optometry schools do not require students to complete specific majors. 


Minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework. Bachelor's degree strongly recommended. Visit the IU School of Optometry website for more information.

Pre-optometry courses at School of Science sufficiently prepare students for the Optometry Aptitude Test (OAT) and optometry school. All optometry schools have different requirements for admission, but most schools require the completion of the OAT, and multiple courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics. The School of Science pre-optometry program is especially designed to prepare students for enrollment into the IU School of Optometry. However, students who complete the program will meet the pre-requisites for admission into most optometry school.

Prepare for Optometry School

The School of Science office for Pre-Professional & Career Preparation (PREPs) will support you throughout the process of preparing for optometry school. From advising you on pre-requisite courses and professional development activities to helping you through the application process, PREPs can assist you in every step.

Admission to optometry school is very competitive. You need to plan thoroughly from the start to be successful. The links below include detailed information on everything from the courses to the application process. If you are an IUPUI School of Science student, we strongly encourage you to make an appointment to meet with a pre-professional advisor.

Schedule an advising appointment


While students who've completed the necessary prerequisites are free to select any professional school to apply to, the School of Science pre-optometry program is especially designed to prepare students for enrollment into the IU School of Optometry.


Minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework. Bachelor's degree strongly recommended. Visit the IU School of Optometry website for more information.

Required Courses: 

  • BIOL-K101 Concepts of Biology I (5 cr.)
  • BIOL-K103 Concepts of Biology II (5 cr.)
  • BIOL-K356 / BIOL-K357 Microbiology/Lab (3 cr./2 cr.)
  • BIOL-K384 Biochemistry (3 cr.)
  • Advanced Biology - one of the following (3 cr. to 5 cr.):
  • BIOL-K322 Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL-K324 Cell Biology
  • BIOL-N217 Human Physiology   
  • BIOL-N261 Human Anatomy      
  • CHEM-C105 / CHEM-C125 Principles of Chemistry I/Lab  (3 cr./2 cr.)
  • CHEM-C106 / CHEM-C126 Principles of Chemistry II/Lab (3 cr./2 cr.)
  • CHEM-C341 / CHEM-C343 Organic Chemistry I/Lab (3 cr./2 cr.)
  • ENG-W131 Reading, Writing and Inquiry I (3 cr.)
  • ENG-W270 Argumentative Writing (3 cr.) or ENG-W231 Professional Writing Skills          
  • MATH 23100 Calculus for the Life Sciences I (3 cr. to 4 cr.) or MATH 22100 or MATH 16500 or MATH-M119            
  • PHYS-P201 General Physics I (5 cr.)
  • PHYS-P202 General Physics II (5 cr.)
  • PSY-B110 Introductory Psychology (3 cr.)
  • STAT 30100 Elementary Statistical Methods I (3 cr.)  
  • Note: The following courses are strongly recommended but not required: BIOL N261 Anatomy and BIOL N217 Physiology (both 5 cr.)       
  • If the student does NOT have a bachelor's degree, additional courses are required:        
  • Arts and Humanities (6 cr.)
  • Foreign language (6 cr.) (students having completed 2 or more years in high school with C or better are exempt)
  • Social and Historical Studies (6 cr.)
  • Additional credit hours to reach 90 credit hours

Download a Pre-Optometry Timeline to help you stay on track for optometry school!

Become a Science student

Entrance Exams

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized exam designed to assess competencies in areas important for success in optometry school and a career as an optometrist. The exam covers four content areas: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning.

You should prepare intensively by reviewing material in OAT prep books and taking repeated practice OAT exam. The OAT is generally taken in the late spring or early summer between your junior and senior year in college.

For more information, visit the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry's OAT page

Gaining Relevant Experience

Professional Shadowing

Professional shadowing, or job shadowing, is another means of career exploration in which you observe a professional at work. With a professional shadow, you can learn more about a profession before you invest too much time preparing for a career that may not be right for you.

Internship, Research and Leadership Opportunities

One of the biggest benefits to studying science at IUPUI is the accessibility of our world-class professors, and the ability to participate in research and internships.

The School of Science at IUPUI offers various programs for students to become involved with both research and other leadership opportunities throughout their undergraduate experience.

One of those programs is the Life Health Sciences Internship. This one-year program provides students the opportunity to participate in both clinical and scientific research opportunities throughout IUPUI's campus and the surrounding hospitals and labs.

  • Internship Opportunities 
  • Research Opportunities
  • Involvement Opportunities
  • SCI-I-390: Health Professions Shadowing course is a 0 or 1 credit hour Satisfactory/Fail class that exposes students to the healthcare field through shadowing and being mentored by a healthcare professionals. Students gain hands on experience, basic knowledge and insights into the career of healthcare professionals.

Application Process

Applicants apply to optometry schools through an electronic, centralized application administered by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry called OptomCAS.  Once you complete your OptomCAS application, it will be processed and sent to all the optometry schools you select to receive it.  All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States participate in OptomCAS.

In addition, most optometry schools will require that applicants complete their school-specific supplemental application, after the applicant has completed the OptomCAS application.  Information on each school's supplemental application requirements can be found on the OptomCAS website.

Optometry School Interview Questions

If you are unsure how to answer any of these questions, check out Step 2 of our Interviewing resources for detailed tips on how to correctly answer tricky interview questions.

Questions About You

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your two best points?
  3. What are your two weakest points?
  4. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
  5. How do you handle conflict?
  6. Explain your leadership/research/volunteer experiences.
  7. What extracurricular activities are you engaged in?
  8. Which of your college courses interested you the most?
  9. What interests you outside of optometry and getting into optometry school?
  10. Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?
  11. What do you do in your spare time?
  12. Why did you choose the undergraduate school you went to, and if you could, would you do anything differently?
  13. What do you do to relieve stress?
  14. What course was most academically challenging for you?
  15. If you could pick any three people to have dinner with, who would they be and why did you pick them?
  16. Who are the three most influential people in your life?

Questions About Your Optometry School Goals

  1. Why do you want to be an optometrist?
  2. When did you decide optometry was a good career choice for you? 
  3. What steps have you taken to confirm that you want to be an optometrist?
  4. What do you think being an optometrist entails, apart from treating patients?
  5. What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good optometrist?
  6. What will you be doing in optometry 10 years from now?
  7. What did you do to prepare for the DAT?
  8. What optometry procedures have you seen?
  9. How will you handle the stress of optometry school?
  10. What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing optometry school?
  11. Why do you believe you have the ability to undertake the study and work involved in optometry school?
  12. What branch of optometry do you think would interest you? Why?
  13. Does your family support your decision to become an optometrist?
  14. What did you like/dislike about the optometry offices you have observed?
  15. What would you like to do if you are not accepted into optometry school?
  16. What steps have you taken to acquaint yourself with what an optometrist does?
  17. How do you think your role as an optometrist fits in with your role as a member of the community?
  18. Is optometry a rewarding experience?
  19. What aspects of your life experiences do you think makes you a good candidate for optometry school?
  20. If you are accepted into two optometry schools of your top choice, what would you do to make up your mind?
  21. Can compassion be taught and do you need it to be a successful optometrist?

 Questions About Optometry School

  1. Why do you want to attend [Optometry School Name]? How are you a match for [Optometry School Name]?
  2. Describe your method of learning. How does this fit with [Optometry School Name]?
  3. What schools did you apply to and why?
  4. What do you look for in a good optometry school?
  5. Why do you want to go to school here?
  6. Why should [Optometry School Name] choose you over other candidates?

Current Issue/Scenario Questions

  1. What do you think about the specialization of optometry?
  2. What do you think is the most pressing issue in optometry today?
  3. One day, an optometry school classmate gives you a sheet containing questions for an upcoming exam. How would you handle the situation and what issues would you consider important in coming to a decision about what to do?
  4. Name a situation where you had to make an ethical decision.  What did you do?
  5. Tell me a time when you witnessed dishonesty and what did you do?
  6. What are the responsibilities of an optometrist to a patient?
  7. What do you think about the health care system and which way should it go?
  8. What do you think are the biggest problems with health care in the United States today?
  9. You enter an exam room to see an elderly patient, and they refuses to remove their glasses during the exam. How would you handle the situation?
  10. You have a patient whose English skills need some improvement, and you do not speak their language. How do you overcome the language barrier when determining their vision?

Personal statements

Most graduate and professional programs require a personal statement as part of the application process. The personal statement is an appropriate place to share your career goals, strengths, experiences, personality, and academic successes and obstacles.

Getting Started

Often time schools require a general, comprehensive personal statement. With the general personal statement, you are allowed maximum freedom in terms of what you write. This is the type of statement often required for medical or law school applications. However, business schools and other graduate schools often ask specific questions, and your statement should respond explicitly to the question being asked. 

Despite the type of personal statement you're asked to write, you need to think of your statement as an opportunity to show how you are unique among all the other applicants. A concise, well-written personal statement is going to carry more weight than one that is long-winded or difficult to read. The following tips will help you craft a compelling personal statement.

Get started by answering the following questions:
  • What is unique or impressive about my life story? 
  • What are my professional goals? 
  • What are my core values? 
  • What is the most compelling reason for the admission committee to be interested in me? 
  • What do I know about the field I am pursuing? 
  • What obstacles, disadvantages, or hardships have I overcome? 
  • How have I involved myself with the community? 

If you need help brainstorming ideas for your personal statement, our PREPs advisors are more than happy to help you get started.

Once you have answered the questions above, begin to fill out the following outline: 

Paragraph I

Begin this paragraph by explaining what motivates you to go to graduate or professional school. You should address some, if not all, of the following questions in your first paragraph:

  • Why do I want to go to graduate or professional school?
  • How does graduate or professional school fit with my career goals?
  • Why do I believe I am an able candidate?

Paragraphs II, III, IV

Your qualifications and participation in extracurricular activities make up the next several paragraphs. This is the body of your personal statement and should answer the following questions:

  • What activities have I participated in that are relevant to my career choice?
  • What are my academic accomplishments, skills, or interests?
  • What have I learned from these accomplishments, skills or interests?
  • What have I overcome? What challenges have I faced? 

Paragraph V

You want your final paragraph to show that you are looking towards your future. Make sure your conclusion answers to these two important questions:

  • In the next several years, how do I see myself evolving?
  • Why will professional or graduate school be an important stepping stone leading to my life's work?

Tips and Tricks

In addition to the information above, the following advice taken from Purdue's Online Writing Lab can also help you craft a captivating personal statement: 

Answer the questions that are being asked. This seems obvious, but if you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar. Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It's important to answer every question as specifically as possible, and if slightly different answers are needed, you need to write separate statements.

Tell a story. Create your application so that it shows and demonstrates who you are through concrete experiences, stories, and examples. One of the worst things you can do is bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific. Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, dentist, etc., should be logical and the result of concrete experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as a rational conclusion to your story.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph. The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It's here that you either grab the reader's attention...or lose it. This paragraph also serves as the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know. While being as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field, be sure to use the profession's jargon to convey this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of detailed information about the career you want and why you're suited for it.

There are certain subjects you should avoid. References to experiences or accomplishments in high school (or earlier) are generally not a good idea to mention in a personal statement for graduate or professional school, focus on something more recent. Avoid potentially controversial subjects (for example, religious or political issues). If your reader disagrees with you, your application may be unfairly scrutinized.

Do your research. If a school wants to know why you're applying to their school rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Pay attention to the technicality of your writing. Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid cliches. A medical school applicant who says that he's good at science and wants to help other people isn't exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements and stories.


Community service connects undergrad with purpose

Bryce Wray-Nelson Biology, Undergraduate