Best Optometry Schools in the US

We’ve all heard that graduate school in the health sciences is difficult, and for good reason. We only want the finest of the best going into the world to practice medicine, regardless of the discipline of medicine a future doctor focuses on. When it comes to human health, there is no space for error.

Despite this axiom, medical school rankings tend to ignore pass rates. Alumni quality, research endowments, and renowned alumni are all important, as are students’ GPAs and test scores. But, at the end of the day, most patients are concerned with the fundamentals: did the individual doing the treatment graduate from medical school?

The list of Best Optometry Schools in the Us, ranked according to “ultimate pass rates” of optometry board exams as reported by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. Our list limits itself to the 50 U.S. states, not including territories. 

Here is the list of Best Optometry Schools in the US

Arizona College of Optometry, Midwestern University

Best Optometry Schools in the US

Not only do 98 percent of students at the Arizona College of Optometry complete their tests, but 92.7 percent pass part I of the NBEO exam and 100 percent pass part II. That remarkable set of students has a 3.53 average GPA and a 624 average OAT score. These students, however, do not flourish on their own; rather, they are supported by ACO’s renowned professors and cutting-edge research resources.

ACO’s faculty includes renowned journal writers and American Academy of Optometry fellows, who are funded by prizes such as a recent $100,000 grant. Furthermore, the curriculum offers clinical rotations in community colleges as well as pre-clinical simulations to help students become the greatest health care practitioners they can be.

  • Average GPA: 3.53
  • Average OAT Score: 624
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 92.7%
  • Location: Glendale, AZ
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Estimated Tuition: $42,878 annually; one-time equipment fee of $5,014
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Programs Offered: 5
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes; Dual Acceptance Program with Benedictine University, DePaul University, Elmhurst College, and Arizona Christian University
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Date Founded: 2009


Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, TN)

Despite the fact that it was founded in 1932, the Southern College of Optometry is still going strong. The school just completed a $9.4 million expansion that furnished its buildings with cutting-edge technology. The school also has The Eye Center, a teaching institution that gives students hands-on clinical training while treating 60,000 patients.

Unsurprisingly, nearly all of the 136 students enrolled each year graduate, giving SCO an exceptional 98.5 percent pass record. Unsurprisingly, among those who graduate from SCO are optometric leaders, including fourteen American Optometric Association presidents. It’s easy to understand why SCO students continue at the school, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 and more than 60 funded scholarships offered each year. They receive the assistance and attention they require to become the greatest optometrists in the country.

  • Average GPA: 3.61
  • Average OAT Score: 336
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 99.2%
  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2012
  • Estimated Tuition: $38,292 annually for non-regional students
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 6 on-site; 26 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Date Founded: 1932


The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (Birmingham, AL)

Best Optometry Schools in the US

The National Institutes of Health awarded UAB more than $325 million in research funding last year, the majority of which went to the School of Optometry. With that sort of backing, it’s no wonder that UAB’s School of Optometry is among the top in the country. The School of Optometry provides future vision care experts with the information and expertise they’ll need to serve their community by providing hands-on clinical training at the world-class UAB Eye Care facility.

These superb resources are good news for those in and around Birmingham since the institution graduates 97.87 percent of students in the program. Not only do these physicians continue their old mater’s exceptional research, but they also earn their own NIH grants while still students at the UAB School of Optometry.

  • Average GPA: 3.66
  • Average OAT Score: 321
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 92.11%
  • Location: Birmingham, AL
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2017
  • Tuition: $9,013 per term for residents / $18,004 per term for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 3 in-house; 4 affiliated (11 spots total)
  • Undergraduate Degree Program: No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MBA, OD/MPH and OD/MS
  • Date Founded: 1969


Ohio State University College of Optometry (Columbus, OH)

The Ohio State University has a reputation as one of the greatest state institutions in the country, so it’s no surprise that its College of Optometry is well-regarded in the profession. The faculty of the institution includes optical technology developers, authors to the nation’s top medical publications, and ranking members of the most prominent faculty organizations. Major accolades, such as the Prentice Medal Award for excellent scientists and the Low Vision Educational Grant, are given to students and professors.

Despite this emphasis on research, OSU’s College of Optometry does not neglect its students, with a 96.83 percent pass rate. Current students commend the program for its cutting-edge tools and helpful teachers, an outstanding accomplishment for a school that admits only 64 students per year. These figures demonstrate that the school is successfully pursuing its mission of educating exceptional optometrists and doing creative research.

  • Average GPA: 3.72
  • Average OAT Score: 317
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96. 83%
  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2019
  • Estimated Tuition: $26,936 for first year tuition for residents; $47,992 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 1 on-site, 12 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: MS, PhD
  • Date Founded: 1914


SUNY College of Optometry (New York, NY)

Best Optometry Schools in the US

SUNY admits only 23% of applicants to their College of Optometry, making it one of the most exclusive on our list. The institution has high standards for its new class, requiring a 3.5 GPA and an OAT score of 345 on average. However, practically everyone who enters the program also completes it, giving the institution a pass rate of 96.84 percent. Students in the program are supported by $4 million in annual research grants.

SUNY’s College of Optometry has produced some amazing doctors during its 50-year existence, but recent graduates include the 2019 American Optometric Association (AOA) Optometrist of the Year and the recipient of the 2019 Johnson & Johnson Vision Award of Excellence in Contact Lens Patient Care.

  • Average GPA: 3.59
  • Average OAT Score: 345
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 97%
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2019
  • Estimated Tuition: $29,820 for residents; $51,150 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 8 on-site; 10 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: PhD, OD/PhD, OD/MS, MBA
  • Date Founded: 1971

Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry (Davie, FL)

Students at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Optometry alternate between two years of scientific education and two years of a clinical study. However, regardless of their course of study, students get extraordinary assistance from the institution, ranging from financing for worldwide mission trips to modern technology for all attendance. Furthermore, the faculty comprises members of the American Academy of Optometry as well as specialists in the field of ocular examination.

Most notably for this ranking, NSU’s College of Optometry has a pass rate of 97.62 percent. These figures demonstrate that the school takes its goal statement seriously, aiming to “prepare, teach, and train optometric doctors to perform at the greatest level of skill, integrity, and professionalism.

  • Average GPA: 3.43
  • Average OAT Score: 323
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96.26%
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2012
  • Estimated Tuition: $25,570 for residents / $28,945 for non-residents for years 1-3; $30,802 for residents and $34,605 for non-residents for years 4-5
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 2 on-site; 12 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MS
  • Date Founded: 1989


UC Berkeley School of Optometry (Berkeley, CA)

UC Berkley’s School of Optometry was founded in 1923, making it just the third university optometry department in the United States. Presidents of the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry have been among the school’s teachers and graduates over the years. Nonetheless, the 92.54 percent pass rate demonstrates that, no matter how many praises the institution has received, it still prioritizes pupils enrolled in its program.

This figure becomes even more astonishing when one considers the rigorous nature of the instruction pupils gets. Optometry students begin working with patients during their first year and work with them for around 2500 hours by the conclusion of the school. Students can also progress their research goals through their award-winning Clinical Research Center or a variety of additional support systems.

  • Average GPA: 3.42
  • Average OAT Score: 355
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 92.2%
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2015
  • Tuition: Tuition and fees: $19,226.25 per semester for residents / $25,069.75 per semester for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 7 on-site; off-site VA
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/PhD
  • Date Founded: 1923


Illinois College of Optometry (Chicago, IL)

Best Optometry Schools in the US

We’ve all remarked that a fantastic advancement is “the finest thing since sliced bread.” The Illinois College of Optometry must be even better because Otto Frederick Rohwedder, the creator of the bread slicing machine, graduated from ICO.

While the majority of ICO’s 160 graduates each year go on to practice optometry rather than revolutionizing the bread industry, the school’s 92.54 percent pass rate demonstrates its commitment to students. Students are trained at the Illinois Eye Institute, where they gain hands-on experience. ICO also provides residency programs in a variety of fields, including vision rehabilitation and ocular illness.

These resources are located on a magnificent campus in the center of Chicago, resulting in a student body that feels supported as well as challenged. Finally, ICO produces some of the greatest eye physicians in Chicago and the Midwest as a whole.

  • Average GPA: 3.42
  • Average OAT Score: 326
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96.95%
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2017
  • Estimated Tuition: $43,265 for first-year tuition and fees
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 4 on-site; 7 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): BSVS; dual degree agreements with the Illinois Institute of Technology, Augustana College, Knox College, and Wisconsin Lutheran College.
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Date Founded: 1872


More: How to Become an Optometrist without a Degree

University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry (Pikeville, KY)

Based in the Appalachian Mountains, UPIKE offers Kentucky’s only college of optometry. But the school does not rest on that exclusivity. Since it was founded in 2016, the UPIKE College of Optometry has already improved the health of its community by training future doctors in their state-of-the-art $60 million+ Health Professions Education Building. Furthermore, the school takes active steps to support their future students, creating a grant to help offset the costs of those taking the Optometry Admissions Test. 

At 38%, UPIKE’s optometry school has a relatively high acceptance rate. But despite that high number, the school boasts an impressive 91.89% pass rate, proving its commitment to equipping its students. As those numbers demonstrate, the UPIKE College of Optometry is committed to preparing the next generation of vision specialists

  • Average GPA: 3.31
  • Average OAT Score: 296
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 81.48%
  • Location: Pikeville, KY
  • Last Accreditation Date: Preliminary Approval
  • Estimated Tuition: $42,200 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: No
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Date Founded: 2016


About The Author

Hassan Zaka

I am an experienced technical writer with an ACCA qualification. I have written on various topics including finance, business, and technology. My writing style is clear and simple, and I am skilled in using infographics and diagrams.

Follow Us:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top