How to Become an Optometrist without a Degree

Optometry is a technical and complicated academic discipline that requires professionally trained and educated personnel. Optometry generally requires a doctorate in addition to a bachelor’s degree. But you can become an Optometrist without a degree. Although it is technically required to complete three years of undergraduate coursework, most optometrists have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most optometry schools prefer or require you to receive your undergraduate degree before entering optometry school.     

Steps of Becoming an Optometrist:

To qualify for admission into an optometry school, you need to complete a significant amount of undergraduate coursework focusing on science subjects including anatomy, biology, physiology, organic chemistry, and physics. Optometry school lasts for four years and here is the list of the tasks or steps that optometrists should complete to join this profession:

  1. Take all college classes necessary for admission into optometry school.
  2. Earn a high undergraduate GPA.
  3.  Perform well on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT).
  4. Shadow at least one optometrist.
  5. Get accepted into an accredited optometry school.
  6. Take and pass four years of optometry courses.
  7. Receive an optometry degree from a reputable school.
  8. Consider doing a clinical residency focusing on a specialty area like an ocular disease.
  9. Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry Test.
  10. Find out if your state requires any other exam.
  11. Get a license to practice optometry in your region. 
  12. Maintain your optometry license via continuing education courses.
  13. Think about securing board certification from the American Board of Optometry.
  14. Serve as a care provider and increase your market ability.

List of Optometry schools and their rankings

The USA is the home to an endless number of institutions offering different educational programs to local or foreign students. Several institutions are offering the Optometry degree. The top 10 Optometry schools in the USA and their rankings are listed below.

  1. University of California-Berkely (2 Optometry Degree Programs)
  2. Nova Southeastern Univerisity (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  3. Ohio University Main-Campus (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  4. University of Alabama-Birmingham (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  5. University of Missouri-St Louis (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  6. University of Houston (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  7. Indiana University-Bloomington (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  8. Ferris State University (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  9. The University of Incarnate Word (1 Optometry Degree Program)
  10. Midwestern University Downer Grove (1 Optometry Degree Program)

Furthermore, if you want to learn more about these institutions’ tuition fees, passing rates, and other information, go here.. click here.

How many years does it take an Optometrist?

The path required to becoming an Optometrist is not as long as that of an Ophthalmologist. But it still takes a minimum of seven to eight years to be an Optometrist. This can be divided into two portions:

  • A student must have completed his Bachelor’s Degree
  • A Four-year Optometry program 


How much does Optometry School cost in the US?

Following is the Cost details for the Optometry program in the US for residents and non-residents:

  • Cost for residents:

Public Optometry school tuition fee (sponsored in part by state tax dollars) runs for $10,700-$20,200 annually or $42,400-$74,800 for the complete program.   

  • Cost for non-residents

Non-residents usually have to pay around $22,400-$43,400 annually or $89,600-$173,600 for the complete program.

Optometrist salary

Optometrists in the USA earn a median salary of around $115,250 (according to a report in 2019). The best-paid 25% optometrist made $142,790 in 2019 while the lowest-paid 25% made $87,780 annually. 

Doctor of Optometry degree requirements

Following are the requirements for a Doctor of Optometry degree:

  • A pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university.
  • Four years of professional education at a college of optometry led to the Doctor of Optometry Degree (OD).
  •  Some optometrists also complete an optional residency in a specific area for practice.

Easiest optometry school to get into

Optometry schools aren’t the most simple to get into, and studying there requires a lot of effort and hard work. For this reason, students prefer getting into an easier yet professional and high-quality optometry education. The easiest optometry school to get into is the International American University in Puerto Rico, USA. It is a highly prestigious institution with the highest chances to get admission for the students 

Average GPA requirement: 3.04

Admission Requirements:

Following are the admission requirements for the Optometry school in the International American University in Puerto Rico, USA: 

  • A minimum of 90 semester hours or 135 quarter hours is required
  • Applicants with a bachelor’s degree will have more chances to get matriculated

University with multiple Optometry programs:

The University of Missouri at St. Louis Optometry offers a large number of Optometry degree programs. Students seeking admission to an easier-than-average optometric school should opt for this institute.  

Optometry school online

Optometry education is also available online in the USA. This online program consists of online sessions, tutorials, and webinars. One of the best Online Optometry Schools present in Stetson University, USA.

Stetson University, USA:

Stetson University is offering an online optometry program for the students not available for visual or remote classes. 

Admission Requirements:

  1. The program requires at least a 2.8 undergraduate GPA, but the average for matriculation is higher.  
  2. The OAT (Optometry Admission Test) is required and the average score for matriculants is about 1000.
  3. Letters of Evaluation
  4. An application submitted via the Optometry Centralized Application Service

Required Courses:

The required courses for the completion of an optometry degree include:

  • Calculus – 1 semester
  • Physics with lab – 2 semester
  • General Biology with lab – 2 semester
  • General or inorganic chemistry with lab – 2 semester
  • Organic chemistry with lab – 1 semester
  • Microbiology – 1 semester
  • Biochemistry – 1 semester
  • Anatomy and physiology – 1 semester
  • English – 2 semester
  • social/Behavioral Sciences/Humanities – 5 Courses
  • Also recommended are the courses in Statistics, Computer Literacy, and Psychology.

Date of admission:

The application becomes available in July each year


Most schools also require a supplemental application.

The OAT must be completed before the application is considered 

Interviews generally take place in the spring after the application is complete.  

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