Jul 24, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog


The Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), or optometrist, is an independent health care provider who examines, diagnoses, treats, and manages diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. Optometrists may prescribe glasses and contact lenses, participate in the rehabilitation of the visually impaired, and diagnose and treat ocular diseases. An O.D. can also identify and manage a variety of non-ocular systemic and psychological conditions, working effectively as a member of the comprehensive health care team.

The pre-optometry curriculum is designed to prepare students for admission to professional schools of optometry. Generally, schools of optometry require at least 90 semester hours of pre-optometry coursework and students are highly encouraged to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. Some programs give strong preference to students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree. The student is free to pursue a major in any area of interest. Admission to an optometry school is based on qualities like academic preparation, scores on the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT), and general character and fitness for the field. Students must apply directly to the individual schools of optometry.  Students must apply through OptomCAS (Optometry Centralized Application Service).

The Pre-Optometry coursework expectations vary by individual schools of optometry, and students should contact the schools of interest. In general, schools of optometry will require coursework (usually one year each) in biology, chemistry, and physics; these should be courses required for the major rather than survey courses for non-majors. In addition, most schools of optometry will require additional coursework in psychology/social sciences, organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, calculus and statistics. Some schools require observation hours and/or have a time limit for acceptance of prerequisite courses. A pre-optometry student at USD should use the suggested curriculum for the pre-medicine program as a guide in completing optometry prerequisites

For more information about optometry contact: The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (www.opted.org), TheAcademic & Career Planning Center, 605-658-3600; or the Health Professions Advisor, 605-658-6334.

Brittany Schultz
Department of Public Health and Health Sciences
Professional Academic Advisor
Center for Health Education Room 226

Amy Nelson
Department of Public Health and Health Sciences
Program Director
Center for Health Education Room 224

Pre-Optometry Suggested Subjects and Courses

Students interested in optometry school should research the individual program/s to which they plan to apply for specific admissions requirements. Pre-optometry students at USD may use the following curriculum as a guide in completing optometry program prerequisites. Students may pursue any major of interest. For more information on optometry education and schools, visit: https://optometriceducation.org/

*Pre-requisite course(s) or exam/placement designation.

Suggested Courses



  • *BIOL 151/L and BIOL 153/L + CHEM 114/L or CHEM 116/L
  • *highly recommended before taking BIOC 430 Principles of Biochemistry! 



  • *BIOL 151/L + 153/L

    Students are encouraged to take additional coursework in English (1-2 semesters is a requirement for most optometry programs), humanities, social sciences, computer science, business, economics, and speech.


    Students must take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). For more information, visit: https://oat.ada.org/


Real world experience: A good understanding of optometric medicine through discussion with professionals in the field and through observation of patient care in a clinical setting is expected.

Meaningful activities: Competitive applicants are involved in activities outside the classroom that indicate a well-rounded background. Meaningful activities such as volunteering/service to community, leadership, research, and other activities/hobbies are encouraged.

Communication: Competitive applicants demonstrate strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Practice for your interview: It is highly recommended that applicants practice their interviewing skills prior to their professional interview/s. At USD, the pre-health advisors from the Academic and Career Planning Center offer mock interview services for anyone wishing to practice before their professional health program interview.