What do you need to be a strong candidate for optometry school?

3 key factors optometry schools look for:

  1. Strong academic performance: High GPA in prerequisite and upper division science coursework can show optometry schools that you are prepared for their curriculum.
  2. Evidence of experience and personal development: Experience in the health field can help you determine whether optometry is the right fit for you. Your experiences (both related and unrelated to health) can also show optometry school that you have the qualities they are looking for in a future optometrist.
  3. Strong entrance exam scores: Like your GPA, your entrance exam score can suggest that you are ready for the rigor of optometry school.

More information on each factor can be found within their respective sections below.

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! You must research the schools to which you are planning to apply to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to take.
More than 25% of the programs in this field require the following UHM courses for admission:
BIOL 171/171L and 172/172L Introduction to Biology I and II 8 cr.
CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L General Chemistry I and II* 8 cr.
CHEM 272/272L Organic Chemistry I 5 cr.
PHYS 151/151L and 152/152L (or PHYS 170/170L and 272/272L) College Physics I and II (or General Physics I and II)** 8 or 9 cr.
MATH 215
(or MATH 241)
Applied Calculus I
(or Calculus I)*
4 cr.
BIOC 141 or higher Biochemistry*** 3 or 4 cr.
ENG 100 and higher Composition I and higher 6 cr.
PSY 100 Survey of Psychology 3 cr.
MICR 130/140L (Fall only)
(or MICR 351/351L)
General Microbiology
(or Biology of Microorganisms****)
5 cr.
PHYL 141/141L and 142/142L
(or PHYL 301/L and 302/L)
Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II 8 or 10 cr.
BIOL/BOT 220***** or PSY/SOCS 225 or ECON 321 Statistics 3 cr.
ANTH, HIST, ECON, GEOG, POLS, PSY, SOC, ART, DNCE, ENG, ES, HIST, HWST, LING, MUS, PHIL, REL, THEA, WS, etc. Social Sciences and/or Humanities (Please check with the schools you’re interested in for specific requirements) 3 to 15 cr.

Additional requirements may include communicology, computer literacy, and upper division biology like biochemistry. It is also recommended that non-science majors take additional upper-division or advanced science electives beyond the prerequisites listed above.

For a list of other general recommended pre-health courses, click here. 

CHEM 171/171L might not be accepted by optometry schools in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L. Double check with the schools they are interested in if CHEM 171/171L would be accepted in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L.

*If you are planning on taking a chemistry or math course for the first time, please make sure to fulfill the placement exam requirement prior to registration.

**Although most, if not all optometry programs accept trigonometry-based physics (PHYS 151/L and 152/L), calculus-based physics (PHYS 170/L and 272/L) is recommended to prepare for the OAT and optometry school.

***Please note that the prerequisites for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402 are BIOL 275 and CHEM 273. BIOL 275L is also a prerequisite for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402.

****Please note that the prerequisites for MICR 351/L are BIOL 171 and CHEM 272/L. BIOL 275/L are recommended for MICR 351.

*****Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology or Marine Biology beginning in Fall 2021 and on are required to take BIOL 220 as a major requirement.

Please note that if you are retaking courses because optometry schools may not accept Advanced Placement (AP), online, or community college credit, your financial aid and/or scholarship status may be affected.

2020-2021 National Average Overall GPA for Accepted Applicants: 3.48

Admission GPA Statistics

Category UH Mānoa Applicants UH Mānoa Applicant Range UH Mānoa Accepted
UH Mānoa Accepted Range
Undergraduate Science 2.87 2.3-3.88 3.02 2.87-3.88
Cumulative Undergraduate 3.02 2.64-3.86 3.23 2.99-3.86
Undergraduate Science 3.05 2.67-3.54 3.09 2.72-3.54
Cumulative Undergraduate 3.22 2.75-3.64 3.25 3.21-3.64

To calculate the OptomCAS GPA, please see the OptomCAS GPA Calculation website and PAC's OptomCAS GPA Calculation spreadsheet for more help. This guide is for reference. Please do not enter any estimates calculated from this guide into your application. Enter course information as it appears on transcripts only.

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