Pre-Optometry: How Do You Become an Optometrist?

Pre-Optometry: How Do You Become an Optometrist?

Believe that our eyes are the windows to our soul…and they should be cared for as such? Successful optometrists are often fond of working with people, good communicators, and empathetic. If you’re interested in learning how to become an optometrist, you’re in the right place. At Indiana University Kokomo, you can prepare for graduate school as a pre-optometry student. Starting here will help you build a solid foundation. With small class sizes and affordable tuition, you’ll graduate from the School of Sciences ready to take the next step in earning your Doctor of Optometry.

If you’re fascinated by human visual systems and want to help diagnose, treat, and manage visual problems, you’ll be happy to know that the the career field of optometry looks very bright. The average annual income of an optometrist is reported at $110,300 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also report a much faster than average job outlook at 18 percent through 2026.

5 Things to Keep in Mind As a Pre-Optometry Major

If getting into the field of optometry is sounding better by the minute, IU Kokomo is a wonderful place to start. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as a pre-optometry major:

  1. It’s never too early to begin thinking about your graduate school application. One of the biggest pieces of advice our alumni have for beginning students is this: get involved. Whether it’s extracurricular events on campus, working with a faculty member on a research project, or taking people up on all the real-world opportunities you can get, your resume and future grad school application will thank you for going the extra mile.
  1. Get to know your academic advisor. As a pre-professional major, one of your challenges is to ensure you’re meeting both the requirements to graduate from your undergraduate degree and fit it into your schedule plus ensuring you have all the qualifications necessary to get into your desired graduate program. Luckily for you, you’re not alone in this! You can meet regularly with your academic advisor who will walk beside you and help you make sure you’re taking the right courses. They’ve helped students just like you go on to chase their dreams!
  1. Keep your eyes peeled for the STEPS program. Have you heard about STEPS? This program is exclusive; only a few students are permitted into the program annually. The students who get in are able to practice mock interviews, get a review of the admissions process, go on healthcare facility tours, and even have opportunities for job shadowing. When you hear about this program, act quickly to apply!
  1. A Bachelor of Science in Biology might be your best choice. While there are different undergraduate degrees that will allow you to prepare for an advanced degree, we commend the B.S. in Biology as a starting point to become an optometrist. 
  1. Prepare here to earn your Doctor of Optometry from the IU School of Optometry. At IU Kokomo, our faculty’s number one goal is to prepare you for whatever comes next. You’ll build your future optometry education on the solid foundation you begin in the School of Sciences. We also want to empower you to stay up to date on the most current application requirements for the IU School of Optometry.

Want to connect with your fellow pre-professional peers? Join the School of Sciences Pre-Professional Club!

A total of 90 semester hours of college credit is required as a minimum for admission to the School of Optometry; however, a bachelor's degree is strongly recommended. Preoptometry requirements must be completed by the time the student enters the School of Optometry. Students who already have a bachelor's degree with a major in a science field are often fully prepared for admission to the School of Optometry. Those with degrees in nonscience fields may find additional course work required. Students must take their preoptometry course work at any accredited institution. Grades lower than a C in any preoptometry requirement will not be accepted. Each course meets just one requirement. All preoptometry requirements must have been completed within 10 years from the time when the student hopes to start the Doctor of Optometry program.

Students entering with a bachelor's degree must have the following courses:

Subject area Comparable


--Introductory, with lab (5 cr)    BIOL-L 105

--Advanced (animal or (3-5 cr)  (see recommended list below)


--Microbiology, with lab (5 cr)    MICR- M 310 and M 315


--Organic, 2 courses (5 cr)    CHEM- C 341, C3 42, and/or C 343

--Inorganic, with labs  (10 cr)   CHEM-C 105/125 & C 106/126

Mathematics--Calculus (5-6 cr) MATH-  M 215 or M 119-120

Physics--General (10 cr)  P201 and P202

Statistical Techniques and/or (3 cr)   MATH-K 310

Experimental Design

Psychology--Introductory (3 cr)   PSY-P 103

Writing Skills

--English Composition (3 cr)    ENG- W 131 or W 132

--A course with a strong writing (3 cr)  Any 300-400-level Literature course except L390/391

Students entering the Indiana University School of Optometry WITHOUT a bachelor's degree must have completed the following courses IN ADDITION to the above: 

Subject area

Arts and Humanities (6 cr)

Foreign Language (6 cr)

Social and Historical Studies (6 cr)

Additional credits as needed

TOTAL 90 cr

Of the 90 credit hours, at least 20 must be at the 300-400 level. A maximum of 60 semester hours may be taken at a junior college.

Strongly recommended:

Subject area Comparable IU courses 

Vertebrate or Human Anatomy, with lab (5 cr)    ANAT-A 215, ZOOL-Z 315

Physiology, with lab (5  cr)    PHSL-P 215, PHSL-P 416/418

Biochemistry (300 level if possible) (3 cr)    CHEM-C 483

Other recommended courses:

Subject area Comparable IU courses

Small Business Management  X100

(1 semester)

Medical Terminology CLAS-C 209

Histology (1 semester)

Ethics PHIL-P 140

Independent Research BIOL-L 490 or CHEM-C 409

A minimum SAT Verbal score of 670 or ACT English score of 32 will exempt the student (without credit) from the English composition requirement. Other means of completing the composition requirement exist. Consult the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for details on these options.

A minimum of two Humanities courses is required.

A minimum of two foreign language courses is required. This requirement for a Bachelor of Science in Optometry may be met by placement examination. Students who have completed two or more years of a single foreign language in high school with an average grade of C or above, or have completed a bachelor's degree at another institution, are exempt from this requirement. (Note: Variation exists among

academic divisions of the university in basic foreign language requirements and exemption policies. For a bachelor's degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, or from another division of the university, consult the appropriate bulletin for foreign language statements.)

A minimum of two courses in Social Studies is required. For departments in this area, consult the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

None of the specified courses may be taken on a pass/fail basis. The credit hours required in the individual subjects are considered absolute minimums, which must be met or exceeded. If the hours of credit in any subject total less than the minimum specified, the student should complete the next higher course in that subject. Quarter hours convert to semester hours by the following scale:

3 quarter hrs. = 2 semester hrs.

4 quarter hrs. = 3 semester hrs.

5 quarter hrs. = 3.33 semester hrs.

6 quarter hrs. = 4 semester hrs

Excited to jump right in?

If you know that you want to help people and the field of optometry seems like a good fit to you, get your jumpstart at IU Kokomo. If you have questions about how an undergraduate degree from the School of Sciences will help you achieve your goals of going on to optometry school, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly faculty and staff. We’re here to help! If you have the info you need and can’t wait to take the next step, apply now. We can’t wait to meet you!

Ready to begin your journey?