Preoptometry Coursework

Each optometry school will have its own specific set of course prerequisites, which varies to some degree between schools. Thus, it is very important to check with the particular school in which you are interested.

Standard Course Requirements:

The courses that are generally required for admission into any optometry school are listed below with the corresponding classes at Westmont that satisfy each requirement.

General Biology (1 year)

  • BIO 5 with BIO 5L (1 semester)
  • BIO 6 with BIO 6L (1 semester)

General Chemistry (1 year)

  • CHM 5 with CHM 5L OR CHM 5H with CHM 5HL (1 semester)
  • CHM 6 with CHM 6L OR CHM 6H with CHM 6HL (1 semester)

Organic Chemistry (1 year)

  • CHM 101 with CHM 101L (1 semester)
  • CHM 102 with CHM 102L (1 semester)

General Physics (1 year)

  • PH 11 OR PH 22 with PH 23 (1 semester)
  • PH 12 with PH 13 OR PH 23 with PH 24 (1 semester)
Other Common Requirements

Many optometry schools have additional prerequisites, most commonly one year of English (often including composition) and one year of mathematics (which often includes one semester each of calculus and statistics). Most optometry schools also require one or two classes in psychology.

Recommended courses

It is strongly recommend that you take biochemistry. It is frequently recommended by optometry schools and is occasionally required for admission. Optometry schools also often recommend that you take anatomy and physiology plus microbiology.

Choice of major

While the prerequisite courses can easily lead to a major in biology, chemistry or kinesiology, there is no requirement to major in any of these fields. Optometry schools give no preference to any particular major, so choose a major that you enjoy. This is to your advantage because you are more likely to excel in your preferred major and you will find more enjoyment in your studies.

Timeline considerations

To be prepared for the OAT, you need to at least complete general and organic chemistry, physics, and general biology. Since most students take the OAT in the spring of their Junior year, it is best to have those classes completed by the end of your Sophomore year if possible.

AP/IB/CLEP credit

Optometry schools may limit or exclude the use of AP, IB and CLEP credit towards completion of the entrance requirements. Be sure to find out if the school in which you are interested will allow your AP or CLEP credits to count for prerequisite courses.


Yes, your grades matter. It is necessary to maintain a strong academic record for admissions into optometry schools; in fact, it is considered the most important predictor of admission. Optometry schools will look at your science GPA, overall GPA, grades in each class, and trends in performance.