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Pre-Optometry Coursework

Optometry is a profession concerned with the eyes and related structures as well as vision, visual systems, and vision information processing in humans. Optometrists are trained to prescribe and fit lenses to improve vision and diagnose and treat various eye diseases.

A bachelor’s degree is required by some optometry schools and preferred for all other programs. Most students major in the natural sciences in college (biology, chemistry, etc.) because the prerequisites for optometry school are science intensive. However, prospective students can major in any degree discipline as long as they complete all of the prerequisite courses for optometry.

In addition to academic course work, students must take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). The OAT measures general ability and comprehension of scientific information through four tests covering a survey of the Natural Sciences, Physics, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. More information about the OAT can be found at

Acceptance to optometry school is highly competitive. High GPA, high MCAT scores, an impressive personal statement, and good recommendations are critical. Good applicants also have research experience, have clinical experience through job shadowing or internships, and participate in university/community service.

Science Department Office

SM 178
Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State St.
Marshall, MN 56258

Course Guidelines

Due to variation in each school’s curriculum, the following is merely a guideline of typical requirements. To determine the exact requirements for each program, the student should work with their academic advisor to review each school to which he/she is applying.

Typical Course Requirements
SMSU Course Number Pre-Requisite courses for Program Semester Credit Hours
Biol 200 Introduction to cellular biology with lab 4
Biol 201

Introduction to Biodiversity and Evolution

Biol 303 Microbiology with Lab 5
Biol 305/306 Anatomy and Physiology I and II with Lab 8
Chem 231/232 General Chemistry I and II with lab 10
Chem 351/352 Organic Chemistry I and II with lab 10
Chem 473 Biochemistry with lab 4
Phys 141/142 College Physics I and II 8
Math 150 Calculus I 3 or 5
Math 200 Statistics 3
Eng 151 Academic Writing 4
Eng 251 Writing in the Professions 3
Psych 101 General Psychology 3
Behavioral or Social sciences Minimum of two courses from Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, economics, political science, or history 6+


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  • Official High School Transcript(s)
  • ACT or SAT Test Scores

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  • Rank in the upper half of graduating class
  • or
  • Score a composite of 21 or above on the ACT or 990 on the SAT

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Last Modified: 8/21/23 5:09 PM | Website Feedback