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Pre-Professional Programs: Pre-Optometry

General Information

Central Washington University does not offer an Optometry program but does offer an advising program and prerequisite courses necessary for potential admission to an Optometry program. There are seventeen schools in the US and Canada that offer Optometry Professional Degree Programs. A list of these schools, important links and other information can be found at Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) or American Optometric Student Association (AOSA).

Most schools now expect you to have completed your four year degree prior to beginning your Optometry training, although in exceptional circumstances you can finish your final year of undergraduate work as part of your first year of Optometry School. No particular major is required. You will be expected to have taken a well-rounded college curriculum including humanities courses. The non-science requirements are, for the most part, satisfied by your gen-ed courses. You should check on the specific requirements for each school to which you plan to apply. A table comparing some of these requirements is available at Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) or, if you picked up a paper copy, that table is attached. You should still check with the individual schools.

Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

The OAT (Optometry Admission Test) is required at most schools as part of your application. The test has four components: Survey of Natural Sciences (includes biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning. Plus, the test now also has a writing component. The OAT is given only twice each year with registration deadlines about six weeks prior to each test date.

Detailed information about this exam, registration, score reporting, etc. is available at Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) as a link on the "on-line registration for the Optometry Aptitude Test (OAT)" page. Be sure to take the courses that support the OAT BEFORE taking the OAT, including general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and several biology courses such as BIOL 181, 182, 183 and 220. The higher level biology courses, Genetics (321), Anatomy and Physiology (355,356), Ecology (360) and Evolution (470), will help also, but if you really know the general aspects of these subjects as presented in the lower level courses you'll be okay.

Pacific University School of Optometry

The closest school offering an optometry degree is Pacific University (PU) in Forest Grove, Oregon, and many CWU students are interested in attending there. For the 1997-1998 entering class at PU, 84 of 367 applicants were admitted. The average GPA of successful applicants was 3.4 and the average OAT score was 330. In each of the years since then the entering class has had similar statistics. Helpful information about the program at PU includes:

  • PU requires a minimum of 30 hours of observation in optometric clinics prior to application. Most schools have a similar requirement.
  • PU has a prerequisite worksheet that is helpful.
  • To apply for the PU Optometry Program there are important deadlines. The admission period begins 9/1 and ends 1/15 for preferred applications and 3/15 for regular applications. Remember that it is best to apply early. Other schools will have slightly different dates; find out and apply early!

Additional General Information for Optometry School

  • Most schools have the minimum of 30 hours of observation in optometric clinics prior to application.
  • The OAT test can be taken in October 2004 or February 2005 for this application cycle but submit the rest of your application materials early even if you will be taking the February 2005 exam.
  • WICHE deadline is 10/15 while the FAFSA deadline is 1/1. Completing these forms is essential if you want a chance at financial aid.

Courses to Complete while at Central Washington University (assuming application to PU; check your specific schools and adjust as necessary):

  • ENGL 301, 310) Composition and Technical Writing)
  • Social Sciences Electives - 13 credits
  • Humanities Electives - 15 credits
  • Math and Science

    At least 5 credits of calculus
    At least 5 credits of statistics (such as MATH 311 or PSY 362)
    CHEM 181, 181.1, 182, 182.2, 183, 184, 361, 361.1, 362, 363
    BIOL 323, 355, 356
    PHYS 111, 112, 113 or 181, 182, 183
    PSY 101

    Also, basic biology courses (BIOL 181, 182, 183 and 220) are more or less expected and will help you on your OAT. More advance biology courses also help the OAT and "look good". Many schools recommend (PU strongly recommends it) or require Biochemistry (CHEM 431, 432) and even if they don't recommend it, this also "looks good".

Pre-Optometry Club

CWU now has a pre-professional club that includes pre-optometry . This student-run organization is involved in activities directly related to optometry and preparing to attend optometry school. The club has undertaken service (volunteer) activities, visited optometry schools and optometry practices and helped one another study for the OAT.

The Pre-Dentistry advisor is Dr. Linda Raubeson. 
For more information, please contact Dr. Raubeson at (509) 963 2734 
or by email at