Optometry Degree: What to expect?

As the saying goes, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” A great line if your eyes are clear and sparkling, but what if they’re red, scratchy, swollen, or worse? For those with eye problems, Eye Doctors (or Optometrists as they’re known professionally) are lifesavers during times of eye pain or discomfort. If this is how you want to spend your workdays, here’s what to expect.


The first thing you need to do in your quest for a degree in optometry is to get a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. This degree should be heavy on sciences, including chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry. Once you graduate, you’ll then need to take the OAT—the admissions test for optometry programs. Admissions to these programs are tough, so expect some serious competition when you apply.

Once you get in, you’ll spend four years in school before obtaining your degree in optometry, during which time you’ll study about subjects like eye disease, aging, and basic care. When you finish, you can choose to spend one more year to specialize in a subject like pediatric optometry, vision therapy, or eye surgery.

After you get your degree, you’ll need to pass a certifying test, just like any other medical Doctor. Licensing exams are both written and clinical, given by both the state you’ll be working in and the national licensing organization. Since you need to be able to work with patients, there are no online optometry degree programs available, though some online programs will let you get your prerequisite classes out of the way.

Next Step

Once you graduate, the natural answer to the question, “What can I do with an optometry degree?” might seem to be, “Get a job as an Optometrist.” But you have other options, too. If you continue on and get your Ph.D., you can become a Teacher at an optometry school, conduct research, or serve as a Health Administrator.

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