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Explore pre-optometry at UW-Eau Claire

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's pre-optometry curriculum provides a pathway to graduate school for students interested in a career in optometry. Pre-optometry is not a major at UW-Eau Claire, but rather a declaration of your intention to continue your education and become an optometrist. 

Good eyesight is an integral part of everyday living, making optometry an important element of professional health care. Optometrists examine the eye for disease and determine vision health. They are also able to write prescriptions and even identify symptoms of serious illness. 

No specific undergraduate major is required for a career in optometry, but certain courses, skills and experiences are favored — especially when applying for graduate school. For example, health professional schools often require a high GPA, a competitive Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) score, letters of recommendation, optometrist shadowing hours and a completed Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) application. Science aptitude and strong communication skills are also expected.

Our exceptional faculty and career advisors are aware of these requirements and will ensure that you gain the knowledge and experiences necessary for acceptance into graduate school.

An inside look into pre-optometry

Biology major Ben Malmanger knew he wanted a career in professional health but wasn't sure what form that would take. Then, he discovered optometry. Now on his way to becoming an optometrist, Ben is excited for what the future holds — a path that wouldn't have been possible without the support of his advisors in the Advising, Retention and Career Center and the Health Careers Center.

Hear more from Ben about what drew him in to optometry and how UWEC helped prepare him for his chosen career. 

Why be pre-optometry at UW-Eau Claire?

Relevant student organizations. On-campus student organizations — like the Pre-Professional Health Club — connect students like you who are also interested in becoming optometrists. These extracurriculars are an excellent way to learn from guest speakers, engage in volunteer work and tour graduate programs in the region.

Valuable partnerships. UW-Eau Claire pre-professional health students benefit from several major medical facilities in the region, such as Mayo Clinic Health System and Marshfield Clinic. Pre-optometry students may choose to pursue eye care specialist shadowing or internship opportunities in the field of ophthalmology.

Excellent preparation. Most optometry schools require applicants to have firsthand experience with a practicing optometrist. To help students secure these opportunities during their undergraduate career, UWEC helps connect students to local optometrists and eye clinics for internships and job shadowing. Students can also take advantage of numerous presentations by local health care providers or visits from college of optometry admissions counselors. 

Quick facts

Pre-optometry program details 
  • Offered: in person
  • Campus: Eau Claire
  • Students are able to choose a major and/or minor that best aligns with their career goals.
UWEC student organizations related to pre-optometry
  • Pre-Professional Health Club
  • Biology Club
  • Women and Gender Minorities in STEM

What's next after completing the pre-optometry program?

After earning your undergraduate degree from UWEC, your next step toward becoming an optometrist is earning your doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. There are currently around 19 accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and Canada.

The majority of UW-Eau Claire graduates go on to attend institutions like the Illinois College of Optometry, Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University, Indiana University and the Southern College of Optometry.

What can I do with an O.D.?

With an O.D. you will be qualified to become an optometrist. Optometrists are independent, primary health care providers who examine, diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system. As an optometrist, you'll measure for and prescribe glasses and contact lenses; diagnose and treat eye coordination and focusing issues; treat eye diseases, such as glaucoma; and detect systemic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. You may also perform noninvasive surgical procedures.

Most optometrists are in private practice, but there is a growing trend toward working in partnerships and groups. Graduates may also find themselves opening their own clinic or working with larger, well-established health care organizations.

Pre-optometry curriculum

The pre-optometry curriculum at UWEC will prepare you for the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), which is required for admission to all optometry schools. The exam consists of four parts: a survey of the natural sciences (biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics and quantitative reasoning. It is often taken in the spring semester or summer following the junior year. 

What classes do pre-optometry students take?

Students interested in a career in optometry may focus on these topics during their undergraduate career:

Learn more about pre-optometry in the UWEC course catalog.

Learn more about UWEC

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Related programs at UW-Eau Claire

Programs that would best support a career in optometry include:

Department information

Multiple departments support this program. Learn more about them!

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Phillips Science Hall 330
101 Roosevelt Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Visit the Biology department website
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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Phillips Science Hall 430
101 Roosevelt Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Visit the Chemistry and Biochemistry department website