A Comparative List of the Best Optometry Schools in the US - Plus Quiz

Jan 27, 2020
12 min read
10.8k views

Which optometry school is right for you? Choose the characteristics that are important to you and see which ones we recommend.

List-of-Schools_NEW_Featured-Image

What’s the best optometry school?

There's no "best" optometry school; like any graduate program, optometry schools can be judged on a variety of criteria. Perhaps the most important for prospective students is a school’s NBEO pass rate: the percentage of students who pass the optometry board exams each year. In 2019, the national NBEO pass rate was 92.3%, and the majority of optometry schools don’t stray very far from that rate in their individual averages.

While pass rates are crucial, you must also judge your prospective programs on factors like:

  • Location
  • Tuition
  • Type of program
  • Class size

And even factors like the date the optometry program was founded, whether or not the school offers residency programs, and where the program is.

There are 23 accredited optometry schools in the United States. Use our calculator to find which might be best for you based on your criteria, and then read the program details, like the average GPA, OAT scores, and more!

How much does optometry school cost?

Optometry school can be quite expensive. The average tuition in the United States for in-state residents was $36,000 per year. This does not include equipment fees and other costs, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. That said, optometry school tuition ranges greatly between programs, from $27,000 per year to nearly $70,000 per year.

This is why optometry student debt is so high: average student loan debt among optometrists is $134,199! That said, optometrists can also expect high salaries even in their first years out of optometry school, hastening their ability to pay off student loans.

Check out our student loan payoff calculator to see how long it will take you to pay off all your loans!

How many years is optometry school?

Optometry school generally takes four years to complete. However, some schools offer combined undergraduate and optometry degrees, either in agreement with other universities or at their home university. These 3+4 programs allow students to complete their undergraduate degrees in three years before entering optometry school.

Some optometry schools also offer accelerated degree programs, which are 36-month intensive programs. These programs are currently offered by New England College of Optometry and Salus University.

How difficult is it to get into optometry school?

Getting into optometry school is challenging but not prohibitive. In 2018, the acceptance rate to optometry programs in the United States was 74%, compared to the 52% acceptance rate of dentistry.

For the majority of schools, an applicant must complete these steps to apply:

  • Complete the OptomCAS application
  • Complete the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) - some schools will accept GRE scores
  • Submit your official transcript with your GPA and proof you have completed any prerequisite coursework
  • Submit two letters of recommendation
  • Complete an essay prompt
  • Any program-specific requirements

Competitive applicants are often invited to an interview portion following review of their application materials.

Average GPAs for optometry school applicants in 2018 were over 3.00; in fact, many optometry schools urge applicants to have a minimum GPA of 3.00. Average OAT scores range from 284 to 355.

If you have a low GPA, you might find optometry coursework challenging. However, if you’re a motivated worker, have done work in the field, have an outgoing personality, and a lengthy list of relevant extracurricular activities, you’ll definitely have a fair chance of getting accepted. Optometry is a very people-oriented profession, so even if you didn’t excel in all of your undergrad classes, but are very people-oriented and compassionate, you could still excel in optometry.

Start your applications early (late summer, early fall) and create a timeline for when all aspects of applications are due.

Read on for the breakdown of optometry schools by state!

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.66
  • Average OAT Score: 321
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 91.11%
  • Location: Birmingham, AL
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2017
  • Tuition: $9,013 per term for residents / $18,004 per term for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 3 in-house; 4 affiliated (11 spots total)
  • Undergraduate Degree Program: No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MBA, OD/MPH and OD/MS
  • Class Size 2019: 45
  • Date Founded: 1969

Website: http://www.uab.edu/optometry

Arizona College of Optometry, Midwestern University

  • Average GPA: 3.41
  • Average OAT Score: 319
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 98.15%
  • Location: Glendale, AZ
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Tuition: $42,878 annually; one-time equipment fee of $5,014
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Programs Offered: 5
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes; Dual Acceptance Program with Benedictine University, DePaul University, Elmhurst College, and Arizona Christian University
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 57
  • Date Founded: 2009

Website: https://www.midwestern.edu/admissions/apply/doctor-of-optometry-in-glendale.xml?

Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University

  • Average GPA: 3.32
  • Average OAT Score: 334
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 94.74%
  • Location: Fullerton, CA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2016
  • Tuition: $42,885 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 26
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MS
  • Class Size 2019: 104
  • Date Founded: 1904

Website: http://www.ketchum.edu/optometry

University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.42
  • Average OAT Score: 355
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 93.75%
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2015
  • Tuition: Tuition and fees: $19,226.25 per semester for residents / $25,069.75 per semester for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 7 on-site; off-site VA
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/PhD
  • Class Size 2019: 68
  • Date Founded: 1923

Website: http://optometry.berkeley.edu

Western University of Health Sciences

  • Average GPA: 3.17
  • Average OAT Score: 300
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 87.50%
  • Location: Pomona, CA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Tuition: $40,890 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: No
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 69
  • Date Founded: 2009

Website: http://www.westernu.edu/optometry

Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.43
  • Average OAT Score: 323
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 95.92%
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2012
  • Tuition: $25,570 for residents / $28,945 for non-residents for years 1-3; $30,802 for residents and $34,605 for non-residents for years 4-5
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 2 on-site; 12 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MS
  • Class Size 2019: 94
  • Date Founded: 1989
  • Website: http://optometry.nova.edu/

Chicago College of Optometry, Midwestern University

  • Average GPA: 3.21
  • Average OAT Score: 296
  • NBEO Pass Rate: n/a
  • Location: Downers Grove, IL
  • Last Accreditation Date: Preliminary Approval 2016
  • Tuition: $42,878 annually; one-time equipment fee of $5,014
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: No
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes; Dual Acceptance Program with Benedictine University, DePaul University, Elmhurst College, and Arizona Christian University
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 61
  • Date Founded: 2017

Website: https://www.midwestern.edu/admissions/apply/doctor-of-optometry-in-downers-grove.xml?

Illinois College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.42
  • Average OAT Score: 326
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 93.71%
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2017
  • Tuition: $43,265 for first-year tuition and fees
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 4 on-site; 7 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): BSVS; dual degree agreements with the Illinois Institute of Technology, Augustana College, Knox College, and Wisconsin Lutheran College.
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 124
  • Date Founded: 1872
  • Website: http://www.ico.edu

Indiana University School of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.58
  • Average OAT Score: 317
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 91.18%
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Tuition: First year tuition and fees: $55,776 for residents; $68,312 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 4 on-site; 7 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: PhD, MS, MBA
  • Class Size 2019: 85
  • Date Founded: 1956
  • Website: http://www.optometry.iu.edu

University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.31
  • Average OAT Score: 296
  • NBEO Pass Rate: n/a
  • Location: Pikeville, KY
  • Last Accreditation Date: Preliminary Approval
  • Tuition: $42,200 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: No
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 62
  • Date Founded: 2016
  • Website: http://www.upike.edu/KYCO

MCPHS University, School of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.22
  • Average OAT Score: 307
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 75.41%
  • Location: Worcester, MA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2018
  • Tuition: $43,950 annually; $1,200 per semester equipment fee in first year, $1,040 per semester in second year
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: No
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MPH
  • Class Size 2019: 59
  • Date Founded: 2012
  • Website: https://www.mcphs.edu/academics/school-of-optometry/optometry/optometry-od

New England College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.37
  • Average OAT Score: 326
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96.52%
  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2012
  • Tuition: $42,592 for first-year tuition; $3,365 equipment fee
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 39 slots: 5 in-house, 34 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: OD/MS, Accelerated Optometry Degree
  • Class Size 2019: 138
  • Date Founded: 1894
  • Website: http://www.neco.edu

Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University

  • Average GPA: 3.75
  • Average OAT Score: 339
  • NBEO Pass Rate 2019: 100.00%
  • Location: Big Rapids, MI
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Tuition: $34,744 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 2 on-site; 8 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 38
  • Date Founded: 1975
  • Website: http://www.ferris.edu/mco

University of Missouri at St. Louis College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.42
  • Average OAT Score: 314
  • NBEO Pass Rate 2019: 100.00%
  • Location: St. Louis, MO
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2016
  • Tuition: $42,829.60 First year tuition and fees for residents, $191,300.20 for four years for residents; $59,216.00 first year tuition and fees for non-residents, $264,942.60 for four years for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 2 on-site; 7 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 46
  • Date Founded: 1980
  • Website: http://www.umsl.edu/divisions/optometry

State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.59
  • Average OAT Score: 346
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 88.66%
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2019
  • Tuition: $29,820 for residents; $51,150 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 8 on-site; 10 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: PhD, OD/PhD, OD/MS, MBA
  • Class Size 2019: 98
  • Date Founded: 1971
  • Website: http://www.sunyopt.edu

The Ohio State University College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.72
  • Average OAT Score: 317
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96.92%
  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2019
  • Tuition: $26,936 for first year tuition for residents; $47,992 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 1 on-site, 12 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: MS, PhD
  • Class Size 2019: 68
  • Date Founded: 1914
  • Website: http://optometry.osu.edu

Northeastern State University: Oklahoma College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.65
  • Average OAT Score: 339
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 92.00%
  • Location: Tahlequah, OK
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2012
  • Tuition: $18,850.00 years 1 & 4 for residents, $24,909 years 2 &3 for residents; $37,550 years 1 & 4 for non-residents, $49,620 years 2 & 3 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 5 on-site; 11 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 28
  • Date Founded: 1979
  • Website: https://optometry.nsuok.edu/

Pacific University College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.51
  • Average OAT Score: 327
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96.55%
  • Location: Forest Grove, OR
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2015
  • Tuition: $42,024 for first-year tuition
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 2 on-site; 16 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): BSVS, BAVS
  • Graduate Programs Offered: MS, PhD, MEd
  • Class Size 2019: 94
  • Date Founded: 1945
  • Website: http://www.pacificu.edu/optometry/

Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.36
  • Average OAT Score: 305
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 90.20%
  • Location: Elkins Park, PA
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2016
  • Tuition: $40,920 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 5 on-site; 14 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): Yes
  • Graduate Programs Offered: MSc, Accelerated Optometry Degree
  • Class Size 2019: 149
  • Date Founded: 1917
  • Website: http://www.salus.edu/optometry

Inter American University of Puerto Rico

  • Average GPA: 3.04
  • Average OAT Score: 284
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 78.05%
  • Location: Bayamon, PR
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Tuition: $27,500 annually
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: Yes
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 54
  • Date Founded: 1981
  • Website: http://www.optonet.inter.edu

Southern College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.61
  • Average OAT Score: 336
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 96.99%
  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2012
  • Tuition: $38,292 annually for non-regional students
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Optometry-only
  • Residency Program Offered: 6 on-site; 26 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: No
  • Class Size 2019: 135
  • Date Founded: 1932
  • Website: http://www.sco.edu

University of Houston College of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.34
  • Average OAT Score: 308
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 93.14%
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2014
  • Tuition: $24,897 for residents; $44,155 for non-residents
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 9 on-site; 5 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): No
  • Graduate Programs Offered: MS, PhD
  • Class Size 2019: 69
  • Date Founded: 1952
  • Website: http://www.opt.uh.edu

University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry

  • Average GPA: 3.59
  • Average OAT Score: 340
  • NBEO Pass Rate: 89.06%
  • Location: San Antonio, TX
  • Last Accreditation Date: 2013
  • Tuition: $43,096 first year tuition and fees
  • Multi-disciplinary Program or Optometry-only: Multi-disciplinary
  • Residency Program Offered: 3 on-site; 8 affiliated
  • Undergraduate Degree Program (Joint Degree): BSVS
  • Graduate Programs Offered: MS, PhD
  • Class Size 2019: 103
  • Date Founded: 2009
  • Website: www.uiw.edu/optometry
Find an optometrist job! Browse jobs now.
About Matt Geller, OD

Dr. Matt Geller is an entrepreneur with a track record of developing successful online platforms to solve problems in the healthcare space. Matt is the co-founder and CEO of CovalentCareers and NewGradOptometry.


Do you love your school?