Application Guide

The minimum entrance requirement for optometry school is three years of college. The majority of today’s optometry students have a bachelor’s degree. Student applicants are required to complete the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) as a prerequisite to admission. Applicants seeking admissions to an optometry program should contact those schools of interest for information on specific prerequisites and admission requirements.


Application Information

Centralized Application Service: OptomCAS - Optometry Centralized Application Service

Cost: $165 which includes first optometry school choice. Each additional school is $65.

When to apply: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. The OptomCAS cycle opens in late June.

Courses and Transcripts: The courses you have taken will need to be self-reported and you will also need to have official transcripts sent to the application service.

Most centralized applications will have a form to print off that will need to be attached to your transcript. You will be asked to enter information, grades and credits for every course that you have enrolled in at any U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution. Transcripts should be sent from the registrar’s office of all US and/or Canadian Schools attended.

You may order a transcript from the MSU registrar’s office from the registrar’s web site, There is no charge for sending transcripts. If you are taking courses during the spring semester, it is advised you wait until your spring semester grades are posted to your record as professional schools will want to see those grades.

    Entrance Exam

    Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

    Length: 4 hours and 50 minutes

    Sections: Survey of Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics Test, Quantitative Reasoning. Explore individual section information by visiting our OAT page.

    Cost: $450 registration fee, which includes scores sent during registration for up to 5 schools. Scores sent to additional schools costs $36 per school.

    Scores: 200-400 per section

    OAT Prep Resources: MSU Pre-Health advisors do not endorse any specific test prep resource, but we encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs.

    Personal Statement

    The personal statement is a very limited in length essay that is used as a device to get a better understanding of the applicant. It is a very important element that should be prepared well in advance to the application and should be edited thoroughly by many different people, such as but not limited to, the writing center, friends and family.

    Length: 4,500 character limit for OptomCAS participating schools.

    Prompt: Please describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals.

    What to include:

    • Why you selected this field of health care
    • What motivates you to learn more about health care
    • Pertinent information about you not included elsewhere in the application
    • Special hardships or experiences that have influenced your educational pursuits
    • Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record not explained in the application.



    This section gives applicants an opportunity to expand on their experiences. All of your work in leadership, clinical experiences, community service, research, publications, awards and honors are detailed in a single section.

    OptomCAS requests that applicants enter their experiences among the following categories:

    • Employment: Paid work done outside of the optometric field
    • Extracurricular Activities: Research, non-optometric club memberships, sports, etc.
    • Optometric Experience - All paid and unpaid optometric work experience(s) EXCLUDING shadowing/observation/volunteer experiences
    • Shadowing - All paid and unpaid shadowing/observation experiences
    • Volunteer: Volunteer experiences of any kind

    Recommendation Letters

    OptomCAS allows up to 4 letters of recommendation.

    While you must pay careful attention to the guidelines of each school that requests your letters, we suggest you identify the following people to request letters of evaluation from:

    • Two science faculty who taught you in a class
    • One non-science faculty
    • One individual working in the profession you wish to pursue (example: an osteopathic physician, dentist, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc)
    • One or two additional individuals who know you well from a work, volunteer or research experience


    After submitting the primary application, and secondary applications if required, students may receive an offer to interview. Optometry schools that offer an interview have indicated an interest in selecting you, and the interview is a critical part of the application process. Remember, you are not only preparing to answer their questions, you are preparing to ask your own. While they determine whether you are the right fit for the program, you need to determine if the program is the right fit for you.

    Schools use personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as maturity, interpersonal skills, and ability to articulate strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in dentistry and the experiences that have motivated you.