What are the best 10 optometry schools in the United States? Knowing which educational institutions top the rankings helps you choose a school that works for you. Getting a great education improves your chances of personal and professional success in the field of optometry.
What to Look for in Optometry Schools
If you want to be an optometrist, then you need to know the best optometry schools. The greatest optometry schools tend to feature:
- Highly decorated faculty
- Cutting-edge facilities
- High-caliber research programs
- High pass rates among students
You can find optometry schools in most regions of the country. It takes a lot of work to get into one, study there, and then graduate. However, once you do, you’ll be among the many vision care health professionals helping people see clearly in their lives.
10 Best American Optometry Schools
How are the best optometry schools determined? Pass rate is one good criteria. However, there are other factors to consider. College Gazette did just that. You can certainly look up many things for yourself, but here are 10 optometry schools we consider to be candidates for the best among any optometry school rankings:
1. Arizona College of Optometry at Midwestern University
Located in the Arizona city of Glendale, this college earns high optometry school rankings because it graduates 98 percent of its students. With an average GPA of 3.53 and 624 OAT score, students are successful but far from alone given the decorated faculty and industry-leading research facilities and resources. The faculty include American Academy of Optometry fellows and top journal contributors. They recently won a $100,000 grant. Students are able to participate in community faculty clinical rotations. There are also pre-clinical simulations that help students ready themselves for their professional work. High scores in undergraduate science courses help applicants get in, but experiences with practicing optometrists also help a lot.
Acceptance Rate: 10 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.41
OAT Average: 319
2. Illinois College of Optometry
Calling the Windy City home, this educational institution joins the list of optometry schools constantly topping lists of optometry school rankings. Also known as ICO, this school has one famous graduate in Otto Frederick Rohwedder. He was the inventor responsible for bread slicing machines. This school graduates approximately 160 students each year, with a pass rate of over 92 percent. Students here enjoy hands-on training at the Illinois Eye Institute. ICO offers numerous residency programs, including ocular disease and vision rehabilitation. Students that fall in optometry school acceptance rate learn in a gorgeous campus located deep inside Chicago for a supporting and challenging environment. ICO is one of the optometry schools responsible for the Midwest’s best eye care professionals.
Acceptance Rate: 13 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.42
OAT Average: 326
3. Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
This school earns its place in the optometry school rankings by having students split their time. They do two years of following science instruction, but they also do two years of purely clinical studies. Regardless of where students are in their studies, they get the support that few other optometry schools can offer. They get access to everything from advanced technology to international mission trips. The faculty includes field leaders in ocular testing and fellows active with the American Academy of Optometry and Leaders. The College of Optometry at NSU has a nearly 98-percent pass rate, honoring the school’s mission statement of training, educating, and preparing future optometric physicians to do their work professionally, proficiently, and with integrity. Only 94 students get to attend each year, but they come out among the best.
Acceptance Rate: 11 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.43
OAT Average: 323
4. Ohio State University College of Optometry
Situated in Columbus, Ohio, this university is regarded as one of the nation’s best schools run by a state department of education. Their optometry college is no exception as it earns placement in optometry school rankings. Faculty here include optical technology innovators, medical journal contributors, and ranking members of crucial faculty establishments. Faculty and students here have won big awards, including the Low Vision Educational Grant and the Prentice Medal Award honoring distinguished scientists. The pass rate of nearly 97 percent emphasizes focus on students as much as research. Only 64 students a year are admitted to enjoy a highly supportive faculty and cutting-edge resources.
Acceptance Rate: 14 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.72
OAT Average: 317
5. Southern College of Optometry
Located in Memphis, Tennessee, this school dates back to 1932. One of the oldest optometry schools in the country, it is focused on modernity. In 2013, the school went through a nearly $10 million expansion outfitting the facilities with modern technology. Part of the campus is known as The Eye Center, where 60,000 patients visit for eye care provided by students getting hands-on and in-person clinical experience. The program has 136 students per year, and nearly 99 percent of them graduate. Fourteen alumni have gone on to be presidents of the American Optometric Association. The 9:1 student-faculty ratio helps cement high optometry school rankings for this institution, and over 60 endowed scholarships are awarded on an annual basis.
Acceptance Rate: 18 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.61
OAT Average: 336
6. SUNY College of Optometry
The optometry school acceptance rate here is only 23 percent. That makes this educational institution one of the most exclusive optometry schools in the broader optometry school rankings. Successful applicants typically have a 3.5 GPA on average and OAT scores of 345. However, the pass rate is almost 97 percent, meaning that nearly everyone who starts winds up finishing. The program supports students with $4 million yearly funding for the research programs. The college has a 50-year history that includes doctors who have won the 2019 awards for American Optometric Association Optometrist of the Year and Johnson & Johnson Vision Award of Excellence for Contact Lens Patient Care.
Acceptance Rate: 23 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.59
OAT Average: 346
7. University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
UAB is among many optometry schools to receive NIH funding, but they got part of $325 million in various research grants. This school places high in optometry school rankings because of hands-on and in-person clinical training. Much of this happens at the first-rate Eye Care center on-campus. Vision care professionals of the future learn the skills and knowledge they will need to provide for the communities they wind up working in. Nearly 98 percent of all students graduate from the program before becoming successful professionals in their own right.
Acceptance rate: 13 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.66
OAT Average: 321
8. UC Berkeley School of Optometry
Located in Berkeley, California, this school has been around for almost a century. In fact, only two optometry schools were opened before this one. The many faculty and alumni of this institution have gone on to be presidents of both the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association. They get included highly in optometry school rankings because of their pass rate of nearly 93 percent. Regardless of the honors, this school is given, they demonstrate consistent regard for making students also successful. Students in this school receive high-quality training and actually work with patients from the first year of their studies. Before they finish the program, they usually average 2500 hours of time with patients. Students are also able to advance their own research ambitions through support systems such as the renowned Clinical Research Center.
Acceptance Rate: 37 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.42
OAT Average: 355
9. University of Missouri – St Louis
If you want to know how to be an optometrist, then attending the UMiss-SL College of Optometry might be what you want to do. The optometry school acceptance rate here is 31 percent, but their pass rate is over 95 percent. Those are impressive numbers among all optometry schools, and that’s why they are a part of these optometry school rankings. Their students come from all across the country, and they get supported throughout their education. The school has stated values of community, discovery, responsibility, and growth. These aren’t just stated platitudes, either, as students and faculty alike are involved in providing vision care for those in need, with programs focusing on low-cost care, inclusion, and diversity. To get in here, you need a great GPA, high test scores, powerful letters of recommendation, and serious service hours.
Acceptance Rate: 31 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.42
OAT Average: 314
10. University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry
Located in Pikeville, Kentucky, this school is based near the Appalachian Mountains. Known as UPIKE, it’s Kentucky’s only optometry school. UPIKE doesn’t rest on its laurels, however. The school was founded in 2016, but it’s already opened a cutting-edge $60 million training facility called the Health Professions Education Building. Here, they train future doctors in many health care fields. They also help future students through a grant designed to help them handle the expenses involved with the Optometry Admissions Test. Their optometry school acceptance rate is rather high at 38 percent. Their pass rate is even more impressive at nearly 92 percent. All of this adds up to an educational institution that routinely lands in the top of 10 of many optometry school rankings.
Acceptance Rate: 38 percent
Average Undergrad GPA: 3.31
OAT Average: 296
Why Be an Optometrist?
When someone visits your optometry office, you can change their life for the better. You can assess their vision, give them prescriptions for contacts and glasses, diagnose and treat eye injuries, and even detect and prevent disease.
Job growth in the optometry field is supposed to be more than 4 percent over the coming decade, and the average net income is around $140,000 per year. As the population of the country gets older, there is more need for optometrists than ever before.
Within this field, you can enjoy serious professional freedom. Optometrists are in demand in areas rural and urban alike across all 50 states. You can also work in clinical settings with patients, educational institutions teaching others, or in pure research environments.
What are the 10 best optometry schools in the United States? Knowing the specific optometry schools at the top of optometry school rankings helps you know the absolute best educational institutions to apply to if you’re interested in starting this particular field of health care.
Not every optometry school acceptance rate is the same, but there are ways to burnish your background to improve your chances of qualification and admission into one of these prestigious institutions.
Getting Started in a Healthcare Career
Knowing the 10 best optometry schools in the United States is a good first step. Actually getting into one is a very different story.
You’ll be competing against a lot of other applicants who might have just as impressive credentials and scores as you do. They might even have better.
If you want to get ahead of the pack, then you need something that distinguishes you from everyone else. Actual medical field experience can be just the thing that makes an admissions office notice your application in the larger pile.
We offer experiences such as these to those willing to travel abroad in the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. You can help people who are in need of health care while also culturing yourself with international travel. You’ll come back home having done good things for the world, become a better person, and find advantages to tout when applying to health care schools and jobs alike.
For more information about opportunities like these, visit our website to see how it works.