The SUNY College of Optometry is fully committed to developing outstanding optometrists and vision scientists, making new discoveries that advance our profession and improving lives by providing exceptional care and public service. We are also dedicated to ensuring that our students have a successful and fulfilling career.

The College offers an exceptional curriculum for its students, with opportunities to augment learning through a broad array of elective courses and other opportunities. Here are some of the things that make the SUNY College of Optometry a particularly unique and excellent place to learn and develop your career:

  • The University Eye Center (UEC) is one of the largest and most diverse eye and vision care clinics in the country. Students begin working in the UEC during their first year in our OD program and continue with greater responsibility as they progress.
  • The Clinical Vision Research Center conducts cutting-edge clinical research that has the potential to produce revolutionary advancements in the treatment and care of patients.
  • The Career Development Center actively helps our students, residents and alumni achieve their career goals through innovative programs like the annual Career Symposium and the Family of Mentors program.
  • The MBA Certificate Program was developed in 2013 in conjunction with SUNY Empire State College as a way to provide SUNY Optometry students with a convenient and manageable way to get a business education to complement their optometric studies.
  • The cost of SUNY Optometry’s OD program is one of the least expensive in North America.

There are a number of ways to learn more about what optometry, vision science and SUNY have to offer:

  • A member of our admissions team would be happy to meet with your pre-health/pre-optometry club and provide insight as well as tips for building a competitive application. To request a visit, please email our General Admissions address at admissions@sunyopt.edu
  • Virtual campus experiences – Looking to find your niche at SUNY Optometry directly from the comfort of your own home? Join various members of our campus community as they aim to answer your questions on different elements of the student experience.
  • Visit our campus – We welcome anyone who wants to see for themselves what we’re all about and meet personally with an admissions counselor to discuss their professional pursuits.
  • Participate in one of our unique CSTEP Programs – Each year—once in the spring and once in the fall—we offer a unique, two-week internship program that immerses participants in the world of optometry. In addition, each summer we offer a free graduate-level course on vision science.
  • Come to our Open House – We offer two each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
  • Want to find out what the day-to-day life of an optometrist is like? We can help you find an optometrist in your area to shadow so that you can learn more about the profession.
  • Follow us on social media: twitter_logo facebook_logo YouTube-logo-full_color LinkedIn_logo

Explore Optometry

What does an optometrist do?

A Doctor of Optometry (OD) is an independent, primary health care provider who examines the visual system, the eye and associated structures, as well as diagnoses, treats and manages related diseases and disorders.

Optometry involves much more than prescribing and fitting glasses and contact lenses. ODs are trained to evaluate a patient’s visual condition and to determine the best treatment for that condition. ODs are usually considered to be the primary care providers for patients seeking eye and vision care.

  • Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses and perform certain surgical procedures.
  • Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.
  • An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
  • Optometrists are eye health care professionals state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.
What is the outlook for the optometric profession?

According to the United States Department of Labor, employment of optometrists is expected to grow by 24 percent between 2012 and 2020, much faster than the average of most occupations. It is also anticipated that the aging population will increase demand for optometrists over the coming years and decades.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans have gained access to health insurance. In addition, the ACA requires that most health care plans now include a pediatric vision care benefit. Millions of children have gained health insurance coverage and will have access to an annual, comprehensive eye exam and treatment from an optometrist.

Do optometrists have specialties?

There are multiple career options for ODs: private practices, multidisciplinary medical practices, hospitals, teaching institutions, research positions, community health centers and the ophthalmic industry. Optometrists can also build successful careers in the military, public health or in government service.

Most optometrists practice “full-scope,” primary care optometry and treat and manage all forms of visual and ocular conditions. However, a practitioner may choose to concentrate his/her practice on treating a selected population or visual condition.

Many optometrists also focus on specific sub-specialties, such as pediatrics, vision therapy, ocular disease, head trauma and other areas.

What if I want to do research or teach?

Students interested in gaining an even greater understating of the visual system in order to pursue a career in research or academia will likely need to obtain an MS and/or PhD degree, in conjunction or independently of an OD degree.

(Some of the information above was adapted from the American Optometric Association and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry)

Request Information

To request an admissions brochure or more information about our programs, please submit the form below.

Admissions Brochure

Office of Admissions
SUNY College of Optometry
33 West 42nd St
New York, NY 10036

Phone: (800) 291-3937 or (212) 938-5500
Email: admissions@sunyopt.edu



Admissions FAQs

What undergraduate major do I need to have in order to apply to optometry school?

The SUNY College of Optometry welcomes applicants from all majors. Our students typically have graduated with an undergraduate major in the biological or natural sciences, but that is not a requirement for admission. If you are pursuing a non-science major, you must have fulfilled SUNY Optometry’s prerequisite course requirements before enrolling.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree in order to apply?

Although a four-year baccalaureate degree is highly recommended, students may matriculate after successfully completing three years (90 credits from a four-year college or university) of study.

What is the minimum OAT score for admission?

Although OAT scores play an important role in the admissions process at SUNY Optometry, we look at the applicant’s entire profile (GPA, letters of recommendation, knowledge of the profession, leadership experience, etc.) and do not set a minimum OAT score for admissions. Visit our class profile page for more information about the average OAT scores of our students.

Can I take the OAT more than once?

Yes, you can take the OAT more than once. Your highest scores will be taken into consideration.

How long are my OAT scores valid?

Scores older than two years by the beginning of the application cycle (July 1) will not be accepted.

Can I take prerequisite courses at community colleges?

Admissions preference is given to applicants who have completed prerequisite courses, especially in the sciences, at four-year colleges and universities. Community college credit is only accepted for courses completed with a letter grade of C or higher. The Admissions Committee encourages candidates who have taken prerequisite courses at community colleges to take upper-division courses in the sciences at a college or university.

Does SUNY accept prerequisite courses taken online?

Although SUNY Optometry accepts certain prerequisites taken online, the following restrictions apply:

  • Prerequisite science courses and lab requirements must be taken in a traditional, in-class format.
  • Online prerequisite courses will only be considered from a regionally-accredited college or university.
  • SUNY Optometry will only accept online prerequisite courses in the following subject areas: psychology, social sciences and humanities (one course only), calculus and statistics.
Is there a limit to the number of prerequisite courses that I can take at a community college?

SUNY Optometry does not limit the number of courses you can take at community colleges. We do recommend, however, that most of your science prerequisites be taken at a four-year college or university.

Is there a minimum number of hours I should shadow an optometrist?

There is no set amount of time required for your shadowing experience(s). We are more concerned with the quality of your experiences than with the quantity. The Admissions Committee is interested in gauging your knowledge regarding the expectations of the profession, your exposure to the different modes of practice and exposure to the different specialties within the field of optometry. We want to make sure that you have done your homework in exploring the profession and that you are confident that optometry is a profession that you are passionate about.

I left school many years ago. Do I need to retake all prerequisite courses again?

We accept all courses completed within 10 years prior to submitting an application. This policy may be flexible under certain extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to, being a veteran and/or a recent, stellar OAT performance. If you would like to inquire whether courses taken over 10 years ago may be accepted, please submit a detailed letter explaining your circumstances to admissions@sunyopt.edu.

How do I know if a course I took counts towards SUNY Optometry’s prerequisites?

For a list of commonly accepted substitutions, please visit the Prerequisite Courses Required for Admissions page.  If the course you are referring to is not listed, please email a brief course description along with credit hours and course title to admissions@sunyopt.edu.

Does SUNY Optometry accept international students?

SUNY Optometry welcomes applications from out-of-state residents and international students.

Are there special requirements for international students?

In addition to the application requirements for all incoming students, international students need to have their high school and college records evaluated by World Education Services (except applicants from English-language, Canadian universities.) More information is available at World Education Services.

If English is not your first language and you have been in the United States for fewer than three years, or if the Admissions Committee requires it of you, you will be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A score of 81 (iBT) or greater is required. For more information, please visit TOEFL.

Does SUNY Optometry accept Canadian students?

SUNY Optometry welcomes applications from out-of-state residents and international students. On average, seven percent of the incoming class is comprised of Canadian students. 

I am a Canadian student and have not taken the SAT or ACT. Is that ok?

Canadian students who have not taken the SAT or ACT in high school are not required to take it.

Do Canadian students qualify for financial aid?

SUNY Optometry does not offer financial aid for Canadian students. Canadian students applying for financial aid are required to contact the Canadian Student Loan Program (CANLearn) directly for information and applications.

Life at SUNY- What is student life like at SUNY?

As with any educational institution, the student experience varies greatly for each student. In general, however, students, faculty and staff are supportive and helpful to each other and students at SUNY learn in a collegial and comfortable environment. To get a better sense of the activities, culture and community of the College, visit the news section of our website or follow us on our various social media platforms.

Is tutoring available?

Yes. The Office for Student Affairs and International Programs administers a peer program to assist students in their academic studies through individual and group tutorials. Students are urged to seek tutoring as soon as the need is recognized or if it is recommended by a faculty member.

Is counseling available to students?

Yes. The Office for Student Affairs and International Programs is available to all students for personal and academic counseling. An additional referral service is also available for specific assistance within the New York City area.

Are there community service opportunities at SUNY?

Absolutely. Community service is a core value at SUNY and the College is involved with a number of community service projects in the city. Additionally, many student organizations reach out to under served populations throughout New York City, across the country and around the world. For more information on student organization, please visit the Clubs and Organizations page on our website.

Living in New York City - How will I get around?

Most students leave their cars behind and navigate the city on foot and with the help of NYC’s massive, safe public transportation network. Eighteen of New York City’s 24 subway lines are located within a few blocks of the College.

What is housing like in New York City?

SUNY Optometry offers incoming students all of the support that they need in order to find affordable, safe and student-friendly housing. Although SUNY Optometry does not maintain housing facilities of its own, a Student Housing Committee is created each year to help incoming students with housing arrangements. The Student Housing Committee organizes Housing Day in June when students who are in need of housing are encouraged to visit campus to receive valuable information on how and where to look for a place to live in the New York City area. During Housing Day, students set their priorities related to cost, space, distance and geographical location, and the Student Housing Committee assists them in locating and securing suitable housing to meet their needs.

Students are also encouraged to look for housing independently through the various private websites provided below:

  • Street Easy: a resource for finding housing by price and location
  • Craigslist:  apartment listings; popular with students
  • NYC Affordable Housing Resource Center: this official NYC.gov site provides apartment hunting tips, rent regulations and links to help you in your search
  • Rent-Direct:  a subscriber service that sends out email alerts and offers live telephone support
Is New York safe?

Yes! In fact, New York City ranks among the safest large cities in the country, and the neighborhoods around the College are some of the safest in the city. Times Square has become a pedestrian- and family-friendly area. A clean and efficient transit system is safe to ride virtually anywhere you want to go.

For more information about New York City, visit our resources page.

Additional questions?

Email our admissions office and they will be glad to help you.


Prerequisite Courses


To be considered as a candidate for admission to the professional OD program, a four-year baccalaureate degree is highly recommended. The educational institution must be accredited. Students who have completed all pre-requisite courses and a minimum of three years (90 semester credits) of undergraduate study from an accredited institution will also be considered for admission.

  • All of the course requirements should preferably be met by enrollment at a four-year college/university in those courses specifically offered for departmental majors or pre-professional students.
  • Letter grades should be awarded for all required courses and should be completed successfully with a grade of C or better.
  • Brief or survey courses are not acceptable.
  • Upper-division course work in the sciences is highly recommended.
  • Advanced-level courses that demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge expected from the prerequisites may be taken instead if approved by the Director of Admissions (possible substitutions can be found below).
Required Courses Semester(s) Quarters
General Biology (with lab)
Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology, Cellular Biology and Zoology may be substituted for one semester of General Biology. Botany is not accepted.
2 3
General Chemistry (with lab)
Inorganic Chemistry is also acceptable.
2 3
General Physics (with lab)
Engineering Physics is acceptable.
2 3
Organic Chemistry (with lab) 1 1
Microbiology (with lab) 1 1
Biochemistry (lecture only) 1 1
Pre-calculus is acceptable.
1 1
English Composition and Literature
Courses that require extensive writing are acceptable. One semester of Public Speaking is acceptable.
2 3
General Psychology
Principles of Psychology or upper-level Psychology courses are acceptable.
1 1
Psychology Statistics, Biometrics, Biostatistics and Business Statistics are acceptable. Calculus II may not be substituted for statistics. Students must be able to apply elementary differential equations (particularly simple exponential processes) to practical scientific problems.
1 1

Students must be able to apply elementary differential equations (particularly simple exponential processes) to practical scientific problems.

Strongly Recommended Courses Semester Quarter
Physiology and Anatomy 1 1
Cellular & Molecular Biology 1 1

Advanced Placement Credit

Advanced Placement (AP) credits are acceptable as long as the courses appear on the candidate’s college transcript and the student has received college credit for the courses.

Prerequisite Courses Taken at Community Colleges

SUNY College of Optometry accepts courses from community colleges and does not have a set limit of courses that can be taken at community colleges. The Admissions Committee encourages candidates who have taken prerequisite courses at 2-year colleges to take upper-division science courses at 4-year institutions.

Online Course Policy

Although SUNY College of Optometry accepts certain prerequisites taken online, the following restrictions apply:

  • Prerequisite science courses and lab requirements must be taken in a traditional in-class format.
  • Online prerequisite courses will only be considered from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • SUNY College of Optometry will only accept online prerequisite courses in the following subject areas: Psychology, Social Sciences and Humanities (one course only), English Composition and Literature (one course only), Calculus and Statistics.

Supplemental Fee

Supplemental Application for OD Program

Thank you for your supplemental application submission. Before we can process the application, a payment of $40 needs to be completed by clicking on the button below to make a payment online.