Students interested in becoming an optometrist may take 100 hours of coursework at Milligan to fulfill the prerequisites for admission to an optometry program. After matriculation at an U.S. accredited optometry college, 28 hours of first-year optometry courses are transferred back to Milligan to fulfill the Allied Health Science degree requirements. A complete description of the pre-optometry coursework and application process is found in the Allied Health Science major section of the Catalog.
The Pre-Optometry adviser has a list of United States optometry programs and information regarding the application process. Each optometry school has its own prerequisite courses and undergraduate hour requirements so it is your responsibility to obtain the appropriate information for the optometry schools of interest early in your pre-optometry program at Milligan College so that the prerequisites are fulfilled and admission requirements can be met.
For admission, some schools require only 60 hours of prerequisite coursework, some 90 hours, and some require a bachelor’s degree. A competitive GPA (3.4 or higher) and solid Optometry Admission Test (OAT) score along with some shadowing experience with an optometrist will position you well to secure an interview for optometry school admission. To be a competitive applicant, a student should have significant (100 – 125 hours) exposure to the practice of optometry; the goal is to explore the actual practice of an optometrist and be able to effectively support your desire to become an optometrist. The OAT should be taken early in the fall semester of the year prior to one’s anticipated entrance into optometry school.
Milligan has a formalized affiliation agreements with Southern College of Optometry located in Memphis, TN. This affiliation agreement outlines the terms and conditions under which a student will be eligible for an interview at Southern College of Optometry. A copy of the affiliation agreement is available from the adviser for Pre-Optometry students.
The application process for optometry schools begins the summer prior to the year the student will apply for admission (for most students, the summer following sophomore year). OptomCAS (optometry college application service – www.optomcas.org) is used by the majority of optometry schools and one can apply to several schools together. If an optometry school does not use OptomCAS, application documents can be found on the school’s website. When a student takes the OAT, the student identifies which schools are to receive a report of the scores (i.e. OptomCAS and any other non-OptomCAS schools to which one is applying). It is important that a student watches for application deadlines (which vary from school to school) and that all required documents are submitted well before the posted deadlines. It is highly advised that the application be finished by September prior to the anticipated admission the following August.
Milligan will accept the following three-year program coupled with one year of successful work in optometry school in satisfaction of the course requirements for the B.S. degree in Allied Health Science. Students expecting to complete this degree must file a pre-optometry declaration form with the Pre-Optometry adviser before beginning their junior year courses. Students must complete at least 100 semester hours of undergraduate course work, of which at least 45 hours must be completed at Milligan. Twenty-eight hours of optometry school course work will be transferred back to Milligan to complete the 128 hours required for graduation. Students who are admitted to optometry school after 3 years at Milligan will have their Spiritual Formation Program credits prorated to a total of 115 hours (instead of the required 150 hours).
The limits on class size in most of the optometry programs may prevent acceptance of some qualified applicants. In the event a first application is unsuccessful, the program may be easily changed to a Chemistry or Biology major leading to a B.S. degree, and then application may be made a second time. To complete the biology degree (B.S.), students must take BIOL 130, 131, 210, or 360, BIOL 310, an advanced Biology elective, the Biology Capstone Experience, and 14 to 16 hours of general electives for a total of 28 hours along with the additional Spiritual Formation Program credits. To complete the chemistry degree (B.S.), students must take CHEM 202 and 12 hours of chemistry electives along with 12 hours of general electives for a total of 28 hours along with the additional Spiritual Formation Program credits.