Opto Bear

Required Courses

Required Courses


We are more than happy to discuss course equivalencies with you. If your community college and/or institution is not listed on Assist.Org (California community college course equivalency only) or in our Articulations (Course Equivalencies). We strongly suggest completing our Prerequisite Checklist to assist you in organizing prerequisite courses specific to your institution. UC Berkeley course descriptions are included in the checklist to provide examples of expected content. Compare UC Berkeley’s descriptions to your community college and/or four-year institution and research equivalencies to enter in the form. Please note that after reviewing our prerequisite courses, we encourage all prospective students to schedule an "Ask an Advisor" appointment to review their own course of study with a member of our professional staff to ensure a successful transition into our program, if accepted. Details to schedule an appointment are linked at Ask an Advisor and we look forward to speaking with you.

The courses required for admission to Berkeley Optometry are determined by the Faculty, based on several criteria. Courses may be selected to be prerequisites because they:

  1. Provide a direct foundation for subsequent prerequisites and/or prepare applicants for courses in the professional curriculum.
  2. Present knowledge that is relevant and useful to the practice of optometry, supplementing the professional curriculum.
  3. Help applicants build a record of academic achievement and demonstrate the intellectual ability to succeed in the professional curriculum.

Also guiding the selection of prerequisites is the firm belief that basic and advanced science courses widely available at the undergraduate level ought to be taken at that level, not as part of the professional curriculum. This approach allows sufficient space in the first two years of Berkeley Optometry's professional curriculum to provide students with the vision science and optometry courses the Faculty deems necessary before they can provide patient care. As a result, students assume responsibility for patient care at a much earlier stage in their training, and they examine a much higher number of patients by the time they graduate.

Course numbers are for UC Berkeley courses (see General Catalog); they are used as a point of comparison. Please review the descriptions carefully and note that these are minimum prerequisite course requirements. Completed courses must have been taken for letter grades, although courses for which AP credit was given are acceptable if listed on an official college transcript. Students who have completed a more difficult course are not required to enroll in the basic course.

Alternative courses may be substituted in consultation with the Admissions and Student Affairs Office.

Required Science Courses:
General Chemistry Chemistry 1A-1B (with laboratories) — 2 semesters or 3 quarters
Organic Chemistry Chemistry 3A-3AL (with laboratory)1 semester or 1 quarter
Note: To account for differences in major and prerequisite requirements at undergraduate institutions, 1 semester or 1 quarter of General Chemistry with laboratory (e.g., Chemistry 1A) combined with 2 semesters or 3 quarters of Organic Chemistry with laboratories (e.g., Chemistry 3A-3AL and 3B-3BL) will also be accepted.
Biochemistry MCB 100B or MCB 102 or UNEX X105* (laboratory optional) 1 semester or 1 quarter
General Biology Biology 1A-1AL-1B (with laboratories)2 semesters or 3 quarters
General Physics Physics 8A-8B (with laboratories)2 semesters or 3 quarters
Required Advanced Science Courses:
Human Anatomy IB 131-131L or UNEX X104 & X108* (laboratory strongly recommended**) 1 semester or 1 quarter***
Human Physiology IB 132-132L (preferred) or MCB 136-133L or UNEX X109-X406.1* (with laboratory) — 1 semester or 1 quarter***
Microbiology MCB C112 or Public Health 162A or UNEX X134* (without laboratory) — 1 semester or 1 quarter
Immunology MCB 150 or UNEX X110* (without laboratory) — 1 semester or 1 quarter
Required General Courses:
Calculus Mathematics 16A or Mathematics 1A — 1 semester or 1 quarter
Note: We will also accept Mathematics 10A and 10B to satisfy our calculus and statistics requirements given that both courses are completed.
Reading and Composition English 1A-1B or equivalent — 2 semesters or 3 quarters
Statistics Statistics 2 or Statistics 131A or Public Health 142 — 1 semester or 1 quarter
Note: We will also accept Mathematics 10A and 10B to satisfy our calculus and statistics requirements given that both courses are completed.
Psychology Psychology 1 or Psychology 2 1 semester or 1 quarter

* Please note that these online courses are accepted, and we suggest the course offered through UC Berkeley Extension (UNEX): Extension.berkeley.edu. We are also willing to review course descriptions from other University and College Extensions to allow for more flexibility in fulfilling our prerequisites.

Starting with the Admissions Cycle 2016-2017, which opens July 1, 2016, Human Anatomy Laboratory will become "Strongly Recommended," rather than "Required."

*** If all in-classroom options have been exhausted and circumstances are extenuating, we sometimes accept online coursework to fulfill Human Physiology. An example is PDBIO 210 from Brigham Young University (BYU) Independent Study. Please contact us prior to registering.

See Other Courses for a list of recommended subject areas in which to take Other Courses.

All prerequisite courses do not have to be completed at the point of application, but the probability of admission may be reduced if more than four prerequisite courses are outstanding.

For information on course equivalencies at University of California and other campuses, please refer to the downloadable lists of courses: Articulations (Course Equivalencies).

Why Immunology?

In January 2011, the Prerequisite Review Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, met to revise our program’s prerequisites. The student population was surveyed in the process; they were asked about prerequisite usefulness in optometry school and made recommendations to the Committee. Over half agreed to add Immunology lecture to our revised prerequisite list. In fact, one student wrote, “I would have benefited greatly if I’d taken Immunology beforehand.” As a result of student feedback, Immunology was officially added in April 2011 and became effective July 2012.

So, you may ask, when should I complete Immunology without risking admission? As with any outstanding prerequisite, you have until the summer prior to matriculation to complete it, if admitted. Many of our incoming students will wait to register and complete an in-class or online Immunology course until after a decision has been reached, and this is perfectly reasonable. Here are in-class and online Immunology courses recommended by current students:

University of California, Berkeley Extension - MCELLBI X110
University of California, San Diego Extension - BIOL 40043
University of California, Santa Cruz Extension - 2257
Berkeley City College – BIOL 33

If you have any questions about Immunology or any of our prerequisites, please contact us.

Online Courses

We understand online and extension coursework may be more accessible for prospective students. It is the policy of Berkeley Optometry's Admissions Committee to consider online and extension prerequisite courses from the following subject areas: Biochemistry, Calculus/Advanced Mathematics, Human Anatomy, Immunology, Microbiology, Psychology, Reading/ Composition, and Statistics. Prerequisite courses that are fulfilled through online and/or extension courses must be from an accredited college or university and must include a final examination that is taken in person with proof of identity. Please contact our office directly should you have a unique situation beyond the coursework listed. We can help to offer alternatives and provide additional flexibility as necessary.

Prerequisite science courses requiring a lab must be taken in a traditional in-class format (General Biology, General Chemistry, Human Physiology, Organic Chemistry, and Physics).

Pass or No Pass Courses

We accept Pass or No Pass courses and labs; however, we do not encourage prospective students to use more than one Pass/No Pass for prerequisite courses. Also, please note that Pass/No Pass courses do not increase or decrease grade point average.

Contacting Professional Programs

For tips and tricks to contact professional programs, please review our Professional Etiquette Tips web page.

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Admissions and Student Affairs Office (ASAO)
School of Optometry
Berkeley, CA 94720-2020
Tel: (510) 642-9537
Fax: (510) 643-7111

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