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On this page we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about admission to our OD Program. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us. (510) 642-9537

General Questions

Please visit the websites listed below for general information about the profession of optometry:

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (
The American Optometric Association (

Application Process

Required Courses

No. Be sure to complete all Required Courses (linked above) for optometry, regardless of declared major, before the date of your planned enrollment in optometry.
You don't need a bachelor's degree to apply, but you need one by the time you start classes in your first year.
Berkeley Optometry conducts a rolling admissions process. While you have the opportunity to apply during any round throughout the cycle, it’s advantageous to submit your application earlier, as there is a finite number of seats available in the class and more seats are available at the beginning of the cycle.
Ensuring that applicants have the necessary foundation and knowledge to begin the program allows us to start early with clinical education and dive in to more optometry focused coursework. As such, all prerequisite coursework should be from an accredited institution where students have earned a final grade of C or better.
There is not a time limit or expiration date on prerequisite based coursework. However, we advise you should retake a course if you feel you can receive a better grade or to better demonstrate expertise over the subject knowledge. Another option would be to complete the OAT to demonstrate that knowledge (but we are OAT optional). It is most important to us that you feel you can handle the academic rigor of the program and can showcase that through your previous coursework.
We understand online and extension coursework may be more accessible for our prospective students. We will consider online and extension prerequisite courses where the labs are optional or not required (biochemistry, calculus/advanced mathematics, human anatomy, microbiology, psychology, reading/composition and statistics). Prerequisite science courses requiring a lab must be taken in an in-class format (general biology, general chemistry, human physiology, organic chemistry and physics).
No, not all prerequisite courses have to be completed at the point of application, but we cannot review your application if more than four prerequisite courses are outstanding.
Yes, courses for which AP credit was given are acceptable if listed on an official college transcript.
Although we do not have a required amount of shadowing hours, the purpose in shadowing an optometrist is to help you decide that optometry is the profession for you. The number of hours will vary from individual to individual. Additionally, we do recommend shadowing in more than one mode of practice, if possible, to have multiple perspectives and experiences within the profession of optometry. Different modes might include private practice, VA hospital, corporate practice, group practice, etc.
No, we do not require research experience to be admitted into our program, nor do we give preferential treatment to applicants with research backgrounds.
You should contact us via email at regarding acceptable substitute courses if no courses are offered at your school in human anatomy and human physiology.
We prefer a life science-based statistics course if it is available at your institution. If your institution does not have a life science-based statistics course, we will accept the introductory course. If you are unsure of equivalent content, please email the course name, number, description and units to us at
In terms of the application process, there is no preferential treatment given to students who are in-state vs. out-of-state. There are also no additional documents required for the application process for out-of-state students.
Yes! Undocumented students are eligible to apply to the Doctor of Optometry program at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science. Before applying, we encourage you to contact our Admissions and Student Affairs team to learn more about how this may impact licensing, malpractice insurance, rotations and/or externships.
Many applicants to Berkeley Optometry choose to gain additional experience, both in optometry and life, by taking a year or more off following completion of their bachelor’s degree. Because the Admissions Committee recognizes the value of this real-world experience, it can improve these individual’s competitive advantage for admission.
We do not offer part-time student status into the program. The curriculum to become an Optometrist must be done full time to complete the program.

Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) can be a helpful factor for bolstering applicants who have a low GPA or weaker science background but is an optional part of the application and thus are not counted against students who decide not to submit test scores.
As mentioned above, Berkeley Optometry is a test optional school. However, if you choose to submit scores, we recommend them not being older than three - five years old.
No. We will take the highest Academic Average (AA) and corresponding subject area for that test date only. We will not mix scores from different test dates. In a case where your AA is the same between or among scores, we will use your Total Science (TS) score as a tiebreaker.

Admitted Student

We do not currently offer an option for students to enroll in a dual degree program. Some OD graduates each year may choose to continue their education in a PhD program but it is not an existing option for a dual degree.
The Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science does not grant deferrals for admission. Accepted students who cannot start with their cohort must reapply in the following year. Please contact Admissions & Student Affairs for more information.

Grading Scale

This change is consistent with curriculum reform that has already occurred in other professional healthcare programs both within and outside of the UC system, including medical, dental, and pharmacy schools. The underlying basis for this shift within the health sciences is to foster a mastery-orientated environment in which students seek out challenges and thrive when faced with new obstacles, as opposed to a performance orientated environment in which students seek out tasks that they know will make them appear competent, while avoiding situations that could make them appear incompetent. Our leadership team, faculty and students overwhelmingly support this change.
There are a number of positive reasons for this change, including: fostering of a growth versus fixed mindset by emphasizing intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation, minimizing grading biases that have historically presented barriers to students from minoritized groups, encouragement of an improved and personalized assessment system that enlists faculty participation, improvement of student health and wellness by decreasing stress and anxiety, decreasing competition by promoting a collaborative environment.
It is critical that students receive regular, constructive feedback on their progress in the didactic and clinical settings.

In the didactic setting, faculty will incorporate regular formative assessments into their courses to monitor student progress and provide ongoing feedback. We anticipate that students will still have access to some numerical scores and distributions so that students can gauge their own progress. Additionally, faculty will be encouraged to meet individually with any student whose progress is of concern during the semester.

In the clinical setting, students will be given real time verbal feedback on their performance. Written feedback will be provided to students in addition to in person, one on one feedback at the end of each clinical rotation. Narratives of student performance are also written by faculty.

While grades are one metric included in residency applications, there are several others that weigh heavily into the selection process, such as NBEO scores, assessment of clinical competency, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, community service, research experience and letters of recommendation. Consistent to performance evaluations completed by other health science professional programs, student-specific narratives that describe distinguishing attributes and noteworthy characteristics of a student's performance can be submitted in lieu of the 4.0 grading scale transcript.
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