Top 5 Doctorates in Optometry

Most of us visit the optometrist for eye examinations, new glasses, and contact lens prescriptions. But there's more to optometry than meets the eye — and an optometrists' educational background reflects it. Optometrists detect and treat ocular diseases such as glaucoma, myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

Optometrists help their patients manage the ocular effects of diabetes and visual disorders caused by developmental disabilities or brain injuries. Optometrists perform eye surgery, prescribe medication, and utilize vision therapy for patients with low vision.

As the population of the United States ages, the job outlook for optometrists increases exponentially. Chronic diseases will become more and more commonplace, especially as diabetes is linked to diabetic retinopathy, which can ultimately cause blindness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for optometrists will increase by 18% into 2026, adding approximately 7,200 new jobs. Job prospects are evenly geographically distributed throughout the country, too — optometrists are likely to find a career in whatever area of the United States they choose to live in. 

Pursuing a Doctor of Optometry degree is a fiscally sound decision, plain and simple. Not only does the degree take considerably less time than others in the medical field, but the average income for an optometrist is also comfortable. The programs listed below in our Top Doctorate in Optometry are typically completed in four years. Many of the programs do not require that incoming students have a Bachelor's degree — thereby saving even more and avoiding student loan debt. The average median income for optometrists as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018 was $111K. Additionally, optometrists often have private practices, allowing them greater autonomy in their career and lifestyle choices. We hope you'll find the perfect fit to pursue your Doctor of Optometry degree!

Ranking the Top 5 Doctorates in Optometry

Each ranking published by Top Master's in Healthcare requires a lot of research, fact-checking, and interest in the world of higher education and medical industries. The editors of TMHC utilize credible data resources from academic journals, government databases, job recruitment organizations, and, especially, degree alumni reviews. TMHC rankings are scored specifically on degree outcomes, alumni reviews, degree affordability, acceptance rates, MCAT and GRE scores, and degree completion rates.

To be considered for ranking by TMHC, degrees must be accredited by the National Science Foundation and, thus, provide appropriate doctorate certifications within the health care field and have institutional affiliations with scholarly peer-reviewed publications. For more information about how TMHC scores individual medical degrees, please visit our About Us page. 

Here are the Top 5 Doctorates in Optometry for 2020!

#5. Midwestern State University

Chicago, IL

Doctor of Optometry


The Doctor of Optometry program at Midwestern State University is through the Chicago College of Optometry. Students in this program benefit from a low student to faculty ratio, supervised hands-on experiences with patients, and simulation centers. The program is a total of 72 credit hours, typically completed in four years at full-time enrollment. Students will begin the program with classes in Interprofessional Education, Clinical Optometry, and Geometrical Optics. In their second year, students will begin research for their capstone project. In their third and fourth year, students will be engaged in clinical services. By the end of the program, students will pass Part I and Part II of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and must complete the licensure requirements as set by the state they plan to practice in. 

To gain admission to the program, prospective students should submit scores for the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) or the GRE. Two letters of recommendation, a firm understanding of optometric medicine, and a Bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Prerequisite coursework in biology, anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, physics, calculus, microbiology, psychology, and statistics are also required. 

Graduate Tuition: $3,294 / Out-of-State: $4,464

Score: 93.5

#4. The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL 

Doctor of Optometry


The University of Alabama at Birmingham's Doctor of Optometry program is a total of four years of full-time enrollment in the fall, spring and summer semesters. The program starts with a firm foundation in health sciences, clinical optometry, and ocular anatomy. As the student progresses through the program, they learn more complex concepts related to hematology, visual perception, and anomalies of binocular vision. In the summer of their second year, students will begin their clinical rotations. These rotations take place at UAB Eye Care and other affiliated clinics such as the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Bell Center, the Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation and the Western Health Center. Students are expected to complete at least 2,00 hours of supervised clinical work. 

Requirements for admission to the OD program at UAB include the Optometry Admissions Test, an interview, and letters of recommendation or a composite evaluation. Applicants to the program should have one year of the following: biology, general chemistry, physics, English, and a social or behavioral science class. At least one class in microbiology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, calculus, statistics, and psychology are also required. UAB's School of Optometry has a generous number of scholarship awards

Graduate Tuition: $8,100 / Out-of-State: $18,540

Score: 98.8

#3. Indiana University 

Bloomington, IN

Doctor of Optometry


Indiana University's Doctor of Optometry is a four-year degree with a variety of research projects for students to participate in. IU's School of Optometry engages in research regarding optimal imaging, color vision, diabetes detection, and disease. Students will be prepared for clinical practice by their third year in the program. Clinical experiences typically take place at the Indianapolis Eye Care Center of the Atwater Eye Care Center. Early coursework includes topics on integrative optometry, geometric and visual optics, and ocular biology. In later coursework, students will delve into ocular disease, the business aspects of optometry, and pediatric optometry. The program concludes with an external clinic internship. 

To prepare for the O.D. program, prospective candidates should have a strong academic background in biology or zoology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, statistics, psychology, and writing. Community college or technical school coursework is acceptable. A Master's degree is not required. Applications are due by July 1st. Indiana University will assist its DO graduates in finding a residency after graduation. These residencies allow students further experience in cornea and contact lens care, ocular disease, pediatric optometry, and primary eye care. 

Graduate Tuition: $9,225 / Out-of-State: $31,932

Score: 98.8

#2. Ferris State University 

Big Rapids, MI

Doctor of Optometry


The Doctor of Optometry program at Ferris State University is through the Michigan College of Optometry. Since 1975, the program has been preparing students for careers in optometry. Students will gain hands-on experience at the University Eye Center. The center offers patient care in ocular disease, specialty contact lenses, vision therapy, pre- and post-surgical care, and pediatric treatment. Students in the program have the opportunity for networking and collegial relationship development through a variety of student organizations such as the Michigan Optometric Student Private Practice Association. Other organizations include the Michigan Optometric Student Association, the Optometric Public Health Student Association, and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists. The Michigan College of Optometry also supports its alumni with the Career Services office. Over the past five years, between 94.74% and 100% of students in the program have graduated. 

The D.O. program at Ferris State University has a rolling deadline for admission. Students without a Bachelor's degree are considered for admission to the program. It is possible to earn your degree while pursuing the doctorate in optometry. OAT test scores are required for admission, as are undergraduate courses in cell biology, embryology, genetics, and embryology are recommended. Job shadowing an optometrist may also strengthen your application. 

Graduate Tuition: $9,225 / Out-of-State: $31,932

Score: 99.9

#1. Ohio State University 

Columbus, OH

Doctor of Optometry


Ohio State University's Doctor of Optometry program combines coursework with clinical rotations. In their first year, students take classes in biochemistry for optometry, pathophysiology, and microbiology for optometry. Coursework in the second year consists of topics in anterior segment ocular disease, ocular care techniques, and introduction to primary care practice. Students in their third year will begin supervised patient care. The College of Optometry at OSU is home to several clinics specializing in low vision rehabilitation, binocular vision, vision therapy, contact lenses, and pediatric optometry. 

Admission to the program is highly competitive and receives approximately 600 applications each year — and accepts only 67 new students each academic year. Prerequisite courses for admission to the program are integral to a competitive application, as are test scores for the Optometry Admission Test and the GRE. Additional requirements for admission include at least 10 hours or more of observation in an optometric practice, three letters of recommendation, and an Ohio State Optometry Supplemental Application. The College of Optometry at OSU hosts visitation days, where prospective students can tour the College's facilities and meet with faculty. 

Graduate Tuition: $11,560 / Out-of-State: $34,064

Score: 100.00

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