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Academics: Pre-Professional Programs


While the pre-optometry program at Calvin College is small, graduating 1 or 2 students a year, it is highly successful. In the past ten years 92% of pre-optometry graduates of Calvin have been accepted to optometry school. The biology department at Calvin enjoys a close relationship with the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI and with the Indiana University School of Optometry, which has an excellent eye research program.

Jenna Kennedy and Alex Stoddard









Pre-optometry requirements

High school students considering a career in optometry should have a strong background in mathematics and science, including high school physics.

Students wishing to become optometrists complete optometry prerequisites at Calvin before entering optometry school to complete four additional years of study culminating in the Doctor of Optometry (O. D.) degree. Requirements of the optometry schools vary, but all require the following:

8 semester hours general biology
4 semester hours microbiology
8 semester hours general chemistry
10 semester hours organic chemistry or 4 Sester hours of organic chemistry and 3 semester hours of biochemistry
8 semester hours physics
4 semester hours calculus
4 semester hours statistics
6 semester hours English
3-6 semester hours social science                                                          

Many schools also recommend physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, and a business or economics course. Most students complete these courses in the context of a biology or biochemistry major.

You should consult the website of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and work with the pre-optometry advisor, John Ubels, to plan a course of study that meets the requirements of the optometry schools to which they intend to apply. All applicants to optometry school are required to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), which is given on computer and may be taken at any time. Most students take the OAT after completion of the junior year of college. Application deadlines at the various optometry schools range from January 1 to April 1.


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Doing eye research at Calvin

The pre-optometry advisor at Calvin, John Ubels, has an eye research program which gives students an introduction to the structure and function of the eye prior to their enrollment in optometry school. Listed below are representative publications with pre-optometry students (underlined) as co-authors.

Ubels JL, Clousing DP. In vitro alternatives to the use of animals in ocular toxicology. The Ocular Surface. 3:126-142, 2005.

Ubels JL, Hoffman HM, Srikanth S, Resau JH, Webb CP. Gene Expression in Rat Lacrimal Gland Duct Cells Collected Using Laser Capture Microdissection: Evidence for K+ Secretion by Duct Cells. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 47:1876-1885, 2006.

Lim ML, Hurst RK, Konynenbelt BJ
, Ubels JL. Cytotoxicity testing of multipurpose contact lens solutions using monolayer and stratified cultures  of human corneal epithelial cells. Eye and Contact Lens 35:287-296, 2009.

Ubels JL, Van Dyken RE, Louters JR, Schotanus MP, Haarsma LD. Potassium ion fluxes in corneal epithelial cells exposed to UVB. Experimental Eye Research. 92:425-431, 2011.