Apr 13, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Optometry, OD

College of Optometry  > Optometry, OD

Established in 1952, the College of Optometry is housed in the J. Davis Armistead Building in the Health Science Section of the main University campus.  It is nestled between the Health 1 and 2 facilities and offers a full ambulatory and refractive surgery center, making it one of the most modern in the world.

The Professional program educates students to become Doctors of Optometry; independent primary health care providers who specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as the diagnosis of related systemic conditions.  Graduates from the professional optometric program may enter family practice or serve in multidisciplinary primary care clinics. They also find careers in public health, teaching and research, industry and health administration.

The College not only educates students planning to practice optometry, but also offers Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in physiological optics/vision science for students planning careers in teaching and research. Students who have a degree in biological or physical science or biomedical engineering with a special interest in vision or who are graduates of an optometry school or other professional health program may want to consider entering the graduate program.

The faculty of dedicated research scientists and expert clinicians is complemented by research laboratories, teaching clinics, and a health sciences library with a large collection and internet access to literature on eye care and vision science.

Residency programs and fellowships are available both at the College and at external sites for individuals holding a Doctor of Optometry Degree. Residencies are available in pediatric, primary care, contact lenses, rehabilitative, neuro-optometric care or hospital-based optometry. These programs are designed to provide optometrists with advanced clinical training and knowledge.  While the programs focus on direct patient care, scholarly and didactic activities also contribute to the development of advanced clinical competencies.  Helping to care for vision, our most treasured sense makes optometry a rewarding profession for students interested in a health career.

For more information, please visit the College of Optometry website.

Admission Requirements

For information on the application process to the graduate program (M.S./Ph.D.) in Physiological Optics and Vision Science, visit the graduate application information website.

To be eligible for admission, students must have a baccalaureate degree of any major and a grade of “C” or better in each required prerequisite course. While there is no minimum GPA required for application, the College of Optometry will generally not consider applicants with an overall GPA less than a 3.00  to be competitive for admission. Students may apply for admission to the O.D. program while completing these requirements.

All applicants must:

  • complete an application via OptomCAS, during which the applicant will submit official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work, complete a brief essay, submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation, and list professional work and job shadowing experiences;
  • pay the OptomCAS application fee of $170.00;
  • complete the UHCO supplemental application (available via the UHCO web site during open application periods); and
  • pay the UHCO supplemental application fee of $50.00;
  • and, complete the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) in time for scores to be verified by March 30 prior to the semester in which the applicant expects to enter the O.D. program.

Applications for admission via OptomCAS are accepted between July 1 and March 30 prior to the fall semester in which the applicant expects to enter the O.D. program. All supporting materials are due by March 30 prior to the semester in which the applicant expects to enter.

All supporting material should be sent to:

The University of Houston College of Optometry
Office of Optometry Relations
4901 Calhoun Rd.
J. Davis Armistead Building
Houston, TX 77204-2020

Prerequisite Coursework for Admission:

  • General Biological Sciences with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)
  • Advanced  Biology related to Human Science - 2 courses (8 credit hours)
  • Microbiology with Lab - 1 course (4 credit hours)
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)
  • Organic Chemistry with Lab - 1 course (4 credit hours)
  • Biochemistry - 1 course (3 credit hours)
  • General Physics with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)
  • Calculus - 1 course (3 credit hours)
  • Statistics - 1 course (3 credit hours)
  • Psychology - 1 course (3 credit hours)

Optometry Admission Test (OAT):

The OAT is a standardized examination sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information and required by all schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and the University of Waterloo, Canada. The OAT consists of: survey of the natural sciences (biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics and quantitative reasoning.  At least one year of college education; which should include courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics, is required prior to taking the OAT.  Although examinees are able to take the OAT’s an unlimited amount of times; waiting at least 90 days between attempts, only scores from the four most recent attempts are reported. The total number of attempts will also be reported. While there is no minimum score required for admission to UHCO’s O.D. program, a Total Science score of 330 (200-400 scale) is considered competitive. For subject information, application to take the OAT, scoring procedures, study guides, and more, please visit: http://www.ada.org/en/oat.  Additional information may be found at Optometric Admission Testing Program or write/call:

Optometric Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60611-2678

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation:

Letters of recommendation must be requested via and submitted directly to OptomCAS. A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required, but OptomCAS will accept a maximum of four. Additionally, UHCO requires that TWO of the three letters be academic letters of recommendation written by college or university faculty members who have directly taught the applicant. UHCO strongly recommends that the third letter of recommendation be from an optometrist with whom the applicant has trained and/or shadowed. Letters not sent electronically to OptomCAS by the reviewer but instead sent directly to The College of Optometry will not be accepted.

Supplemental Application:

OptomCAS does not provide all of the information required by the College of Optometry.  Therefore, applicants will be required to complete a UHCO Supplemental Application.  This application will be available at: http://www.opt.uh.edu; only after an OptomCAS application is submitted and an OptomCAS ID is generated.  The UHCO Supplemental Application ID will be the same as the OptomCAS ID.  A fifty-dollar ($50 US), non-refundable application fee is required.  The OptomCAS application, UHCO Supplemental Application and all supporting materials must be completed and received by the University of Houston College of Optometry, Office of Optometry Relations by March 30 prior to the Fall semester in which the applicant is expected to enter.  It may take 4-6 weeks after submission for the OptomCAS application to be verified by OptomCAS and delivered electronically to the College.  For more information, visit http://www.opt.uh.edu.


An interview is required for admission, and competitive applicants will be invited for on-campus interviews until the class is filled. Not all applicants are interviewed. The interview allows UHCO’s administration to learn more about an applicant’s passion for optometry, preparation for UHCO’s curriculum, why he/she has chosen to apply to UHCO, and more. Additionally, applicants have the opportunity to experience first-hand UHCO’s facilities; visit with current students; and connect with UHCO’s didactic, clinical, and research faculty.

Criminal Background Checks:

The College of Optometry requires that newly admitted applicants to the Professional Optometric Program, complete and successfully pass a Criminal Background Check (CBC) prior to matriculation.  Offers of admission are contingent upon the outcome of the CBC which will be reviewed by the UHCO Admission Committee.  Students are expected to complete a second CBC in their fourth professional year, prior to beginning external rotations (externships) at all US Federal Clinical sites (VA Hospitals, military sites, Indian Health Services).  This CBC is required 6-12 weeks prior to the date the externship begins and/or as determined by the site. The fee for the CBS is the responsibility of the student.

Immunization Requirements:

An applicant accepted into the University of Houston College of Optometry Professional Program must present proof of adequate immunization against: rubeola (common measles), rubella (German measles), mumps, varicella (chicken pox), tetanus and Hepatitis B, prior to the beginning of the first Professional year.

A negative TB skin test or chest clearance must be documented no sooner than three months prior to beginning the fall term of the first professional year.  Thereafter, a student must submit documentation of a negative TB skin test or chest clearance to the University of Houston College of Optometry Office of Optometry Relations.

Transfer Students:

In order for a student to be considered for transfer from another professional optometry program, the student must have satisfactorily completed a minimum of one year of coursework and be in good academic standing in a school or college of optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council on Education of the American Optometric Association. The student must also submit an official transcript, a letter stating the reasons for the transfer request, and a letter from his/her current dean supporting the request for transfer to UHCO. Unless the student is in the upper half of the class and presents justifiable reasons for requesting a transfer, such requests are ordinarily denied. The transfer student decision is based on space available in the class and compatibility of curricula between the two schools.

Degree Requirements

Credit hours required for this degree: 177.0

Students who attend the College of Optometry and matriculate in the professional program must meet the following requirements for a Doctor of Optometry degree:

  1. Prior completion of a baccalaureate degree or equivalent.
  2. Completion of 177 term hours over the course of four years.
  3. A passing grade in each core and elective course.
  4. A grade point average of 2.00 or better, each term, in the professional educational program.
  5. Compliance with all other applicable requirements contained in the general information section of this catalog and the College of Optometry policies and procedures manual as well as the Student Handbook.

Professional Degree Program

First Professional Year:

Fall Term

Spring Term

Second Professional Year

Fall Term

Spring Term

Third Professional Year

Summer Term

Fall Term

Spring Term

Fourth Professional Year

Rotation A: (Summer, Fall, Spring)

Externship I- Primary Care

Rotation B: (Summer, Fall, Spring)

Externship II- Medical Care

Rotation C: (Summer, Fall, Spring)

Specialty Clinic/Didactic Semester


*Elective requirements may be fulfilled at any time

They are listed in this curriculum only for suggested times.

Academic Units

The professional curriculum is delivered by two academic departments; clinical sciences and basic sciences.

Summary of Elective Courses

Students must satisfactorily complete a minimum of seven semester credit hours in approved elective courses to qualify for the O.D. degree.  Courses in the graduate program or upper division courses in another college may be selected with the approval of the student’s academic advisor and the Associate Dean for Professional Studies.