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Students learn techniques and develop skills through clinical experience.

hailee brayton '15
Pre-optometry student Hailee Brayton '15, at work in Hanson Hall of Science.

The pre-optometry program is not an academic major. Students pursuing a career in optometry may choose a major in any area of study, though biology is the most common.

Interested students should see a pre-optometry advisor early in their first year of study. For more information, contact Dr. Dara Wegman-Geedey.


Augustana’s pre-optometry program is designed to provide a strong foundation in the sciences as well as preparation for optometry school and the Optometry Admission Test (OAT).

The U.S. has about 20 schools of optometry. Admission requires at least three years of undergraduate study. Some schools prefer applicants with a bachelor of arts degree.

Augustana’s pre-optometry students select a major and take coursework that satisfies requirements to most optometry schools. While choice of major is open, about 80 percent of pre-optometry students choose a major in the biological sciences.

The 114,000-square-foot Hanson Hall of Science houses the pre-health programs and the departments of biology, chemistry and physics, promoting cross-disciplinary study and research among students and faculty. Special facilities include high-tech individual labs for anatomy and physiology, cell biology, genetics and human cadaver dissection, among others. Very few undergraduate students throughout the country have the opportunity to work in a human cadaver lab.

Class sizes are small, with highest numbers around 60 students, and no classes are taught by teaching assistants. Professors teach both the lecture and lab portions of classes, ensuring continuity and connection between theory and practice.

Careers and graduate school

Clinical experience

Optometry schools generally want applicants to have an understanding of the field developed through clinical observations. Based within a strong liberal arts background that emphasizes experiential learning for all fields, Augustana’s pre-health sciences are especially focused on helping students learn techniques and develop their skills through clinical experience.

Pre-optometry students gain clinical experience most often through alumni connections in the Quad Cities or Augustana's internship program in Sydney, Australia, during winter term.

Optometry school

Augustana’s optometry school placement rates are excellent: 92 percent over the past five years.  

Augustana has an early acceptance agreement with Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) in Chicago, the oldest and largest optometry school in the country. Through this program, students may be accepted into ICO at the end of their first year at Augustana, and if they maintain a minimum grade-point average and score at the national average or above on the OAT, they may transfer to ICO after three years of undergraduate study. After their first year at ICO, they return to Augustana to receive their bachelor of arts degree, followed by finishing three more years at ICO for the doctor of optometry degree.

What students say

Renae Reynolds '13, biology/pre-optometry major
Working toward doctor of optometry at the Illinois College of Optometry

As soon as I stepped foot on the campus, I had a gut feeling that I was going to choose Augustana as my undergraduate program. Then, as I learned that the college had great biology and pre-optometry programs, I knew that I was going to choose this school. Academically, I have met all the goals I set for myself when I entered Augie. I've managed to earn a biology degree, and I've been accepted into grad school. Socially, I was able to make friends that I know will be with me for the rest of my life. I didn't necessarily expect that when I enrolled in college, but I'm glad it happened. 

Caitlin Walker '13, biology/pre-optometry, classical studies minor
Working toward doctor of optometry at The Ohio State University College of Optometry

I was drawn to the small student-to-faculty ratio and the great biology program that Augustana offers. I also wanted to play collegiate soccer while remaining engaged in my studies/extracurricular activities, a balance which not many larger schools can offer. I never thought I would make such great connections at Augustana through my involvement on campus, nor did I expect to pick up an additional minor in classical studies, which has actually enriched my biology major. The professors at Augustana have been so influential in my growth as a student and as an individual. They have encouraged me to set high goals and have gone above and beyond to help me achieve them.