Here Are the 10 Best Optometry Schools in the US

3. University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (Birmingham, AL)

University of Alamaba Birmingham School of Medicine
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, UAB received more than $325 million in research grants from the NIH, much of which went to the School of Optometry. With that kind of support, it should come as no surprise that UAB’s School of Optometry is one of the best in the discipline. Offering hands-on clinical training at the first-class UAB Eye Care center, the School of Optometry equips future vision care specialists with both the knowledge and experience they’ll need to serve their community. 

Those excellent resources are good news for those in the Birmingham area and beyond, as the school graduates 97.87% of the students in the program. Not only do these doctors go on to provide excellent care for their patients, but they also continue their alma mater’s excellent research, even winning their own NIH grants while still a student at the UAB School of Optometry. 


2. Arizona College of Optometry at Midwestern University – Glendale (Glendale, AZ)

Not only do 98% of students in the Arizona College of Optometry ultimately pass their exams, but 92.7% pass part I of the NBEO exam and 100% pass NBEO part II. That impressive group of learners boasts a 3.53 average GPA and a 624 average OAT score. But these students do not succeed on their own; rather, they are backed by ACO’s accomplished faculty and their cutting-edge research resources. 

ACO’s faculty includes contributors to top journals and fellows in the American Academy of Optometry, who are supported by awards such as a recent $100,000 grant. Furthermore, the program provides students with clinical rotations in community faculties and pre-clinical simulations to make them into the best health care providers that they can be.

Students planning to join this remarkable program should not only work to earn high grades in their undergrad science courses. But they should also gain as much experience as possible working with a practicing optometrist, which the admission board values. 


1. Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, TN)

Southern College of Optometry
Halpaugh, Southern College Optometry, marked as public domain

Although it was founded in 1932, the Southern College of Optometry refuses to sit idle. As recently as 2013, the school underwent a $9.4 million expansion that outfitted its facilities with state-of-the-art technology. The school also features The Eye Center, a teaching facility that provides students with hands-on clinical experience serving the 60,000 patients who visit. 

Unsurprisingly, almost all of the 136 students accepted each year graduate from the program, giving SCO an unprecedented 98.5% pass rate. Also, unsurprisingly, those who graduate from SCO include the leaders in the field of optometry, including fourteen American Optometric Association presidents. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 and more than 60 endowed scholarships awarded each year, it’s easy to see why SCO students stay at the school. They get the support and attention they need to become the nation’s best optometrists.  

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