How Much Does Optometry School Cost?

Costs main cover image
$ $ Medium: Public Optometry Tuition Runs $10,700-$20,200 a Year $ $ $ High: Private Optometry Schools Run $15,000-$29,1000 a Year

The eye doctors, officially known as optometrists examine, diagnose and treat the eye through medication, therapy or surgery.

According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, after getting a Doctor of Optometry degree, a variety of specialized fields are available from geriatrics to occupational vision or pediatrics.

Only eighteen universities in the US have accredited optometry schools and thus the competition is tough.

In addition to the high undergraduate scores, a personal essay and letters of recommendation, applicants must take the Optometrist Admission Test in order to be considered for the four-year program in one of the public or private universities.

Typical Costs

  • The public optometry school tuition, sponsored in part by state tax dollars, runs between $10,700-$20,200 for residents annually or approx. $42,000-$74,800 for the complete program, while non residents should pay between $22,400-$43,400 annually, totaling $89,600-$173,600.
  • Indiana University School of Optometry in-state tuition costs approx. $16,000 annually or $64,000 to reach the degree, while non-residents are charged approx. $30,560 annually or $122,240 for four years.
  • At the top of the scale stands the University of California-Berkeley, which charges $20,200 annually for residents or $80,800 for the complete program; while non-residents pay $32,500 annually or approx. $130,000 during the four years.
  • At the same time, the optometry school fees and tuition at private universities run $15,000-$29,100 annually or $60,000-$116,400 for the four-year program for residents and $20,000-$29,100 annually or $80,000 $116,400 for a degree for non residents.
  • Certain private schools have only one fee schedule for residents and non-residents.
  • On the other economical end is the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee where the tuition and fees for residents are approx. $15,500 per year, totaling around $62,000, while non residents pay around $20,450 annually or $81,800 for the four-year program.
  • Western University of Health Sciences charges $27,700 per year or $110,800 for the complete Doctor of Optometry (OD) program, while tuition at Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University costs $29,500 annually or $118,000 for four years.

Additional Costs

  • Books purchased during optometry school become a personal reference library at the start of a student’s career.
  • The supplies include the equipment needed to examine, diagnose and treat eyes; along with the books and supplies the sum is approx. $2,300-$6,280 per year during the first two years, around $1,060-$1,600 the third year and dropping to near $400-$1,780 the fourth — totaling $6,000-$16,000 overall, depending on the school.
  • Students also can take the national board during their second, third and fourth years at approx. $625 each year or $1,875 overall.
  • The license and certification fees in the fourth year are around $400.
  • The complete National Board of Examiners in Optometry exams, taken in several sections, cost approx. $3,600.


  • The American Academy of Optometry keeps online information on scholarships, awards, and grants for optometry students.
  • Some schools have programs which allow students from out of the area to either enter as a resident or become a resident during their studies.
  • Try the individual school’s admissions requirements for complete information.
  • Before applying for most awards or loans, a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) needs to be completed.

Shopping For Optometry School

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry provides an updated and detailed list of the 18 US and one Puerto Rican optometry schools.

One Comment
  1. Avatar for Jolie Jolie

    This is not a very accurate article! I just finished at Southern California College of Optometry, a private optometry school, and the cost of private tuition you have listed in your article is grossly understated. Our tuition was well into the forty thousand dollar range even back 5 years ago. Tuition did not cover books and supplies or any living costs.

    The Ohio State University College of Optometry
    -Resident: $26,936
    -Non-resident: same as resident

    UC Berkeley School of Optometry
    -Resident: $20,736
    -Non-resident: $26,747

    Pacific University

    Southern California College of Optometry

    Midwestern University – Arizona

    Illinois College of Optometry

    SUNY Optometry
    -Resident: $29,820
    -Non-resident $51,150

    Also, there are more than 18 accredited schools in the USA.

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