Since optometry involves quite a bit of science, a major in Biology or Chemistry would be a good choice.

Be sure to discuss your post-graduate plans with your SAU advisor so that you construct a plan of study that satisfies your major – no matter what it is – and prepares you for graduate school.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Innovative Education
  • Conduct Research and Experiements
  • Small Classes, Challenging Courses

When it comes to your undergraduate education, take your first step with SAU. Our excellent faculty and programs will prepare you for what comes next, whether it is stepping into a career or graduate studies.


The requirements for optometry school include courses in biology, chemistry, and physics that prepare you to work with the delicate structure of the eye. Although the exact course requirements differ for each program, many optometry programs require the following courses for admission:

• One year General Biology + lab (BIOL 199, 200)
• One year General Chemistry + lab (CHEM 105, 106)
• One year Organic Chemistry + lab (CHEM 207, 208, 209, 210)
• Biochemistry (CHEM 319)
• One year Physics + lab (PHYS 203, 204)
• Microbiology (BIOL 251)
• Statistics (STAT 213)
• Calculus (MATH 191)

Individual optometry programs may have additional requirements, including Psychology, Sociology, and/or English Composition.

The entrance exam for optometry school is the OAT (Optometry Admission Test). To enter an optometry graduate program in the fall semester after graduation, you should take the OAT during the spring of your junior year. It's beneficial to complete these additional courses prior to taking the OAT:

• Biodiversity (BIOL 201)
• One year of Human Anatomy & Physiology (BIOL 230, 232)
• Lifespan & Development (PSYC 212)
• Genetics (BIOL 303)
• Ecology (BIOL 307)

What will I learn?

If you major in Biology or Chemistry, you will get a solid foundation in those sciences as well as physics, which is usually required for admission into any Optometry program. We offer a number of courses in psychology, sociology, and English composition, which can also be required.

And, we suggest you complete some electives -- such as biodiversity and genetics -- before taking the Optometry Admissions Test. Your SAU advisor will help plan a course of study that meets your needs and goals.

Our undergraduate Chemistry and Biology programs prepare students exceedingly well for graduate studies. In fact, we have alumni attending the Illinois College of Optometry and the Southern College of Optometry, and attending medical programs at Marian University, Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois in Chicago, University of Iowa, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Des Moines University, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and Rocky Vista University.

Our programs also prepare you for a professional career. We have alumni working in research and development, agriculture, allied health professions, education, and more.

At St. Ambrose, you get an education grounded in the Liberal Arts and Catholic Intellectual Tradition. That means as a member of the SAU community, you will be challenged to think critically, learn about the world beyond the classroom, and get involved on campus and within the Quad Cities. You can join a campus organization, accept a student leadership role, mentor a young budding scientist, or get hands-on experience by completing a professional internship.

Scholarships and Grants


St. Ambrose offers excellent scholarships and grants, work-study and other financial aid options! Full-time students may be eligible based on your strong academic performance in college, your talent in fine arts or athletics or your demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code for the FAFSA is 001889.

First-Year Scholarships and Institutional Aid 2024-2025

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.0 GPA: $24,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $22,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $20,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $18,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $14,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.o GPA: $17,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $16,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $15,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $14,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $13,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.


Ambrose Advantage Full-Tuition Scholarship
Pell-eligible Iowa residents, learn more here

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship: $500 per year
Parent is a St. Ambrose graduate

Catholic Traditions Scholarship: $1,000 per year
Students with Catholic religious denomination or plans to graduate from Catholic high school 

Minority Scholarship: $500 per year
Ethnically diverse student

Athletic Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability

Fine Arts Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability in music, art and theatre

Faith Learning Justice Campus Ministry Scholarships: $2,000 per year
Recognition of involvement in church and community service and interest in strengthening faith and growing as a leader in campus ministry

Scholarships are determined by unweighted GPA, and are renewable for four years of undergraduate student. Increases in scholarship awards due to change in GPA will be reviewed until March 1.

State and Federal Grants, Work Study

Grants are money that you don't repay, and they can come from government or private sources. SAU receives all financial aid funds directly - including loans and grants - then applies them to your account: once in the fall term and once in the spring term. Grants can be used to cover your tuition, books, and housing costs. You must apply for grants each academic year. If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. For all of these grants, you must complete the Free Application Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it is available.

Iowa Tuition Grant
To be eligible for the Iowa Tuition Grant, you must be a resident of Iowa as defined by the State Board of Regents and currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible Iowa college or university (SAU is eligible). Iowa College Aid administers need-based college financial aid for Iowans, such as the Iowa Tuition Grant.
Award: $7,500 maximum

Federal Pell Grant
Awarded to students of the highest need based on how much your family can contribute to your education. The U.S. Department of Education sets a threshold. Then, when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it computes where you land within that threshold and determines if you qualify for the grant and for how much.
Award: $6,895 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
You must file a FAFSA to qualify for a Pell Grant. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who have submitted all required documents for review and in time for the review to be complete. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant or SEOG, the awards will appear on your financial aid award letter.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Must secure campus employment.
Award: $2,560

Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant 
Provides aid to students intending to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education or a state education agency). Review criteria and all details here.
Award: up to $4,000

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Student Financial Services where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

Apply Visit Info


Admissions Office
Admissions and Welcome Center
310 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.