How Long Does It Take To Become an Ophthalmologist

Nov 9, 2022 | Optometry

How Long Does It Take To Become an Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists are a necessary profession, but the degree not easy to get. Like most medical professions, you must do a lot of schooling over many years to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to work with patients. Read on to learn how long it takes to become an ophthalmologist.

Undergraduate Degree

As with most professions, you must obtain your undergraduate degree before you can get the job. Depending on your college plan and the number of credits you have going into the program, this can take at least three years. You can technically major in anything to become an ophthalmologist, but if you want a leg up on your Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores, you’ll likely be taking predominantly pre-med courses.


After obtaining your undergraduate degree, you must take the MCAT. You can apply to medical school with any MCAT score, but if you want to get into the best medical schools and have a better chance of being admitted, you’ll need high scores. You’ll also need to do well in your classes and achieve a high GPA. Many students will take a few months or even a year to prepare for the MCAT to ensure they get a good score, and if they’re not happy, they most likely will retake the test the following year.

Medical School

Depending on your grades and MCAT score, you can gain admittance into the medical school of your choice. While in school, you will have professors that bloviate about the minutia involved with ophthalmology, but you’ll also have those who can simplify the medical jargon and make it understandable for first-year students. Medical school is around four years, and about two of those years are spent in rotations—only if you score well on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) step one test. After rotations, you’ll take the USMLE step two test to see if you’re ready for internships and residency.

Internships and Residency

After medical school, you’ll typically spend a year in a direct patient care internship before beginning your residency, which lasts for around three to four years. There are a wide variety of residency training programs for each medical field for you to apply to. With residencies, you won’t choose. Rather, a computerized system will match applicants to programs they’ve interviewed for, then determine who is best suited for which program.

Practice and Beyond

After residency, you can start working in the ophthalmological field, likely under a more-seasoned ophthalmologist. During their professional career, many ophthalmologists will also spend time training and pursuing fellowships or additional certifications in other eye-related areas. These will help distinguish them when you apply to different clinics or open up your own practice one day.

So, how long does it take to become an ophthalmologist? At least twelve years, the majority of which includes a lot of hard work, hitting the books, and brain power. That’s why, when you step into an ophthalmologist’s office, you can trust them to deliver the appropriate medical diagnoses and care you need. However, they also need the appropriate tools to care for patients and best support all that knowledge. At Automated Ophthalmics, we have all the tonopen tip covers that ophthalmologists could ever need to get the job done.