Steps for Applying to Optometry School
The application for optometry school takes at least a year, so be sure to finish your required sciences, as well as any volunteer work or research by the end of your junior year. For more information, go to: www.opted.org
Step 1: Take the OAT (Optometry Admission Test)
You must complete an application form and pay the testing fee in order to schedule a time to take the OAT. You can obtain an application packet by writing to:
Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, 6th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
After you have completed the application, you will receive an eligibility letter and instructions for scheduling the test with the Prometric Candidate Contact Center. Appointments are scheduled pending an available opening at the test center selected. The closest testing center is located in Camarillo, CA. The test is only administered on the computer; a paper and pencil version is no longer available. It is best to take the OAT before September 1st of your application year.
Although it is not required, many students take a prep course for the OAT. If you choose to do this, be sure to allow yourself enough time to complete the prep course before scheduling your test date.
Step 2: Submit your Pre-Optometry Committee Application by June 15th
The Pre-Optometry Committee (POC) cannot review your file until you have completed all of your required science courses, so be sure to finish them by the end of your junior year. When submitting your application, please include:
- Personal statement
- Transcripts from every college/university you have attended since high school
Letters of evaluation should be sent directly to Career Services by your references.
Step 3: Apply for admission to each school individually
Since each optometry school may have slightly different admissions criteria, applicants should contact each school and/or college to which they are interested in applying. Most optometry schools and colleges require applicants to complete an application, write a personal essay; submit transcripts from colleges attended by the applicant; take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) and submit scores; provide letters of recommendation; participate in a personal interview; and demonstrate experience or exposure to the field of optometry.
Early applications are desirable, and deadlines range from December to April 1 for the various schools and colleges of optometry. Contact the school(s) or college(s) of your choice to obtain application instructions and forms.
Step 4: Complete secondary applications, upon receipt
Letters of Recommendation can be submitted at same time as your application (only some schools require secondary applications). Letters need to come from committee. You are responsible for providing Career Services with a typed list of the names and addresses of the optometry schools to which you are applying.
Step 5: Interview, when invited
Optometry schools will invite you to interview after they have reviewed your information (some schools will not schedule interviews until your file is complete). Interviews usually take place at the optometry schools; you are expected to cover the costs of travel, lodging, and meals while you are there.
Step 6: Receive letter informing you of your status
After you have interviewed, you should receive a letter letting you know if you have been accepted, wait-listed, or rejected by the optometry school. Some schools write letters on a rolling basis, while others wait until their interviews are completed to send letters. You may not hear from the school right after your interview, especially if you interview early; it may be one of the schools that waits to write letters.
Other Notes About the Application Process
Please remember that applying to optometry school can be expensive. You are required to pay fees to take the OAT, to submit your applications, and to submit secondary applications to the individual optometry schools that require them(some of these fees may be waived or reduced if you can document financial need). You will also need to have money to travel to interviews. It is not unusual for applicants to spend over $2,000 on the application process alone, so be sure to plan for these expenses well in advance.
It is also important for you to determine how you will pay for your optometry education. Some schools have scholarship money available, but most will expect you to apply for government financial aid programs and/or take out loans. Be sure to file financial aid application forms by the deadlines and to have a sound financial plan for repaying any loans you may incur while in optometry school.