Frequently asked questions

1. Q. I was trained as an optometrist outside of North America and would like to practise optometry in Canada. What do I do?

A. Any optometrist educated outside North America intending on applying for registration or licensure to practise optometry in any province of Canada, other than Quebec, must first contact the Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FORAC). There are a number of steps that must be completed, and information relating to FORAC’s credentialing process and other requirements can be found at:

2. Q. When should I apply to the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP)?

A. There are a number of steps that must be completed before you can apply to the IOBP.  These steps are outlined on the FORAC website. After writing the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Exam (IGOEE), the College of Optometrists of Ontario (COO) will advise you whether or not you are eligible to apply to the IOBP. Included with the notification from the College will be an application form that you will need to complete and return to the IOBP.

3.  Q. The College has advised me that I am eligible to apply to the Bridging program. When will I receive more information about it?

A. When you are advised you that you are eligible for the Bridging program, you will receive an application form for the IOBP.  This form should be completed and returned to the IOBP on or before the stated application deadline.  Once your application is received by the IOBP, you will receive information about the upcoming program.

4.  Q. Do I need to send any money with my Application Form?

A. No, at this stage a payment is not required. Being eligible to apply to the Bridging Two program does not mean that you will be accepted into the program.  The program has limited enrolment.  Acceptance is competitive and is based on your performance on the IGOEE relative to other applicants’ performance. 

5.  Q. When does the program start?

A. Bridging Two typically begins in early February. 

6.  Q. Is the program offered every year?

A. Typically the program is offered annually. This is subject to change based on the number of applicants for the program.

7.  Q. When do I have to pay my tuition fee?

A. If you are accepted into the program, you will be advised of the dates when your tuition payments are due.  Typically, one-half of the tuition fee is due within 4 – 6 weeks of receiving your offer of admission, and the balance is due 4 – 6 weeks before the start of the program. 

8. Q. What other costs will I have if I participate in the program?

A. In addition to tuition, you can expect to have living costs (room and meals) while attending classes in Waterloo and while on your clerkships and travel costs getting to Waterloo and to your clerkships.  In addition there may be costs related to textbooks and equipment.

9. Q. Where will I be sent for my clerkships?

A. The availability of clerkship sites varies, but they may be in any province of Canada.  Students will be assigned to a site by the IOBP.  Accordingly, students should expect to have to travel to complete their clerkships.

10. Q. Where are the lectures and labs given?

A. Lecture and clinical laboratory sessions are all given at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Waterloo. 

11. Q. How long is the Bridging program?

A. Bridging Two classes and laboratory sessions run for 28 weeks including examination periods. Students who have successfully completed all course examinations will be assigned to two 10 week clerkships.

12. Q. What happens if I fail an exam in a course?

A. If a student in the Bridging program fails a final examination in a course, there is an opportunity to challenge a supplemental examination (either written or clinical).  Supplemental examinations are usually scheduled the week following the end of the final examinations.  Students who fail a supplemental examination are required to repeat the course.  Students will not be allowed to participate in their clerkships until all courses are successfully passed. 

13. Q. Will my expenses be paid when I am on my clerkships?

A. No.  Participants in the Bridging program cannot be paid while they are on their clerkships, and they must pay travel costs to get to the site and back, as well as for their meals and accommodation.

14. Q. If I graduate from an optometry school in the United States, am I required to apply for the Bridging Program if I wish to practice in Canada?

A. No, if you graduate from an optometry school in the United States, you would not be required to apply for the Bridging Program. We do suggest however, to contact the province in which you wish to practice to find out what their specific requirements are.