Academic requirements

Applicants must meet both academic requirements (below) and non-academic requirements to be considered for admission.

Academic requirements

The Doctor of Optometry is a second-entry program, meaning entrants must complete a compulsory set of university-level courses prior to entering the Optometry program. The list of courses is referred to as the “prerequisite courses.” These prerequisite courses provide the base of knowledge that the Optometry program subsequently builds upon.

Complete three or more years of Bachelor of Science studies

  • The earliest you can apply is the summer between your second and third year.  If admitted after the completion of your third year, you would start optometry and not return to your program.
  • In order to complete the prerequisites, applicants must enrol in a university-level undergraduate Bachelor of Science (BSc) program (for example; biology, biochemistry, biomedical science, or pre-optometry), within a Faculty of Science. 
    • We don't look at the program in Science you choose. 
    • You need to select a program in science you will like and would want to continue in if not admitted into optometry.  
  • We understand that many students want to stay close to home to complete the prerequisites for the School of Optometry for many reasons, to be close to their families, financial, etc.  For that reason, and because we are the only School of Optometry in Canada with instruction in English, the admission requirements for the School of Optometry can be completed at any accredited university in Canada. 
    • All applicants have an equal chance for one of the 90 first year places. 
    • No university is given preference over another, so you can attend the university of your choice. 
    • No preference is given to uWaterloo BSc students.
  • A minimum of three years of full-time Bachelor of Science studies will be required to complete all of the prerequisite courses along with the BSc requirements.
    • Three years is the equivalent of 30 four-month courses.
    • At the University of Waterloo, that is 15.0 credits.
    • Full-time means 5 courses per four-month term (not including labs) or semester with two terms per year.
      • If you will meet the five courses per term by the last term during your application (e.g. if you are applying for September 2023 and Winter 2023 will your sixth term with five courses) you will meet the requirement.  We do not access this requirement prior to application. 
  • Helpful information about selecting a BSc program is presented on our Information for high school students page. Consider a program that you would like to complete should you not be admitted to the Optometry program.
  • Applicants sometimes take the opportunity to complete their Bachelor of Science degree before entering the Optometry program.
  • All international transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services.    
  • For BSc students at Waterloo, it may be possible to have some of your Optometry courses contribute towards your University of Waterloo BSc degree.

Timing - Completion of prerequisite courses

Typically, you will begin the application process before you have completed all the prerequisite courses -  up to 14 months before the Optometry September start date.

You are responsible for completing the remaining courses by the May deadlineand having your final transcripts submitted to the School by the June deadline.

  • For September 2024 admission:
    • You can take courses in the fall 2023 term and the winter 2024 term. 
    • You can take courses in the Spring 2023 but you can't take courses in the spring 2024. 
  • Courses completed between the end of May and the beginning of September of the year you enter Optometry will not be considered by the Admissions Committee.
    • This also applies to the six terms with five courses. 
  • All of the prerequisites must be completed before entry into the Optometry program.
  • Applicants who have not completed all the prerequisites will not be admitted. There are no exceptions.
  • All required prerequisites must have a grade. CR/NCR is not acceptable for prerequisites.  
  • We don't accept online courses for courses with lab requirements.  We don't accept at-home labs.
  • There are no substitutions of prerequisites. 
  • If you've graduated and need to take required prerequisites, those will be used towards your overall average.  

Prerequisite courses

Prerequisite courses

We do not assess transcripts prior to application. 

  • The following courses are required for entry to the Optometry program.  It doesn't matter if these course(s) and/or lab(s) are not required for your program.  They are required to be eligible to apply to the OD program.
  • These prerequisite courses are very similar to prerequisites for Medicine or Dentistry programs.
  • All of the prerequisites must be completed before entry into the Optometry program.  Applicants who have not completed all the prerequisites will not be admitted. There are no exceptions.
  • Due to the volume of applications, unfortunately it is impossible for us to have equivalents for every university in Canada or to determine or review everyone's course selections.
  • The prerequisites are straight forward so you should be able to review the admission requirements and prerequisites to determine your course selection. The prerequisites are at the introductory undergraduate level (for example intro statistics, intro psych, intro organic chemistry).
    • If it’s a first year intro biology with lab, it will satisfy the prereq. 
    • If it’s a first year calculus, it will satisfy the prereq.
    • If it's a first year chemistry course with a lab, it will satisfy the prereq. 
    • If it's a first year physics with a lab, it will satisfy the prereq.
    • If it's called statistics, it will satisfy the statistics prereq. 
    • If it's called intro ethics or ethics, it will satisfy the prereq.
    • Any English course (ENGL) will satisfy the English prereq. 
    • If it's called intro biochemistry, it will satisfy the biochemistry prereq. 
    • If it’s called organic chemistry, it will satisfy the organic chemistry prereq. 
    • If it's introductory microbiology, it will satisfy the prereq. 
    • The Committee expects people to be able to do this. You will also find sample course titles in each section below.
  • The prerequisites don't have to be taken in a full-time term. 
  • There is no "minimum" grade requirement for prerequisites, but the course must be passed.
  • All required prerequisites must have a numerical grade. CR/NCR is not acceptable for prerequisites.
  • The table has links to the course descriptions for Waterloo students.
  • For students at every other university, use the prerequisite (e.g. Intro Biology with lab) not the Waterloo courses and/or description.

Optometry prerequisite courses  

It doesn't matter if these course(s) and/or lab(s) are not required for your program. They are required to be eligible to apply to the OD program. 

N.B. one term = four months

Arts

Prerequisite Length (terms) Non-Waterloo equivalents Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents
English 1 Any English (ENGL, e.g. ENGL XXXX) or (WRIT, e.g. WRIT XXX) course Any one ENGL course*
 

Other humanities courses will not satisfy the English prerequisite.

*The course for the Science Communication Requirement (ENGL/SPCOM 193) will satisfy the English prerequisite.  The course for this requirement in 2018-19 was SCCOMM 100

Introductory Ethics 1

Any introductory ethics or biomedical ethics course

For example:

  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Ethics
  • Bioethics
  • Contemporary Moral Issues
  • Contemporary Moral Problems
  • Contemporary Ethics Issues
  • Introduction to Ethics and Values
  • Intro Ethics
  • Health Ethics
  • Health Care Ethics
  • Health Care and Bioethics
PHIL 110B121218J
219J221226, 319J
  Not all philosophy courses are introductory ethics.
Introductory Psychology 1 Any year 1 introductory psychology course PSYCH 101

Biology

Prerequisite Length (terms) Non-Waterloo equivalents Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents
Introductory Biology with lab 2

Any two terms of year 1 biology with labs

Due to COVID-19, for the spring 2020 term through winter 2022, we will accept online labs.

Online labs will no longer be accepted after winter 2022. 

We don't accept on-line courses for courses with lab requirements.  We don't accept at-home labs.

BIOL 211, BIOL 130 & BIOL 130L
Introductory Microbiology 1

Any one term introductory microbiology

For example:

  • Fundamentals of Microbiology
  • Basic and Medical Microbiology
  • Biology of Prokaryotes
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Microbiology for Health Professionals

Please note that immunology will not satisfy the microbiology prerequisite.  

BIOL 240
Physiology (human or mammalian) 2

Only physiology will satisfy the two terms

For example:

  • Principles of Human Physiology 1 and Principles of Human Physiology 2
  • Human Physiology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 and Human Anatomy and Physiology 2
  • Mammalian Physiology
BIOL 273, BIOL 373
  Anatomy courses will not satisfy the prerequisite, unless the course is called Human Anatomy and Physiology.

Chemistry

Prerequisite Length (terms) Non-Waterloo equivalents Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents
Introductory Chemistry with lab 1

Any year 1 intro chemistry course with lab

For example:

  • General Chemistry
  • Intro chemistry

Due to COVID-19, for the spring 2020 term through winter 2022, we will accept online labs.

Online labs will no longer be accepted after winter 2022. 

We don't accept on-line courses for courses with lab requirements.  We don't accept at-home labs.

CHEM 120 & 120L
Introductory Biochemistry 1

Any one term introductory biochemistry

For example:

  • Introduction to Biochemistry
  • Principles of Biochemistry
CHEM 237
Introductory Organic Chemistry 1

Any one term introductory organic chemistry

For example:

  • Introductory Organic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry 1
CHEM 266

Mathematics

Prerequisite Length (terms) Non-Waterloo equivalents Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents
Calculus 1

Any one term calculus

For example:

  • Calculus
  • Calculus 1
  • Calculus for Science Students
  • Calculus for Biology Students
  • Calculus for Life Sciences
  • Introductory Calculus
MATH 127
Statistics 1

Any one term statistics

For Example

  • Statistics
  • Statistics 1
  • Statistics for Science Students
  • Statistics for Biology Students
  • Introductory Statistics
  • Probability and Statistics I
STAT 202

Physics

Prerequisite Length (terms) Non-Waterloo equivalents Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents
Introductory Physics with lab 2

Any two terms of year 1 physics with labs

Due to COVID-19, for the spring 2020 term through winter 2022, we will accept online labs.

Online labs will no longer be accepted after winter 2022. 

We don't accept on-line courses for courses with lab requirements.  We don't accept at-home labs.

PHYS 111111L & 112112L
 or 121121L &122122L

Course eligibility

Due to the volume of applications, unfortunately it is impossible for us to have equivalents for every university in Canada or to determine everyone's course selections. If you are still uncertain, first contact an undergraduate advisor at the university you attend or will attend.

Subsequently, if you have a question about a course or two for the prerequisites, help can be obtained by sending an e-mail to opt-admissions@uwaterloo.ca including:

  • Your full name
  • Your e-mail address
  • The prerequisite in question
  • The university name
  • The name of the BSc program
  • The course name, number & title
  • A full course description from the academic calendar, not the course syllabus
  • A web reference to the course description (usually found in the undergraduate calendar)

Course inquiries can't be answered over the phone. 

Remaining non-prerequisite BSc courses

Which courses you take to fulfill the remaining BSc requirements is up to you. Keep in mind that you may not be accepted to Optometry and may want to continue on with your BSc studies.

Full-time course load

Six terms with five courses (not including labs) per term in the faculty of science, by the time of admission

  • Due to the rigorous nature of the full course load of the Optometry program, the Optometry Admissions Committee looks for applicants to be taking a full course load (five courses per four-month term, not including labs, for minimum 6 terms) during their BSc studies. Most professional programs have this requirement.
  • You can't make up for not taking five course per term by taking a course in the summer.
  • If you don't meet this requirement, you would have to explain why in an application. It would then be up to the Committee to decide.
  • If you will meet the five courses per term by the last term during your application you will meet the requirement.  
  • Full course load and full time are not the same thing. Many universities consider three courses full time, but it’s not a full course load.
  • All international transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services.
  • The six terms do not have to be consecutive.
  • We do not assess this requirement prior to application. 

Minimum overall university average of 75.0% at the time of application

  • Average of all courses taken in your BSc studies.
  • Not limited to the prerequisites.
  • In recent years, the actual averages of applicants who have been accepted into the program ranged from 79% to 92%.

For additional help, please first review all the pages of the Future Optometry Students site and the FAQ.

If you still have questions, contact the appropriate resource from our contact page 

Need some answers? We’re here to help!