Non-academic requirements

In addition to completing the academic prerequisites, applicants must meet the following non-academic requirements. The applicant is responsible for completing these requirements so the results can be submitted to the School's Admissions Office by the deadlines.

​​​​​​​For additional help, please check the remainder of the Doctor of Optometry site. If you still have questions, please contact the appropriate resource on the help page.

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

For applications for September 2024 admission, the OAT had to be taken from August 31, 2021 to August 31, 2023 (inclusive). Book your test early so you'll be able to meet this deadline.

  • The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) must be completed by all applicants.
  • The OAT is a standardized test administered independently by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for all of North America; it is not administered by UWaterloo.
  • This is a computerized test and can be taken at any time, but you must register for the OAT to select your test date.
  • This test consists of four parts:
    • a survey of the natural sciences
    • reading comprehension
    • quantitative reasoning
    • physics
  • The OAT is based upon first-year university science and organic chemistry. As soon as you have completed your introductory organic chemistry course (usually taken in the fall of second year) you are ready to write the OAT. You can write the OAT multiple times and the highest valid score will be used. Keep in mind that once you have written an OAT there is a 60 day waiting period before you can re-write the OAT again. 
  • Only scores received electronically by the OAT will be accepted. You must release the score to the University of Waterloo.

  • Only OAT scores are accepted.  The MCAT can't replace the OAT.

  • Applicants must ensure that their OAT scores are sent directly to the School of Optometry and Vision Science.

    • The applicant is responsible for allowing enough time to get the OAT results from ASCO to the School. Check the important dates page for the deadline.

  • Details of the OAT, along with sample questions and application procedures & deadlines, are available in the OAT Examinee Guide on the ASCO site or by contacting:

Optometry Admission Testing Program 
211 East Chicago Avenue, 6th floor 
Chicago, Illinois , U.S.A. 60611-2678
(800) 232-2159 or (312) 440-2693

If you have specific questions on the OAT process and administration, you must contact OAT directly.

OAT fast facts

  • OAT score minimum required: 300 
    • If you have a total science or section score below 300, you must re-take the OAT. You can re-sit the OAT multiple times as permitted by OAT.  The valid highest total science score, where all scores are over 300, is used.
    • If you have a score(s) below 300, it will be up to the Committee to decide on an individual basis.
  • Average OAT score for 2023 Waterloo Optometry applicants: 387

Do I need to study for the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)?

Yes, you should definitely study for the OAT, as it will affect your chances of being admitted to the program. Although the School has no data on the content or efficacy of any test preparation material, we offer a few starting points:

A note about confidential information requested by OAT

Legislation in the United States allows certain questions regarding race, religion and socioeconomic status to be asked of applicants for admissions tests. Such questions are found in the OAT Candidate Confidential Information Form (which OAT sends after initial application). These questions need not be answered by residents of Ontario since they are prohibited under the Human Rights Code of Ontario. Outside Ontario, check the code in your respective province. The testing service will still process the application if the applicant does not answer all of the questions. The only information that the School of Optometry receives regarding an applicant is his/her name, social insurance number and OAT scores. The Admission Committee is neither aware of, nor affected by, other personal data contained in the OAT application.

CASPer Test

All applicants to the Doctor of Optometry program, at University of Waterloo are required to complete an online assessment (CASPer test) after applying to the program via OUAC, to assist with our selection process. Successful completion of CASPer is mandatory in order to maintain admission eligibility.

  • CASPer is an online test which assesses for non-cognitive skills and interpersonal characteristics that we believe are important for successful students and graduates of our program, and will complement the other tools that we use for applicant screening. 
  • In implementing CASPer, we are trying to further enhance fairness and objectivity in our selection process.  
  • You need a WATERLOO ID # for the CASPer application so if you are not already a Waterloo student, you must first apply to the OD program before applying for the CASPer. Go to the applying on-line section
  • In order to take CASPer, you will be responsible for securing access to a computer with audio capabilities, a webcam, and a reliable internet connection on your selected test date.
  • CASPer can be taken practically anywhere that you can satisfy the aforementioned requirements.
  • No exceptions will be provided for applicants unable to take CASPer online due to being located at sites where internet is not dependable due to technical or political factors.

The CASPer test dates for September 2024 admission are listed below.  These will be the only accepted dates for the OD program:

Aug 8, 2023 - 5:00 PM EDT

Aug 29, 2023 - 5:00 PM EDT

Sep 14, 2023 - 8:00 PM EDT

Oct 5, 2023 - 8:00 PM EDT

Oct 12, 2023 - 5:00 PM EDT

Oct 19, 2023 - 8:00 PM EDT

You can only take one CASPer test for applications for September 2024 admission (only one of the available dates).  

The CASPer must be completed by October 20, 2023.

CASPer test results are valid for one year application year. Applicants who have already taken the test in previous years will therefore be expected to re-take it.

Please direct any inquiries on the test to Alternatively, you may use the chat bubble in the bottom right hand corner of your screen on the website.

The CASPer test is comprised of 12 sections of video and written scenarios. Following each scenario, you will be required to answer a set of probing questions under a time contract. Each response is graded by a different rater, giving a very robust and reliable view of personal and professional characteristics important to our program. No studying is required for CASPer, although you may want to familiarize yourself with the test structure at, and ensure you have a quiet environment to take the test. CASPer provides information on how to study Altus Suite for Applicants - Webinar | TakeAltus  Suite Test Prep | TakeAltus

Confidential Assessment Forms (CAFs)

Two confidential assessment forms (CAF) are required as part of the application. 

  • CAF’s are like a letter of reference, but are specific forms.  
  • Those forms are part of the secondary application and are not available prior to that time.  
  • Neither CAF can be from a relative.  
  • Only two CAF's are accepted. 

The two required CAF’s are:

  • An optometrist CAF
    • We expect a minimum of 8 hours of job shadowing with an optometrist.  However many applicants have completed hundreds and hundreds of hours. 
  • A character CAF
    • For example, the character CAF can be from an employer, supervisor, professor, coach, or minister. It should be from someone who knows you well.


You must be a Canadian citizen (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) or legal resident of Canada for a minimum of twelve months prior to the first day of registration of your first term (September) in Optometry.

In special situations, a limited number of international students (Waterloo's International Student page) studying on student visas may be considered for admission.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English and your four most recent years of full-time education have not been in an English-language school system, you must provide a passing score from an acceptable test of English proficiency.

Note: If you were educated in English in a country outside of Canada, you may be asked to provide evidence of the medium of instruction at that institution.

For more information, please view Waterloo’s official English language requirements website.

Non-academic application sections

Job-shadowing an OD, all work & all volunteer experience

In addition to sections for personal identification and academic records, the Application for Admission to the School of Optometry requires additional non-academic information.  The information is from the last year of high school and onward:

  • Job shadowing (a minimum of 8 hours with an optometrist is required). Most applicants have many more hours than the minimum. We also look at time spent volunteering or working at an optometrist's office. 
  • All work experience - we are looking that you've had jobs, particularly jobs where you interacted with people.  
  • All volunteer experience - we are looking for you to have volunteered and interacted with people.  

Police Check (Criminal Record Check)

During your training to become an optometrist you will work with members of the general public as patients in our clinics, including children and vulnerable adults. It is therefore prudent that one of the conditions of acceptance into the Doctor of Optometry program is that you declare all criminal convictions, cautions and disciplinary proceedings before being admitted to the program and annually while enrolled in the Doctor of Optometry Program.    

More information about what you need to declare can be found here: (PDF of rationale letter)

For students who will start their Doctor of Optometry degree course from September 2016 onwards, a requirement of admission and continued registration will be:

  • A self-declaration on the application itself to the Doctor of Optometry Program when accepting the Meet & Greet invitation
  • If admitted to program, a Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC), due June 25, 2024
  • Annual Self-Declaration Form, completed each August for years 2 and 3 and April for year 4 while registered in the Doctor of Optometry program

If you are admitted:

  • When you are admitted to the Doctor of Optometry program, you will be required to provide a Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC). 
  • If your VSC or Self-Declaration informs the School’s Admissions Officer of a criminal conviction or disciplinary action, then the School of Optometry and Vision Science Criminal Record Check Consideration Committee (CRCCC) will meet and take into account various factors related to the offence. 
  • You will be informed in writing of the CRCCC’s decision.
  • If you are unsure regarding disclosure you are strongly advised to contact the Admissions Officer for advice prior to submitting your application.

Vulnerable Sector Check Self-Declaration for all new students (from 2016 entry onwards):

  • If accepted, in each subsequent year of the Doctor of Optometry program, you will be required to make a Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC) Self-Declaration regarding any criminal convictions, professional misconduct, cautions or disciplinary proceedings that have occurred in the previous year and have not yet been reported.
    • This includes minor misdemeanours, but not road traffic offences dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice.
  • Note, that some external clinics may require a separate VSC.
  • If you declare a criminal conviction while you are enrolled as a student in Optometry, you have the right to make a written submission and you can use the Undergraduate Officer as a resource to discuss it and to gather information. 
    • The Undergraduate Officer can then present this information to the CRCCC. This information is considered in confidence by the CRCCC, which will meet and take into account various factors related to the offence.
    • Failure to disclose any relevant information, which is subsequently revealed, may result in an investigation by the University's Secretariat, and your registration in the Doctor of Optometry program may be revoked.
  • All information received by the University of Waterloo is treated confidentially, in accordance with applicable privacy legislation.
  • More information about obtaining a Vulnerable Sector Check can be obtained from your local police agency.  If you are admitted into the program, you will be required to have a VSC sent to the University of Waterloo and be responsible for paying any costs related to having the VSC sent. 

Meet & greet

The final non-academic requirement will be the Meet & Greet. Visit the Meet & Greet page.