Admission requirements

Applicants must meet all academic and non-academic admission requirements listed below to be considered for admission.

Visit the Optometry Important Dates page for application deadlines. 

Academic requirements

The Doctor of Optometry is a second-entry program, meaning that prior to entry, applicants must complete a compulsory set of university-level courses while studying towards a Bachelor of Science. 

To be eligible for admission consideration into the Doctor of Optometry program, candidates must meet the following academic requirements:

Note: All international transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services.

Complete three or more years of Bachelor of Science studies

Applicants must have completed a minimum of three years of full-time Bachelor of Science (BSc) Studies (or have a plan in place to successfully complete by the end of the winter term of the year for which they are applying).

  • Admission requirement for the School of Optometry can be completed at any accredited university in Canada. No university is given preference over another, nor is preference given to uWaterloo BSc students. 
  • Your specific program or major (for example: biology, biochemistry, biomedical science, or pre-optometry) is not taken into consideration. 
  • 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.

    • Some applicants take the opportunity to comlpete their Bachelor of Science degree before applying to the Optometry program. 

  • You should select a program in science you will like and would want to continue in if not admitted into optometry.  

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

Overall university averages are calculated by taking into consideration the weighted average of all courses taken in your BSc studies.

  • If you've graduated and need to take any of the prerequisite courses, the grades will be used towards your overall average. 
  • In recent years, the actual averages of applicants who have been accepted into the program ranged from 79% to 92%.

Prerequisite courses

We do not assess transcripts prior to application. 

  • There are 15 required courses and 5 required labs that applicants must have completed (or have a plan in place to successfully complete by the end of the winter term of the year for which they are applying) to be considered for admission. These prerequisite courses provide the base knowledge that the Optometry program subsequently builds upon. 
    • 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 courses must be completed at the undergraduate university level.
    • Each course must be assigned a numerical grade. CR/NCR will not be accepted for required courses. 
      • Letter grades will be converted to numerical grades. 
    • Prerequisites don't have to be taken in a full-time term.

The table below details each required course and lab and includes links to course descriptions for Waterloo course equivalents that meet these requirements.

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. 


Non-Waterloo equivalents

Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents

From the Arts


1 course

Any academic English or Writing course.

Other humanities courses WILL NOT satisfy the English requirement.
Any one ENGL course and/or ENGL/SPCON 193*.

* The course for this requirement in 2018-19 was SCCOMM 100.

Introductory Ethics

1 course

Any introductory ethics or biomedical ethics course.

Course are often titled: 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 110B, 121, 218J,

219J, 221, 226, 319J

Introductory Psychology

1 course
Any introductory psychology course

Courses are often titled: Fundamentals of Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Psychology 1.

From the Sciences

Introductory Biology with Lab

2 courses + 2 labs
Any two introductory biology courses with labs.

Courses are often titled: Fundamentals of Biology, Introduction to Biology, Biology 1.
BIOL 211, BIOL 130 & BIOL 130L
Introductory Microbiology
1 course

Any introductory microbiology course.

Courses are often titled: Fundamentals of Microbiology, Basic and Medical Microbiology, Biology of Prokaryotes

Medical Microbiology, Microbiology for Health Professionals.

Note: Immunology will not satisfy the microbiology prerequisite.
BIOL 240

Physiology (Human or Mammalian)

2 courses

Any two introductory human or mammalian physiology courses.

Courses are often titled: Principles of Human Physiology 1 & 2, Human Physiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2, Mammalian Physiology.

Note: Anatomy courses will not satisfy the prerequisite, unless the course is specifically titled ‘Human Anatomy and Physiology’.
BIOL 273, BIOL 373

Introductory Chemistry with Lab

1 course + 1 lab

Any introductory chemistry course with a lab.

Courses are often titled: General Chemistry, Intro chemistry.

CHEM 120 & 120L

Introductory Biochemistry

1 course

Any introductory biochemistry course.

Courses are often titled: Introduction to Biochemistry, Principles of Biochemistry.

CHEM 237

Introductory Organic Chemistry

1 course

Any introductory organic chemistry course.

Courses are often titled:  Introductory Organic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry 1

CHEM 266

Introductory Physics with Lab

2 courses + 2 labs
Any two introductory physics courses with labs.

PHYS 111/ 111L & 112/ 112L

 or 121/ 121L & 122/ 122L

From Mathematics


1 course

Any introductory calculus course.

Courses are often titled:   Calculus, Calculus 1, Calculus for Science Students, Calculus for Biology Students, Calculus for Life Sciences, Introductory Calculus

MATH 127


1 course

Any introductory statistics course.

Courses are often titled:  Statistics, Statistics 1, Statistics for Science Students, Statistics for Biology Students,

Introductory Statistics, Probability and Statistics I
STAT 202

Course eligibility

As you plan towards your application to the Doctor of Optometry program, it is key that you complete or enrol in courses that satisfy the above requirements. Due to the high volume of inquiries, we cannot assess courses for eligibility prior to application.

If you are uncertain about whether a specific course meets a requirement above, first contact the undergraduate advisor at the university where the course is offered to confirm equivalency to uWaterloo courses indicated above.

If you and the advisor are still uncertain, please forward the email communications and the course description by PDF e-mail attachment to

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.

Six terms with a full-time course load

For admission consideration to the Doctor of Optometry program, a full-time course load is defined as having successfully completed, (or have a plan in place to successfully complete by the end of the winter term of the year for which you are applying) a minimum of six terms with five courses per term, not including labs.

  • You can't make up for not taking five course per term by taking a course in the summer.    
  • 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.
  • The six terms do not have to be consecutive.

Timing - Completion of academic requirements

Typically, you will begin the application process before you have completed all the academic requirements - up to 12 months before the Optometry program September start date.

All academic requirements must be completed by the end of the winter term of the year for which you are applying. There are no exceptions. You are responsible for completing the remaining courses by the May deadlineand having your final transcripts submitted by the June deadline.

Courses completed between the end of May and the beginning of September in the year of entry into Optometry will not be considered. 

  • For September 2025 admission: 
    • You can take courses in the fall 2024 term and the winter 2025 term. 
      • You must complete all academic requirements by the end of the winter 2025 term. 
    • If admitted, you cannot take courses the spring 2025 term.

Non-academic requirements

In addition to completing the academic requirements above, applicants must meet the following non-academic requirements. Applicants are responsible for completing these requirements well ahead of the posted deadlines to prevent delays in sending results. 

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) is required for admissions consideration. It 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.

NOTE: If you are applying for September 2025 admission consideration, your OAT must be taken between August 31, 2022 to September 30, 2024 (inclusive). Book your test early so you'll be able to meet this deadline.

This is a computerized test that you must register for. This test consists of four parts:

  • a survey of the natural sciences
  • reading comprehension
  • quantitative reasoning
  • physics

Things to consider when scheduling your OAT test(s):

  • The OAT is based upon first-year university science and organic chemistry knowledge. 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. Note: there is a 60-day waiting period before you can re-write the OAT. 
  • Only scores received electronically from the ASCO will be accepted. Applicants are responsible for directing the ASCO to distribute their OAT results to the University of Waterloo's School of Optometry and Vision Science by the posted deadlines

  • The MCAT will not be accepted in place of the OAT.

Details of the OAT, along with sample questions and application procedures and 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.  
    • If you take the OAT multiple times, the official highest total score for each section, where all scores are over 300, will be used for consideration.
  • The average OAT score for 2024 Waterloo Optometry applicants was 350

Should you study for the OAT?

Yes! Successful performance in the OAT is required for admission consideration. 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

Applicants must register for their CASPer test after applying to the program at OUAC.

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. In implementing CASPer, the admissions committee can enhance fairness and objectivity in the selection process. 

Why and when to take the CASPer

  • Successful completion of CASPer is mandatory to maintain admission eligibility.
  • Applicants can only take the CASPer test once during the September 2025 application cycle.
  • CASPer test results are valid for one application year. Applicants who have already taken the test in previous years must re-take it.

CASPer Approved Testing Dates

The CASPer must be completed on one of the Approved Testing Dates below for September 2025 admission. 

These are the only acceptable test dates for the uWaterloo Doctor of Optometry program. No exceptions will be made.

  • October 3, 2024, 8:00 PM (ET - Eastern Time)
  • October 10, 2024, 8:00 PM (ET - Eastern Time)
  • October 16, 2024, 8:00 PM (ET - Eastern Time)
  • November 7, 2024, 8:00 PM (ET - Eastern Time)

When signing up for a test date, use the following test identifier: CSP-10211 Canada Casper 2.

Equipment needed

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. No exceptions will be made.

Please direct any inquiries regarding the test to

How to Prepare

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 also provides further information on how to study. 

Admissions Information Form (AIF)

The Admission Information Form (AIF) is an online form that consists of short questions and helps our admissions committees learn more about you. We use the AIF in place of personal statements or essays that other universities may require.

The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about your interests and achievements outside the classroom. The provides an opportunity to describe your non-academic profile, including extracurricular activities, hobbies, work and volunteer experience, athletic involvement, community leadership, club membership, and student government etc.

Approximately three weeks after your application submission, you will receive an email from uWaterloo outlining the next steps. Complete the Admission Information Form (AIF) and submit it by the deadline. Note: Applicants are encouraged to submit their AIF as soon as possible.

For step-by-step instructions on completing the AIF please use our Help Guide.

Confidential reference forms

Two confidential reference forms are required for admissions consideration to the Doctor of Optometry program. The online form includes specific questions for your references. 

When filling in the Admissions Information Form (AIF), applicants will provide contact information for each of their two references. Within 48 hours of submitting the AIF, references will receive their e-mail invitation link to fill in the confidential reference form. The form is not available prior to applicants submitting the AIF. 

Reference Eligibility:

  • First Reference: An optometrist - We expect a minimum of 8 hours of job shadowing with an optometrist. Many applicants have completed hundreds of hours. Applicants are expected to provide their supervising optometrist as their first referee.
  • Second Reference:  Character Reference – We accept character refences from employers, supervisors, professors, coaches, or ministers. Applicants are expected to choose someone who knows them well.
  • Neither person serving as a reference can be a relative. No exceptions will be made.
  • A maximum of two reference forms will be accepted and considered.


You must be a Canadian citizen 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 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.

Job shadowing, work and volunteer experience

The Admissions Committee will consider your experiences within and outside the field of Optometry since you left high school. In the Additional Information Form (AIF), you will be asked to include information about:

  • Job shadowing - a minimum of 8 hours working and/or volunteering within an optometrist's office required. Most applicants have many more hours. 
  • Work experience – the admissions committee is looking to see that applicants have been/are involved in the workforce, particularly in roles where applicants are required to interact with the public.    
  • Volunteer experience - the admissions committee is looking to see that applicants have been/are contributing to society, particularly in roles where applicants are required to interact with and/or provide service to the public. 


Selected applicants will move to the second stage of the admissions process. These applicants will be invited to participate in an interview.

Please visit the  Important Dates webpage to determine the date by which interview selection will be completed.

Applicants who are not invited for an interview will not be considered for further admission, and will be notified of this. No exceptions will be made.

Post-admission requirements

Only admitted students should be prepared to meet additional conditions upon confirming their offer of admission and prior to starting the program. These include:

  • Criminal Record - Vulnerable Sector Check
    • Self-declaration in each subsequent year
  • Proof of immunizations required to participate in clinic activities beginning in year one: Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); Tetanus and diphtheria; Hepatitis B; TB; COVID; other immunizations as required
  • Providing official transcripts by mid-June of the year of entry
  • Completing outstanding required courses by the end of the winter term in the year of entry

Details regarding these requirements will be provided in spring to admitted students only. 

Deferred offers of admission and transfers

Waterloo's School of Optometry and Vision Science does not defer offers of admission under any circumstances nor do we accept transfers from other Schools of Optometry.

For additional help, please check the remainder of the Future Optometry Students site and the FAQ.

If you still have questions, contact the appropriate resource on the help page