In addition to meeting the non-academic requirements, applicants must meet the following 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.

Completion of prerequisite courses

Please note; 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 deadline. and having your final transcripts submitted to the School by the June deadline.

You can be in the process of taking prerequisites and apply.  For September 2020 admission, you can be taking courses in the fall 2019 term and the winter 2020 term.  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.

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

There are no substituions of prerequisites. 

Three or more years of Bachelor of Science studies

In order to complete these 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.  Applicants may complete their BSc studies at any accredited university. 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.

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.

For BSc students at Waterloo, it may be possible to have some of your Optometry courses contribute towards your University of Waterloo BSc degree. [note: the URL says Pharmacy but the linked information is for Optometry students]

Full-time course load

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.

The six terms do not have to be consecutive.

Prerequisite courses

The following courses are required for entry to the Optometry program.

These prerequisite courses are very similar to prerequisites for Medicine or Dentistry programs. 

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.

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 level (for example intro statistics, intro organic chemistry).  If it's a first year chemistry course with a lab, it will satisfy the prereq.  If it's called statistics, it will satisfy the statistics 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 1, it will satisfy the organic chemistry prereq. 

The table has links to the course descriptions for Waterloo 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

N.B. one term = four months


Prerequisite Length (terms) Non-Waterloo equivalents Waterloo Undergraduate Calendar equivalents
English 1 Any English (ENGL, e.g. ENGL XXXX) or any writing (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
  • Bioethics
  • Contemporary Moral Issues
  • Contemporary Ethics Issues
  • Introduction to Ethics and Values
  • Intro Ethics
  • Health Care Ethics
PHIL 110B, 121218J
219J, 221, or 226
  Not all philosophy courses are introductory ethics.
Introductory Psychology 1 Any year 1 introductory psychology course PSYCH 101


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

Any two terms of year 1 biology with labs

Don't use the Waterloo courses as samples for courses not a Waterloo. 

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

BIOL 130 & 130L, BIOL 211
Introductory Microbiology 1

Any one term introductory microbiology

For example:

  • Fundamentals of Microbiology
  • Basic and Medical Microbiology
  • Biology of Prokaryotes
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
  • Mammalian Physiology
BIOL 273, BIOL 373
  Anatomy courses will not satisfy the prerequisite, unless the course is called Human Anatomy and Physiology.


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

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

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


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
STAT 202


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

Any two terms of year 1 physics with labs

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

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

Course eligibility

If you are still uncertain, first contact an undergraduate advisor at the university you attend or will attend. Subsequently, help can be obtained by sending an e-mail to 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
  • A full course description
  • A web reference to the course description (usually found in the undergraduate calendar)

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.

Minimum overall university average of 75%

The average of all courses you have taken in your BSc studies are included in the overall average calculation. The average is not limited to the prerequisites. Your average must be at least 75% at the time of application. In recent years, the actual averages of students that have been accepted into the program have ranged from 79% to 92%.

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.