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Frequently asked questions

Q: How many spaces are there in the School of Optometry and Vision Science for first-year students? How many people will apply?

A: The School admits 90 students into each first year class of the program. We receive approximately 300 applications each year.

Q: How many years of university are needed to apply?

A: A minimum of three years of university science are required to apply to the Doctor of Optometry program (the earliest to apply is the summer between second and third year).

Q: How many years does it take to complete the Doctor of Optometry program?

A: The Optometry program (O.D.) is a four-year professional degree program.

Q: Does it matter what university I attend?  Do I have to go to University of Waterloo to be accepted into the Waterloo Doctor of Optometry program?

A: The Admissions Committee does not consider the university of origin (where you’re applying from) in their admission decision nor do they have quotas from other provinces or countries. The Admissions Committee does not give University of Waterloo students preferential treatment over applicants from other universities. We are looking for work to be done in the faculty of science or health science, and completed with a full course load (5 courses per term for minimum 6 terms).

Q:  What is the advantage of attending the University of Waterloo for the undergraduate science program?

A:  The advantage of attending the University of Waterloo for the undergraduate science program is that all the required courses are easily taken with a number of science programs but especially Biomedical Science. Secondly, if you are in a regular Honours Science or Life Science program at the University of Waterloo and you enter the Doctor of Optometry program after year three you will graduate with both the Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees.

Q: If I start Optometry prerequisites at another university and then transfer to Waterloo will I then have an advantage when I apply to Optometry?

A: Since Waterloo students are not given preferential treatment in the admissions process, transferring to Waterloo in second year will not provide you with a competitive advantage. In addition, if not all of your courses are granted transfer credit, transferring could cost you time and lost coursework.

Q: I am able to take a professional program such as Nursing or Engineering; can I still apply to Optometry?

A: You may apply provided that you successfully complete the required prerequisites for Optometry admission consideration. However those programs usually have specific course curriculum’s that may not match with the Optometry prerequisites. It may take you a year or two after your degree to satisfy the Optometry prerequisites.

Q: Is there a “mature student” category?

A: No. As this is a professional program you will be expected to meet the same minimum admission requirements as all other applicants.

Q: Can I apply to the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science from an Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT)?

A: No. Applicants with exclusively a community college background are not admissible to the Optometry program. The prerequisites for our program must be met through University-level study.

Q: Do you accept IB courses?

A: Yes. The University of Waterloo recognizes IB courses as excellent academic preparation for success at the university level and will consider awarding transfer credits for individual Higher Level IB courses with a minimum grade of 5. See International Baccalaureate (IB) Transfer Credit Eligibility policies. You will be required to provide us with an official transcript for the IB course indicating your grade when you apply.

Q: Do you accept AP courses?

A: Yes. We will accept AP courses with a minimum grade of 4. You will be required to provide us with an official transcript for the AP course indicating your grade when you apply.

Q: Am I able to take summer courses?

A: You can take summer courses, except for the summer immediately prior to the admission year to the School of Optometry. It doesn't matter if it's a prerequisite course, we will still use the course(s) and they will be included in your overall average. You can take a summer course in 2016 if you are applying for September 2017 and have it count towards your application. Unfortunately, you cannot take a summer course in summer 2017 if you are applying for September 2017 and have it count towards your application.  You still need to take a full course load, five courses per term in the fall and winter. If you have taken a full course load in the fall and winter and choose to take extra course(s) in the summer you don’t have to take a full course load. All course work must be finished by the May deadline of the year of application. See important dates for all deadlines.

Q: How and when do I apply for admission to the Doctor of Optometry program at the University of Waterloo?

A: Applications for September 2017 entry are now closed.

Applications for September 2018 entry will be available in mid-July 2017.

Q: Do I have to write the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)?

A: Yes, the OAT is a requirement. For applications for September 2017, the OAT must be written by August 31, 2016. Please go to the OAT web site for information and the application Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).

Q: When should I write the OAT exam?

A:  As soon as you have completed your introductory organic chemistry course (usually in second year) you are ready to write the OAT. You can write the OAT as many times as you like as only the highest score will be used. Keep in mind that once you have written an OAT there is a 3 month waiting period before you can re-write the OAT again.

Q: I have completed more than three years of undergraduate studies, will I have an advantage?

A: No. All applicants who meet the minimum admission requirements will be treated equally.

Q: I have already completed several years of university. Can I get advanced standing and start in second year?

A: No. All applicants will be considered for Year I. There are some very specific courses throughout the 4 year curriculum that are only available as part of the Optometry program.

Q: Do you accept transfers from other schools of Optometry?

A: No, we do not accept transfers from other optometry programs.

Q: Is it necessary that I take a full course load every term in order to be considered for admission?

A: The School looks for full time study (five courses per term every term) for a minimum of 6 terms, in the Faculty of Science. The optometry program has an extremely heavy course load. There are 5, 6 or 7 courses, each term, in many years of the program. The School is looking for proven ability to handle a full five course load science program. If students have a difficult time taking five courses, then 7 will really be a challenge!

Q: Are repeated attempts of specific courses included in admission assessments?

A: If a course is repeated, both grades are used in average calculations. For example, if you received 60% the first time you took the course and 75% the second time, your average grade for that course will be 67.5%.

Q: Am I able to have a prerequisite course graded on a credit/no credit (CR/NCR) basis?

A: No. All required prerequisites must have a grade. CR/NCR is not acceptable for prerequisites.

Q: If I don’t have at least a 90% average, will I be considered for admission?

A: Applicants require an overall undergraduate university average of at least 75% to be considered for admission. Grades from Graduate programs are not included in the overall average. Historically, applicants who have been admitted to the program have had averages of 79% to 92%. Achieving a very high academic average does not guarantee your admission, just as a lower academic average does not necessarily exclude you from being admitted.

Q: My friend has a relative who works at the UWaterloo. Will her application be considered over mine?

A: The Admissions Committee does not, under any circumstances, consider:

  • age;
  • race;
  • religion;
  • nepotism;
  • family name;
  • gender;
  • or socioeconomic status in their admission decisions.
 

Q: What does the Admissions Committee look for in applications?

A: The Admissions Committee is looking for:

  • Evidence of ability to handle a course load of five courses (plus labs) per term, throughout their undergraduate education.
  • Service to the community and university, work experience and interpersonal skills.
  • An understanding of the profession of Optometry.  We strongly encourage job shadowing with an optometrist which means observing eye exams. (A minimum of 8 hours is expected)
  • Proof of academic ability and achievement as well as personal qualities, leadership, integrity, motivation, initiative, social awareness, personality, ability to work with others and knowledge of the profession.
  • All offers of admission are conditional upon successful completion of the current academic year and requirements.  Students admitted must maintain their level of academic performance. The Admissions Committee reserves the right to deny admission to an already admitted student if their academic performance falls below acceptable standards.

You will find detailed information about the selection process at: Doctor of Optometry Selection Process.

Q: I finished my degree some time ago, will this be a disadvantage?

A: Possibly. It is preferable for applicants to have a current understanding of relevant course material. Courses taken more than 10 years ago may be subject to additional review.

Q: If I do not get an interview conducted by the Admissions Committee, does that mean I have not been accepted into the program?

A: Unfortunately, applicants who do not receive an interview will no longer be considered for admission. See Interview.

Q: If I apply one year and am not admitted, will I have a better chance of being admitted the next year?

A: There is no advantage or disadvantage to applicants based on the number of times you apply to the UWaterloo School of Optometry. Each year there is a separate admissions process through which you are evaluated against the applicants who are applying with you. It is your performance against this cohort, and the admission criteria that determines your admissibility.

Q: How will the different admission criteria be weighted?

A: The relative weight of the defined elements of the admissions process is determined by the Admissions Committee and is not publicly available. Generally speaking, an Offer of Admission will not be made to a student who under-performs on any component of the admissions process. No specific information will be passed back to the applicant regarding their individual performance within the process.