We welcome your interest in the Doctor of Optometry program and the profession.
We seek applicants who show strengths in the sciences, and who bring strong interpersonal and communication skills. We admit students who have already invested time exploring optometry as a career and life choice.
One of The Best Academic Environments For Schools of Optometry In The Nation
The prescribed 4-year curriculum is based in the medical model, emphasizing individualized attention and clinical development. The curriculum integrates classroom experience and patient contact, providing early exposure to clinical training captured through community outreach programs, rotations through our clinics and externships in clinical sites both nationally and internationally.
Distinctive features of the curriculum include case-based seminars, grand rounds, problem-based learning, incorporation of educational technologies such as web-based learning, classroom performance system, digital libraries, podcasts and video conferencing.
Opportunities exist for clinical research through our Summer Fellowship Training Program as well as interaction with other medical and health care providers primarily through our Inter-Professional Education (IPE) program.
About Doctors of Optometry (OD)
Doctors of Optometry (ODs) are the primary health care professionals for the eye and visual system. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures, as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.
Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, provide low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.
Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.
An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
Optometrists are eye healthcare professionals, state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.
To learn more about the significant impact that Optometrists have on the lives of their patients, we encourage you to read “True Stories” by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.
How to Apply
Application for Fall 2020 Admission is due by May 1, 2020
Please note: RSO will start accepting applications for Fall 2020 on June 28, 2019. Applications are processed as they are received and offers of acceptance are made on a rolling basis, therefore we strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible during the application period. This rolling admissions process allows qualified individuals to be admitted on a continual basis until the class is filled.
For an applicant to receive full consideration, the following items must be submitted:
- Complete online OptomCAS application* for admission
- Official Optometry Admission Test (OAT)scores sent directly to UIWRSO**
*Please note that official academic transcripts from each college or university attended and letters of recommendation must be sent directly to OptomCAS as part of the central application process.
The Admissions Committee will review all completed applications and will extend invitations for on-campus interviews to those candidates with competitive applications.
Please be aware that all prerequisite courses must be completed before a student can enroll at RSO. If an applicant is in the process of completing a bachelor’s degree and/or prerequisite courses, updated transcripts must be submitted following completion of all coursework prior to enrollment in the professional program.
**In special cases, we will consider the acceptance of other graduate/professional school tests such as the GRE, MCAT, or DAT for admissions. Please consult our admissions office if you have questions related to the acceptance of tests other than the OAT.
- Complete online OptomCAS application* for admission
Admission Requirements Checklist
UIWRSO has a policy of competitive admissions and expectation for academic excellence. In order to apply for admission, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Successful completion of a minimum of 90 semester hours of college coursework from an accredited institution of higher learning; a grade of C or better must be achieved in all prerequisite courses
- A recommended minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale
- A recommended minimum overall Optometry Admission Test score of 300
Applicants presenting with a cumulative GPA below 3.00 and an overall OAT score below 300 are less likely to be offered an interview and are not considered favorable candidates for admission.
Applicants will be considered for admission on the basis of academic performance as well as non-academic qualifications. Meeting the recommended minimum GPA and OAT criteria for application, and being invited for an interview, in no way guarantees the applicant admission. The following criteria will be used in the admissions selection process, in no particular order of preference or weight:
- Scholastic Aptitude and Academic Performance
- Overall undergraduate grade point average
- Prerequisite science and math cumulative grade point average
- Optometry Admission Test performance
- Written and oral communication skills
- Ability to handle a diverse and demanding course load
- Extracurricular Activities; Community Service; Volunteer Work; Leadership Positions; Optometry-Related Experience
- Evaluation of Character, Motivation, Initiative, Interpersonal Skills, and Awareness of the Optometric Profession
- Ability to meet the Functional Standards, as defined by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.
Final consideration for admission takes into account the above academic and non-academic qualifications along with comments from personal interviews conducted by members of the Admissions Committee. The Admissions Committee reserves the right to interview, select and admit students on the basis of these academic and non-academic qualifications, to ensure a class that is inclusive and academically competitive.
UIWRSO supports the functional standards for didactic and clinical optometric education, established by the Association of Schools and College of Optometry (ASCO). The purpose of these standards is to identify candidates that possess the appropriate abilities necessary to provide quality comprehensive eye care services to the public. The functional standards represent a set of guidelines in the following areas: 1) observation; 2) communication; 3) sensory and motor coordination; 4) intellectual -conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities; and 5) behavioral and social attributes. UIWRSO will consider these functional standards, along with those items listed in the Admissions Selection Criteria section. UIWRSO incorporates these guidelines along with other established criteria, as standards for graduation from the four-year professional program.
In any case where a student’s abilities in one of these areas are compromised, he or she must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to meet the functional requirements. It is expected that seeking and using such alternative means and/or abilities shall be the responsibility of the student. Upon receipt of the appropriate documentation, the school or college will be expected to provide reasonable assistance and accommodation to the student.
Certain chronic or recurrent illnesses, including infectious, psychiatric or substance abuse problems that interfere with patient care or safety are not compatible with optometric practice or training. Other illnesses, such as immune disorders, may lead to a high likelihood of student illness and should be carefully considered. Candidates with questions or concerns about how their own conditions or disabilities might affect their ability to meet these functional standards are encouraged to meet with an optometry school counselor prior to submitting an application.
These standards are as follows:
Admission to UIWRSO requires a minimum of 90 semester hours of coursework from an accredited college or university. A candidate may apply while in the process of completing prerequisites, however all requirements must be completed prior to enrollment at UIWRSO. A grade of “C” or higher must be achieved in all prerequisite courses and all courses must have been completed within 10 years of the first day of classes for the entering student. However, the applicant can furnish evidence to the Admissions Committee of command of current knowledge in topics which do not meet the 10-year criteria. Each prerequisite course meets just one requirement.
National Optometry Prerequisites Required Courses Number of Courses
1 course w/lab
Human Anatomy and/or Human Physiology*
1 course w/lab
2 courses w/lab
1 course w/lab
2 courses w/lab
Microbiology OR Bacteriology
1 course w/lab
Biochemistry OR Molecular Biology
(minimum Junior level course or equivalent)
Additional Requirements for Students Entering Without a Bachelor's Degree
Humanities (may include Theology, Philosophy, History, Foreign Language, Literature, Art)
Behavioral & Social Sciences (may include Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, History, Anthropology, Geography, Economics, Communications)
Recommended Courses (Not Required)
Human Physiology II
Human Anatomy II
*Any of the following courses with laboratory may substitute for Anatomy and/or Physiology course with laboratory: Biology II, Cell Biology, or Genetics
Optometry Admission Test (OAT) Information
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized multiple-choice exam required by all schools and colleges of optometry. It is designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning. Most students complete two or more years of college prior to taking the examination, which includes courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics.
OAT scores range from a 200-400 with a score of 300 being the mean. UIWRSO recommends a minimum overall OAT score of a 300. The higher the scores are above a 300 the more competitive an applicant becomes. Scores are reported directly to the school or college of optometry which the student designates of the OAT registration.
The OAT is administered as a computerized examination at Prometric Test Centers throughout the United States and Canada. The computer version is given continuously on an individually arranged basis. For detailed information about the OAT testing process, please visit http://www.ada.org/en/oat.
Letters of Recommendation
Students applying to UIWRSO will be required to submit a minimum of Two (2) Letters of Recommendation. It is recommended that at least one of your letters be from an optometrist who can provide an objective evaluation of your knowledge and understanding of the profession. In addition, at least one of your letters should be from an academic advisor or professor who can speak of your academic performance and qualifications.
Only those applicants with the strongest credentials will be invited to UIWRSO for an interview. Candidates selected for an interview will be contacted by the RSO Student Affairs team. On the day of the interview, candidates will be personally interviewed by a member of the Admissions Committee and will receive information on the curriculum, clinical experience, financial assistance, housing, and student services. A tour of the School, the UIW Eye Institute and the Bowden Eye Care and Health Center are also routinely offered.
Good preparation is always key. A good place to start your interview preparation is with your Career Center on campus. Here you can learn about the interview process from experts who have great experience with effective and professional communication. You might also want to sign up for a couple of mock interviews, which are usually available through the career center, as well.
Another great resource for interview preparation is to consult with your Health Professions Advisor or the Health Professions office. They may already be hosting an event for this very topic or they can put you in contact with pre-health students who are preparing for an interview just like you are.
The Admissions Committee will review the candidate’s complete application portfolio once all application materials have been submitted and after the personal interview has been conducted. Acceptances will be offered to the most qualified candidates on a rolling basis.
Those applicants who receive letters of acceptance will have 2-3 weeks to either accept or decline their place in the entering class. Those who accept their place must do so by submitting a matriculation form along with a $1000 matriculation fee. The full deposit can be split up into two payments. $500 is due upon initially accepting the seat in the class and $500 is due by April 1st to confirm the seat. The full deposit is non-refundable. Of the full deposit, $900 will be directly applied toward the student’s tuition. Therefore, accepted students are advised to send their matriculation fee only after they have made a final decision about attending UIWRSO.
Matriculants are required to forward official transcripts to UIWRSO from all colleges or universities attended, prior to the first day of classes, fall term, first year. One official copy of your academic transcript from each college or university that you have attended must be submitted. The school seal must be imprinted or embossed on the transcript and should be in a sealed envelope in order to be considered an official transcript. Photocopies and facsimiles will not be accepted. A transcript is required for each college or university even though transfer credit from one college may appear on another college’s transcripts.
Students must notify the Director of Admissions if they wish to relinquish a reserved place in the entering class. Acceptances may be designated as conditional upon successful completion of requirements.
The UIWRSO endorses the concept that student continuity at a single institution for the duration of the professional degree program is most often in the best interest of the student. Currently UIWRSO does not accept transfer students, including those with advanced standing.