[AHS] [Arts] [Eng] [ES] [IS] [Math] [Sci] [Inter] [Calendar Top] [UW Home]


The School of Optometry of the Faculty of Science offers a four-year professional program leading to the degree of Doctor of Optometry. It is the only School of Optometry in Canada offering a program with English as the language of instruction. The immediate purpose of the program is to qualify individuals for the practice of optometry. Graduates are eligible to apply for registration as optometrists in the province of their choice. The program provides students with a background in general science and specialized knowledge in visual science so that they may follow a career in optometric research and teaching if they so desire. A two-year Diploma of Residency program, designed for persons with the OD degree who wish to improve and extend their clinical skills, is available. Graduate programs in Physiological Optics leading to the Master of Science degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree are also available.

Students who have completed two years of Honours Science Regular at the University of Waterloo prior to successfully completing the Optometry program may be eligible to transfer 11.0 optometry credits to an Honours Science BSc degree. For details regarding eligibility, contact the Associate Dean of Science for Undergraduate Affairs.

As with other health care professions, graduates in optometry must hold the certificate of the licensing body of the province in which they choose to practise.


Requirements for Admission


Applications are accepted from candidates who are Canadian citizens or from legal residents of Canada who have held Permanent Resident status for at least 12 months prior to the registration day of the Fall term. Proof of Permanent Resident status must accompany the application. In special circumstances a limited number of foreign students (one or two) may be admitted, i.e., those on student authorization.



Applicants should satisfy the Admissions Committee that they are well-prepared academically for entry to the School of Optometry. A good background in Science and Mathematics is required and the disciplines of Biology/Zoology, Calculus, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology must be represented. At the University of Waterloo, a program is offered to allow prospective applicants to the first professional year the opportunity to fulfill all the required and recommended prerequisite courses. The following courses represent the minimum requirements for admission to the School of Optometry: BIOL 230, Cell Biology; BIOL 211, Vertebrate Zoology; CHEM 120/120L, Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter; CHEM 123/123L, Chemical Reactions, Equilibria and Kinetics; PHYS 121/122,121L/122L, General Physics; (students without OAC Physics must take PHYS 111/112 and PHYS 111L/112L); MATH 107/108, Calculus; PSYCH 101, Introductory Psychology. The following courses represent a second-year program of strongly recommended courses: BIOL 201, Human Anatomy; BIOL 202, Histology, Embryology; BIOL 240, Fundamentals of Microbiology; CHEM 266/266L, Organic Chemistry; CHEM 237/237L, Biochemistry; PHYS 246/246L, Physical Optics; STAT 202, Statistics. Additional suggestions: One (per term) of any of the following courses: Computer Science, Introductory Accounting, Economics, Languages. Laboratory courses must be completed where given. To complete the pre-professional program, additional courses in the behavioural sciences, social sciences and the humanities are recommended.


Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

THE OAT MUST BE WRITTEN BY ALL APPLICANTS. The OAT results will be accepted for two successive applications only. Candidates who have not written the OAT for two or more years will be ineligible for admission consideration. Candidates are responsible to ensure that their OAT scores are sent to the UW School of Optometry. ALL inquiries regarding this test should be addressed to:

Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 60611
(312) 440-2693

Only candidates applying for advanced standing in Optometry should contact the Admissions Office of the School of Optometry regarding the OAT requirements.


Selection Factors

All applicants should note that enrolment in the first professional year is limited to 60 and that in 1994 there were approximately 350 applications for those places. Consequently, neither acceptance to nor successful completion of the pre-professional program can guarantee admission to the first professional year. Applicants are selected on a competitive basis considering scholarships, interest, motivation, general qualifications for the profession and recommendations.

While offers of admission are made to well qualified applicants from all the provinces, prospective candidates are advised that some preferential consideration is given to Ontario residents. Applicants to Honours Science, Regular of the University of Waterloo who have completed their secondary school education in provinces other than Ontario should consult with the Science Undergraduate Officer to ensure that their background in Science and Mathematics has prepared them for Honours Science, Regular as given at the University of Waterloo.

Agreements have been established between Ontario and the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan through which the costs incurred in educating a limited number of students at the School of Optometry are shared with the home province. The maximum number of residents to which these agreements apply are: Alberta 7; British Columbia 5; Manitoba 3; New Brunswick 1; Prince Edward Island 1 (every 3 years); Saskatchewan 3. The School of Optometry's Admission Committee bases its decisions on the competitive level of the candidate and therefore the Committee is not committed to, or limited by, a contract province's allotted number of places. In each year arrangements will be made to provide an opportunity for applicants from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and in New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island to be interviewed in their home provinces. Applicants from the six contract provinces must meet the same admission criteria as other applicants. Additional information may be obtained from the Admissions Office of the School of Optometry.


Application Procedures

Candidates who are currently or have previously been enrolled in any University of Waterloo course are considered internal applicants. These candidates initiate their application to the Optometry program by completing an application for internal transfer obtained from the Admissions Office at the School of Optometry. The Application for Admission to the School of Optometry, due during pre-registration week in March, can be obtained from the Optometry Admissions Office after October 15. In the Winter term an interview with the Admissions Committee will be arranged for some students. Prospective candidates who have never taken a course at the University of Waterloo are considered external applicants and must apply through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC). Such applicants should obtain the appropriate OUAC application form from the Registrar of either the University of Waterloo or any Ontario University. These forms will not ordinarily be available from the Office of the Registrar prior to October 15. The Application for Admission to the School of Optometry, due March 31, will be sent by the University of Waterloo Office of the Registrar upon receipt of its copy of the OUAC Form #105 provided that this form is received from OUAC by February 28. The Application for Admission to the School of Optometry contains seven sections:

Section A: Personal ID
Section B: General Information
Section C: Academic Record
Section D: Autobiographic Sketch
Section E: 3 Confidential Assessment Forms (CAFs)
Section F: Essay

Specific instructions, including deadlines, will be outlined in the application procedures accompanying the Application.

The deadline for receipt of academic transcripts is June 15. During the Optometry program students will be requested to submit documentation of up-to-date immunization for measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis B (refer to application package for further details). Students are not allowed to participate in the optometry clinics without this documentation.

Students granted admission to the first professional year who have taken courses equivalent to those required in the professional program may apply for exemptions from these courses immediately after acceptance into the program. Details on the policy of exemptions may be obtained by writing to the Admissions Office of the School of Optometry.


Admission to Advanced Standing

Applications are not ordinarily accepted to a year more advanced than the first professional year. However, graduates from certain Commonwealth Universities who are licensed to practise optometry in their country of origin may in certain instances be admitted to a more advanced level in a program leading to the OD degree. For more information write the Admissions Office of the School of Optometry.

Interviews arranged by the Admissions Office of the School are recommended in the following situations before any application will be processed:

  1. Applicants with undergraduate or graduate training who have not completed prerequisites for the pre-professional program and who are considering a Rmake-upS year.
  2. Applicants considering a "make-up" year to repeat courses for the purpose of raising grades.
  3. Applicants who are engaged at present in another vocation such as teaching, engineering, research, etc., and who may find it necessary to terminate employment before the admission decision has been made.

Appointments for interviews can be made by phone or letter to the Admissions Office of the School of Optometry.


Academic Course Requirements

In the Optometry program an overall 60% average as well as a mark of at least 60% in each course of the major subject (including PHYS 246 and BIOL 301A/B) must be obtained each term. In Optometry 348A/B, and 448A/B/C a mark of at least 70% will be considered a passing grade. In the Optometry program a student who fails to demonstrate clinical competence as evidenced by a failing grade in a clinical course will not be allowed to continue in the program.

The final year will be composed of three clinical sessions starting with the Spring Term. Each session will be a minimum of 14.5 weeks in duration. The Spring session will commence in late April and continue until mid-August. The Fall session will commence in late August and continue until mid-December. The Winter session will commence at the beginning of January and continue until mid-April.

Year One

OPTOM 100, 104, 105, 106, 109

OPTOM 111, 114, 115, 149
PHYS 246

Year Two

OPTOM 216, 241, 242, 245, 254, 264

OPTOM 244, 246, 251, 252, 255

Year Three

OPTOM 346, 347, 348A, 351, 352, 364

OPTOM 342, 348B, 350, 353, 367, 368, 372, 374

Year Four

OPTOM 412, 441*, 448A, 451*, 461A-Z*, 471

OPTOM 412, 441*, 448B, 451*, 461A-Z*, 471, 499A-E

OPTOM 412, 441*, 448C, 451*, 461A-Z*, 471, 499A-E

* Two elective courses are required. Students can substitute other University courses for their electives with approval from the Undergraduate Officer.


Combined Doctor of Optometry - Master of Science in Vision Science Program


The School of Optometry offers a combined Doctor of Optometry - Master of Science Program in response to a number of needs among which are:

  1. Academic recognition of the contributions of outstanding students to original research and provision of academic enrichment for these students.
  2. Provision of an introduction to postgraduate study and research for good undergraduate students who might otherwise overlook the opportunity of graduate studies.
  3. Graduate training which provides an increased scientific component to clinical training and produces graduates who have a further specialization in an area of Vision Science.
  4. Provision of a quicker route to the MSc for outstanding students.


General Principles of the Combined OD - Master's Program

A combined Doctor of Optometry - Master's program is one in which it is deemed academically advantageous to treat the educational process leading through the OD to the MSc degree as a continuous unit, while at the same time satisfying the requirements for both degrees. The combined program also provides the opportunity for mutual enrichment of both programs. The Vision Science background of the OD program serves as a solid precursor to research at an MSc level. The research at the MSc level broadens the application of the Vision Science component beyond that of the OD program and provides an increased scientific component to clinical training. This program provides an alternative scheduling of the requirements of both degrees to that used when the OD is considered a terminal degree.

The following are general conditions that all such combined OD - Master's degree programs satisfy:

  1. Students in the combined OD - Master's program will fulfill the degree requirements of both the OD program and the MSc program. This implies that:
  2. There must be complete freedom of transferability from the combined program to the OD or other undergraduate programs, or from the MSc program to the PhD program.
  3. Admission to the combined program is on the basis of merit, as is continuance in the program. Students who fail to maintain sufficiently high standing will be required to revert to the OD program, or even, if their undergraduate performance so warrants, to withdraw from the University. Students do not become graduate MSc students until after completion of the OD degree. Admission to the combined program does not guarantee admission to the MSc program.
  4. The culmination of the combined program is the Master's degree; this will be achieved through the completion of a research thesis and 4 graduate courses.
  5. Entry to a combined OD - Master's program may occur as early as the term following completion of the first year of the OD program.
  6. A combined OD - Master's degree program must have the flexibility to satisfy the requirements of individual students; at the same time it must have coherence - each student's program must be addressed towards a well-defined area of specialization in Vision Science.


Structure of the Combined OD - Master's Program

Application and Admission

Admission to the combined OD - Master's degree program is restricted to students with a consistently good academic record at the end of the first year who are granted "conditional admission to the MSc program". The condition to be fulfilled is "satisfactory completion of the requirements of the OD degree with at least a cumulative B average". In granting admission to the program both the academic record in the OD program and in the preoptometry program and any research experience will be considered. Students must have a minimum B average within the optometry program to be eligible for admission, and would normally have an A standing in their preoptometry program.

Students must have all application forms completed and be conditionally accepted into the combined program by the beginning of the 4th year. As in any program culminating in a Master's degree, a faculty supervisor is appointed on admission. Students are encouraged to consult faculty members regarding their research interests.


Course Programs

Although the supervisor advises students, all course selections and other academic administrative matters concerning each student are subject to the approval of the School's Undergraduate Officer and the Graduate and Research Committee.

The courses chosen by the student (with the advice of the supervisor and approval of the Undergraduate Officer and Graduate and Research Committee) should form a coherent series which (together with the thesis) complete the requirements of the OD and, ultimately, the Master's degrees.

In 3rd or 4th year, one or two 600 level courses may be chosen for credit to the MSc degree. These courses are in addition to the normal academic program for the OD level. Technically, it is necessary for students to register for these courses as "extras" in order to avoid counting them towards the requirements of the OD degree. Advanced standing in these courses will be granted following acceptance to the graduate program. Students will register in OPT 441/451 (Research Project).

A student proceeding to an MSc will normally complete the balance of the 4 required graduate courses in the one or two terms following 4th year.


Summer Research Terms

It is expected that most of the students proceeding to the MSc degree will be involved in summer research terms following first and second years. During these summer terms they are not required to register and they may be hired as associate researchers for the purposes of various research grants, without the restriction of student salaries or they may be eligible for NSERC undergraduate scholarships. This combination can be attractive from the points of view of available research time, income generation for the student and total research cost from a grant. Work done during these summer research terms may be included in the thesis.

During summer research terms, students may register as part-time undergraduate students if they wish to pursue a graduate level course for which they are deemed to have adequate undergraduate preparation.


Fourth-Year Projects

For students in the combined OD - Master's program, OPT 441/451 (Research Projects) may be integrated with their summer terms as well as with their work following 4th year. The requirements of OPT 441/451 must be met. The thesis must contain a substantial research contribution in addition to that submitted for credit in OPT 441/451, such that the total normal research requirements of OPT 441/451 and the MSc thesis are met.


Granting of Degrees

The OD degree will be granted at the normal time, i.e. at the Spring Convocation following the 4th year. The program, however, culminates in the MSc A minimum of two terms fulltime enrollment in the MSc is required subsequent to the granting of the OD Degree. It is expected that the MSc degree will be completed more quickly than in the regular MSc program and would normally be granted at the following Spring convocation. Additional time may be required to complete the thesis or coursework.


Postgraduate Scholarships

Students in the combined OD - Master's program may apply for graduate NSERC, OGS scholarships, etc. at the same time as their colleagues in the regular programs. They are also eligible for Optometry and NSERC undergraduate scholarships during the summer terms.


Withdrawal or Failure

Students may remain in the combined OD - Master's program provided they maintain sufficiently high academic standards. The minimum is a cumulative B average (70% in undergraduate courses to the end of 4th year, 70% in graduate courses) and no conditional standing.

A student who fails to maintain this standard will be required to withdraw from the combined degree program. In such a case, all courses taken up to the end of 4th year, including those originally intended to fulfil part of the Master's degree requirements, will be counted towards the OD degree program elective course requirements and these marks included in the 4th year averages as appropriate. Should the student have then satisfied the requirements for the OD degree, it will be granted at the next Convocation. Such students will not be permitted to enter the regular MSc program.

If a student maintains at least the minimum standard mentioned above, but decides to withdraw voluntarily from the combined OD - Master's program, the student may choose to count courses towards the OD degree which were originally intended to fulfill part of the Master's degree requirements. When the requirements for the OD degree have been satisfied, the OD will be granted at the next Convocation. Such a student will be allowed (at a later date) to enter the regular MSc program. For these students, graduate courses counted towards the OD degree may not be applied to the Master's degree, but graduate courses not previously counted towards the OD degree may be counted towards the MSc with the approval of the Graduate and Research Committee.


Transfer to the PhD program

Following completion of the OD program, a combined OD/MSc student will be eligible for transfer to the PhD program on the same basis as a regular MSc student.

[AHS] [Arts] [Eng] [ES] [IS] [Math] [Sci] [Inter] [Calendar Top] [UW Home]

Infoucal@www.adm.uwaterloo.ca / University of Waterloo