There are three general steps in applying to optometry schools: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview. A sample application timeline process can be viewed here.
1. Primary applications must be filed with the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS), which is a centralized application system that opens in late June. This application includes: biographical data, academic history, letters of recommendation, work experience, extracurricular experience, and a personal statement (4500 characters). Once the application is complete, OptomCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated. The OptomCAS application fee is about $170 for the first program and $70 for each additional program designation. Most optometry schools conduct rolling admissions, so it is beneficial to submit your primary application as early as possible.
Note: A list of specific types of letters of recommendation for each optometry school can be found here.
2. Secondary applications or supplementary forms are specific to individual optometry schools; schools send these to applicants after they have received the OptomCAS application. Both frequently request additional information, essays, letters of recommendation, and/or fees. Some schools screen applicants before the applications or forms are sent out. However, secondary applications and supplementary forms differ in that the latter is not a formal application.
3. Interviews: After reviewing the primary and secondary applications (or supplementary forms), optometry schools invite promising applicants to interview. Applicants are responsible for all costs of interviewing, including airfare, lodging, ground transportation, professional attire, and meals. To learn more about interviews, attend our upcoming interview-related orientations and workshops here. For sample interview questions click here.
Re-applicants: Many applicants may not be admitted to the professional school that they desire on their first try. However, if an when you choose to re-apply, there are many things to consider before re-submitting another application the following cycle. For more information on how to improve your application, click here.
- The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
- Most application questions can be answered by reading the SCOAR.
- Contact individual schools’ admissions offices to find out how they handle:
- Advanced Placement (AP) credits
- International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
- College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
- military credits
- courses taken at a community college
- non-US coursework
- courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
- residency issues
- time limits on prerequisite science courses
- Most schools accept community college and online credits, with the exception of online labs, from accredited institutions.
Please note that if you are retaking courses because optometry schools may not accept Advanced Placement (AP), online, or community college credit, your financial aid and/or scholarship status may be affected.
Financial planning is a crucial step in applying to optometry schools. It is important for students to create a plan and make decisions in their educational expenses. Students are highly encouraged to budget their finances before, during, and after optometry school. To learn more about financial planning, click here.
FAFSA: All students are encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through this information, students are eligible to apply for grants, work study, and loans to help fund the cost of undergraduate, graduate and professional school education. FAFSA opens on October 1st.
Note: To be considered for this financial aid, you must apply the year prior to matriculation even if you do not know if you were accepted into graduate or professional school yet.
Scholarship Opportunities for Test Prep Materials
WICHE: Hawai`i residents are eligible to participate in the Professional School Exchange Program (PSEP), a service of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). PSEP enables qualified residents from WICHE participating states affordable access to enroll in selected out of state professional healthcare programs at participating WICHE institutions when such programs are not available at a public institution in their home state. Many Hawai‘i residents must attend professional schools out-of-state to obtain the necessary education and training needed for professional healthcare positions. Therefore, the State of Hawai‘i, through WICHE PSEP, helps subsidize the tuition costs for qualifying Hawai‘i residents to attend a participating WICHE PSEP program. In return, WICHE PSEP students are required to return to work in the State after completing their program of study.
PSEP selected students pay reduced levels of tuition at the WICHE participating institution. The home state pays a negotiated “support fee” designed to cover a portion of the cost of the students’ education; this fee is paid directly to the enrolling program’s institution. No payments are made directly to students. Students enrolled at public institutions generally pay the resident tuition rate, however, students may be required to pay the unmet non-resident tuition differential if the WICHE PSEP support fee does not cover the entire non-resident tuition differential. Students enrolled at private institutions pay the balance of the full private tuition minus the WICHE PSEP support fee.
Support is available to a limited number of Hawai‘i residents studying optometry and enrolling at participating WICHE PSEP schools. For a list of participating schools, click here.
For more information on the Hawai’i WICHE PSEP program, please visit www.hawaii.edu/wiche.
Note: To be considered for this scholarship, you must apply one full year in advance of matriculation, generally in the summer of your application year.
Military Financial Aid: For more information, click here.