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How to Apply

How to Apply

Thank you for considering an education at the largest, most popular optometry college in the United States. The Illinois College of Optometry is thrilled to welcome your application. We will help create an application that captures you in the very best light.

The following major areas will be taken into consideration when you apply:

  • Academic History – Includes GPAs/transcripts, prerequisite courses, and Bachelor’s degree(s.) OptomCAS allows you to update your grades between December and February, should you wish to embellish your application with improved grades. Students accepted to ICO without a degree are eligible to receive a Bachelor of Science in Visual Science (BSVS) from ICO in addition to their OD degree.
  • OAT Scores
  • Recommendation Letters (2)
  • Professional Knowledge – Can include shadowing, observation, interships, extracurricular activities, as well as knowledge of pertinent websites, journals, and publications in the profession.

All of these play an important role in earning an on-campus interview and potential admission. However, ICO recognizes that the “numbers side” of your application is not the only indicator of success. We are looking for well-rounded, highly motivated, passionate candidates- not just top academic performers. Many of these traits are explored during Interview Day.

Application Deadlines

Like with all optometry schools in the United States, applicants to ICO must apply through the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS). OptomCAS opens for applications on July 1 of every year. If you are interested in applying to ICO for 2016 entry, your OptomCAS application will be available around July 1 of 2015. ICO’s application deadline will be February 15, 2016. Admissions to ICO are rolling, but we encourage applicants to complete their applications early in the cycle as seats in the Entering Class fill up quickly. 

You need not have completed all admissions requirements at the time of application. As long as you have taken the Optometry Admission Test by ICO’s application deadline of your desired year of entry and successfully completed all academic requirements by August of your desired year of entry, you may continue with the application process. Again, we encourage you to apply early, even if it means sending these materials later on.

Taking the OAT

The Optometry Admission Test is required of all applicants to ICO. The OAT will assess general reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics.Information on the test is available online at You can register for the test there and view an online info booklet.

No minumum OAT score is required, but you can see how ICO first years generally performed on our Entering Class Profile. Only OAT scores reported within the last two years are acceptable. Your test must be completed by the application deadline of Feb. 15, 2016. If you change your OAT testing date after you submit your ICO application, please contact Admissions.

The OAT may be repeated after a 90-day waiting period. If the test is taken multiple times, ICO will evaluate the most recent score.

You may also contact the testing program via mail or phone at:

Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 800-232-2159

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required of all applicants. They must be from:

  1. A non-relative, practicing optometrist
  2. A professor or an academic/pre-health advisor. Pre-health faculty committee letters are also acceptable. We do not accept letters from research supervisors or teaching assistants (TAs.)

Your evaluators must submit letters via OptomCAS. If they choose to include a written letter, it must be on official letterhead.

If you previously submitted evaluation letters or transcripts, we hold that information for up to two years. Please note, this information will be added to your file, but we will not send it to OptomCAS. You will need to send it.

Using OptomCAS

  1. Submit the OptomCAS application (including personal statement, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
  2. Submit ICO’s supplemental application (only those deemed competitive by the admissions committee will be invited to fill out the supplemental application).
  3. Request your OAT scores be sent to ICO.
  4. If English is a second language, request your TOEFL scores be sent to ICO. ICO’s institutional code is 1317.

All Applicants

Once all of your application materials have been received, the Admissions committee will review your application. Admission to ICO is rolling, but you will generally hear about your application status within four to six weeks. Selected applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview. In most cases, you will be notified of the admissions committee’s decision within two to three weeks after your interview. The majority of communication will be sent via e-mail, so be sure to notify us if your contact information changes.


Although ICO will have your prior application materials on file, all re-applicants must submit another application through OptomCAS, including official transcript(s). We highly recommend re-applicants to contact our office for a counseling session the summer prior to reapplying. Counseling sessions can be conducted in person or over the phone.

Transfer Applicants

Current optometry students in good standing who would like to transfer to ICO should contact the admissions office for directions on how to apply. Applicants who have previously attended an optometry school or are no longer in good standing will need to submit an application via OptomCAS.

Please note that your application to our program will be for a seat in the first-year class. Only after gaining acceptance can you apply for advance standing. The application process for transfer students is lengthy and we encourage you to contact us immediately if you are considering transferring to ICO.

Application Updates

Please feel free to contact Admissions if any of the following occurs:

  • Your personal information changes, e.g. phone number, address, or last name.
  • You wish to update us on your grades, OAT score, or other change outside of the above time frames.
  • You find an error in your application.
  • You have thoroughly read the Admissions section of, and still have a question, comment, or concern.