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3+4 Program

Accelerate your entry into optometry school


Every year, we welcome a few exceptional students from several 3+4 programs to ICO.

As a student in this program, you will complete three years of undergraduate course work and then join ICO for the next four years.

Breakdown of 3+4 Program

This program is called 3+4 because, you will spend three years as an undergraduate and then join ICO for the next four years. In most cases, after your first year at ICO, you will have completed the requirements to receive a bachelor's degreefrom your undergraduate institution. After completing the next three years of successful coursework, you will graduate as a Doctor of Optometry.

This academically intensive program is particularly beneficial if you enter your bachelor’s knowing that you want to be a Doctor of Optometry. When you arrive at ICO, you will already have gained three years of invaluable experience. Historically, we have seen students in these programs perform well above average in our program. As a 3+4 student, you’ve already taken on an accelerated curriculum and succeeded.

*Most undergraduate institutions will require you to maintain a 3.2 or higher to participate in this program.

Additional Benefits

Participating in a 3+4 program provides significant financial benefits by allowing you to forgo one year of undergraduate tuition. That means you'll graduate a year earlier, and you'll have an extra year of income as an optometrist.

Am I eligible to apply?

To participate in this program, you will need to meet several requirements. You will work directly with our Senior Director of Admissions and our Dean of Student Affairs (also a 3+4 graduate) to ensure you are on the right path. You will also need to work closely with your school's pre-health advisor.


Timing is key within this program. In particular, two milestones are important:

  1. You will need to talk to your pre-health advisor during the fall term of your freshman year. You will need to talk to them as soon as possible to ensure all requirements are met within three years. In most cases, you will need to register within your 3+4 program by the spring semester of your freshman year. This will allow you to meet all ICO course requirements before applying.

  2. Since you are part of an accelerated course, you need to carefully consider when you to take the OAT. Talk to your pre-health advisor to identify what time frame makes sense for you.


In addition to these two important milestones, we always encourage students to participate in shadowing opportunities before fully committing to optometry school. This will likely need to be done during the summer between Sophomore and Junior year, although it can also be completed before this.


Participating Undergraduate Schools

ICO partners with the following colleges for their 3+4 program:

  • Do I qualify for U.S. federal financial aid?
    The following criteria must be met to receive aid from the U.S. Federal Student Aid programs. ​Demonstrated financial need. Enrollment in the program at least half-time or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree. U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen. Valid Social Security Number. If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you can learn more about applying for one. Maintain satisfactory academic progress. Sign a statement on the application for U.S. Federal Student Aid certifying that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes (ICO’s school code is 001689). Sign a statement on the FAFSA certifying that you are not in default on a federal student loan and that you do not owe money back on a federal student grant. Registration with the Selective Service, if applicable (if you are an American male 18 through 25 years of age and you have not yet registered with Selective Service, you can register by checking a box on the FAFSA).
  • How do I apply for financial aid?
    There are several types of financial aid and a variety of scholarships available to help with the cost of your education. To apply for U.S. Federal Financial Aid and Direct Loans, you will only need to complete the FAFSA. Our school code is 001689. This form is available every October 1 for the upcoming Fall Term and can be accessed through the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid. Annually, you will be asked to complete the FAFSA to renew your eligibility. If you are unsure of your eligibility, you can review the federal eligibility requirements as listed above to confirm that you qualify to receive financial aid.
  • I completed my FAFSA, what's next?
    Following the submission of your completed FAFSA, we will put together a financial aid package that covers your full estimated cost of attendance and identifies all forms of Federal Aid for which you qualify. For students eligible for U.S. Federal Student Aid, you can expect that you will be able to fully cover your costs with the Federal Student Loan and work-study programs. You should not need to seek out private loans, which are often less cost-effective over the life of your loans. Scholarship recipients will see your award adjusted to include the scholarship.
  • How do I apply for ICO scholarships?
    When applying for graduate programs in optometry, you might feel as though you have to submit a lot of information. We remove the step of having prospective students apply for ICO scholarships by automatically reviewing your application for merit-based scholarships; you do not need to apply separately. Scholarship recipients are notified by the Admission Office at the time of acceptance.

Office of Admissions



Illinois College of Optometry

Office of Admissions

3241 S. Michigan Ave

Chicago, IL 60616


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