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Consumer Information

Admissions Policy

As a graduate professional program, ICO admits only those students who have previously completed a baccalaureate degree or those who have completed either 90 semester/135 quarter hours of undergraduate work in good standing from an accredited undergraduate degree program. All candidates for ICO Admission must meet the following criteria to enter into our Doctor of Optometry program.


For consideration of admissions to the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO), applicants must successfully complete the outlined prerequisites listed below with a grade of “C” or better from a regionally accredited institution. Completion of additional science coursework, preferably in human-based biological science is strongly recommended. Coursework may be planned or in-progress at the time of application.

ICO will accept Advanced Placement (AP) courses for the prerequisites if the minimum number of credit hours is met. AP courses must appear on an applicant’s official college transcript or in a letter from the institution’s Registrar where the AP coursework was awarded. ICO accepts applications from all majors.




Semester Hours


Quarter Hours

















English Composition/Literature

Or similar graded non-remedial writing courses. One course in public speaking is acceptable.

College Calculus

Pre-calculus is not acceptable.


Business statistics is not recommended. Psychology statistics or biostatistics are acceptable.

Biology with Laboratory

General biology, physiology, zoology and comparative anatomy are all acceptable. Botany does not apply.

Microbiology with Laboratory

Bacteriology is also acceptable.

General Chemistry with Laboratory

Inorganic Chemistry is also acceptable.

Organic Chemistry

Laboratory is not required.

Physics with Laboratory

The sequence does not need to be calculus-based.


Both introductory and upper-level psychology courses are acceptable.

Social Science

Economics, political science, anthropology, sociology or an additional psychology course are acceptable.

















The following areas will be taken into consideration as applications are reviewed:

  • Academic History (GPA’s/transcripts, prerequisite courses, and bachelor’s degree(s))

  • OAT and/or GRE scores

  • Letters of Recommendations (2)

  • Professional Knowledge (shadowing, observation, internships, extracurricular activities, as well as knowledge of pertinent websites and publications in the profession)

ICO has rolling admissions. Applicants are not required to have completed all admissions requirements at the time of application. As long as applicants complete the OAT by the application deadline and have a plan to successfully complete the academic requirements by August of their desired year of entry an applicant can apply. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. Applications to ICO must be initiated via the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) starting at the end of June of each year and must be submitted by the application deadline each year. The OptomCAS Online Application includes a personal statement & fee. The following items are to be submitted to OptomCAS:

  • Official Transcript(s)

  • Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) and/or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (Only scores reported within the last two years are acceptable.)

  • Letters of Recommendations:

  1. 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).

  2. Practicing Optometrist (non-relative)

  • TOEFL, if English is a second language


After receiving an applicant’s completed application from OptomCAS, applicants can expect to hear back regarding their application status within 3-4 weeks via email. For those deemed competitive, applicants are invited to interview and complete the online Interview Profile Form (essay & Pre-Optometry Coursework Sheet). Due to COVID-19, interviews are taking place virtually, instead of on campus. Interviews are conducted mid-September through the end of April and are conducted primarily by faculty and/or college administrators. Applicants are notified of their decision within 2-3 weeks of their interview date.

ICO does accept applications from applicants who have previously applied or looking to transfer from another optometry school. To re-apply, applicants must apply through OptomCAS and provide updated transcripts (if applicable). It is recommended re-applicants call the Office of Admissions to schedule a counseling session prior to reapplying.

Transfer applicants (those who are currently enrolled in good standing at an optometry school) must contact the Office of Admissions for instructions on how to apply. If an applicant was dismissed or no longer in good standing at an optometry school, the applicant must apply through OptomCAS. Any applicants who previously attended an optometry school will be considered for a seat in the first-year class. Only after gaining acceptance can an applicant apply for advanced standing.

ICO accepts applications from international applicants. International applicants must fulfill all general admissions requirements and apply through OptomCAS. For those educated outside of the United States or Canada, or if an applicant’s transcripts are not in English, the transcripts must be submitted to an official evaluation service. ICO accepts transcript evaluations from the World Education Services and Educational Credential Evaluators. The final report must be sent directly to the Office of Admissions.  

Applicants for whom English is a second language must demonstrate proficiency in both written and spoken English. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all applicants for whom English is a second language. If an applicant feels compelled to forego this examination, a written waiver request must be submitted to the Office of Admissions.

International students who are selected for admissions to the program must present proof of financial responsibility mid-June of their admitted year. Evidence of financial responsibility will allow ICO to issue the student an I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) which must be presented to the US Consular Office in their home country (or, for Canadian citizens, at the port of entry/Canadian border) to apply for an F-1 nonimmigrant visa.

International accepted candidates will use the following documents to apply for an F-1 Visa:

  • Form I-20 AB

  • Evidence of English ability

  • Evidence of intent to depart the US after completion of studies

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay

  • Financial support documentation

  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee receipt


In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require that individuals seeking status as an F-1 nonimmigrant student pay a $350 fee to cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student Exchange Visitor Program, including the administration and maintenance of SEVIS. Student and exchange visitors will have the options to pay with a check by mail or with a credit card via the Internet. The DHS will also accept fee payment from a third party, either in the US or abroad. For current SEVIS fee information, applicants should refer to the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement website.

As applicants navigate the application process, they are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions should they have any questions and/or updates to their application.

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