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International Admissions

TOEFL, visa requirements, and additional information



Our Admissions Committee evaluates all applicants, international or domestic using the same criteria, and we do not limit the number of international students ICO will admit.

There is a strong group of international students at ICO and we are sure you will find yourself at home here.

Applying to ICO as an International, a 3-step process


Complete all the required admissions steps


Prove English Language Proficiency.

In some cases your TOEFL exam may be waived. See FAQs below for more information.


Start preparing for the F-1 visa process

This can be a long process. We'll work with you to ensure this goes smoothly!

The 'ICO Family' is definitely real. Even if you're moving to a brand new place and don't know anyone, ICO is such a tight knit community, and I love that feeling.

- Karl Clark Sanders, OD '25
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Find Your Place at ICO

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Multi-Cultural Association

The cultural diversity at ICO has increased exponentially over the past several decades. As part of the MCA, you will collaborate with teams to promote the understanding of the diverse cultures within the ICO and IEI communities.


Canadian Association of Optometry Students

Nearly 20 percent of ICO’s student body is Canadian. Here you will have the opportunity to meet other Canadians and discuss topics ranging from financial aid to life in Chicago. You will also help promote awareness of optometry in Canada.


Private Practice Club

This club was established to prepare you for private practice. On a monthly basis, you will participate in presentations, lectures and panel discussions concerning all facets of practice management.

  • 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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