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How to Apply

Instructions on how to submit a complete application.

Thank you for your interest in a life-changing education by enrolling at Illinois College of Optometry. Upon receiving all of your completed application materials, the Admissions Committee reviews the application. Admission to ICO is rolling, but applicants are encouraged to complete applications early in the cycle as seats in the Entering Class fill up quickly. Scholarship opportunities are distributed on a first-come, first-serve rolling basis (link to FinAid page; not scholarship page?).

Do I need to finish my coursework before applying?

You do not need to have completed all admissions requirements at the time of application. As long as you have taken the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) 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 apply. Again, we encourage you to apply early, even if it means sending these materials later on in the application process.


What is the application process?

As 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 June 27, 2019. If you are interested in applying to ICO for entry in 2020, your OptomCAS application will be available.

The following information will guide you through the application process.


  1. Submit the OptomCAS application (including a personal statement, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an application fee).

  2. Request your OAT and/or GRE scores to be sent to ICO.

  3. If English is a second language, request your TOEFL scores be sent to ICO. The institutional code of ICO is 1317.


Following the submission of complete application materials, qualified students will be sent an Interview Profile Form and invited to Interview Day.

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 minimum 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, 2020. If you change your OAT testing date after you submit your ICO application, please contact Admissions immediately.

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.


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 three to four 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 any official transcript(s) not previously verified by OptomCAS. We highly recommend re-applicants contact our office to schedule 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 advanced standing. Prospective transfer students are encouraged to contact us immediately if you are considering transferring to ICO as the application for transfer students is lengthy.

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.

  • Your status with our program changes.

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