The Basics

Applications for optometry open annually on July 1st. The application deadline can be as early as January or late as May, depending on the program. Read the instruction manual for OptomCAS and details for the programs you will be applying to before beginning the application process. You should consider applying early in the cycle due to application verification and rolling admissions. Programs with rolling admissions may provide decisions regarding interviews and/or admissions within a month of completing the application. Some programs offer Early Decision. If you choose this option and are admitted, you are committed to that program. If you are considering Early Decision, you are strongly encouraged to speak with a Health Professions advisor.

Secondary or supplemental applications may be a part of the application process for programs you are applying to.  This provides you the opportunity to further discuss your interest in a specific program. Do not delay in completing secondaries—schools want to learn more about you and your interest in their program. 

Entrance Exam

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is required of all applicants. The OAT assesses general reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an important part of the application because it distinguishes you from other applicants. The character limit, including spaces, is 4500 in OptomCAS. Consider the following questions when writing your essay:

  • Why have you selected the field of optometry?
  • What motivates you to learn more about optometry?\
  • What do you want dental schools to know about you that hasn’t been disclosed in other sections of the application?
  • Reflect on the experiences you have had (student organizations, volunteering, research, clinical healthcare, study abroad). How have these experiences influenced you to become an optometrist?

Your personal statement is also an area where you may address the following:

  • Hardships, challenges or obstacles that have influenced educational choices
  • Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record if it is not explained elsewhere on the application

Letters of Evaluation

Optometry schools want to hear about you from a variety of perspectives. Your letter writers must provide two items: a rating of attributes and a letter. You may submit a maximum of four individual letters of in OptomCAS. Please note, UIUC does not provide committee letters for applicants to any health profession. Evaluators may include:

  • An optometrist who can state through documented experience that you understand the profession of optometry.
  • A professor with whom you have done personal work (such as assisting on a specific project or serving as a TA or reader), or with whom you took a course.
  • An employer or extracurricular activity advisor who can comment on your maturity, diligence, and conscientiousness


You will need to request transcripts from all institutions you have attended (University of Illinois, community colleges, previous institution, etc.). OptomCAS will calculate numerous GPAs.


Optometry schools have adopted a variety of interview styles to evaluate applicants. If you are not sure what type of interview the program will be utilizing, you should contact the school for additional information. You are advised to spend time preparing for your interview.  The Career Center conducts mock interviews during the academic year. You can also schedule an appointment to discuss interview preparation.