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Chicago College of Optometry (CCO) considers for admission those students who possess the academic, professional, and personal qualities necessary for development as exemplary optometrists. CCO uses multiple criteria to select the most qualified candidates including cumulative and science grade point averages (GPAs), entrance exam scores (e.g. OAT), personal experiences and character, ability to communicate, familiarity with the profession, volunteer/community involvement, research experience, and other considerations. CCO uses a rolling admissions process.
Students seeking admission to CCO must submit the following documented evidence:
- A minimum cumulative GPA and science coursework GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
- A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. A B.A. degree is acceptable, but a B.S. degree is preferred.
- Results of one of the following admission tests. Applicants must submit scores from one of the following admission tests: Optometry Admission Test (OAT), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Dental Aptitude Test (DAT), Pharmacy College Admission Test(PCAT), or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A competitive test score (at least at or above the mean score for each exam) is recommended of all applicants. In order to be considered for the class to be admitted in the Fall of each academic year, the admission test must be taken and results submitted by April 30th of the year of matriculation. Entrance exam scores must be earned no more than five years prior to the planned enrollment year.
- Necessary course prerequisites. All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or better prior to matriculation. Only courses designed for science majors or pre-professional students are acceptable for the science prerequisites.
- Two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a practicing optometrist. The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer or an extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.
- A good understanding of optometric medicine. Candidates are strongly encouraged to shadow and observe a number of practicing optometrists in the clinical setting.
- Extracurricular and/or community activities that indicate a well-rounded background and demonstrate a commitment to service.
- Interpersonal and communication skills necessary to relate effectively with others.
- Passage of criminal background check.
- A commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.
|Biology with lab
|General/Inorganic Chemistry with lab
|Organic Chemistry with lab
Note: CCO strongly recommends the following courses: Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry.
The Doctor of Optometry degree program is rigorous and challenging. The Admissions Committee will therefore assess the quality and rigor of the pre-optometry academic records presented by applicants. When assessing an application, the Admissions Committee will view with concern applicants with:
- Cumulative and science grade point averages below 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
- Admission test scores below the mean for each exam.
- Prerequisite science coursework completed more than 10 years ago. More recent (within five years) math and science coursework is preferred.
Application Process and Deadlines
Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early in the cycle. Applications are considered on a first come first served basis only until all seats are filled.
- OptomCAS Application
Applicants are required to submit online applications and application fees to OptomCAS by April 1, 2024. In addition to the online application and application fees, an applicant must forward to OptomCAS official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended by the April 1st date. OptomCAS will begin the verification process as official transcripts are received, however an application will not be considered complete until all official transcripts are received. Students must apply for admission via OptomCAS at www.opted.org or www.optomcas.org. Please refer to the OptomCAS application instructions for specific details about completing the OptomCAS application, required documents, and processing times. OptomCAS applications are available starting Summer 2023 for applicants seeking admission in August of the following year. Due to the large number of applicants and the limited number of seats available, students are strongly encouraged to complete their OptomCAS application early in the cycle. CCO will consider completed applications on a first-come, first-served basis until all seats are filled.
- Admission Test Score
CCO prefers the OAT, but will accept the MCAT, DAT, PCAT, or GRE test scores as an alternative. Applicants must arrange for scores from the admission exam to be sent directly to Midwestern University. Only test scores received directly from the testing agency will be accepted. Any of these admission exam scores must be earned no more than five years prior to the planned enrollment year. Additional information on the OAT may be found at www.opted.org or in writing to:
Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
- Letters of Recommendation
Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation from professionals to OptomCAS (www.optomcas.org). One letter must be from a practicing optometrist. The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer, or an extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.
- Completed Application
All application materials, including the OptomCAS application, admission test scores (as reported to Midwestern University), and two letters of recommendation (as submitted to OptomCAS) must be received by the Office of Admissions on or before April 30, 2024. Only completed applications received by the Office of Admissions on or before the deadline date will be reviewed for potential entrance into the program.
Please Note: Applicants are responsible for tracking the receipt of application materials and verifying the status on the University website. The Office of Admissions will send qualified applicants instructions for checking the status of application materials online.
Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in mailing address or e-mail address.
Office of Admissions
555 31st Street Downers Grove, IL 60515
630/515-7200 or 800/458-6253
CCO uses a rolling admissions process in which applications are processed and reviewed during regular intervals in the admissions cycle until the class is filled.
Before an invitation is issued to attend an on-campus interview, applicants must meet the admission requirements listed previously. After the Office of Admissions receives all required application materials, applicant files are reviewed to determine whether an applicant merits an invitation for an interview. Applicants may also be placed on a waiting list pending possible openings in a later part of the admissions cycle. Interviews are typically held between September and May of a given admission cycle. Invited applicants must attend an on-campus interview, unless otherwise specified, to achieve further consideration in the admissions process.
The interview day, which includes a closed-file interview session, generally takes six hours. Applicants will be evaluated on verbal communication skills, understanding of the optometry profession, commitment to patient care, and other elements as determined by the College. Applicants will also learn more about Midwestern University, CCO, financial aid programs, student services, and campus housing, as well as tour the Midwestern University Downers Grove Campus and Eye Institute.
Following the interview, an applicant's file will be forwarded to the Admissions Committee for review. The committee may recommend accepting, denying, or placing students on an alternate list. Recommendations are then forwarded to the Dean for final approval. The Dean, via the Office of Admissions, notifies applicants within two weeks of the interview date, provided that the file is complete.
Any request for withdrawal of an application must be made in writing.
After receiving either denial or end-of-cycle letters, applicants may reapply for the next enrollment cycle. Before reapplying, however, applicants should seek the advice of a MWU admissions counselor.
Transfer Admission Policy
CCO may elect to accept transfer students from other U.S. accredited schools of optometry who are currently enrolled, are in good academic standing, have no ethics or professionalism violations, and provide acceptable reason(s) for seeking transfer. These transfer students must satisfy the minimum qualifications for admissions as all other applicants to the CCO program. Typically, students will transfer at the beginning of the second year of the curriculum.
Students requesting transfers must meet the College's general requirements for admission. The following must also be submitted.
- A letter to the Director of Admissions outlining the reasons for requesting transfer and explaining any difficulties encountered at the previous institutions
- Course syllabi for all optometry coursework for which advanced standing credit is requested
- Official admission test scores from any one of the following: OAT, MCAT, DAT, PCAT, or GRE
- Official transcripts from all schools attended -undergraduate, graduate, and professional
- A letter from the dean of the college in which the student is enrolled that describes current academic status and terms of withdrawal or dismissal
- Additional documents or letters of recommendation as determined necessary by the Director of Admissions or Dean
Following receipt of these materials, a decision by the Dean is made regarding whether or not the student merits an on-campus interview. If the student receives an invitation, the individual interviews with an appropriate interview team. The interview team then makes an admissions recommendation to the Dean, who is responsible for approving both the student's admissions status and class standing.
The transfer application must be received sufficiently early to allow for processing of the application, interview, and moving of the student prior to the start of the next academic term.
Readmission After Dismissal for Poor Academic Performance
Students dismissed for poor academic performance may reapply for admission to CCO if the student;
- Seeks academic counseling from the Office of the Dean prior to enrolling in an advanced health-related curriculum;
- Completes at least two semesters or three quarters of full-time study (i.e., at least 15 credit hours per semester or quarter) of a curriculum at the advanced level at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university;
- Earns grades of at least C (not C-) in all courses taken;
- Maintains a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or better.
Students fulfilling these requirements will be permitted to reapply to the University and CCO. Students should obtain the applications from the Office of the Dean and not through OptomCAS. Completed readmission applications must be submitted by May 15th to the Office of the Dean. The completed application will be forwarded to the Admissions Committee for review and recommendation. Committee recommendations are forwarded to the Dean for final action.
No guarantee of admission is implied, and questions related to advanced standing and similar issues will be addressed as they are for new applicants. Readmission will be granted only once.