Admission / Apply

Optometry in Downers Grove

Click here to apply online at OptomCAS

Admission Requirements
Prerequisite Courses
International Applicants
Technical Standards for Admission
Application Process and Deadline
Interview / Selection Process
Matriculation Process
Reapplication Process
Transfer Admissions

Chicago College of Optometry Admission

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), Optometric Admission Test (OAT) scores, 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.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission to CCO must submit the following documented evidence:

  1. A minimum cumulative GPA and science coursework GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. A BA degree is acceptable, but a BS degree is preferred.
  3. Results of the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Minimum Academic Average and Total Science scores of 300 are recommended of all applicants. In order to be considered for the class to be admitted in the Fall of each academic year, the OAT must be taken and results submitted by June 1st of the year of admission. OAT scores must be earned no more than 5 years prior to the planned enrollment year.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.
  6. A good understanding of optometric medicine. Candidates are strongly encouraged to shadow and observe a number of practicing optometrists in the clinical setting.
  7. Extracurricular and/or community activities that indicate a well-rounded background and demonstrate a commitment to service.
  8. Interpersonal and communication skills necessary to relate effectively with others.
  9. Passage of the Midwestern University criminal background check.
  10. A commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.

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Prerequisite Courses

Course Sem Hrs Qtr Hrs
Biology with lab 8 12
Anatomy* 3 4
Physiology* 3 4
General/Inorganic Chemistry with lab 8 12
Organic Chemistry with lab 4 6
Biochemistry 3 4
Physics 6 9
Calculus 3 4
Microbiology 3 4
Statistics 3 4
Psychology 3 4
English 6 9

*The Anatomy and Physiology requirements may also be fulfilled by taking Anatomy and Physiology I (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours) and Anatomy and Physiology II (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours).

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:

  1. Cumulative and science grade point averages below 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. Academic Average and Total Science OAT scores below 300.
  3. Prerequisite science coursework completed more than 10 years ago. More recent (within five years) math and science coursework is preferred.

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International Applicants

An international student must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States, or from a recognized post-secondary Canadian institution that uses English as its primary language of instruction and documentation. Of the 30 semester hours, 15 hours must be in the sciences, 6 hours in non-remedial English composition, and 3 hours in speech/public speaking.

Applicants who wish to receive credit for prerequisite coursework completed outside the U.S. or at a Canadian institution that does not use English as its primary language of instruction and documentation must submit an official, detailed, course-by-course evaluation obtained from one of the following evaluation services:

International applicants who do not provide documentation of acceptable U.S. or Canadian course/degree equivalency will not receive credit, and will be required to complete all prerequisite courses at an accredited college or university in the United States, or at a recognized post-secondary institution in Canada that uses English as its primary language of instruction and documentation.

For clarification about recognized post-secondary institutions in Canada that use English as a primary language of instruction and documentation, international applicants should contact the Midwestern University Office of Admissions.

Click here for more information on International Student Financial Services

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Technical Standards for Admission

The Technical Standards set forth the nonacademic abilities considered essential for students to achieve the level of competence required by the faculty to obtain the academic degree awarded by the College. The health care provider must be able to perform tasks in an efficient and timely manner to diagnose, treat, and manage patients.

Therefore, the following abilities and expectations must be met by all students admitted to the College with reasonable accommodation. Candidates must have abilities and skills in five areas: 1) observation; 2) communication; 3) motor; 4) intellectual, conceptual, integrative, quantitative; 5) behavioral and social. Technological compensation can be made for some limitation in certain of these areas but the candidates must be able to perform in a reasonably independent, timely manner.

  1. Observation: The candidate must be able to accurately make observations at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing and sense of touch and is enhanced by the functional use of all of the other senses.
  2. Communication: The candidate must be able to communicate effectively, efficiently and sensitively in both oral and written form and be able to perceive nonverbal communication.
  3. Motor: Candidates must be able to coordinate both gross and fine muscular movements, maintain equilibrium and have functional use of the senses of hearing, touch and vision. The candidate must possess sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination to perform profession-specific skills and tasks.
  4. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: The candidate must be able to problem solve measure, calculate, reason, analyze, record and synthesize large amounts of information in a timely manner. The candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand spatial relationships.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: The candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the consistent, prompt completion of all responsibilities, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically, mentally and emotionally taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. The candidate must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, effective interpersonal skills, willingness and ability to function as an effective team player, and interest and motivation to learn are all personal qualities required during the educational process.

Candidates are required to certify that they understand and meet these Technical Standards. Candidates must provide such certification prior to matriculation. Candidates who may not meet the Technical Standards must inform the Director of Admissions, who will then contact the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students, in consultation with the College Dean, will identify and discuss what accommodations, if any, the College would need to make that would allow the candidate to complete the curriculum. The College is not able to grant accommodations that alter the educational standards of the curriculum. Students must meet the Technical Standards for the duration of enrollment at the College.

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Application Process and Deadline

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.

1. OptomCAS Application

Applicants are required to submit online applications and application fees to OptomCAS by April 1, 2019. 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 or 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 2018 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.

2. Optometry Admission Test (OAT) 

Applicants must arrange for scores from the OAT to be sent directly to Midwestern University. Only test scores received directly from the testing agency will be accepted. OAT scores must be earned no more than 5 years prior to the planned enrollment year. This examination includes questions on biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, quantitative reasoning and reading comprehension. The test can be taken at numerous centers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. An examinee may take the examination up to four times during the year. Additional information on the OAT may be found at or in writing to:

Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2637


3. Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation from professionals to OptomCAS ( One letter must be from a practicing optometrist. The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer, or extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.

4. Completed Application

All application materials, including the OptomCAS application, OAT 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 May 1, 2019. 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 their application materials and verifying the status of their applications on the University website. The Office of Admissions will send qualified applicants instructions for checking the status of their application materials online.

Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or e-mail address.

Midwestern University
Office of Admissions
555 31st Street Downers Grove, IL 60515
630/515-6171 or 800/458-6253

Rolling Admissions

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.

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Interview Process

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. Invited applicants must attend an on-campus interview to achieve further consideration in the admissions process.

The on-campus visit, which includes multiple mini-interview sessions, 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 Medical Campus.

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 of their status within two weeks of their interview date, provided that the file is complete.

Any request for withdrawal of an application must be made in writing.

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Matriculation Process

The matriculation process begins after students receive notification of their acceptance. To complete the matriculation process, students must:

  1. Submit the matriculation agreement and required deposit monies by the date designated in the matriculation agreement. Deposits are applied towards the first quarter's tuition.

  2. Submit official final transcripts from all colleges attended post-high school by the deadline of two weeks (14 days) prior to the first day of classes. Students who are accepted to MWU less than one month prior to the first day of classes will have 30 calendar days from the date of their acceptance to submit all official transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Any special circumstances or requests for exceptions to this policy must be sent to and approved by the Office of the Dean of the college. Students who fail to submit all official final transcripts by the stated deadline may jeopardize their acceptance or continued enrollment in the College.

  3. Submit completed medical files documenting completion of a physical exam, immunizations, tuberculosis and titer blood testing as instructed by the Office of Student Services and detailed in the Student Handbook.

  4. Meet the Technical Standards for the college.

  5. Submit proof of medical and disability insurance coverage. Students may select either a plan offered by an MWU-approved carrier or a comparable plan offered by an outside carrier of their choice, as determined by the Office of Student Services. Insurance must be maintained throughout the entire period of enrollment. 

  6. Submit additional documents as requested by the Office of Admissions or college.

  7. Students who are requesting an I-20 visa or who are not U.S citizens or permanent residences must prepay tuition and in some cases other mandatory program fees for the first year of their educational program 6 weeks before the first day of the first quarter of each academic year. Furthermore, the student must prepay tuition and in some cases other mandatory program fees for each successive year at the start of each academic year on the University's stated due date. 

  8. Submit a signed Credit Policy Statement.

  9. Authorize and pass the appropriate MWU criminal background check, international police clearance, and/or fingerprinting background check as required by the College. Students who fail to provide completed checks/clearances or fail to pass background checks/clearances by the end of the first month after the start of the first quarter of enrollment may jeopardize their acceptance or continued enrollment in the College, and the student may be required to take a mandatory leave of absence.

  10. Submit a signed MWU Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy Statement.

Students who fail to satisfy these matriculation requirements or who omit or falsify information required on official admission documents automatically forfeit their seat in the program. Any individual accepted for admission to the college/program who does not comply with stated timelines for submission of all required materials receives no further notification from the college regarding the forfeiture of their seat

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Reapplication Process

After receiving either denial or end-of-cycle letters, or after dismissal from the College, applicants may reapply for the next enrollment cycle. Before reapplying, however, applicants should seek the advice of a MWU admissions counselor.

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Related Information

Transfer Admissions 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 have 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. They must also submit the following:

  1. A letter to the Director of Admissions outlining the reasons for requesting transfer and explaining any difficulties encountered at the previous institutions
  2. Course syllabi for all optometry coursework for which advanced standing credit is requested
  3. Official scores from the Optometric Admissions Test (OAT)
  4. Official transcripts from all schools attended - undergraduate, graduate, and professional
  5. 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
  6. 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, he/she 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.

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