Pennsylvania College of Optometry accepts applications only through the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS).

The processing of applications by OptomCAS begins end of June, one year prior to the year of desired enrollment. Applications must be submitted on or before March 31 of the year of desired enrollment.

  • Student application reviews begin when an application is verified by OptomCAS
  • Interviews are scheduled and initiated, beginning in September 
  • Candidates meeting the requirements are admitted on a rolling basis until class capacity is reached 
See a profile of the most recent Entering Class (PDF)

It is to an applicant’s advantage to apply as early as possible to ensure priority consideration for admission.


Apply at OptomCAS       

 

Criteria & Prerequisites

The Accelerated Scholars Program at Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) offers a new, alternate opportunity for highly qualified and highly motivated students with a recommended cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and an OAT academic average score of 330 or higher.

Applicants meeting these criteria will be considered for the program and asked to visit the campus to undergo a process known as the multiple mini interview. (For more information on MMI:  New York Times article and an overall description of the process of the MMI).

The Scholars Program is designed for those applicants with exceptional personal and professional motivation, exceptional academic qualifications and strong leadership skills.

The Scholars Program educational model draws from the unique features currently used in the four-year degree program. The unique curriculum emphasizes guided independent learning in conjunction with lecture/lab instruction, small group learning, and case based learning, as well as online/web-enhanced instruction. Individual student learning styles and leadership skills will be emphasized.

Students enrolled in the program will accumulate the credit equivalency of students enrolled in our traditional four-year program.
The program is designed so that a Scholars cohort will not exceed 20 students. The cohort size ensures a small student-to-faculty ratio, an integral part of the Scholars Program.

The length of this professional program is equivalent to four academic years. With a maximized, 36 month academic calendar, a Scholars Program cohort will begin July each entering year

It is recommended that applicants with less than a 3.5 (B+) grade point average should consult the Office of Admissions prior to applying.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Program

 

To be considered, an applicant must:

  • Submit a properly completed application to the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) at www.optomcas.org, beginning June 28. Detailed instructions regarding the completion of the application and the essay are provided on the OptomCAS website.
  • Complete a Bachelor’s degree, with a recommended cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, evidenced by an official academic transcript (from an accredited undergraduate college or university) prior to the start of classes for the Scholars Program. Submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (or currently attending) directly to OptomCAS.
  • Complete admissions prerequisites at the college level with a grade of ‘C-’ or better.
  • Arrange to take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) prior to June 1 of the desired entering year; taking the OAT between August and December of the application process is highly recommended.
    • Information and registration for online testing: www.opted.org
    • An OAT Academic Average score of 330 or higher is recommended.
    • OAT exam must be taken within two years, prior to the start of the OptomCAS application cycle to which you are applying. Score reports past two years will not be considered. For example, if you are applying for the 2018-19 application cycle, you must have taken the OAT on or after June 29, 2016.
  • Three letters of evaluation are required and should be forwarded directly to OptomCAS. Any three of the following options will be accepted in order to fulfill the letter requirement:
    • a Pre-Professional Committee letter of evaluation (consult with your college/university pre-professional advisor regarding the policy for providing letters of recommendation for pre-professional applicants).
      • one committee letter will fulfill the entire letter requirement.
    • letter from a teaching faculty member who has taught you in a course (science teaching faculty letter is strongly recommended).
      • letter from a teaching assistant only accepted if co-signed by faculty member.
    • letter from your pre-professional or faculty advisor. 

    • letter from practicing optometrist for whom you have shadowed or worked.

    • letter from a healthcare professional or work supervisor who is able to assess your qualifications for professional education and future career in optometry. 
    • Additional letters outside of the above options will enhance the file but will not fulfill our required letters of evaluation.

  • A minimum of 100 hours of experience in a healthcare profession is required (may be volunteer or paid). In addition, it is highly recommended to shadow a practicing optometrist(s) in order to be familiar with the role of the optometrist as a member of the healthcare team. 
  • ​International Students, please review below any additional requirements needed.
  • ​​All credentials submitted on behalf of an applicant become a part of that applicant’s file with the University and cannot be returned.

Prerequisites

An applicant must have completed a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate college or university.

These credits must include the pre-optometry courses listed below completed with a 'C-' or better. An applicant need not have completed all prerequisites prior to filing an application but must be able to complete all outstanding prerequisites prior to enrolling.


Prerequisite credits completed ten or more years prior to the anticipated entrance date will be reviewed for approval on an individual basis.
 

  • General Biology or Zoology (with labs) - one year
  • General Chemistry (with labs) - one year
  • Organic Chemistry (with labs) - one year  or
    • ½ year Organic Chemistry plus ½ year of either Biochemistry or Molecular Biology (lab highly recommended)
  • General Physics (with labs) - one year
  • Microbiology or Bacteriology (with lab) - ½ year 
  • English Composition or English Literature - one year
  • Mathematics - one year
    • ( ½ year Calculus fulfills math requirement; however, one year Calculus highly recommended)
  • Psychology - ½ year  
  • Statistics (Math, Biology or Psychology) - ½ year
We encourage, but do not require, additional upper level science coursework in such areas as Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Cell Biology, Genetics and Experimental and Physiological Psychology.    
International Students & Practitioners

INTERNATIONAL TRANSCRIPTS

For international students and practitioners who have completed their college degree(s) outside of the U.S. or Canada, please provide the Office of Admissions with the following information:

  • A course-by-course credential review from an accredited agency, which evidences all post-secondary studies completed.  Please consult agency’s web site for requirements to complete the evaluation. 
  • An official evaluation must be sent from the agency directly to:
    • Salus University, Office of Admissions
      8360 Old York Road
      Elkins Park, PA  19027
  • These services are provided by various agencies including:  
    • World Education Services
      PO Box 5087, Bowling Green Station
      New York, NY 10274-5087
      Phone: 212-966-6311
      www.wes.org

ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Fluency in written and spoken English is essential for success in a Salus University academic program as well as to help ensure patient/client safety and/or effective communication with members of a healthcare team. Official results from the TOEFL (or IELTS) examination are required for all students for whom English is a second language (ESL).

Exceptions will be made for ESL applicants who hold degrees or diplomas from accredited post-secondary institutions in countries where English is the official language and in which English is the language of instruction (e.g. the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand).  

The TOEFL (or IELTS) examination must be taken within two years prior to the start date of the entering class to which an applicant seeks admission. 
Admissions Selection Process

Interview Process

Invited applicants will participate in a unique interview process in optometry designed specifically for the Scholars Program. Unlike the traditional one-on-one interview, applicants will participate in six to eight multiple mini-interviews (MMI), each lasting five to eight minutes.

Conducted by program faculty mentors, College administrators, as well as members of the Salus community, each mini-interview presents the applicant with a scenario aimed at assessing one or more attributes deemed to be essential for success in the Scholars Program. (For more information on MMI: New York Times article and an overall description of the process of the MMI).


The Scholars Program multiple mini-interviews are designed to assess critical thinking skills, diversity and cultural sensitivity, collaboration and communication skills, as well as time management. Collaboration and team building are key features of the Scholars Program. For this reason applicants also take part in a group exercise to further evaluate the applicant’s abilities in these areas. The invited applicant’s participation in the MMI process does not require that an applicant have specific scientific knowledge on a particular topic to be successful during the interview process.


Mentorship is another important feature of the Scholars Program. Students in the program will work closely with carefully selected faculty mentors who will supervise the program’s students through each aspect of this curriculum; as group discussion leaders, clinical problem solving coaches, and supervisors of the intense and diverse patient care experiences Scholars Program students will encounter. Throughout the interview day, applicants will be interacting with the dean of PCO and the associate dean for the Scholars Program, as well as the core faculty members who will serve as mentors to the Scholars Program students.


During the interview process each applicant has multiple opportunities to fully demonstrate his/her suitability, as well as his/her willingness, to participate in the Scholars Program. Additionally, during the invited applicant’s day on campus, each applicant learns about the program and has the opportunity to reflect and assess his/her own abilities in relation to the program’s demands. As with the traditional four-year program, Scholars Program applicants also have the opportunity to tour the Elkins Park campus and The Eye Institute, meet current PCO students, as well as obtain information about the University, housing opportunities, and financial aid.

Please note, it is an applicant's responsibility to respond promptly to an interview invitation, either to accept or to decline. Information will be shared with all schools and colleges of optometry if an applicant is a "no show" for a scheduled admissions interview. Please contact the Office of Admissions with any questions regarding the interview process.

Notification of Acceptance   

Upon receipt of acceptance, an applicant is required to pay a $1,000 matriculation fee to the University prior to the start of classes, payable as follows:
  • Return the matriculation form along with a $500 deposit within 14 days of the date of the acceptance letter.
  • The balance of $500 for the matriculation fee is due March 15.
  • All monies received above are non-refundable and will be applied toward first term fees.
Please note that all applicants are to respond promptly to all offers of admission. Once an applicant has accepted an offer, it is the applicant’s obligation to immediately notify and withdraw any outstanding applications or to decline offers of admission from other schools and colleges of optometry. Salus University participates in Shared Acceptance Reports during the OptomCAS cycle.

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Enrolled students who withdraw or are dismissed from the University will be responsible for the payment of tuition in accordance with the institutional refund schedule.