The 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 29. 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 2017-18 application cycle, you must have taken the OAT on or after June 29, 2015.
  • 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. 

  • ​​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.

  • 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)
  • English Composition or English Literature - one year
  • Mathematics - one year
    • ( ½ year Calculus fulfills math requirement; however, one year Calculus highly recommended)
  • Microbiology or Bacteriology (with lab) - ½ year  
  • General Physics (with labs) - one year
  • 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.

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