Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Doctor of Optometry

Scholars Program

Admissions Webinar

Interested students are cordially invited to attend the Office of Admissions Webinars to learn more about our programs!

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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.

Guided Independent Study Definition

Guided independent study (DIS) provides students with the opportunity to work individually and in small groups with faculty mentors. 

Each course that uses the DIS model provides materials and reference resources to help the student achieve clearly defined course objectives.  As in traditional lecture courses, a DIS course describes the methods of evaluation used to determine the student’s grade.

Guided independent study provides students with opportunities for close one-on-one interactions between other students and their mentors through regularly scheduled meetings.   This level of supervision assures that the student has sufficient guidance and is making appropriate progress through the course materials.

In this learning process the student must be able to make a commitment to working on the course goals and to maintain continuous self-motivation.

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 1 each entering year.


To begin the Scholars Program applicants will need:

  • an earned bachelor’s degree, evidenced by an official academic transcript (from an accredited undergraduate college or university) prior to the start of Scholars Program classes 
  • a minimum of 100 hours of experience in a healthcare profession
  • the completed prerequisite courses below prior to the start of the program
  • official OAT exam scores

The official undergraduate transcript must include the pre-optometry courses listed below, each completed with a 2.0 (C) or better.

  • 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
  • Mathematics  - one year 
    (½ year Calculus fulfills math requirement; however, one year of Calculus  is highly recommended)   
  • English Composition or English Literature - one year
    Microbiology or Bacteriology (with labs)  - ½ year
  • Psychology -   ½ year
  • Statistics (Math, Biology or Psychology) - ½ year

An applicant need not have completed all prerequisites prior to filing an application, but must be able to complete all outstanding prerequisites prior to enrollment.

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

Additional coursework in such areas as Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Cell Biology, Genetics, and Experimental and Physiological Psychology is encouraged, but is not required.

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