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.

Criteria & Prerequisites

The Accelerated Scholars Program at Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University offers an 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

*Applicants now have the option to take the General GRE (Graduate Record Exam), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), DAT (Dental Admission Test), or PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) in lieu of taking the OAT.  Scores in the 60% or higher are highly recommended in each section of the chosen admission exam.


  • Submit a properly completed application to the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) at 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 July and December of the application process is highly recommended.
    • An OAT Academic Average score of 330 or higher is recommended.
    • The admission exam must be taken within three years, prior to the start of the OptomCAS application cycle to which you are applying. Score reports past three years will not be considered. For example, if you are applying for the 2023-24 application cycle, you must have taken the exam on or after June 30, 2020.
    • White the OAT is strongly encouraged, applicants have the option to take the General GRE (Graduate Record Exam), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), DAT (Dental Admission Test), or PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) in lieu of taking the OAT. Scores in the 60% or higher are highly recommended in each section of the chosen admission exam.
  • 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 patient care interaction within a healthcare profession is required (may be volunteer or paid). 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 the drop down section below for 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.
  • Students will be required to meet University compliance requirements upon matriculation.


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 (lecture only) - 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 highly 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. Anatomy and Physiology course work is highly recommended.

International Students & Practitioners


For applicants who have attended foreign and French-Canadian schools, please provide the Office of Admissions with the following information:


Fluency in written and spoken English is essential for success in a Salus University academic program as well as to help ensure patient/client/student safety and/or effective communication with members of a healthcare or education team.

Official results from the TOEFL iBT, TOEFL Essentials, IELTS or Duolingo examination are required of all non-native English speakers. One of these approved exams must be taken within two years prior to the start date of the entering class to which an applicant seeks admission.

While we recommend that applicants submit TOEFL iBT, TOEFL Essentials, IELTS or Duolingo, exceptions will be considered for foreign applicants who meet one of the following criteria*:

  1. successfully completed a degree or diploma held from an accredited, post-secondary institution where the coursework was entirely in English, and provide evidence that it was conducted in English; or
  2. successfully completed, and provide evidence of, an approved English language learner’s program

*Note: All exemption materials and other appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and subject to the admission committee’s final discretion. Should any exceptions not be accepted toward the English language requirement, the Office of Admissions will inform the applicant of an alternative to fulfill it.

Admissions Selection 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. An online MMI interview process is also possible. 

Please note, it is an applicant's responsibility to respond promptly to an interview invitation, either to accept or to decline. Please contact the Office of Admissions with any questions regarding the interview process.


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.
  • If accepted after March 15, the offer of acceptance will detail payment requirements.
  • 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.

Students will be required to meet University compliance requirements upon matriculation.


An accepted student with an unforeseen, extenuating circumstance prohibiting them from matriculating may request a deferment of admission in writing. The request must be directed to both the Dean of Student Affairs and the Dean of PCO, and made via the Office of Admissions.

For deferment consideration, the following is required:

  • A deferment request submitted in writing by April 1st, before the July start of the academic year. Please note, submission of a deferral request by the deadline does not guarantee approval.
  • Official documentation verifying the extenuating circumstance.
  • All non-refundable deposit fees and the matriculation supplement must be received (as directed in the University’s official Letter of Acceptance).

If deferment is approved:

  • Admission will be extended to August matriculation of the next academic year.
  • A deferment will not extend beyond one admission cycle.
  • The student must contact the Office of Admissions, in writing, by February 1st of the deferred admission calendar year regarding his/her intention to resume enrollment.
  • The student will be required to meet with a member of the Admissions Committee prior to matriculation (this may be done in person or via phone/online).

If a deferral request is denied:

  • A student has the option to withdraw acceptance from the Program, and reapply through OptomCAS for future admission.

For questions regarding this policy, please contact the Office of Admissions at


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.