Admissions Criteria

The application cycle for the APOD program will open on July 18, 2024 for Fall 2025 entry. In the meantime, we encourage you to meet with the Office of Admissions to prepare for the application process. 

Salus University is accepts applications through the GradCAS centralized application service. Please follow all instructions as indicated on the application portal.

The following application items are required for submission:

  • Minimum Education Requirement: All applicants to the APOD Program must hold foreign degree in a relevant health care field, that is ideally beyond that of a 4-year bachelor’s degree and includes specialization in a specific healthcare field. Eligible applicants include: BSc in Optometry, MSc, MD, PhD, etc. Additionally, candidates must have practiced hands-on clinical experience for at least one year as a certified optometrist, ophthalmologist, or medical provider.
  • Submit a completed application through GradCAS: If new to the GradCAS application portal, you will need to create a new account. Once your account is created:
    • Click Add Program at the top of the application home page.
    • Use the search filters to locate the Salus University, Advanced Placement Doctor of Optometry Degree (APOD) program.
    • Complete the application's four core sections: Personal Information, Academic History, Supporting Information and Program Materials.
    • Utilize the GradCAS Applicant Help Center as a resource.
    • A non-refundable fee of $138.00 is required. Payment may be made through the GradCAS application portal.
    • Application and all required documentation must be submitted by November 15, 2024 for the August (Fall semester) 2025 start date.
  • A course-by-course foreign credential evaluation from a NACES recognized agency is required in order to establish candidacy for the program.
    • Recommended agencies include: World Education Services
    • An official credential evaluation (not a copy) must be sent from the evaluation service directly to: Office of Admissions, Salus University, 8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027.
    • Applicants also have the option to submit their evaluation directly to GradCAS. If you choose this option, please view GradCAS foreign transcripts instructions for more details.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume of work experience, submitted through the GradCAS application portal.
  • Complete a Personal Goal Statement detailing your professional background, specific area of interest, reasons for choosing the Advanced Placement Optometry degree and your post-OD career plans, submitted through the GradCAS application portal.
  • Two letters of recommendation from a representative of a professional organization, professor or employer, submitted through the GradCAS application portal. The letters must be written in English or accompanied by a notarized English translation of the document.
  • 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.
    • A recommended score for the TOEFL iBT is 95. A score of 24 is recommended for the speaking section; 23 for the writing section; 24 for the listening section; and 24 for the reading section.
    • If submitting TOEFL iBT scores, please use the GradCAS code of B886.
    • If submitting an approved alternate English proficiency exam, please send official scores directly to Salus University, Office of Admissions.
    • While we recommend that applicants submit and hold at least the recommended minimum scores for TOEFL iBT, TOEFL Essentials, IELTS or Duolingo, exceptions will be considered for foreign applicants who meet one of the following criteria*:
      • 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
      • 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.
  • Students will be required to meet University compliance requirements upon matriculation.
  • Applicants who complete an application, meet the minimum education requirement, and are approved to do so by the APOD Application Committee will be required to sit for a PCO administered placement exam. This exam will be administered virtually by the Pennsylvania College of Optometry via ExamSoft and is a faculty developed Part I NBEO (National Board of Examiners in Optometry) Mock Exam
    • This exam is modeled by PCO faculty after the Part I NBEO outline which can be found on the NBEO website.

Application Review and Interview Process

The APOD program applicant review process is a rigorous and comprehensive process which values fairness above all else. The application process is highly competitive for a limited number of spots. Completed applications will be considered by the APOD Admissions Committee and reviewed for acceptable candidacy to the APOD program.
After the initial application review, those applicants who are deemed to be competitive will be required to sit for a PCO administrated placement examination. Please note, not all applicants will be extended an opportunity to take this exam and continue in the process. The exam will be administered virtually by the Pennsylvania College of Optometry via ExamSoft and is a faculty developed Part I NBEO (National Board of Examiners in Optometry) Mock Exam. Good internet connection and suitable system requirements are needed in order to participate in the exam. ​

This exam is modeled by PCO faculty after the Part I NBEO outline which can be found on the NBEO website. The PCO administered placement examination will only be offered on specific days: December 15th and December 20th.
Individuals successfully meeting the required admissions selection criteria and after taking the PCO administered placement exam, may receive an invitation to interview - on campus or online - which provides further insight into the applicant’s character, communication skills and motivation, and allows an applicant the opportunity to speak with faculty members. These interviews will be scheduled after the placement examination results are in and no earlier than January 1st.
Central to the interview and one key aspect of the application are the applicant’s Personal Goal statement. This allows the interviewer to analyze how past experiences have contributed to applicant’s perspectives on issues in optometry.  Career objectives are discussed and program areas of special interests are explored in an effort to analyze how the program can match the applicant’s needs. The essay and interview also allow the interviewer to assess writing, speaking, listening and analytical skills which are very important to the successful completion of the program.
Once an applicant completes the interview process, a decision will be rendered by the Admissions Committee. At the Admission Committee’s discretion, a few select candidates who perform well on the PCO administered placement exam and are granted provisional acceptance may be sponsored to sit for Part 1 of NBEO during the March administration prior to starting the program. Both the results of the PCO administered placement exam and NBEO Part I exam (if applicable) will be used as a diagnostic tool to help create an individualized program of study for each student.
Those candidates that do not perform well on the PCO administered admissions exam will not be sponsored to take NBEO Part I however, may still be granted admission based on their applicant file and interview with the committee. These students are considered to receive “advanced placement” into the traditional four-year optometry degree track.

APOD Deferment Policy

An accepted student with an unforeseen, extenuating circumstance, prohibiting them from matriculating into the Advanced Placement Doctor of Optometry (APOD) program may request a deferment of admission in writing. The request must be directed to both the Dean of Student Affairs and the Dean of the Pennsylvania College Optometry, and made via the Office of Admissions.

For deferment consideration, the following is required:

  • A deferment request submitted in writing by June 1, before the August start of the academic year. Please note, submission of a deferral request by the deadline does not guarantee approval.
  • 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 April 1st of the deferred admission calendar year regarding his/her intention to resume enrollment.
  • The student may 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 GradCAS for future admission.

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