Becoming A Doctor of Optometry

Doctors of optometry require seven to eight years of post-secondary education to obtain their professional designation, Doctor of Optometry (OD).

Educational requirements typically include:

  • A minimum of three years of undergraduate education, preferably in the sciences; Please NOTE:  In Québec two years of CEGEP is accepted at the undergraduate level.
  • A four or five year university program in optometry, accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education;
  • An increasing number of optometrists choose to do an additional year of residency training upon completion of their Doctor of Optometry degree;
  • Upon completion of the course in optometry, the graduate is required to satisfy provincial board requirements in the province or territory in which they intend to practice. This process also includes a national examination administered by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada. Licensure by the provincial or territorial governing body is required. These requirements ensure the public receives the highest standards of optometric care.

OPTOMETRIC EDUCATION
There are two schools of optometry located in Canada:  

For a list of accredited American Schools, please click here.

 

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS
Education Costs: The cost of studying optometry in Canada ranges from $60,000 – $70,000 which may be financed by Canada Student Loans and/or personal bank loans. Costs for attending schools in the United States are significantly higher, ranging from $175,000 – $200,000.
Start-Up Costs & Overhead Costs: To set-up a new practice, start-up costs include: capital costs for equipment and leasehold improvements. The majority of overhead costs arise from the inventory of lenses, frames, contact lenses and lens solutions.
Revenue Sources: Optometrists are paid at the time services are provided. An optometrist’s earnings are determined by several factors including: coverage under provincial medical programs, fee schedules, hours worked, practice location, services provided and patient population.

 

OPTOMETRIC PRACTICE
Upon graduation optometrists work as associates in an existing practice before buying in as partners, buying another practice or setting up a new practice. Established optometrists usually work in private practice and own or co-own their practices. They may also own or work from more than one location, known as “satellite” offices. 

Entry to Practice Requirements for ODs

OPTOMETRIC SCOPE OF PRACTICE

 

INTERNATIONAL GRADUATES

International graduates are individuals who have obtained their optometric education from a school other than those accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE).

International graduates may be eligible to obtain a license or certificate of registration to practice in a province or territory in Canada and should contact the optometric regulator in the province or territory in which they are interested to determine if they are eligibile. 

Academic credentialing is processed by Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FORAC).  Please visit the FORAC website for information and a flow chart on becoming a licensed optometrist in Canada.

The Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Exam (IGOEE) is administered by Touchstone Institute.  Information on the evaluating exam is available here.

Please note that admissions for the upcoming 2020 International Optometric Bridging Program is closed, and there will not be a program running in 2021.  The University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science is currently aiming to transition the bridging program to an Advanced Standing program.  The earliest this Advanced Standing program would be offered is 2022 (subject to change) and no details are available at this time.  Please continue to check the University’s website for updates.