May 27, 2022  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Admission Requirements: College of Optometry


Colleges  > College of Optometry  > Admission Requirements: College of Optometry

Graduate Program in Physiological Optics/Vision Science

The Graduate Program in Physiological Optics/Vision Science (http://www.opt.uh.edu/academics/graduate/index.cfm) confers an MS and/or PhD degree and prepares students to embark on a career in teaching and/or research in the basic or clinical science of vision. Students are accepted into the program with a minimum of a BS degree (or the equivalent) from a variety of fields such as optometry, physiological optics, vision sciences, medicine, ophthalmology, structural and functional biosciences, neuroscience, psychology, optics, optical engineering, bioengineering, and biophysics.

The need for new knowledge in the vision sciences is great, and teaching and research opportunities are numerous in a spectrum of academic, industrial, and professional settings. Although the program has sufficient structure to provide a broad base of scientific knowledge about visual systems, it is at the same time appropriately flexible to permit students to develop expertise in areas of special interest. Students will join the labs of faculty mentors who are studying normal and abnormal visual processes, diseases and disorders of the eye and visual pathways and the development of treatments to prevent loss of vision using a variety of approaches ranging from molecular and cellular, to behavioral and optical.

Admission Requirements for the MS/PhD Program:

Admittance to the graduate program in physiological optics/vision science normally requires the following:

  1. A Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited academic or professional institution comparable to the Bachelor of Science degree awarded at the University of Houston
  2. Sufficient training to undertake graduate study in physiological optics
  3. A grade point average of B (3.00) or above in all previous college-level work with particular attention being given to science courses
  4. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test. Historically, students who score below 300 total for verbal and quantitative sections, or 3.5 on the written/analytical section are typically not competitive.
  5. Satisfactory evaluation and recommendation by three professors or others familiar with the applicant’s scholarship and research potential.
  6. Proficiency in speaking and writing English. International students whose native language is not English are expected to take a proficiency exam with a score of 213 or better - computer, 79-internet, on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) with a score of 6.5 or better.
  7. For the OD/MS Program, a grade point average of B (3.00) or above for courses completed in Optometry school, and participation in research, generally in the OD summer research program during the summer between the first and second year.

Applying for Admission

For information on the application process to the graduate program (MS/PhD) in Physiological Optics and Vision Science, visit the graduate application information website.

Admission Requirements for the Professional (OD) Program:

Admission Requirements for the OD Program

To be eligible for admission, students must have a baccalaureate degree of any major and a grade of “C” or better in each required prerequisite course. While there is no minimum GPA required for application, the College of Optometry will generally not consider applicants with an overall GPA less than 3.00 to be competitive for admission. Students may apply for admission to the OD program while completing these requirements.

Letters of recommendation must be requested via and submitted directly to OptomCAS. UHCO recommends that the third letter be from an optometrist with whom the applicant has trained/shadowed.

The College of Optometry requires that newly admitted applicants complete and successfully pass a Criminal Background Check (CBC) prior to matriculation. Offers of admission are contingent upon this CBC and upon the UHCO Admissions Committee review of its findings. 

NOTE: Fourth-year Professional students will complete external clinical rotations which might require an additional CBC, these include but are not limited to all U.S Federal sites such as Veterans Affairs, military sites and Indian Health Services. This CBC is separate and in addition to the one completed as part of the admissions process and must occur approximately 6-12 weeks prior to the date the external clinical rotation begins and will be determined by the site.

All applicants must:

  • complete an application via OptomCAS (http://www.optomcas.org/), during which the applicant will submit official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work, complete a brief essay, submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation, and list professional work and job shadowing experiences;
  • pay the OptomCAS application fee of $175.00;
  • complete the UHCO supplemental application (available via the UHCO web site during open application periods); and
  • pay the UHCO supplemental application fee of $50.00;
  • and, complete the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT); and/ or the Graduate Record Examination-general (GRE) in time for scores to be verified by March 30 prior to the term in which the applicant expects to enter the OD program.

Applications for admission via OptomCAS are accepted between July 1 and March 30 prior to the fall term in which the applicant expects to enter the OD program. All supporting materials are due by March 30 prior to the term in which the applicant expects to enter.

All supporting material should be sent to:

The University of Houston College of Optometry
Office of Optometry Relations
4901 Calhoun Rd.
J. Davis Armistead Building
Houston, TX 77204-2020

Prerequisite Coursework for Admission:

General Biological Sciences with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)

  • Courses should be equivalent to those required for biological sciences majors
  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Junior/ Senior-Level Biology related to Human Science - (8 credit hours). Part of this 8 credit hour requirement must include Junior/ Senior level human anatomy and physiology. It is highly recommended that these upper-division courses be taken at a four- year Institution

  • Any combination of human anatomy and physiology is acceptable, as long as both disciplines are covered. A single combined human anatomy- physiology course will be accepted as long as it is at least 3 credit hours. Please note: Freshman/ Sophmore- level courses will not satisfy this human anatomy and physiology course requirement
  • Acceptance of other advanced biology courses to satisfy the remaining prerequisite requirements is at the discretion of the Admissions Committee
  • It is recommended that applicants receive prior approval from the Program Manager for Admissions for applicable courses
  • Courses such as genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, neuroscience, mammalian physiology, immunology, histology, and endocrinology will be accepted to satisfy any remaining credits of the 8-hour requirement
  • Courses such as plant physiology, botany, ecology, biodiversity, or biotechnology will not be accepted
  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application

Microbiology with Lab - 1 course (4 credit hours)

  • Courses should be equivalent to those required for biological sciences majors
  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Fundamentals of Chemistry with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)

  • Courses should be equivalent to those required for biological sciences majors.
  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Organic Chemistry with Lab - 1 course (4 credit hours)

  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Biochemistry - 1 course (3 credit hours)

  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

General Physics with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)

  • Courses should be equivalent to those required for biological sciences majors.
  • Courses should have an optics section dedicated to the study of wave theory and the propagation of light. Calculus-based physics is not required; trigonometry- or algebra-based physics is acceptable.
  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Calculus - 1 course (3 credit hours)

  • It is recommended (but not required), that applicants take one or more courses in algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus, and/ or analytical geometry in addition to calculus.
  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Statistics - 1 course (3 credit hours)

  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Psychology - 1 course (3 credit hours)

  • Coursework should be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and not more than five (5) years prior to the date of the application.

Standardized Entrance Examinations:

Beginning July 1, 2019, UHCO will accept scores for three standardized entrance examinations: OAT, MCAT, and GRE General Test. Applicants may choose to complete any or all of these exams; however, competitive preference may be given to completion of the OAT. Official scores must be received by the UHCO Office of Optometry Relations no later than March 30 prior to the fall term during which the applicant intends to matriculate.

Optometry Admission Test (OAT):

The OAT is a standardized examination sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. It is designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information and accepted by all schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and the University of Waterloo, Canada. The OAT consists of: survey of the natural sciences (biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics and quantitative reasoning. At least one year of college education; which should include courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics, is required prior to taking the OAT. Although examinees are able to take the OAT’s an unlimited amount of times; waiting at least 90 days between attempts, only scores from the four most recent attempts are reported. The total number of attempts will also be reported.

While there is no minimum score required for admission to UHCO’s OD program, a Total Science and Academic Average score of 330 (200-400 scale) is considered competitive. For subject information, application to take the OAT, scoring procedures, study guides, and more, please visit: http://www.ada.org/en/oat. Additional information may be found at http://www.opted.org or call:

Optometric Admission Testing Program

800-232-1694

General Record Examinations (GRE):

The GRE General Test is a standardized examination that is owned and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). It is designed to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills. GRE Subject Tests are available in Biology, Chemistry and Physics; however, these are optional and may be taken in addition to the General Test. 

While there is no minimum score required for admission to UHCO’s OD Program, a Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning score of 150 (130-170 scale), and an Analytical Writing score of 3.5 (0-6 scale) is considered competitive. For subject information, application to take the GRE, scoring procedures, study guides, sending scores and more, please visit: www.ets.org/gre.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT):

The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles. The exam covers biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, phycological, social and biological foundations of behavior and critical analysis and reasoning skills.

While there is no minimum score required for admission to UHCO’s OD Program, a Total score of 501 (472- 528 scale) is considered competitive. For subject information, application to take the MCAT, scoring procedures, study guides, sending scores and more, please visit: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/taking-mcat-exam/.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation:

Letters of recommendation must be requested via and submitted directly to OptomCAS. A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required, but OptomCAS will accept a maximum of four. Additionally, UHCO requires that TWO of the three letters be academic letters of recommendation written by college or university faculty members who have directly taught the applicant. UHCO strongly recommends that the third letter of recommendation be from an optometrist with whom the applicant has trained and/or shadowed. Letter not sent electronically to OptomCAS by the reviewer but instead sent directly to The College of Optometry will not be accepted.

Supplemental Application:

OptomCAS does not provide all of the information required by the College of Optometry. Therefore, applicants will be required to complete a UHCO Supplemental Application. This application will be available at: http://www.opt.uh.edu; only after an OptomCAS application is submitted and an OptomCAS ID is generated. The UHCO Supplemental Application ID will be the same as the OptomCAS ID. A fifty-dollar ($50 US), non-refundable application fee is required. The OptomCAS application, UHCO Supplemental Application and all supporting materials must be completed and received by the University of Houston College of Optometry, Office of Optometry Relations by March 30 prior to the Fall term in which the applicant is expected to enter. It may take 4-6 weeks after submission for the OptomCAS application to be verified by OptomCAS and delivered electronically to the College. For more information, visit http://www.opt.uh.edu.

Interview:

An interview is required for admission, and competitive applicants will be invited for on-campus interviews until the class is filled. Not all applicants are interviewed. The interview allows UHCO’s administration to learn more about an applicant’s passion for optometry, preparation for UHCO’s curriculum, why he/she has chosen to apply to UHCO, and more. Additionally, applicants have the opportunity to experience first-hand UHCO’s facilities; visit with current students; and connect with UHCO’s didactic, clinical, and research faculty.

Criminal Background Check:

The College of Optometry requires that newly admitted applicants to the Professional Optometric Program, complete and successfully pass a Criminal Background Check (CBC) prior to matriculation. Offers of admission are contingent upon the outcome of the CBC which will be reviewed by the UHCO Admission Committee. Students are expected to complete a second CBC in their fourth professional year, prior to beginning external rotations (externships) at all US Federal Clinical sites (VA Hospitals, military sites, Indian Health Services). This CBC is required 6-12 weeks prior to the date the externship begins and/or as determined by the site.

Immunization Requirements:

An applicant accepted into the University of Houston College of Optometry Professional Program must present proof of adequate immunization against: rubeola (common measles), rubella (German measles), mumps, varicella (chickenpox), tetanus and Hepatitis B, prior to the beginning of the first Professional year.

A negative TB skin test or chest clearance must be documented no sooner than three months prior to beginning the fall term of the first professional year. Thereafter, a student must submit documentation of a negative TB skin test or chest clearance to the University of Houston College of Optometry Office of Optometry Relations.

Transfer Students:

In order for a student to be considered for transfer from another professional optometry program, the student must have satisfactorily completed a minimum of one year of coursework and be in good academic standing in a school or college of optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council on Education of the American Optometric Association. The student must also submit an official transcript, a letter stating the reasons for the transfer request, and a letter from his/her current dean supporting the request for transfer to UHCO. Unless the student is in the upper half of the class and presents justifiable reasons for requesting a transfer, such requests are ordinarily denied. The transfer student decision is based on space available in the class and compatibility of curricula between the two schools.

Master of Science Track

The Master of Science (MS) track requires about two years of study, including 30 credit hours of coursework and research, teaching experience, and a research project with a written thesis. The thesis committee must consist of a minimum of three faculty members, at least two of which are from within the graduate program; one member may be external to the program, from academia or industry, and is approved by the graduate program. Acceptance into the full-time MS program is often accompanied by program financial support, teaching or research assistantships. A combined OD/MS program is also offered.

Combined OD/MS Track

A combined OD/MS program is available for enrolled optometry students who wish to pursue a Master’s of Science (MS, in Physiological Optics and Vision Science) degree concurrently with the doctor of optometry (OD) degree. This program runs simultaneously with the OD program, with students entering in the second year of the OD program. In addition to a total of 30 semesters hours of coursework (12 overlapping with OD coursework) and research hours, the combined OD/MS program requires a written thesis based on original research. The thesis committee is of the same composition as for MS students. The research project can be an extension of prior research, such as during optometry’s federally funded summer research training program for OD students.

Doctor of Philosophy Track

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) track normally requires at least four years of study, including 60 credit hours of coursework and research hours, teaching experience, a foreign language or research skill, qualifying examinations, and a written dissertation based on a body of original research. Dissertation committees for PhD students must consist of a minimum of four members, including three faculty members from the graduate program, and one member external to the graduate program from academia and/or industry who is approved by the graduate program. Acceptance into the full-time PhD program is generally accompanied by program financial support, teaching or research assistantships. Placement in an accelerated PhD (OD/PhD) program for OD/MS students is also offered.