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Admissions FAQs

What undergraduate major do I need to have in order to apply to optometry school?
The SUNY College of Optometry welcomes applicants from all majors. Our students typically have graduated with an undergraduate major in the biological or natural sciences, but that is not a requirement for admission. If you are pursuing a non-science major, you must have fulfilled SUNY Optometry’s prerequisite course requirements before enrolling.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree in order to apply?
Although a four-year baccalaureate degree is highly recommended, students may matriculate after successfully completing three years (90 credits from a four-year college or university) of study.

What is the minimum OAT score for admission?
Although OAT scores play an important role in the admissions process at SUNY Optometry, we look at the applicant’s entire profile (GPA, letters of recommendation, knowledge of the profession, leadership experience, etc.) and do not set a minimum OAT score for admissions. Visit our class profile page for more information about the average OAT scores of our students.

Can I take the OAT more than once? 
Yes, you can take the OAT more than once. Your highest scores will be taken into consideration.

How long are my OAT scores valid?
Scores older than two years by the beginning of the application cycle (July 1) will not be accepted.

Can I take prerequisite courses at community colleges?
Admissions preference is given to applicants who have completed prerequisite courses, especially in the sciences, at four-year colleges and universities. Community college credit is only accepted for courses completed with a letter grade of C or higher. The Admissions Committee encourages candidates who have taken prerequisite courses at community colleges to take upper-division courses in the sciences at a college or university.

Does SUNY accept prerequisite courses taken online?
Although SUNY Optometry accepts certain prerequisites taken online, the following restrictions apply:

  • Prerequisite science courses and lab requirements must be taken in a traditional, in-class format.
  • Online prerequisite courses will only be considered from a regionally-accredited college or university.
  • SUNY Optometry will only accept online prerequisite courses in the following subject areas: psychology, social sciences and humanities (one course only), calculus and statistics.

Is there a limit to the number of prerequisite courses that I can take at a community college?
SUNY Optometry does not limit the number of courses you can take at community colleges. We do recommend, however, that most of your science prerequisites be taken at a four-year college or university.

Is there a minimum number of hours I should shadow an optometrist?
There is no set amount of time required for your shadowing experience(s). We are more concerned with the quality of your experiences than with the quantity. The Admissions Committee is interested in gauging your knowledge regarding the expectations of the profession, your exposure to the different modes of practice and exposure to the different specialties within the field of optometry. We want to make sure that you have done your homework in exploring the profession and that you are confident that optometry is a profession that you are passionate about.

I left school many years ago. Do I need to retake all prerequisite courses again?
We accept all courses completed within 10 years prior to submitting an application. This policy may be flexible under certain extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to, being a veteran and/or a recent, stellar OAT performance. If you would like to inquire whether courses taken over 10 years ago may be accepted, please submit a detailed letter explaining your circumstances to admissions@sunyopt.edu.

How do I know if a course I took counts towards SUNY Optometry’s prerequisites?
For a list of commonly accepted substitutions, please visit the Prerequisite Courses Required for Admissions page.  If the course you are referring to is not listed, please email a brief course description along with credit hours and course title to admissions@sunyopt.edu.

Does SUNY Optometry accept international students?
SUNY Optometry welcomes applications from out-of-state residents and international students.

Are there special requirements for international students?
In addition to the application requirements for all incoming students, international students need to have their high school and college records evaluated by World Education Services (except applicants from English-language, Canadian universities.) More information is available at World Education Services.

If English is not your first language and you have been in the United States for fewer than three years, or if the Admissions Committee requires it of you, you will be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A score of 81 (iBT) or greater is required. For more information, please visit TOEFL.

Does SUNY Optometry accept Canadian students?
SUNY Optometry welcomes applications from out-of-state residents and international students. On average, seven percent of the incoming class is comprised of Canadian students. 

I am a Canadian student and have not taken the SAT or ACT. Is that ok?
Canadian students who have not taken the SAT or ACT in high school are not required to take it.

Do Canadian students qualify for financial aid?
Canadian students may qualify for different scholarship opportunities at the College, including the recurring President’s Award for International Students (PAIS). For more information on scholarships, please click here. For federal financial aid, Canadian students are required to contact the Canadian Student Loan Program (CANLearn) directly for information and applications as the U.S. does not provide any federal loans or grants to international students.

Life at SUNY FAQs

What is student life like at SUNY?
As with any educational institution, the student experience varies greatly for each student. In general, however, students, faculty and staff are supportive and helpful to each other and students at SUNY learn in a collegial and comfortable environment. To get a better sense of the activities, culture and community of the College, visit the news section of our website or follow us on our various social media platforms.

Is tutoring available?
Yes. The Office for Student Affairs and International Programs administers a peer program to assist students in their academic studies through individual and group tutorials. Students are urged to seek tutoring as soon as the need is recognized or if it is recommended by a faculty member.

Is counseling available to students?
Yes. The Office for Student Affairs and International Programs is available to all students for personal and academic counseling. An additional referral service is also available for specific assistance within the New York City area.

Are there community service opportunities at SUNY?
Absolutely. Community service is a core value at SUNY and the College is involved with a number of community service projects in the city. Additionally, many student organizations reach out to under served populations throughout New York City, across the country and around the world. For more information on student organization, please visit the Clubs and Organizations page on our website.

Living in New York City FAQs

How will I get around?
Most students leave their cars behind and navigate the city on foot and with the help of NYC’s massive, safe public transportation network. Eighteen of New York City’s 24 subway lines are located within a few blocks of the College.

What is housing like in New York City?
SUNY Optometry offers incoming students all of the support that they need in order to find affordable, safe and student-friendly housing. Although SUNY Optometry does not maintain housing facilities of its own, a Student Housing Committee is created each year to help incoming students with housing arrangements. The Student Housing Committee organizes Housing Day in June when students who are in need of housing are encouraged to visit campus to receive valuable information on how and where to look for a place to live in the New York City area. During Housing Day, students set their priorities related to cost, space, distance and geographical location, and the Student Housing Committee assists them in locating and securing suitable housing to meet their needs.

Students are also encouraged to look for housing independently through the various private websites provided below:

  • Street Easy: a resource for finding housing by price and location
  • Craigslist:  apartment listings; popular with students
  • NYC Affordable Housing Resource Center: this official NYC.gov site provides apartment hunting tips, rent regulations and links to help you in your search
  • Rent-Direct:  a subscriber service that sends out email alerts and offers live telephone support

Is New York safe?
Yes! In fact, New York City ranks among the safest large cities in the country, and the neighborhoods around the College are some of the safest in the city. Times Square has become a pedestrian- and family-friendly area. A clean and efficient transit system is safe to ride virtually anywhere you want to go.

For more information about New York City, visit our resources page.

Additional questions?

Email our admissions office and they will be glad to help you.