Important: The information on this page is intended to provide you with the basics of the credentialing process. It is your responsibility to contact your provincial regulatory body to ensure you are familiar with the process to return. While we review this content on an annual basis, it is subject to change at any time. Please ensure you review all information provided by the regulatory bodies for the most up-to-date information. OzTREKK is not responsible for your credentialing process.
The Doctor of Optometry degree granted by the University of Melbourne is the only graduate optometry program offered in Australia. Graduates of this program aiming to practice optometry in Canada are required to complete an International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) such as the one offered by the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists website, international graduates are those who have obtained their optometric education from a school other than those accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, the only accrediting body for professional optometric degree programs, optometric residency programs and optometric technician programs in the United States and Canada.
Steps to Practice in Canada
Step #1 Graduate with a Doctor of Optometry degree or equivalent
Step #2 Apply to the Federation of Optometric Authorities of Canada (FORAC)
You must first apply to FORAC to be allowed to register for the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Exam (IGOEE).
The FORAC credential assessment is what determines if an applicant can challenge the IGOEE (and the requirements are all laid out on our website, along with a downloadable applicant guide).
Please note, FORAC requires a 4-year optometry program, and also 3 years of either undergraduate university science studies or full-time work experience as a licensed optometrist before applicants are permitted to apply to FORAC.
Step #3 Take the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE)
Those approved will write the IGOEE, which will determine whether an applicant is able to proceed directly to the OEBC Exam & OSCE (step 4) or whether a bridging program is required first.
You should anticipate having to take the Bridging program as part of the certification process as it may be required.
Step #4 Complete the Canadian bridging program (if required)
Those who are not exempt must take a bridging program as follows:
Until 2021 – Take the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP)
The current IOBP costs nearly $50,998, runs one full year, and is a competitive application process (the program currently accepts 18 students). Bridging program is typically 48 weeks in length, 28 weeks of lectures followed by 20 weeks of clinical.
The IOBP is being discontinued in 2022, as the Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science transitions to an Advanced Standing program. For more information, please see the announcement on their website.
2021 & onward – Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science (WOVS) Advanced Standing Program
Waterloo is currently finalizing details for the WOVS and it is uncertain whether the WOVS program will have more places available in the program and what the costs will be.
The WOVS Advanced Standing Program provides optometrists educated outside Canada and the United States with a structured orientation to Canadian standards of optometric practice. The program provides qualified applicants with opportunities to gain the critical language, academic and clinical skills necessary for registration in Canada. IOBP Program Information (2019):
- Length: Orientation term, followed by 2 years (3rd and 4th years) of OD program.
- Number of spaces for 2021: 6; demand far exceeds this
Admission for the IOBP is based on IGOEE scores (above, step 3) that are placed in rank order. Meeting the minimum eligibility threshold on the IGOEE does not guarantee an offer of admission to the IOBP.
It is important to understand that the demand for the IOBP typically exceeds the program capacity.
Step #5 Pass the national exam
Administered by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC), which consists of Written Exam and OSCE.
Step #6 Register with your provincial optometric regulatory authority
Practicing in Australia
The Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) is the accreditation authority responsible for performing accreditation functions for the optometry profession. These functions include assessment of programs of study in Australia and assessment of overseas qualified optometrists seeking registration in Australia. The University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Optometry is Accredited by OCANZ (approved until 2023).
Graduates of accredited Australian programs must register with the Optometry Board of Australia before practicing in the country. You can check out the OBA’s registration page for more information on the process.
Graduates of Melbourne’s Doctor of Optometry program are eligible to apply for Australian Registration (OCANZ). If successful, you will then be able to apply for general skilled migration to Australia.
Australia’s skilled visa programs are designed to target genuine skill shortages in Australia, one of those being optometrists. This means that there are specific visas available to individuals who are qualified to work or train as an optometrist in Australia and can meet all other requirements. You are strongly advised to contact the Australian Department of Home Affairs either here in Canada or while you are in Australia for full details.
What are official transcripts, and how do I send them?
Currently, our Australian universities require original transcripts in order to assess your application—certified by OzTREKK, which means we have to put our stamp on paper. Literally.
Usually, students order transcripts from their high school, college and/or university and have them mailed to our office. Alternatively, you can pick up your transcripts and mail them to OzTREKK, as long as they remain in their original, sealed envelopes.
You will need to submit final transcripts (showing your degree/diploma is completed) from every institution you have attended. We only require one copy of each transcript, even if you apply to multiple universities or programs.
OzTREKK educational services
301-1 Sherbrooke ST E
Perth, ON K7H 1A1 CANADA
Alternatively, your high school, college and/or university can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Try sending your documents via FedEx and Purolator, especially when you need your documents to arrive at our office ASAP. If you use Canada Post’s courier Xpresspost, please don’t request a signature, as this can add unexpected delays!
As soon as your transcript arrives, we’ll let you know!
Is the optometry bridging program mandatory?
Not always. The Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE) will determine if the applicant is required to apply to University of Waterloo’s new Advanced Standing program (currently replacing the International Optometric Bridging Program); or will determine if the applicant is eligible to proceed directly to the Canadian Assessment in Competence in Optometry (OEBC exam) and objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).
What are course outlines and how should I submit them to OzTREKK?
A course outline includes all the necessary information about a university course. It will include the course title, the year, the learning goals, the professor’s contact information, reading materials and most important, a weekly learning schedule. This will help the universities to see what you studied on a week-to-week basis and assess if you have covered the material they expect you to know.
- Year and semester date
- Faculty contact information
- Course description
- Hours of study
- Textbook information
- Detailed list of topics that are covered in the course; usually found in a detailed lecture schedule or list of chapter readings
Please note, one-paragraph course descriptions will not suffice. The university would like to see course outlines like those handed out at the beginning of the semester, which outline all topics covered within the course. If you do not have copies of these on hand, contact the faculty from which you undertook these courses, as they usually have copies on file.
These course outlines must be attached to the email in PDF format (do not send PDF links) and labelled in the following manner:
CAPS 391 Human Anatomy I UBC F2015 (COURSE CODE)(Name of Course)(University)(Semester & Year)
When you do this, it helps us be more efficient and move your application(s) at lightning speed.
What if my transcripts / documents are not in English?
If your documents are not in English, you must provide full translation of each document, either prepared by your university or by a registered translator. You must not translate the documents yourself.
Please note OzTREKK must receive the official translation directly from the university or translator in order to certify the document.
What is the University of Waterloo International Optometric Bridging Program?
The University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science is currently transitioning to an Advanced Standing program to replace its former International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP).
Prior to 2021, the IOBP provided optometrists educated outside Canada and the United States with a structured orientation to Canadian standards of optometric practice, the year-long program provided all qualified applicants with the critical language, academic and clinical skills necessary for registration in all provinces of Canada.
For more information about the licensing process for foreign-educated optometrists, please visit OzTREKK’s Practicing as an optometrist page.
Can I practice optometry in Canada after graduating from Melbourne’s Doctor of Optometry?
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists website, international graduates are considered to be those individuals who have obtained their optometric education from a school other than those accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education.
International graduates may be eligible to obtain a license or certificate of registration to practice in a province or territory in Canada. International graduates are encouraged to contact the optometric regulator in the province or territory in which they are interested to determine if they are eligible for a license or certificate of registration to practice in that jurisdiction.
International graduates may be referred by an optometric regulator to the Director of the International Optometric Bridging Program of the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario for an evaluation of their educational and professional credentials and an opinion on their equivalency to those required in a particular jurisdiction.
Please visit OzTREKK’s Practicing as an optometrist page for more information.