Practicing as an optometrist

Overview

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 new Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program 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 Have credentials assessed by the Federation of Optometric Authorities of Canada (FORAC)

The FORAC credential assessment is what determines if an applicant can take the IGOEE (Step 3). 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 5) or whether a bridging program is required first.

You should anticipate having to take the ASOPP program as part of the certification process as it may be required.

Step#4. Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program (ASOPP)

Starting in April 2022, the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science (WOVS) will be offering a new educational pathway each year for up to six qualified internationally trained optometric graduates (IOGs), the Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program (ASOPP).

Eligible IOGs will be required to

  • apply to ASOPP through the Ontario University Application Centre (OUAC) for a $215 application fee; and
  • complete a Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer).

WOVS will offer one ASOPP program, during the Spring academic term (April–August). Students who successfully complete all ASOPP components will be admitted as Advanced Standing students in the fall term of the third year of the Doctor of Optometry program. Successful completion of the OD program (years 3 and 4) will lead to the granting of a Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Waterloo. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the national board examination for licensure/registration in Canada.

Spring term (April – August) Fall term (August – December) Winter term (January – April)
ASOPP Year 3 term 1 Year 3 term 2
Year 4 term 1 Year 4 term 2 Year 4 term 3
  • Length: Orientation term, followed by 1.5 years (3rd and 4th years) of OD program.
  • Number of spaces for 2021: 6; demand far exceeds this

Admission for the ASOPP 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 ASOPP.

It is important to understand that the demand for the ASOPP 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

More of a visual person? see the flowchart that describes the process.

Details by Province

Practicing in Australia

Australian Accreditation
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.

FAQs

How does OzTREKK know if my application will be competitive?

The majority of Canadians applying to full-degree programs in Australia (i.e., not study abroad courses, which usually only last a semester or two) apply through OzTREKK. They’re studying medicine, dentistry, law, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, etc.

Since they’re using OzTREKK’s services, this gives us a good idea of the starting point of a competitive application each year, allowing our admissions officers to help you determine which universities/programs are most likely to present you with a letter of offer!

You can get started on determining your chances by reviewing the admissions requirements on each program page. Then, visit our GPA Conversions and Eligibility pages for details and suggestions to help you get into the program of your dreams. Of course, OzTREKK is always here to help if you have questions.

What is a 5.0 GPA in Australia?

Unlike in Canada, GPAs in Australia are simple. They are standardized, so they mean the same thing to everyone.

In Australia, a 5.0 / 7.0 would roughly translate to a 2.7 / 4.0 or approximately 70% – 72%, but keep in mind all universities assess slightly differently.

Learn more on our GPA Conversions page where we list the most common Canadian GPA scales to their corresponding Australian GPA grade.

Which prerequisites do I need?

Prerequisite courses vary by university and by program. We’ve listed university- and program-specific requirements on each program’s page under “Admissions Requirements.”

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 transcripts@oztrekk.com.

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 Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program?

The Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program (ASOPP) has replaced the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) at the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry & Vision Science. ASOPP provides an education pathway for individuals who have completed optometry training outside of North America and who wish to obtain a license to practice in Canada. This newly redesigned bridging program is scheduled to begin in April 2022. ASOPP is designed to ensure advanced standing students will be prepared to join the third year Doctor of Optometry program.

Those students who successfully complete all aspects of ASOPP and years 3 and 4 of the Doctor of Optometry program will be awarded a Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Waterloo.

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 Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory 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.