Apr 23, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2022-2023 
Academic Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Introduction: Doctor of Optometry (OD)

The Doctor of Optometry curriculum is broad in scope while emphasizing areas of traditional strength and uniqueness within the profession. The faculty of the College of Optometry recognize the value and importance of active learning in the classroom, wherein students are active participants in their learning. The goals of incorporating active learning techniques are to enhance the retention of material beyond individual classes, the development of problem-solving skills, enthusiasm for learning, and motivation for life-long study. While the courses in the curriculum are listed in a traditional lecture and laboratory format, active learning is an element in both the classrooms and laboratories.

We offer a four-year doctoral program in optometry. Graduates are fully qualified to practice in any state in the nation, with the curriculum far exceeding the minimal educational requirements of any state.

We pride ourselves on our clinically oriented program, focusing on the graduation of a comprehensive practitioner with expertise in general optometry, contact lenses, low vision, vision therapy, and ocular disease. Graduates have the opportunity to explore specialties such as neuro-rehabilitation, sports vision and more.

Pacific University College of Optometry is a fully accredited member of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Learning Outcomes

The College of Optometry faculty have adopted the 2011 ASCO “Attributes of Students Graduating from Schools and Colleges of Optometry,” (http://opted.org/files/2011_AttributesReport.pdf) to define and describe the learning outcomes and attributes expected of students graduating from our program.

Admission: Doctor of Optometry (OD)

Enrollment in the College of Optometry is limited and admission is selective, and the majority of those admitted have completed four years of college. All pre-optometry course requirements must be completed before beginning the program. The College of Optometry actively seeks qualified multicultural students to increase the number of practitioners who are qualified, but currently underrepresented, in the profession.

In making decisions, the Optometry Admissions Committee considers the following factors:

  • Strength and breadth of academic record
  • Optometry Admission Test (OAT) scores or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score
  • Excellence of essay responses
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete 10 hours of paid or unpaid observation in multiple settings
  • Content of application forms and care with which they have been completed
  • The quantity and quality of community service, honors, and extracurricular activities
  • Strength of letters of recommendation.
  • Mastery of the on-campus personal interview

Selected applicants are invited for an on-campus personal interview. The interview is required and scheduled by Graduate Admissions. It allows the Admissions Committee to assess essential skills and traits that may not be reflected in the application. In the interview, consideration is given to motivation toward a career in optometry, effective verbal expression of ideas, knowledge of the profession, and self-confidence. The on-campus interview also includes a brief impromptu writing exercise that allows the Committee to evaluate the applicants’ skills in succinctly and effectively expressing themselves in writing.

New classes begin with the fall semester each year; mid-year matriculation is not permitted. Applications are accepted starting July 1 for fall enrollment of the following year. Applicants are notified once an admission decision is reached.  Accepted applicants must meet and fulfill all essential functions for Pacific University College of Optometry.

Course Prerequisites

All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or higher (grades of “C-” or lower are not acceptable). Prerequisite courses must be taken on a graded basis unless the course was switched to pass-fail grading by an institution due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Where possible, all courses should be those intended for science majors. All science prerequisites must include a laboratory component. Science prerequisite courses offered without a laboratory component will be accepted on a case-by-case basis. A maximum of 8 semester credits of AP or IB credit can be used toward the prerequisite requirements for applicants with qualifying scores. A qualifying score is a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement test or a 5 or higher on the IB examination.

No more than 12 semester credits or three courses of online prerequisite coursework is accepted (whichever is less). If taking online science prerequisite courses, it is required that labs are physical, not virtual. Prerequisite courses and labs that were conducted in an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be accepted and will not count towards the 12-semester credit or three course online limit. Online courses in Microbiology and Biochemistry with online labs will be considered. Online prerequisite courses will only be considered from regionally accredited colleges or universities. Online coursework unrelated to prerequisite requirements is not subject to these restrictions.

The following prerequisite courses must have been completed within the last 10 years: Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry (if applicable) and General Physics.

In-depth experience in the sciences within the last 10 years may be able to be substituted for expired coursework on a case-by-case basis. Examples include applicants pursuing a doctoral degree in the sciences whose general science prerequisites were completed more than 10 years ago. Optometric or ophthalmic experience may not be substituted for expired courses.

Biological Sciences: 12 semester credits

  • A course in microbiology
  • A complete course in human or comparative vertebrate anatomy (with coverage of human systems)
  • A complete course in human or animal physiology
  • A two-semester course (or the quarter equivalent) combining both human anatomy and physiology is acceptable.

All courses must include a laboratory

Chemistry: 12 semester credits

  • A standard two-semester course in general chemistry, and either two semesters (three quarters) of a complete course sequence in organic chemistry or one semester (two quarters) of organic chemistry combined with one semester (one quarter) of biochemistry
  • A one-semester (two quarters) survey course in organic chemistry is accepted 
  • A course in biochemistry is strongly recommended

All courses must include a laboratory

General Physics: 8 semester credits

  • A standard two-semester course or the quarter system equivalent. Need not be calculus based

All courses must include a laboratory

Mathematics: 3 semester credits

  • A course in analytic geometry or calculus

Statistics: 3 semester credits

  • Statistics must be from a Department of Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology or Statistics. A biostatistics course is acceptable. Business and Economics courses will not meet this requirement

General Psychology: 3 semester credits

English: 3 semester credits

  • One course that has been taken from the Department of English or Writing is required (expository, technical, and scientific writing courses are strongly recommended). Speech and communication courses do not meet this requirement. Writing intensive courses from other departments like Philosophy or Religion are not acceptable unless designated as writing intensive on your official transcript or within the course syllabus.

English Language Proficiency Policy

A satisfactory command of the English language is required for admission to Pacific University. All students whose first language is not English must meet the English language proficiency requirement prior to admission. This requirement applies to all applicants, including resident aliens and citizens. Requiring valid proof of English language proficiency is a mandate of the College of Optometry; thus, only the College can approve exceptions.

Valid Proof of English Language Proficiency

  • Achieving the minimum required official score on the International Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Pacific Institutional TOEFL, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam
  • Test scores are valid for two (2) years after the test date
  • Test scores more than two (2) years old will be considered if the score exceeded the minimum requirement and you have maintained continuous residency in the United States since the exam date
  • Completion of a bachelor’s, master, doctoral, or professional degree at a regionally accredited college or university where English is the only language of instruction. Individuals who are in the process of earning a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution can be admitted.

Minimum Test Score Requirements

Paper-based Computer-based Internet-based  
600 overall
Minimum per section:
54-55 reading
55 listening
55 structure/written expression
250 overall
Minimum per section:
21 reading
22 listening
22 structure/writing
100 overall
minimum per section:
20 reading
21 listening
22 writing
22 speaking
7.0 overall
Minimum sub scores per section:

Invalid Proof of English Language Proficiency

  • Test score less than Pacific University’s minimum requirement
  • Test score more than two years old (unless the score exceeded the minimum requirement and you have maintained continuous residency in the United States since the exam date.)
  • Institutional TOEFL scores from any school except Pacific University
  • Completion of an English as a Second Language (ESL) program at any school
  • Completion of English, writing or literature courses at any college or university
  • An associate’s degree from a community college in the United States

Application Procedures

Applications are accepted starting July 1 for fall enrollment of the following year. Early completion and submission of the application may enhance the prospects for admission, given the current “rolling admissions” process. Applicants are notified with an admission decision 2-3 weeks after participating in the on-campus interview.

  • Complete the OptomCAS Universal Application (available online at www.optomcas.org). Select Pacific University as one of the schools to which you would like to apply.
  • Valid Optometry Admission Test (OAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
    • Applicant’s most recent set of OAT scores must be no earlier than two years (24 months) prior to the opening of the current OptomCAS sessions in order to be valid.

Required Materials

A complete and verified OptomCAS Application with supporting letters of recommendation and supplemental questions, and official OAT or GRE scores are required to apply to the Doctor of Optometry program. Application with supporting documents and official OAT or GRE scores must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions before an application moves forward for review by the Optometry Admissions Committee.

OptomCAS Application:

  • Official transcripts from every college and university attended must be sent directly to OptomCAS.
  • Two letters of recommendation (LOR) are required. Within the LOR’s submitted to OptomCAS, one must be from a non-relative optometrist. A second must be from a professor who has taught you in college. Careful consideration should be given to select a faculty member who can speak to your ability to be successful in optometry school and the profession of optometry.
    • Applicants who have been out of school for more than 2 years may submit a letter of recommendation from a direct supervisor or laboratory manager in lieu of a college instructor
  • OptomCAS Personal Statement
  • Supplemental essay responses for Pacific University College of Optometry
  • Official OAT or GRE scores
  • Re-applicant essay (if applicable)
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
  • Demonstrated plan to complete the prerequisite requirements, if not already met
  • Application fee (check OptomCAS application website for fee information)

Criminal Background Check

Upon acceptance and prior to matriculation, students will undergo a criminal background check (CBC). A criminal background check is a condition of matriculation into the program. Legal offenses that are reflected in a criminal background check may preclude a student’s ability to enroll in the program or to participate in a rotation which would be a prerequisite to completion of the program. Because each jurisdiction has control over licensure of optometrists, Pacific University is unable to provide its students with legal advice concerning license restrictions for any given jurisdiction related to results of a criminal background check. Thus, mere admission into Pacific University’s College of Optometry, is not to be interpreted as assurance of acceptance into a required rotation or likelihood of subsequent licensure. For this reason, students who have been convicted of legal offenses are advised to obtain independent legal advice concerning related licensing issues.

Reapplication Procedures

For applicants who were not offered admission and apply in a subsequent year, a new application should be submitted. Additional observational experience is strongly recommended. Re-applicants need not retake the OAT or GRE if their scores are still valid, but may do so to try to increase their scores.

Admission for Transfer Students

Individuals interested in transferring to the College of Optometry (e.g., graduates of international optometry, ophthalmology or medical programs, transfer students, students resuming studies, and other non-traditional placements) should contact Graduate Admissions (gradadmissions@pacificu.edu) for more information on application procedures and deadlines.

The Doctor of Optometry degree from Pacific University reflects the curriculum as a whole. This includes the content and sequence of the program of study. Upon acceptance into the program, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs will develop a proposed curriculum for the transfer student. In order to develop a proposed curriculum, the student typically will be required to provide information in addition to the usual credentials for admission, such as a catalog from the original optometric program, course descriptions, course syllabi, etc. Substitutions based on previous course work will be considered and specific courses may be waived; however, the curriculum as a whole will remain in synch with the standard Doctor of Optometry program. Thus, the program for transfer students spans three and one half to four years. Students admitted in this program with prior optometric clinical experience will be required to complete at least two clinical rotations in the fourth year. This will include an initial rotation through the College of Optometry’s internal clinics and one external rotation as determined by the Associate Dean for Clinical Programs. Additional clinical rotations may be required based on the student’s academic and clinical performance.

Optometry Scholars Program

The Optometry Scholars Program is designed to create a structured pathway, including conditional acceptance into the College of Optometry, for highly motivated undergraduate students from Pacific University’s College of Arts and Sciences, whose ultimate goal is entry into the Doctor of Optometry program. Students in the Optometry Scholars program need to be mature, empathic, motivated, high-performing, and professional. Applications from students of diverse populations and backgrounds are encourage.

This academically challenging program is designed both for incoming freshman and transfer students at Pacific University. Program requirements include rigorous coursework and various co-curricular elements to develop academic and professional skills needed for graduate study. Students accepted into the Scholars program must maintain program standards and fulfill all of the admission requirements for the College of Optometry.

Program Highlights

  • Conditional acceptance into the Doctor of Optometry degree program at the end of the third or fourth year of study
  • Participation in the Advantage Scholars Program

Students should indicate their interest in the Optometry Scholars Program in their application to Pacific’s College of Arts & Sciences in order to receive additional application materials.

Program Requirements

Students accepted into the Optometry Scholars program must complete all the Admissions requirements for the College of Optometry. In addition, to maintain conditional acceptance into the Doctor of Optometry degree program, students must:

  • Maintain a minimum cumulative of 3.50 GPA in all undergraduate coursework at the time of OptomCAS submission. In addition, no individual semester GPA can fall below 3.00. Should a candidate fall below the required GPA, they will not automatically forfeit conditional admittance status, but will be placed in a probationary status and have one semester to bring the cumulative GPA back to a minimum of 3.50. Any grade below a “C” will result in probationary status, and the student must bring the grade up to at least a “C” within one calendar year.
  • Attain scores of at least a 320 academic average on the OAT or at least 153 on the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections of the GRE.
  • Complete a well-written essay that fully addresses the questions asked in the application are required. Included in the assessment is the depth of the applicant’s knowledge, interest, and passion for the profession of optometry.
  • Provide two letters of recommendation, one from an undergraduate professor and another from a currently-licensed doctor of optometry.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to observe several optometrists in various practice modalities for a minimum of 10 hours. They are encouraged to arrange observation time in one of the College’s six clinics.
  • Remain active in a broad range of community and university services, as optometry is a profession dedicated to serving society.
  • Complete a successful interview with The College of Optometry Admissions Committee.
  • Complete and submit the OptomCAS application.

Students who fulfill the above requirements are eligible to be enrolled in the Doctor of Optometry degree program (with the Bachelor of Science option) by the end of their third undergraduate year. Those wishing to complete their baccalaureate degree prior to entry into the College of Optometry must maintain a 3.50 GPA and meet all other requirements for admittance.

Students accepted into the Optometry Scholars program who do not maintain the above criteria are encouraged to apply for admission to the College of Optometry through the traditional admissions process and may request an expedited review (including a guaranteed interview) through the College of Optometry’s Admissions Committee.

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