How to study Optometry in Canada and the best universities to go to

Edvoy India
4 min readSep 23, 2021

Studying Optometry in Canada is no easy task, with seven to eight years of total study needed, including a bachelor’s degree followed by a doctor of optometry program.

But with an average salary of around C$94,000 in Canada, £53,000 in the UK, and $120,000 in the USA, Optometry is a good call for your financial future… not that money is everything, but it sure helps!

You’ll also be doing the world a great service given that a whopping 2.2 billion people globally have some form of vision impairment.

But studying optometry at university in Canada isn’t a simple case of signing up for a 4 year degree (like in the UK for example). It’s a little more complicated a process than that, so let’s clear some things up!

Why study optometry in Canada?

Although it takes a good deal longer to become a qualified optometrist in Canada (and the US) than it does in the UK, Ireland or New Zealand, there are plenty of reasons why you should study in Canada. Firstly it’s an amazingly friendly and progressive country, and with nearly 650,000 international students, it’s a great place to study abroad.

On top of that, you can work part time and earn money while you study, and it’s not difficult to gain a post graduate work visa. Now that we’ve mentioned it, check out our article on 6 high paid part-time jobs in Canada for international students!

How to become an optometrist in Canada

OK, so you want to become an Optometrist? Here’s what you have to do.

Overall it takes seven or eight years of higher education to become a Doctor of Optometry.

First off, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree of at least 3 years. Ideally, this will be in the Sciences. You can study in another field, but a Sciences Degree will make it much easier to apply to an optometry school in Canada.

Next, it’s time to apply to an Optometry school that’s accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education. The thing is, there are only TWO of these in Canada, which we’ll talk you through below.

Your optometry degree takes 4 -5 years, and includes an optional (but recommended) one year residency in which you’ll learn the ropes of the job itself.

After graduation, you’ll have to take a national exam from the Optometry Examining Board of Canada. By passing this test you’ll be able to gain a license to practice optometry in your province.

What optometry schools are in Canada?

There are a grand total of TWO optometry schools in Canada. That makes them pretty lucrative! Here we’ll give you a rundown of each:

1. University of Waterloo

2. University of Montreal

1. University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo in Ontario is the most lucrative (and most competitive) School of Optometry in Canada, with average exam application scores of around 80%.

There are a whole range of optometry courses on offer, most of which are 4 years long. There are also plenty of postgraduate programs like OD/MSc research programs, doctorates, and masters. This school is widely acclaimed all over Canada and the world because it has helped in furthering the education of several optometrists.

The courses include (but are not limited to):

  • Health and Diseases of Visual System
  • Visual Optics
  • Clinical Practical and techniques
  • Ocular biology
  • Visual Neurophysiology

2. University of Montreal

Over in Quebec province (where the primary language is French), is Canada’s other accredited School of Optometry. You’ll be glad to know that the school is multi-lingual though, so English speakers will be able to keep up with the workload.

The University of Montreal’s School of Optometry is by no means less reputable than the University of Waterloo — in fact it’s one of the top 100 colleges in the world for its impactful research in medicine!

Like Waterloo, there’s a whole range of optometry and vision related degrees, Masters and PhDs to study outside of the 4 year Doctor of Optometry programme.

Some of these field of study include:

  • Vision sciences
  • Visual impairment and re-adaptation
  • Visual impairment and intervention

Studying Optometry in Canada: Where to get started

As mentioned above, you’ll be best studying an undergraduate degree in a Science subject to prepare you for optometry school. That’s where at Edvoy comes in handy!

Click here or follow the link at the bottom of this page to explore degrees in Canada!

When you’re done, you’d better get ready for life in Canada too. It’s quite different from the US, with some key differences you must watch out for. And to help you handle the move, here’s a handy article we wrote on 9 Canadian traditions you should know about.

Good luck!

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