Becoming A Doctor of Optometry

Doctors of optometry require seven to eight years of post-secondary education to obtain their professional designation, Doctor of Optometry (OD).

Educational requirements typically include:

  • A minimum of three years of undergraduate education, preferably in the sciences; Please NOTE:  In Québec two years of CEGEP is accepted at the undergraduate level.
  • A four or five year university program in optometry, accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education;
  • An increasing number of optometrists choose to do an additional year of residency training upon completion of their Doctor of Optometry degree;
  • Upon completion of the course in optometry, the graduate is required to satisfy provincial board requirements in the province or territory in which they intend to practice. This process also includes a national examination administered by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada. Licensure by the provincial or territorial governing body is required. These requirements ensure the public receives the highest standards of optometric care.

There are two schools of optometry located in Canada:  

For a list of accredited American Schools, please click here.


Education Costs: The cost of studying optometry in Canada ranges from $60,000 – $70,000 which may be financed by Canada Student Loans and/or personal bank loans. Costs for attending schools in the United States are significantly higher, ranging from $175,000 – $200,000.
Start-Up Costs & Overhead Costs: To set-up a new practice, start-up costs include: capital costs for equipment and leasehold improvements. The majority of overhead costs arise from the inventory of lenses, frames, contact lenses and lens solutions.
Revenue Sources: Optometrists are paid at the time services are provided. An optometrist’s earnings are determined by several factors including: coverage under provincial medical programs, fee schedules, hours worked, practice location, services provided and patient population.


Upon graduation optometrists work as associates in an existing practice before buying in as partners, buying another practice or setting up a new practice. Established optometrists usually work in private practice and own or co-own their practices. They may also own or work from more than one location, known as “satellite” offices. 

Entry to Practice Requirements for ODs




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 (ACOE).

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 should contact the International Optometric Bridging Program. For international graduates wishing to practice in Québec, contact the Ordre des optométristes du Québec 

Information for ACOA Accredited Optometry Program Students

Once you have graduated from an Accreditation Council on Optometric Education accredited School of Optometry, you are able to apply directly to the Optometry Examining Board of Canada  to challenge the national entry to practice examination – the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry (CACO). For test dates, pre-requisites, application forms, fees and other related information, click here.

For information on applying to practice in a province of your choice, contact your provincial regulatory body via the Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FORAC).