Accelerated Optometric Degree Program (AODP)
The Accelerated Optometric Degree Program is a twenty-seven month program for scientists and physicians who hold a doctoral degree (a Ph.D. or M.D.). The program is designed to attract highly qualified candidates who can potentially provide unique contributions to the optometric profession.
The program was created in 1972 and is the only program of its kind in the United States. It boasts more than 300 alumni. The program graduates over 90% of those admitted and the graduates have received outstanding scores on licensing board exams. Graduates of the program have gone on to become college deans, department chairs, professors in both optometry and medical programs, and successful optometric practitioners in a variety of practice settings.
Most of the Ph.D.s in the program have been previously educated in the biological sciences and have extensive research experience. However, the college seeks to attract a diverse group of applicants who can contribute to the program and to the profession of optometry. Graduates of the program have held previous experience in a variety of disciplines including aeronautical and space engineering, anatomy, anthropology, biochemistry, biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, dentistry, electrical engineering, experimental psychology, mathematics, neuroscience, parasitology, and physics. Research based Ph.D.s in other fields are also encouraged to apply.
Although several of the medical doctors who have graduated from the program were trained in the United States, most of the physicians in the program are foreign M.D.s with extensive clinical and/or research experience in ophthalmology. Physicians in cardiac surgery, general practice, oncology, pediatrics, and many other specialties have also become excellent optometrists through the program.
The primary criterion for admission to the accelerated program is the quality of the applicant’s career, his/her contributions in research or clinical care, the potential contributions an applicant can make to the optometric profession, and a firm commitment to join the optometric profession. Each applicant must take the Optometry Admissions Test (O.A.T.) or, if it is not available in the applicant’s home country, the Graduate Record Exam (G.R.E.). Each foreign applicant must also take the T.O.E.F.L. exam to help the admissions committee assess the applicant’s ability to communicate in English. An applicant’s ability to communicate effectively in English is carefully assessed as part of the admissions process. Doctors considering this program should be aware that it is extremely demanding and precludes other activities. The first three academic years of the regular four-year program are compressed into 15 intensive months.