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History of the College

The New England College of Optometry was founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics and is the oldest continuously operating school of Optometry in the United States. During the past century, as optometry evolved as an independent health care profession, it expanded its curriculum and clinical programs to reflect the changing demands of the public. The name changed in 1901 to the Massachusetts School of Optometry, in 1950 to the Massachusetts College of Optometry, and in 1976 to the New England College of Optometry. It is the only optometry college in New England and approximately 70% of the region's optometrists have been educated here. Today the College, through its Center for the International Advancement of Optometry, has also instituted the largest international optometric program in the world by developing extension programs, the first of their kind, with China, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa and, most recently, Germany.

The patient care programs of the College began in 1933 with an external clinic at the Harry E. Burroughs Newsboys Foundation. It opened it's first owned and operated clinic, the Massachusetts Optometric Clinic, on Commonwealth Avenue in 1941 that continues today as the New England Eye (NEE). With its main offices located near Fenway Park, the NEE system of clinics has expanded to include sites throughout the greater Boston area and is the largest provider of ambulatory eye and vision care services in Massachusetts. In 2002, NEE was restructured as a sole member corporation to focus on its patient care mission while continuing to serve as the primary affiliate for the College's clinical teaching mission. In addition to NEE, the College's nationwide network of affiliated clinical sites has grown to include over 50 clinics, hospitals, and specialized care facilities, including three sites in other countries.

In recent years, the College has initiated an ambitious and successful program of basic and applied research. Its faculty annually attracts several million dollars in federal grants and is contributing importantly to advances in our knowledge of ocular and visual disorders. The College is particularly known as a center of excellence for research in the etiology, prevention, and treatment of myopia.

The New England College of Optometry offers three programs of study leading to the Doctor of Optometry degree. The standard four-year program is for applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree or who have completed a minimum of three years of specific undergraduate course work. There are also a two-year Accelerated Doctor of Optometry Program for applicants already holding a doctoral degree in science, and an Advanced Standing International Program for those who have earned a degree in optometry from a recognized foreign school of optometry. The College offers postgraduate residency and fellowship programs in specialized areas of optometry such as Cornea and Contact Lens Practice, Pediatrics, and Family Practice. Selected students interested in research can obtain the M.Sc. degree while simultaneously pursuing the O.D. degree.

The College’s Beacon Street campus, built as private homes in the late 1800’s, was completely renovated in the late 1990’s and, in addition to providing excellent classroom, laboratory, and office facilities, it has won several local and national awards for outstanding preservation of historic buildings. Despite a history of over 100 years, the College is poised to move to even greater heights in the 21st Century.

The New England College of Optometry is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association (a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Accreditation) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).