Doctor of Optometry 4-year program

We know how important this decision is for you. We get it, because we’ve been there. When you come to NECO, you’ll find faculty, staff, and fellow students who know how much this matters and are eager to help you succeed.

Your training combines rigorous academics with unmatched exposure to diverse patient populations and cutting-edge technologies in various clinical settings. You’ll connect with fellow students who share common goals and come from a variety of backgrounds.

At the end of the four-year Doctor of Optometry program, you’ll be ready to practice independently anywhere in the world.

Apply to the 4-year OD

Find information on steps, deadlines, fees, and the materials you’ll need to submit.

Our rolling admissions application cycle begins in July and the final deadline to apply is March 31. We recommend you apply as early in the cycle as possible. Applications received after March 31 are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  

Why NECO for your Doctor of Optometry?

NECO helps prepare you to flourish as a valuable member of modern healthcare teams. Your training combines rigorous academics with unmatched exposure to diverse patient populations and community clinical settings.

Learn in our state-of-the-art Clinical Training Center with ION cameras in all exam lanes.

Unrivaled Clinical Training

Few schools are able to provide the breadth and depth of clinical experiences you’ll find at NECO. And it starts within your first month here.

You’ll rotate through community health centers and see a greater variety of systemic diseases and conditions. And you’ll experience a unique multidisciplinary model, collaborating with primary care doctors, ophthalmologists, and pediatricians.

Student wearing mask and white shirt practices making stitches
Microsurgical procedures and laser training are part of the many ways we support student success in their career.

Experience a Supportive Culture

Supportive peers, knowledgeable staff members, dedicated faculty mentors, and supportive alumni will help you succeed at NECO, and after.

Stop by the student club fair to find ways you can get involved.

Get Involved in the Community

Gain practical experience and make a difference as you serve the community, advocate for the them and the profession, and broaden access to important eye care services.

Concentrations are one way you can tailor your learning experience at NECO.

Consider a Concentration

Customize your NECO experience, deepen your expertise, and expand your career opportunities by choosing one of these concentrations: pediatric optometry, cornea contact lens, or low vision rehabilitation.

Students and residents can take part in research and often present posters at clinical conferences.

Pursue Research and a Residency

Expand your knowledge and make discoveries through faculty-mentored research or advance your clinical training with a year-long, postgraduate residency.

Timeline: A closer look at your NECO journey

It’s the most important decision of your life, and we want to give you a solid roadmap for what’s ahead. Here’s a breakdown of the four-year doctor of optometry program at NECO.

Jump right into the fundamentals of anatomy, physiology, vision, and optics, as well as public health policy, clinical decision making, and patient care.

During your first year at NECO, your days will be action-packed, starting with morning labs and small group seminars followed by afternoon lectures and field observations.

With 40+ hours of patient care experience by the end of your first semester, you’ll be able to:

  • Perform refractions, lensometry, and visual acuity tests.
  • Conduct basic elements of a comprehensive eye exam.
  • Independently complete a pediatric vision screening.
  • In the spring semester, you’ll have an opportunity to specialize in pediatric optometry or cornea/contact lens care.

Now you’re ready for the next level of optometry education, which includes coursework in:

  • Advanced optics concepts
  • Refraction
  • Ocular disease
  • General medicine and pharmacology
  • Practice management
  • Patient communication

You’ll continue to learn along with your peers through lab sessions and small-group seminars, plus you’ll venture out into the community once a week for a clerkship at the NECO Center for Eye Care or an affiliated location.

By the end of your second year in optometry school, you will be expected to:

  • Conduct a comprehensive primary care eye exam
  • Reach a diagnosis
  • Outline a patient care plan

Your third year is all about putting learning into practice. As your coursework expands into advanced disease and diagnostics, you’ll also broaden your clinical experience.

You’ll learn about world health and special populations as you care for patients in a diverse range of settings, including community health centers, VA hospitals, schools, and private practices. Through elective classes, you’ll deepen your knowledge of patient care and management.

By year’s end, you should be proficient in full-scope primary care optometry and contact lenses. And with a supportive community behind you every step of the way, you’ll feel prepared and confident for your first board exam.

This year, you’ll immerse yourself in the field as an eye care practitioner. You’ll build your skills with a rich array of populations, communities, and conditions through four full-time clinical rotations:

  • Primary care
  • Advanced care
  • Specialty care
  • Elective area of your choice

Choose from more than 150 clinical sites located in 30 states, three Canadian provinces, Spain, and China.

You’ll also be ready to complete your exams for the National Board of Examiners, apply for a license or a residency—and to graduate with your Doctor of Optometry degree.

For detailed course descriptions, view the College Catalog on Consumer Info.

View 4 Year OD Curriculum

Kathleen headshot
Voices of NECO

Exploring Optometry to its Fullest


In Year 1, we are already exposed to pediatric vision screenings and getting to work alongside children and their communities. NECO has many affiliations with hospitals, VAs, private practices, and community health centers all over the state, which means I am able to explore the whole practice of optometry to its fullest.

  • Class Year 2024
  • Hometown Boston, MA