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Four-Year OD Curriculum

The four-year OD program at the New England College of Optometry is organized and delivered through four academic departments: Vision Science, Biomedical Science and Disease, Primary Care, and Specialty and Advanced Care as well as the Clinical Education Department.

Each course in NECO's curriculum is carefully planned to coordinate and support a student's mastery of both knowledge and skills required of an optometric professional capable of managing conditions of the human eye and visual system.  Students build a strong foundation of didactic courses and labs focusing on basic science, eye health, ocular disease, and providing care to different types of patients and conditions. These classroom experiences are complemented by a rich and diverse patient care experience that grows progressively in time, commitment, and responsibilities over the four years. The fourth year is a culmination of the preparation as students take responsibility for full time clinical care of patients.

Four-Year OD Program Curriculum Overview

Program Year

Class & Lab

(*=course includes lab)

Patient Care

Year 1

650+ Hours

Coursework includes: Anatomy & Physiology*, Cell Biology, Histology, and Ocular Anatomy* , Color Vision*, Clinical Reasoning, Neuroanatomy, Ocular Disease Principles*, Optics*, Principles & Practice of Optometry*, Vision Health Care, Visual Sensation and Perception*

40+ Hours

The clinical experience begins with Patient Care I and is comprised of vision screenings of young children and observations of skilled optometrists.  

Year 2

700+ Hours

Coursework includes: Binocular and Accommodative Anomalies*, Binocular Vision and Ocular Motility*, Clinical Medicine, Contact Lenses*, General Pharmacology, Immunology, Neural Basis of Vision, Ocular Biochemistry and Genetics, Ocular Disease Principles *, Ocular Pharmacology, Optics*, Principles and Practice of Optometry*

124+ Hours

In the second year, the Patient Care II program provides opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills as part of the eye care team. Students spend around 8 hours a week working under clinical preceptors to apply classroom skills, perform initial aspects of eye exam, and take on increasing responsibility for the eye exam as the year progresses. 

Year 3

425+ Hours
Coursework includes: Advanced Diagnostic Techniques*, Advanced Ocular Disease, Clinical Neuro-ophthalmic Topics, Clinical Ocular Imaging Topics. Clinical Reasoning, Development, Strabismus, and Amblyopia*, Low Vision Rehabilitation Throughout the Life Span*, Ophthalmic Business and Management Policy, Pediatric Optometry, Solving Complex Refractive Issues, Special Topics: Ocular Disease and Advanced Clinical Care

360+ Hours
During a student's third year, Patient Care III allows students to take responsibility for providing an entire eye exam and ancillary testing.  Students spend two days a week at clinical placements in the NECO Clinical Network, working under guidance of clinical preceptors and performing complete eye exams. 

Year 4No coursework

1600+ Hours

The fourth year is entirely clinical, consisting of four three-month long external rotations, engaging in full time patient care. 

  • Primary Care Rotation (community health center, community clinic or private practice)
  • Advanced Care Rotation (ocular disease in hospital or surgical center such as a VA medical center or eye institute)
  • Specialty Care Rotation (vision therapy, contact lenses, pediatrics, geriatrics, patients with disabilities, or low vision)
  • Elective Rotation

View the Four-Year OD Program Curriculum.