Chicago College of Optometry

Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

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With a strong foundation in the basic and visual sciences, the Chicago College of Optometry offers students the skills needed for success. A low student-to-faculty ratio helps ensure that you will receive individualized attention and mentorship from faculty who are experts in their field. Throughout the program, our caring faculty will guide you through the application of scientific principles to diagnose and manage eye disorders. You will also benefit from extensive patient care experiences under the supervision of skilled clinical optometry faculty.

Program
Doctoral

Location
Downers Grove, IL

Duration
4 years, full-time

Intake
August

Class Size
61 (Fall 2019)


The Chicago College of Optometry awards the degree Doctor of Optometry upon successful completion of the four-year professional curriculum in optometry. The first and second years of the curriculum emphasize basic health sciences, optics and visual science and students are introduced to clinical practice in simulation laboratories, through introductory courses and clinical experiences. Visual consequences of disease are introduced in the second year. The third year, divided between a didactic and clinical setting, emphasizes the diagnosis and treatment of ocular dysfunction and disease. The fourth year is intensive clinical training that will include both on campus and off campus externship rotations. Clinical settings for external rotations may include military facilities, veteran administration hospitals, public health service hospitals, and specialty and/or private practices or clinics.

Dear Future Optometrist,
Thank you for your interest in the Chicago College of Optometry at Midwestern University. As one of the nation's newest colleges of optometry, we have developed a curriculum to meet the needs of today's practice environment with facilities that are state-of-the-art. What we are most proud of is our people-the faculty who will teach you the art and science of optometry, your fellow students who will share in the collaborative learning environment, and our patients who look forward to receiving your care at our Eye Institute.

What makes the Chicago College of Optometry unique is our focus on interprofessional education, with small class sizes and cutting-edge technology. Our virtual reality simulation laboratory allows students to gain a comfort level in clinical techniques and disease diagnosis before further honing their skills in the clinic. Our curriculum emphasizes One Health concepts that will provide students with a competitive advantage throughout their careers.

Another hallmark of the College is our commitment to service. We have developed partnerships in the community so that we can reach those who need our care the most. Our faculty are committed to student learning in the classrooms and in the clinic. We provide research experiences as well as business management courses to make sure our students are well prepared for their future careers.
Please contact our Office of Admissions if you have questions or are interested in a campus tour. We look forward to welcoming you to the exciting profession of optometry.

Sincerely,
Melissa Suckow, OD, FAAO
Dean, Chicago College of Optometry 

  • Basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences
  • Preclinical simulation labs
  • Licensing board simulation rooms
  • Community clinical rotations
  • National boards preparation courses
  • Optometry business management courses
  • Local and national external rotation sites
  • Contemporary optometry practice curriculum and clinical settings
  • Interprofessional education and clinical experience

Mission

The mission of the Chicago College of Optometry is to develop competent individuals who embrace lifelong learning through the pursuit of excellence in education, research, scholarship, and patient care for a diverse society. The College’s educational programs emphasize and promote public health, leadership, ethics, professionalism, compassion, commitment,collegiality, and sense of community.

Vision 

The vision of the Chicago College of Optometry requires the College to:
- Deliver an exceptional optometric education experience utilizing our unique multi-health professional setting and cutting edge technology.
- Provide our students with the knowledge and skills to deliver the highest level of professional, ethical and compassionate eye and vision care.
- Recruit qualified students; promote lifelong learning, community outreach, and innovative research; and develop leaders in the profession and communities.

Goals

The goals of the Chicago College of Optometry address teaching and learning, research and scholarly activity, and community and public service:
- Deliver a comprehensive Doctor of Optometry degree program that prepares graduates for contemporary entry-level practice and encourages and fosters advanced training in order to serve the interests and needs of the broader community.
- Present an innovative optometry program with faculty committed to learning and teaching the current research and evidence based medicine applications using technologies to provide an exceptional educational experience for students.

Develop and support the faculty and students in their commitment to research and scholarly activities and excellence in patient care.
- Graduate students who have achieved the learning outcomes as defined by the faculty.
- Improve patient care through promotion of interprofessional educational programming and the Midwestern University One Health Quality Initiative.
- Foster a commitment to professional, collegial, and ethical practices in patient care while promoting public service to diverse communities.
- Develop a high quality program appropriate for optometry residents in an affiliated or Midwestern University-sponsored accredited optometry residency site.
- Serve the eye and vision healthcare needs of Downers Grove and neighboring communities through the Midwestern University Eye Institute.
- Provide and encourage lifelong learning and support services to the optometric profession.
- Develop leaders in the optometric profession and the healthcare community.

The Midwestern University Chicago College of Optometry will pursue the following goals:
Deliver a comprehensive Doctor of Optometry degree program that prepares graduates for contemporary entry-level practice and encourages and fosters advanced training, in order to serve the interests and needs of the broader community. Present an innovative optometry program with faculty committed to learning and teaching the current research and evidence based medicine applications, and using technologies to provide an exceptional educational experience for students. Develop and support the faculty and students in their commitment to research and scholarly activities and excellence in patient care. Graduate students who have achieved the learning outcomes as defined by the Faculty. Improve patient care through promotion of interprofessional educational programming and the Midwestern University One Health Quality Initiative. Foster a commitment to professional, collegial, and ethical practices in patient care while promoting public service to diverse communities. Develop a high quality program appropriate for optometry residents at an affiliated or Midwestern University sponsored accredited optometry residency site. Serve the eye and vision healthcare needs of Downers Grove and neighboring communities through the Midwestern University Eye Institute. Provide and encourage lifelong learning and support services to the optometric profession. Develop leaders in the optometric profession and the healthcare community. 

Program Improvements
Planned improvements include development of additional external otation sites that allow students to gain experience with medically disadvantaged patients, embedded assessments for program improvement, and development of specialty practices in the MWU Eye Institute.

The Midwestern University Chicago College of Optometry has been granted the accreditation classification of "Preliminary Approval" as of March 2, 2016 by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), of the American Optometric Association (AOA), 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141-7881; phone 314-991-4100. "Preliminary Approval" is the classification granted to a professional degree program that has clearly demonstrated it is developing in accordance with Council standards.

Midwestern University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC/NCA), located at 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413; phone 312/263-0456.

18% projected increase in optometry jobs by 2026*

$140,913 average net income for optometrists in 2016**

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Optometrists
**AOA Survey of Optometric Practice, updated January 2018 (https://info.optometriceducation.org, last accessed 10/2/2018)

Chicago College of Optometry Admission
CCO considers for admission those students who possess the academic, professional, and personal qualities necessary for development as exemplary optometrists. CCO uses multiple criteria to select the most qualified candidates including cumulative and science grade point averages (GPAs), Optometric Admission Test (OAT) scores, personal experiences and character, ability to communicate, familiarity with the profession, volunteer/community involvement, research experience, and other considerations. CCO uses a rolling admissions process. 

Admission Requirements:

Students seeking admission to the Chicago College of Optometry must submit the following documented evidence:

  1. A minimum cumulative GPA and science coursework GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. A BA degree is acceptable, but a BSdegree is preferred.
  3. Results of one of the following admission tests. Applicants must submit scores from one of the following admission tests: Optometry Admission Test (OAT), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Dental Aptitude Test (DAT), Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A competitive test score (at least at or above the mean score for each exam) is recommended of all applicants. In order to be considered for the class to be admitted in the Fall of each academic year, the admission test must be taken and results submitted by April 30th of the year of matriculation. Entrance exam scores must be earned no more than five years prior to the planned enrollment year.
  4. Necessary course prerequisites. All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or better prior to matriculation. Only courses designed for science majors or pre-professional students are acceptable for the science prerequisites.
  5. Two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a practicing optometrist. The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer or extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.
  6. A good understanding of optometric medicine. Candidates are strongly encouraged to shadow and observe a number of practicing optometrists in the clinical setting.
  7. Extracurricular and/or community activities that indicate a well-rounded background and demonstrate a commitment to service.
  8. Interpersonal and communication skills necessary to relate effectively with others.
  9. Passage of the Midwestern University criminal background check.
  10. A commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.

Prerequisite Courses

Course

Sem Hrs

Qtr Hrs

Biology with lab

8

12

Anatomy*

3

4

Physiology*

3

4

General/Inorganic Chemistry with lab

8

12

Organic Chemistry with lab

4

6

Biochemistry

3

4

Physics

6

9

Calculus

3

4

Microbiology

3

4

Statistics

3

4

Psychology

3

4

English

6

9

*The Anatomy and Physiology requirements may also be fulfilled by taking Anatomy and Physiology I (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours) and Anatomy and Physiology II (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours).

The Doctor of Optometry degree program is rigorous and challenging. The Admissions Committee will therefore assess the quality and rigor of the preoptometry academic records presented by applicants. When assessing an application, the Admissions Committee will view with concern applicants with:

  1. Cumulative and science grade point averages below 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. Admission test scores below the mean for each exam
  3. Prerequisite science coursework completed more than 10 years ago. More recent (within five years) math and science coursework is preferred.

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INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS
An international student m'ust complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States, or from a recognized post-secondary Canadian institution that uses English as its primary language of instructiol, and documentation. Of the 30 semester hours, 15 hours must be in the sciences, 6 hours in non-remedial English composition, and 3 hours in speech/public speaking.
Applicants who wish to receive credit for prerequisite coursework completed outside the
U.S. or at a Canadian institution that does not use English as its primary language of instruction and documentation must submit an official, detailed, course-by-course evaluation obtained from one of the following evaluation services:
• Education Credential Evaluators (ECE): 414/289-3400 (www.ece.org, e-mail: eval@ece.org)
• World Education Service (WES): 212/219-7330 (www.wes.org)
• Josef Silny & Associates International Education Consultants: 305/273-1616 or Fax 305/273-1338 (www.jsilny.com, e-mail: info@jsilny.com)

International applicants who do not provide documentation of acceptable U.S. or Canadian course/degree equivalency will not receive credit, and will be required to complete all prerequisite courses at an accredited college or university in the United States, or at a recognized post-secondary institution in Canada that uses English as its primary language of instruction and documentation.
For clarification about recognized post-secondary institutions in Can1ada that use English as a primary language of instruction and documentation, international applicants should contact the Midwestern University Office of Admissions.

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TRANSFER ADMISSIONS POLICY
CCO may elect to accept transfer students from other U.S. accredited schools of optometry who are currently enrolled, are in good academic standing, have no ethics or professionalism violations, and provide acceptable reason(s) for seeking transfer. These transfer students must have the minimum qualifications for admissions as all other applicants to the CCO program. Typically, students will transfer at the beginning of the second year of the curriculum. 

Students requesting transfers must meet the College's general requirements for admission.
They must also submit the following:
1. A letter to the Director of Admissions outlining the reasons for requesting transfer and explaining any difficulties encountered at the previous institutions
2. Course syllabi for all optometry coursework for which advanced standing credit is requested
3. Official scores from the Optometric Admissions Test (OAT)
4. Official transcripts from all schools attended - undergraduate, graduate, and professional
5. A letter from the dean of the college in which the student is enrolled that describes current academic status and terms of withdrawal or dismissal.
6. Additional documents or letters of recommendation as determined necessary by the Director of Admissions or Dean 

Following receipt of these materials, a decision by the Dean is made regarding whether or not the student merits an on-campus interview. If the student receives an invitation, he/she interviews with an appropriate interview team. The interview team then makes an admissions recommendation to the Dean, who is responsible for approving both the student's admissions status and class standing. The transfer application must be received sufficiently early to allow for processing of the application, interview, and moving of the student prior to the start of the next academic term.

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TECHNICAL STANDARDS FOR ADMISSION
The Technical Standards set forth the nonacademic abilities considered essential for students to achieve the level of competence required by the faculty to obtain the academic degree awarded by the College. The health care provider must be able to perform tasks in an efficient and timely manner to diagnose, treat, and manage patients.
Therefore, the following abilities and expectations must be met by all studen s admitted to the College with reasonable accommodation. Candidates must have a ilitie and skills in five
areas: 1) observation; 2) communication; 3) motor; 4) intellectual, conceptual, integrative, quantitative; 5) behavioral and social. Technological compensation can be made for some limitation in certain of these areas but the candidates must be able to perform in a reasonably independent, timely manner.

1. Observation: The candidate must be able to accurately make observations at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing and sense of touch and is enhanced by the functional use of all of the other senses.
2. Communication: The candidate must be able to communicate effectively, efficiently and sensitively in both oral and written form and be able to perceive nonverbal communication.
3. Motor: Candidates must be able to coordinate both gross and fine muscular movements, maintain equilibrium and have functional use of the senses of hearing, touch and vision. The candidate must possess sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination to perform profession-specific skills and tasks. 
4. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: The candidate must be able to problem solve measure, calculate, reason, analyze, record and synthesize large amounts of information in a timely manner. The candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand spatial relationships.
5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: The candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the consistent, prompt completion of all responsibilities, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically, mentally and emotionally taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. The candidate must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, effective interpersonal skills, willingness and ability to function as an effective team player, and interest and motivation to learn are all personal qualities required during the educational process.

Candidates are required to certify that they understand and meet these Technical Standards. Candidates must provide such certification prior to matriculation. Candidates who may not meet the Technical Standards must inform the Director of Admissions, who will then contact the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students, in consultation with the College Dean, will identify and discuss what accommodations, if any, the College would need to make that would allow the candidate to complete the curriculum. The College is not able to grant accommodations that alter the educational standards of the curriculum. Students must meet the Technical Standards for the duration of enrollment at the College.

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Matriculation Process
The matriculation process begins after students receive notificatiion of their acceptance. To complete the matriculation process, students must:
1. Submit the matriculation agreement and required deposit monies by the date designated in the matriculation agreement. Deposits are applied towards the first quarter's tuition
2. Submit official final transcripts from all colleges attended post-high school by the deadline of two weeks (14 days) prior to the first day of classes. Students who are accepted to MWU less than one month prior to the first day of classes will have 30 calendar days from the date of their acceptance to submit all official transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Any special circumstances or requests for exceptions to this policy must be sent to and approved by the Office of the Dean of the college. Students who fail to submit all official final transcripts by the stated deadline may jeopardize their acceptance or continued enrollment in the College.
3. Submit completed medical files documenting completion of a physical exam, immunizations, tuberculosis and titer blood testing as instructed by the Office of Student Services and detailed in the Student Handbook.
4. Meet the Technical Standards for the college.
5. Submit proof of medical and disability insurance coverage. Students may select either a plan offered by an MWU-approved carrier or a comparable plan offered by an outside carrier of their choice, as determined by the Office of Student Services. Insurance must be maintained throughout the entire period of enrollment. 
6. Submit additional documents as requested by the Office of Admissions or college.
7. Students who are requesting an F-1 visa or who are not U.S citizens or permanent residences must prepay tuition and in some cases other mandatory program fees for the first year of their educational program 6 weeks before the first day of the first quarter of each academic year. Furthermore, the student must prepay tuition and in some cases other mandatory program fees for each successive year at the start of each academic year on the University's stated due date.
8. Submit a signed Credit Policy Statement.
9. Authorize and pass the appropriate MWU criminal background check, international police clearance, and/or fingerprinting background check as required by the College. Students who fail to provide completed checks/clearances or fail to pass background checks/clearances by the end of the first month after the start of the first quarter of enrollment may jeopardize their acceptance or continued enrollment in the College, and the student may be required to take a mandatory leave of absence.
10. Submit a signed MWU Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy Statement.

Students who fail to satisfy these matriculation requirements or who omit or falsify information required on official admission documents automatically forfeit their seat in the program. Any individual accepted for admission to the College/Program who does not comply with stated timelines for submission of all required materials will be notified by the College regarding materials and the potential forfeiture of his/her seat. 


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Application Process and Deadline:
Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early in the cycle. Applications are considered on a first come first served basis only until all seats are filled.

1. OptomCAS Application

Applicants are required to submit online applications and application fees to OptomCAS by April 1, 2019. In addition to the online application and application fees, an applicant must forward to OptomCAS official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended by the April 1st date. OptomCAS will begin the verification process as official transcriptsreceived, however an application will not be considered complete until all official transcripts are received.

Students must apply for admission via OptomCAS at www.opted.org or www.optomcas.org. Please refer to the OptomCAS application instructions for specific details about completing the OptomCAS application, required documents, and processing times. OptomCAS applications are available starting Summer 2018 for applicants seeking admission in August of the following year. Due to the large number of applicants and the limited number of seats available, students are strongly encouraged to complete their OptomCAS application early in the cycle. CCO will consider completed applications on a first-come, first-served basis until all seats are filled.

2. Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

Applicants must arrange for scores from the OAT to be sent directly to Midwestern University. Only test scores received directly from the testing agency will be accepted. OAT scores must be earned no more than 5 years prior to the planned enrollment year. This
examination includes questions on biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, quantitative reasoning, and reading comprehension. The test can be taken at numerous centers in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico. An examinee may take the examination up to four times during the year. Additional information on the OAT may be found at www.opted.org or in writing to:

Optometry Admission Testing Progrom
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600
Chicago, Illinois 60611-263 7
800/232-1694
email: oatexam@ada.org 

3. Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation from professionals to OptomCAS (www.optomcas.org). One letter must be from a practicing optometrist . The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer, or extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable. 

4. Completed Application
All application materials, including the OptomCAS application, OAT scores (as reported to Midwestern University), and two letters of recommendation (as submitted to OptomCAS) must be received by the Office of Admissions on or before May 1, 2019. Only completed applications received by the Office of Admissions on or before the deadline date will be reviewed for potential entrance into the program.
Please Note: Applicants are responsible for tracking the receipt of their application materials and verifying the status of their applications on the University website. The Office of Admissions will send qualified applicants instructions for checking the status of their application materials on line.

Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or e-mail address.
Midwestern University
Office of Admissions
555 31st Street Downers Grove, IL 60515
630/515-6171 or 800/458-6253
admission@midwestern.edu

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18%
Projected Increase in Jobs by 2026

$140,913
Average Net Income

General Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Completion of course prerequisites with a grade of C or higher
  • Minimum overall cumulative GPA and science GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale
  • OAT scores must be submitted by May 1st.
    • OAT scores older than five years are not acceptable
    • Additional information on the OAT may be found online at www.opted.org
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • One letter must be from a practicing optometrist

Class of 2023 Profile

  • Female: 67%
  • Male: 33%
  • Average age: 24
  • Average overall GPA: 3.21
  • Average OAT scores: 581 (combined)
  • Top home states: Illinois (38%), Florida (18%), Michigan (7%), Indiana (5%), Texas (5%)

Attrition Rates

 

Class of 2021

Class of 2022

  Number enrolled

66

60

  Attrition for academic reasons

0

1

  Attrition for other reasons

0

0

  Scheduled to graduate in 5 or more years

3

3

  On-schedule to graduate in 4 years

63

56

  Students from another year added to cohort

0

3

NBEO Exam Results

Coming Soon

Career and Educational Opportunities

Optometrists practice in a wide variety of settings. Some of the positions included below require advanced education or training beyond the O.D. Degree.

  • Private optometry, partnership or group practice
  • Ophthalmology practice
  • Federal government:
    • Veterans Health Administration optometry service
    • Public Health Service
    • Indian Health Service
  • Armed services (military)
  • Hospitals
  • Academia
  • Research
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Ophthalmic industry
  • Franchise/retail office practices
  • Graduate education and residencies:
    • Master's or Ph.D. degree in Visual Science, Physiological Optics, Neurophysiology, Public Health, Health Administration, Health Information and Communication, or Health Education
    • Postgraduate clinical residency programs in Family Practice Optometry, Pediatrics Optometry, Geriatric Optometry, Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation, Low-vision Rehabilitation, Cornea and Contact Lenses, Refractive and Ocular Surgery, Primary Eye Care Optometry, and Ocular Disease.1

US Employment Projections and Median Salary

Employment of optometrists is expected to grow by 17%-18% over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists. As people age, they become more susceptible to conditions that impair vision, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.2 

The number of people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has grown in recent years. Diabetes is linked to increased rates of several eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the eye and may lead to loss of vision. More optometrists will be needed to monitor, treat, and refer individuals with chronic conditions stemming from diabetes.

In addition, nearly all health plans cover medical eye care and many cover preventive eye exams. Furthermore, the number of individuals, particularly children, who have access to vision or eye care insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. More optometrists will be needed to provide services to more patients.

CAREER OUTLOOK

18% projected increase in optometry jobs by 2026*

$140,913 average net income for optometrists in 2016**

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Optometrists
**AOA Survey of Optometric Practice, updated January 2018 (https://info.optometriceducation.org, last accessed 10/2/2018) 

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