Academic Timeline

Keeping yourself on track during optometry school

Put simply, your academic timeline is what keeps you on track to complete necessary milestones during your college career, including the class work, National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exams, residencies and more. Budding doctors of optometry can benefit from a timeline showing the milestones to efficiently reach the ultimate step of entering practice.

Educational calendar to graduating optometry school

Your education calendar must be firm but flexible when it comes to your optometry education requirements. Through it all—applying to a program, meeting optometry school prerequisites, going to grad school, taking the board exams and graduating—members of the AOA and its affiliate the AOSA are supported as students, recent graduates, optometric residents and, finally, as new doctors of optometry.

Here is an example of the academic timeline.

  1. Join the AOA/AOSA
    By joining the AOA you’ve made an outstanding decision to support your profession and advance your career. As an AOA/AOSA member, you’ll receive assistance with your coursework, guidance on the board exams and myriad other benefits.

  2. Register and prepare for NBEO Part I
    The earliest date for a student to take NBEO Part I is the spring of the candidate’s third professional year in an accredited institution. In addition to your class notes, here are some tools that will help you better prepare for Part I.

  3. Register and prepare for NBEO Part II
    The earliest date for a student candidate to take NBEO Part II is the middle of the candidate’s fourth professional year in an accredited institution.

  4. Explore career opportunities
    Smile. You’re in demand. Explore your optometry career options.

  5. Consider a residency
    A residency can give you a jump-start on board certification. Explore AOA resources for entering a residency program.

  6. Determine practice modality
    Today’s doctor of optometry can choose from a wide variety of practice options, each with unique advantages and disadvantages. Learn more about joining a practice.

  7. Find a practice opportunity
    The practice options for new doctors of optometry are many. However, it pays to plan smart. Learn more about joining a practice.

  8. Change your legal name
    If you want to change your legal name, keep in mind it is significantly easier to make name changes before graduation. You can change your name by court decree and then update the legal paperwork.

  9. Register and prepare for NBEO Part III
    The earliest date for a student candidate to take NBEO Part III is spring of the candidate’s fourth professional year in an accredited institution. In addition to your class notes, here are some tools that will help you better prepare for Part III.

  10. Plan student loan repayment
    Planning to repay your student loan is an important process and should begin before graduation. Learn more about managing your personal finances.

  11. Apply for state licensure
    To apply for a license, contact the board that issues licenses to practice optometry in your state.

  12. Transition AOA membership
    After graduation, be sure to stay informed and connected with AOA—your resource for virtually everything needed to effectively balance patient care and the business of optometry. Transitioning your membership to AOA professional status is three easy steps and must be completed by the end of the calendar year in which you are licensed. Get licensed, update your contact information and profile and join an AOA state or federal services affiliate.

Managing Your Classes

MANAGING YOUR CLASSES

No matter the profession, handling class work and academic responsibilities can be a challenge, but guidance is available for optometry students. 

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Residencies

RESIDENCIES

Learn what accredited optometric residency programs are available and granted by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Educaiton.

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Managing Your Classes

BOARD EXAMS

Whether you're dreading or excited to test your skills, the AOA is here to help with the national board exams you must pass to become a certified doctor of optometry. 

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