Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) is the only accrediting body for professional optometric degree (O.D.) programs, optometric residency programs, and optometric technician programs in the United States and Canada.


Advisory information from ACOE regarding COVID-19 as of December 16, 2020

COVID-19 Updates


Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation recognize the ACOE as a reliable authority concerning the quality of education of the programs the Council accredits. ACOE accreditation means the programs that have attained accredited status:

  • Meet the Council's standards of educational effectiveness; and 
  • Show a demonstrated commitment to quality assessment and improvement.

Calls for comments on proposed changes

ACOE Mission

"The ACOE serves the public and the profession of optometry by establishing, maintaining and applying standards to ensure the academic quality and continuous improvement of optometric education that reflect the contemporary practice of optometry. The scope of the ACOE encompasses professional optometric degree programs, optometric residency programs, and optometric technician programs."

  • Professional Optometric Degree programs are courses of study leading to a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree.
  • Optometric Residency programs of postdoctoral optometry clinical education are designed to advance the optometric graduate's preparation for patient care services beyond entry-level practice.
  • Optometric Technician programs prepare students to work as optometric technicians with a working knowledge and an understanding of the procedures within the current scope of optometric practice. These programs are a minimum of one academic year.

ACOE's Recognition

ACOE is recognized as an accrediting body by two external agencies-the U.S. Department of Education (USDE)  and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Through periodic reviews by both USDE and CHEA, the ACOE demonstrates compliance with their respective criteria. CHEA's web site includes important information about the harm of accreditation mills and degree mills and useful information for consumers.

The ACOE is recognized by CHEA through December 31, 2022 – The ACOE has applied for re-recognition by CHEA and its application will be reviewed by CHEA's Committee on Recognition in March 2022.  CHEA recognition review includes an opportunity for parties independent of the accrediting organization under review to comment on whether the organization meets the CHEA recognition standards. Third-party comment may be either oral or written and is limited to the accrediting organization’s efforts to meet the CHEA recognition standards. This may include commentary from many different sources, such as other accrediting organizations, institutions and programs, or professional or higher education associations. The comments will assist the CHEA Committee on Recognition as it considers the ACOE’s application for recognition.  CHEA is receiving third-party comments through February 9, 2022. 

 View this CHEA document or the CHEA website for the SCHEDULE FOR RECOGNITION REVIEW OF ACCREDITING ORGANIZATIONS and CALL FOR THIRD-PARTY COMMENT.

Members

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) has 11 members:

  • 9 AOA members.
    • 3 optometric practitioners. 
    • 2 doctors of optometry who are state board members nominated by the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO).
    • 3 doctors of optometry affiliated with an optometric education institution nominated by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) (1 of these members must be residency trained or be a faculty member or administrator in an accredited residency).
    • 1 optometric technician representative. 
  • 2 public members.

The term of appointment for an ACOE member is three years, and an individual may serve a maximum of three terms.

The following individuals serve as members of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education in the 2021-22 year:

COUNCIL MEMBER TYPE OF ACOE MEMBER CURRENT TERM EXPIRES
Stephanie S. Messner, O.D., Chair Educator 2022
G. Timothy Petito, O.D., Vice Chair Practitioner 2022
Patricia M. Capone, B.S. COTA/L Public Member 2022
Luanne K. Chubb, O.D. State Board 2024
Jacqueline G. Davis, O.D., MPH State Board 2023
Julie DeKinder, O.D. Residency Educator 2024
Mark T. Evely, JD, Ph.D Public Member 2024
William L. Miller, O.D., Ph.D. Educator 2023
Janet Millis, AA,CPOT Optometric Technician 2024
Regan Michelle Welch, O.D. Practitioner 2023
David N. Yang, O.D. Practitioner 2024

Contact ACOE

The Council publishes lists of accredited professional optometric degree programs, optometric residency programs and optometric technician programs. To request lists of programs, standards or policy and procedure manual, or to ask questions about the ACOE, contact the ACOE.

Stephanie A. Puljak, MS MBA, ACOE Director, is the principal staff member supporting the ACOE.

Calls for comments on proposed changes

Currently, there are no calls for comment.  Please check again soon. 

 Advisory information from ACOE regarding COVID-19

On October 23, 2020, the ACOE issued updated Advisory information regarding COVID-19. The updated policies and advisory information specified flexibilities would be allowed for a timeframe not to exceed the allowances by the US Department of Education (USDE). On December 11, 2020, the Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education released updated guidance regarding waivers and modifications of statutory and regulatory provisions ( link ). This updated guidance establishes the timeframe for these flexibilities to be the duration of the national emergency declaration and 180 days following the date on which the COVID-19 national emergency declaration is rescinded.

December 16, 2020

The American Optometric Association Health Policy Institute (HPI) is closely monitoring developments regarding COVID-19. Access valuable practice and patient resources, FAQ's, CDC recommendations and the latest HPI information for doctors of optometry.

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