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.

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 2020-21 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 2021
Julie DeKinder, O.D. Residency Educator 2021
Lauren Kelsey Haverly, O.D. Practitioner 2023
Ann Hayden-Finger, CPOT Optometric Technician 2021
William L. Miller, O.D., Ph.D. Educator 2023
Laura M. Neumann, DDS, MPH Public Member 2021
Vacant State Board 2023
David N. Yang, O.D. Practitioner 2021

Contact ACOE

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

Calls for comments on proposed changes

May 3, 2021

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) invites interested parties to submit comments regarding the implementation of a consolidated Policy & Procedure (P&P) Manual to replace the existing Accreditation Manuals.

The ACOE currently simultaneously maintains Accreditation Manuals for each of the three program types it accredits – Professional Optometric Degree Programs, Optometric Residency Programs, and Optometric Technician Programs. As most of the ACOE’s policies and procedures do not vary by program type, the existence of the same content in multiple published documents introduces risk of inconsistency and is more onerous to maintain. Moreover, a reformat of the documentation allows for an improved ability to more clearly distinguish between statements of policy and procedural steps. Finally, a reformat of the documentation will facilitate review and revision to be made at a policy level rather than at the manual level, allowing for the ACOE to react more nimbly to needed changes in support of continuous improvement.

As the ACOE is preparing its documentation in support of its submissions for reaffirmation of recognition from both the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), content upgrades are warranted to comply with recognition requirements; the timing of these recognition reviews drove the timing of development of the ACOE’s P&P Manual.

The ACOE will consider comments received at its Annual Meeting on June 23-26, 2021. Please submit any comments by June 2, 2021 to accredit@aoa.org.

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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