Prospective Students » Optometry » Curriculum

Examine the Curriculum

Academic supportOur optometry curriculum is a four-year, full-time program leading to the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree.

The curriculum emphasizes direct hands-on patient care in every semester beginning in the first year and continuing through full-time clinical rotations in the fourth year.

The curriculum supports many different learning styles with modes of instruction including lectures, laboratories, clinical education, and service learning.

Year 1 – Fall Semester
  • Patient Centered Cases – An Interprofessional Approach I 
  • Introduction to the Study of Medicine 
  • Ethics and Mindfulness in Practice 
  • Gross Anatomy
  • Head and Neck Anatomy 
  • The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine 
  • Principles and Practice of Optometry I: Vision Screenings 
  • Principles and Practice of Optometry II: Clerkship and Rehabilitation 
  • Ocular Anatomy 
  • Ocular Physiology 
  • Optical Science I: Geometric Optics 
  • Patient Care Services I 
Year 1 – Spring Semester
  • Patient Centered Cases – An Interprofessional Approach II 
  • Introduction to Disease, Immunity and Therapeutics 
  • Neuroscience 
  • Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry 
  • Principles and Practice of Optometry III: Refraction 
  • Vision Science I: Neural Basis of Vision 
  • Optical Science II: Mechanical and Introductory Ophthalmic Optics 
  • Practice Management I 
  • Patient Care Services II 
Year 2 – Fall Semester
  • Team Training in Healthcare I
  • Principles and Practice of Optometry IV: Tissue Evaluation of the Anterior Segment 
  • Ocular Pharmacology: General Principles 
  • Vision Science II: Monocular Sensory Aspects of Vision 
  • Vision Science III: Development of Vision 
  • Vision Science IV: Environmental Vision 
  • Optical Science III: Geometric Optics – Part 2  
  • Optical Science IV: Ophthalmic Optics
  • Optical Science V: Physical Optics 
  • Ocular Disease I: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Anterior Segment
  • Service Learning I 
  • Patient Care Services III 
Year 2 – Spring Semester
  • Team Training in Healthcare II  
  • Contact Lenses I: Theory and Practice 
  • Principles and Practice of Optometry V: Tissue Evaluation of the Posterior Segment 
  • Vision Science V: Binocular Visions & Ocular Motility
  • Optical Science VI: Physiological Optics
  • Optical Science VII: Principles of Optical Dispensing and Management 
  • Ocular Disease II: Diagnosis and Treatment of Glaucoma
  • Special Considerations in Pediatrics
  • Systemic Pharmacology: Top 40 Medications 
  • Behavioral Optometry: Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Service Learning II 
  • CPR 
  • Patient Care Services IV 
Year 2 – Summer Semester
  • Evidence Based Eye Care  
  • Practice Management II
  • Ocular Disease III: Neurological Disease Diagnosis and Treatment 
  • Patient Care Services V 
Year 3 – Fall Semester
  • Patient Care Services VI
  • Contact Lenses II: Theory and Practice 
  • Special Considerations in Geriatrics 
  • Principles and Practice of Optometry VI: Special Procedures
  • Ocular Disease IV: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Posterior Segment
  • Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation I: Strabismus and Amblyopia 
  • Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation II: The Neurologically Challenged Patient
Year 3 – Spring Semester
  • Patient Care Services VII 
  • Ocular Disease V: The Eye in Systemic Disease 
  • Low Vision Rehabilitation 
  • Patient Presentations in Primary Eye Care 
  • Optometry Review
  • Elective I 
  • Elective II 
  • Service Learning III
Year 4 – Fall Semester
  • Patient Care Services VIII 
  • Patient Care Services IX 


Year 4 – Spring Semester
  • Patient Care Services X 
  • Patient Care Services XI
  • Practice Management III: How to Make a Living as an Optometrist 


Learn Alongside Students in Other Health Professions
Interprofessional educational experiences are incorporated within each of the four years. In the first year of the curriculum students from other WesternU health professions programs will be enrolled together in didactic courses, laboratories, case-based learning and service learning projects.

An interprofessional service learning component is part of the first year curriculum which includes community-based projects such as outreach to elementary schools and senior citizen groups.

The service learning course includes practical applications of health education, public health, epidemiology and biostatistics. Students from the different health professions will continue to learn together and from each other in the patient care setting, including fourth year rotations at sites where interprofessional patient care is provided.

This curriculum provides an opportunity for early networking with other health professionals and ultimately prepares you to better serve patients through interprofessional collaboration and referrals.  

"I chose WesternU because of the new Health Education Center (HEC), the technology provided in the building, and because interprofessional education is a part of the curriculum. I don’t believe there are any other universities offering this type of interprofessionalism – It’s so beneficial to me!"
MansibenShah, Class of 2013

Students in labPreparing You For Practice  The curriculum:

  • prepares you for entry-level optometry care along with a special emphasis on optometric rehabilitation, neuro-science and neuro-optometry.
  • is patient-centered and evidence-based.
  • offers early and extensive clinical experience in community-based settings such as private practices, community clinics and hospitals.
  • emphasizes compassionate care, treating the patient as an individual first.
  • includes interprofessional education in collaboration with other health disciplines.

You will learn and ultimately master advanced diagnostic techniques and clinical skills in Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCE) in which you will be assessed on your knowledge base and professionalism as well as technical, cognitive and diagnostic skills to ensure you able to provide patient care at its best.

Upon graduation, you will be well prepared to successfully complete your national and state board examinations to become licensed to practice in the state of your choosing.

Academic Support
Caring about students and helping them achieve is a hallmark of our faculty. They are respected practitioners and scholars who keep pace with the latest teaching techniques and technology and are committed to helping you master the material.

Additionally, you can draw on the expertise of the Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Office (LEAD). LEAD staff arrange for individual and group peer-tutoring sessions, one-on-one stress relief sessions, and workshops on topics such as time management, test-taking skills, and learning styles.

Outstanding Facilities
Western University is a thriving academic health center spread out over 22 acres in Pomona, CA. The main campus currently includes 19 major buildings and construction is complete on two new building projects totaling an investment of more than $100 million.  These buildings are shared by students in optometry, dentistry, osteopathic and podiatric medicine. The design fosters interprofessional education and patient care.

Health Education Center (HEC)

Patient Care Center (PCC)

  • four-story, 180,000 square feet
  • wireless equipped 
  • eight auditoriums
  • research labs and faculty offices
  • more than 50 small-group meeting rooms
  • pre-clinical space that mirrors clinical space
  • specialized laboratories for optometry students
  • three-story, 68,500 square feet
  • Interprofessional Diagnostic Suite with three large examination rooms designed for a collaborative health care team
  • adaptive equipment for the treatment of people with disabilities
  • dedicated space for optometric patient care services emphasizing use of technology in contemporary practice

In addition, a new seven-story, 600-space parking structure was built to serve the new buildings.

Patient Care Center 
Join us for information session where you can tour the facilities, chat with faculty and students,
and learn more about WesternU's OD curriculum and admission requirements.