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.

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 Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) has 13 members:

  • 11 AOA members.
    • 4 optometric practitioners. 
    • 2 doctors of optometry who are state board members nominated by the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO).
    • 2 doctors of optometry affiliated with an optometric education institution nominated by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). 
    • 2 doctors of optometry who are graduates of, or a faculty member or administrator in an accredited residency (ASCO).
    • 1 optometric technician. 
  • 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 2022-23 year:

G. Timothy Petito, O.D., Chair Practitioner 2025
Julie DeKinder, O.D., Vice Chair Residency Educator 2024
Susan E. Abbe, RN., PhD Public Member 2025
Luanne K. Chubb, O.D. State Board 2024
Jacqueline G. Davis, O.D., MPH State Board 2023
Mark T. Evely, JD, Ph.D Public Member 2024
Daniel G. Fuller, O.D. Residency Educator 2025
Geoffrey W. Goodfellow, O.D. Educator 2025
Larry R. Henry, O.D. Practitioner 2025
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

Call for comments on proposed changes

ACOE currently has two calls for comments:

A. Call for Comments on proposed revisions to Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) Professional Optometric Degree Program Standards

The ACOE invites interested parties to submit comments regarding proposed changes to the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education’s (ACOE’s) Standards for professional degree programs, including those for proposed programs seeking the ACOE status of Preliminary Approval, as well as the Glossary definitions, by April 19, 2023. Please submit comments to

The ACOE provides the following documents to aid in review of the proposed changes to the Standards and the Glossary:

The ACOE conducts a comprehensive review of its Standards at least every five years. The ACOE’s aim is to develop a single set of accreditation Standards that address requirements for both currently operational professional optometric degree programs and proposed programs seeking the ACOE accreditation status of Preliminary Approval, which is a preaccreditation status and required for programs to recruit and enroll students and begin offering the program. The ACOE’s current “ Professional Optometric Degree Standards” were effective July 1, 2017, and the current “ Standards for professional optometric degree programs seeking Preliminary Approval preaccreditation status” were effective January 1, 2019.

The process followed by ACOE in drafting these proposed changes is described in this memo.

Several high-level changes were made to the draft Standards and are summarized as follows:

  • Intent statements have been added to each Standard to aid in interpretation.
  • A section has been added to each Standard that indicates whether a proposed program seeking Preliminary Approval must comply with the Standard as written, whether exceptions are acceptable, and/or whether additional requirements apply to these proposed programs.
  • The protocol of italicizing terms that are currently defined in the ACOE Policy and Procedure Manual Glossary has been applied to the Standards. Comments are welcome on both the Standards and the Glossary definitions.
  • Examples of Evidence have been modified to more clearly indicate the expectation that evidence supplementary to the Self-Study narrative is to be provided.
  • The concept of Sub-Standards has been eliminated in order to clarify that programs must demonstrate compliance to each Standard and not combine or skip any.
  • The expectation has been added that should a program offer an alternate pathway, both the traditional and alternate pathway must comply with Standards. ‘Alternate pathway’ has been added to Glossary as a defined term.

Please submit comments to no later than April 19, 2023. The ACOE will review and consider comments received at its Annual Meeting on June 21-24, 2023. The ACOE is committed to obtaining as much feedback as is useful in developing Standards that best reflect attributes of a professional optometric degree program designed to meet the needs of the public. As we develop future drafts as needed and adopt the Standards, we will keep you informed. When the Standards are adopted, a date when the new Standards become effective will be set.

 [This call for comments was posted March 3, 2023.]

B. Proposed modification to Professional Optometric Degree Standard

During the COVID-19 emergency, and using the flexibilities allowed by the U.S. Department of Education, the ACOE allowed professional optometric degree programs to conduct virtual site visits to externship sites. ACOE anticipates an end date for this flexibility of November 7, 2023 (which is 180 days after the Federal government’s anticipated ending of  the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency on May 11, 2023.)

The ACOE considered whether to formally allow for virtual visits on an ongoing basis and proposed modifications to Standard The proposed verbiage changes to Standard and its Examples of Evidence are identical to those proposed as part of the ACOE’s Comprehensive Standards Review process ( see ACOE Call for Comments issued March 3, 2023, above, which is due April 19, 2023). The Council’s intent is to make the changes specific to Standard effective as of the expiration of the ACOE’s COVID-19 allowances. Any comments submitted regarding Standard associated with the March 3, 2023, call for comments above will also be considered relative to this call for comments. You may also choose to respond directly to this call for comments.

The proposed changes, shown below with additions underlined, and deletions  struck through, are explained in a memo sent to the community of interest on March 20, 2023. Each externship site must be visited by personnel designated by the program within no sooner than one year prior and no later than one year  of following placement of the first extern(s) and thereafter on a periodic basis of no less than every four years

Note: The initial visit must be in person; thereafter, every other visit on an alternating basis may be conducted virtually. Visits conducted jointly with other professional optometric degree programs are acceptable.

Examples of Evidence:

  • Policy and/or procedure that addresses visits to externship sites
  • Administrative structure charged with visiting sites
  • Records showing evidence of visits
  • Log showing dates of visits and extern placement along with scheduled visits.

 The ACOE invites all interested parties to submit written comments concerning proposed changes to Standard by April 19, 2023. Please submit comments to

 [This call for comments was posted March 20, 2023.]

    COVID-19 Advisories

    As of fall 2021 the ACOE has resumed conducting in-person evaluation visits.

    COVID-19 advisories