OD Overview

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Doctor of Optometry Program

The Southern California College of Optometry provides the highest quality optometric education through excellence in teaching, patient care, research and public service.

The College offers a four-year, post-baccalaureate program leading to the degree, Doctor of Optometry (OD). The class size is 100 students and the program is 14 quarters in duration.

The first professional year curriculum provides the foundation for clinical practice and emphasizes basic and applied biomedical and vision sciences. The curriculum also introduces students to clinical topics, including practice management, public health, professional ethics, interpersonal communications and pre-clinical methods. Students are scheduled for limited patient care experiences an the University Eye Center at Ketchum Health.

The second professional year expands the students’ knowledge in the clinical sciences and completes the biomedical science course sequence, including clinical medicine and pharmacology. Students are involved in school vision screenings and begin examining their own patients at Ketchum Health in preparation for comprehensive patient care in the third professional year.

As part of the third professional year curriculum students enjoy two days of patient care assignments each week at Ketchum Health under the supervision of clinical faculty. They also complete their didactic requirements with courses in cornea and contact lenses, strabismus, vision therapy, ocular disease management, public health, and low vision rehabilitation.

The final year of the optometry program focuses on direct patient care in the various clinics and health centers of the Outreach Clinical Program. One 12-week rotation is spent on campus at Ketchum Health where optometric referral services are emphasized. The Outreach Clinical Program offers a vast array of clinical opportunities with diverse and challenging patient encounters. In order to graduate, students must successfully pass all 65 academic courses.

Our Vision

  • We seek to reimagine the future of health care education.

Our Mission

  • To educate today’s minds to provide tomorrow’s eye, vision and health care. Our mission is excellence in patient care, clinical education, and research.

Our Core Values

Marshall B. Ketchum University is guided by the values of:

  • Accountability
    We are committed to honesty, fairness and responsibility for our words and actions. 
  • Caring
    We strive to address the needs of our University community and others by nurturing a spirit of compassion.    
  • Excellence
    Consistent with our legacy, we are committed to achieving outcomes of the highest quality.  
  • Innovation
    We have the courage to dream and experiment with creative and unique ideas.
  • Respect
    We value the unique talents and diversity of people, strive to work collaboratively, and honor the open exchange of ideas. 

Our Focus

Next to life itself,
God's most precious gift is sight,
And to the ministry of this great gift,
The profession of optometry dedicates itself.

Our Inspiration

  • Good vision is more than seeing 20/ is seeing without effort.

Educational Philosophy

Presenting a premier optometry degree program within a four-year period presents an ongoing challenge to the faculty. While lectures and laboratories are provided in state-of-the-art facilities, the faculty continues to seek more effective ways to deliver educational content. For the past decade, greater emphasis has been placed on incorporating small group discussions in the curriculum at the expense of some lecture time. The faculty is also committed to enhancing the application of newer technologies including on-line learning access for students to supplement resources available through course syllabi, class notes and the library center. Faculty closely monitor student performance and are accessible for any additional support that students may need.

College Program and Student Learning Outcomes

In support of the College’s mission, vision, and core values, the following program and student learning outcomes are to be achieved for all students upon graduating with the Doctor of Optometry Degree.

Academic Requirements

All students follow the same academic schedule. The program averages 20 credit units for each of the nine academic quarters. Class size is 100 students, with 16–18 students assigned in laboratory sections with faculty instructors. Seminar discussions with eight students and one faculty facilitator are also offered in several courses.

An examination schedule is posted prior to the start of each quarter and consists of all mid-quarter and final exams. A reading week, offered prior to finals, provides students with additional preparation time and study opportunities.

Advanced Units

A student may apply for substitution of specific limited courses already earned at another institution for courses in the SCCO curriculum. Students may apply for this by petitioning individual instructors.

Academic Standing

Academic standing of students is indicated by the following grades:

A - Outstanding
B - Above Average
C - Average
D - Below Average
F - Fail

The grade point system indicates the academic attainment of the student. Under this system, grade points are assigned for each course according to the following scale:

4 grade points for each unit of A
3 grade points for each unit of B
2 grade points for each unit of C
1 grade point for each unit of D
0 grade points for each unit of F

Also used are grades E - Incomplete; W - Withdrawal; P - Pass; AS - Advanced Standing; AUD - Course audited without credit; FD - remediated failing grade.

The faculty subscribe to criterion reference testing which sets a standard for performance levels, rather than having students compete against each other.

National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO)

The NBEO administers examinations several times each year. Passage of all parts is required by most state boards in lieu of the written and/or practical examinations for state optometric licensure. SCCO students are eligible to take the Applied Basic Science (Part I) examination in March of the third professional year; the Patient Assessment and Management (Part II) examination in December of their fourth year; and the Clinical Skills (Part III) examination prior to the conclusion of their fourth year.


The SCCO faculty is comprised of over 80 full- and part-time members who provide the lecture, laboratory and clinical instruction to optometry students. In addition, there are over 60 adjunct faculty who supervise SCCO students in the College's Outreach Clinical Program.

The faculty is a diverse group of highly qualified educators. They represent graduates from the majority of schools and colleges of optometry in the nation, and most have completed either a clinical residency or postdoctoral degree. The majority of faculty are Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry and members of the American Optometric Association. Many have also achieved recognition in other professional and scientific organizations. This blend of talented and diverse clinical experts provide students with an excellent theoretical background and clinical mentoring.

In addition to the faculty's primary goal of achieving excellence in teaching, faculty are also actively engaged in research and scholarly activities, and regularly participate in professional, educational and scientific organizations at local, state and national levels. Several SCCO faculty serve in prominent state and national leadership roles to influence and facilitate policy and decision making to shape the future of optometric education and the profession.

Degree – Doctor of Optometry

The degree Doctor of Optometry (OD) is conferred on students who satisfactorily complete the four-year professional curriculum. Satisfactory completion of the SCCO program qualifies graduates to take state licensing examinations in each of the 50 states.

Commencement Exercise

Doctor of Optometry degrees are conferred at the College's annual Commencement Exercise, which is held each May at the conclusion of the Spring Quarter.

Graduation with Honors

Latinized honors are accorded at graduation to those students who have excelled scholastically on the following basis:

Summa Cum Laude 3.80 – 4.00
Magna Cum Laude 3.60 – 3.79
Cum Laude 3.40 – 3.59

Transcript Request

Request for release of records for currently enrolled students. Print a copy of the request. Complete it, sign it, and return it to the Student Affairs Office.

2014-2017 Strategic Plan
Southern California College of Optometry Comprehensive College Strategic Plan