College of Optometry
This section contains an abbreviated version of the College of Optometry Bulletin. Some information is omitted.
For the most complete and accurate information regarding the Optometry program at UM-St Louis, please go to: http://www.umsl.edu/divisions/optometry/index.html and link to the College of Optometry Bulletin. It is a downloadable document in PDF format.
Administration and Faculty
Larry J. Davis, Dean, Associate Professor*
*members of Graduate Faculty
Joseph H. Maino, Adjunct Associate Professor
The UM-St. Louis College of Optometry enrolled its first class in 1980, graduating 32 students in May 1984. The college is located on the South Campus complex of the University of Missouri-St. Louis at 7800 Natural Bridge Road. A modern five-story building houses the college's classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, administrative offices, library, and the Center for Eye Care campus facility (the University Eye Center).
Center for Eye Care
Situated in Missouri's largest metropolitan area, the college enjoys the city's strong community and professional support. The urban setting offers many opportunities for outreach programs, expanding the scope of optometric education and making available highly diverse programs of clinical training. Another asset of the school is the location of the national headquarters of the American Optometric Association and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, approximately twelve miles from the campus.
The curriculum leading to the doctor of optometry degree is a four-year, full-time program of study. The first year of the professional curriculum stresses optics and basic health sciences and introduces students to optics of the visual system. The second year covers vision science and training in eye examination techniques. The third year emphasizes patient care and introduces the student to various specialty areas within optometry, such as contact lenses, pediatric and geriatric vision care, binocular vision and vision training, and low vision rehabilitation. The second and third years also include course work and clinical training in ocular disease and pharmacology. The fourth year provides additional patient care experiences and includes rotations through a variety of outreach programs, giving the student added experience in the treatment of eye diseases, as well as valuable experience in other optometric clinical specialties.
Fourth-Year Externship Program
These eight (8) week Externships are selected and scheduled according to the individual student’s interest, needs and future practice intentions. In this program, students leave the academic environment and begin working with selected practicing optometrists while continuing to be monitored by the Centers through weekly reports of all patient experiences and activities. These are some of the most frequently used sites: Becherer and Becherer, Belleville, IL; Carl Albert Indian Health Service, Ada, OK; Koetting and Associates, St. Louis, MO; Missouri Eye Institute, Springfield, MO; Morey/Mulqueeny Eye Center, St. Louis, MO; O’Donnell Eye Institute, St. Louis, MO; Omni Eye Services of Georgia, Atlanta, GA; Optometric Clinic, Kaneohe Bay, HI; Resler-Kerber Optometric, Inc., St. Louis, MO; St. Louis Comprehensive Neighborhood Health Center, St. Louis, MO; Southwest Medical Center, St. Louis, MO; Veterans Administration Hospital, Columbia, MO; Veterans Administration Hospital-Cochran/Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO; Veterans Administration Hospital, Kansas City, MO; Veterans Administration Hospital, Marion, IL; Washington University Eye Center, St. Louis, MO.
Students may arrange their own off-campus clinical experiences with the approval of the director of externships.
In 1986 the Missouri Optometry Practice Act was revised by the state legislature to include treatment of certain eye diseases utilizing pharmaceutical agents. Thus optometry students at UM-St. Louis are uniquely situated to receive excellent training in this aspect of optometric practice. Roughly half of the states in the United States now have laws authorizing optometrists to prescribe drugs in the treatment of certain eye diseases. The training and clinical experience optometry students receive at UM-St. Louis in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ocular disease is excellent and qualifies UM-St. Louis graduates to practice optometry in any state in the nation.
A student who satisfactorily completes all four years of the professional curriculum will be eligible to receive the doctor of optometry degree.
The College of Optometry is a member of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE).
All optometry students enrolled in the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry are eligible for membership in the student optometric association, which is affiliated with the American Optometric Association. Through this organization, students become involved in local and national optometric activities. The organization provides an environment for the cultivation of professional leadership skills, and members have organized and participated in a variety of community service activities, including community health screenings and vision care to residents of nursing homes, convalescent hospitals, and mental institutions. Furthermore, optometry students have formed local chapters of SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), an international organization of optometrists providing free vision care to people in impoverished nations, and the NOSA (National Optometric Student Association), which strives to recruit minority students into optometry and encourages retention of minority students.
In addition to the many activities through the College of Optometry, optometry students are able to take advantage of all the activities provided by the university to the entire university community. These include intramural sports, movies and cultural activities, a modern, fully-equipped gymnasium, and access to many social and cultural opportunities in St. Louis at reduced cost.
“3+4” Scholars Programs
3 + 4 programs also exist in cooperation with the departments of Biology, Physics and Chemistry.
College of Optometry
Psychology - 2
Social and Behavioral Sciences - 2 or
Mathematics ** *
Psychology - 2
Liberal Arts - 2
*One semester (or one quarter) of Microbiology is a requirement. One
semester of Anatomy or Physiology is recommended.
All courses used to satisfy the admission requirements must have been taken at a fully accredited institution or must be acceptable by an accredited institution toward degree credit. Specific prerequisite courses must be taken for a letter grade; they cannot be taken as an audit or on a pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Applicants must have completed 90 semester or 135 quarter hours (the equivalent of three years of college education) before the start of classes. The applicant cannot apply more than 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours which were earned at a two-year institution toward the credit-hour requirement. Applicants holding a bachelor's degree will be given preference over applicants with similar academic credentials who do not have a degree. Applicants to the college come from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds, such as biological sciences, psychology, education, and business.
Applicants are encouraged to take the examination in February or October of the year preceding anticipated application to the College of Optometry. If applicants wish to enhance their scores, they are encouraged to repeat the examination. For an OAT application packet and additional information, contact:
Optometry Admission Testing Program
Official transcripts must be mailed from every college attended, regardless of whether or not credit was earned.
Letters of recommendation must be mailed directly to the college by the originator. All applicants will be required to sign a form to waive their right to review the letters of recommendation. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure all application materials are received in the office of Student Services by March 15 to be considered for admission to the class entering in August of the same year. Facsimile (faxed) application material will be not accepted or acknowledged. Application material received after March 15 will not be evaluated for the class entering in August of the same year. To be considered for merit scholarships, there is an early enrollment deadline. All materials must be received by December 15 in order to be considered for the early application deadline. Applications received after that time will still be considered for admission but not additional awards.
All correspondence, inquiries and application material should be addressed to:
UM-St. Louis College of Optometry
Applications may also be submitted online by accessing an application at http://www.umsl.edu/divisions/optometry/programs/applpro.html
Students From Other Countries
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
To complete their credential file, applicants are required to furnish original and official transcripts from each school and college attended both in this country and abroad. The Educational Credentials Evaluators, Inc. or the World Education Services must evaluate all foreign school and college transcripts and their evaluation submitted as part of the application requirement. For information contact:
Educational Credentials Evaluators, Inc.
World Education Services
The University of Missouri-St. Louis maintains an Office of International Student Services to assist applicants who have been offered admission. All new international students are required to attend a formal orientation program before matriculation. For more information, contact:
University of Missouri-St. Louis
The Admissions Committee has the responsibility to review and evaluate all applicants and select the best qualified candidates. The committee considers: an applicant's overall grade point average, the grade point achieved in the sciences, any grade trends over the years in college, and the scores on the OAT. Concurrently, candidates are evaluated on less quantitative measures such as extracurricular activities and interests, related or unrelated work experience, written narrative, and letters of recommendation.
Those applicants whom the committee feels to be most competitive will be invited for an on-campus interview. The on-campus interview facilitates an assessment of the applicant's communication skills, interests, motivation, and personal characteristics. In addition, the on-campus interview allows the applicant to tour the facilities, meet with currently enrolled students, present questions regarding financial aid and housing, and learn more about the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the College of Optometry. From this group of interviewed applicants, the entering class of approximately 44 students will be selected.
The policies of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the College of Optometry comply with the provisions under those laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, handicap, or veteran status.
Students offered admission have 15 days from the date on the offer of admission letter to make a required $200 acceptance deposit. The $200 deposit will be credited toward tuition when the student matriculates. The deposit is considered a non-refundable administration fee should the student not matriculate. A certain number of applicants are placed on an alternate list. If an applicant who has been offered admission declines the offer, their position will be allocated to the next individual on the alternate list.
Notification of denial is sent by mail. If an applicant is interested in reapplying, they should contact the College of Optometry's Office of Student Services and request a reapplication packet.
Financial assistance is available in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study. Funds for these programs are available from federal, private, state, and institutional resources. To apply for financial aid, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Preference will be given to those students who have completed the FAFSA by April 1. Preference means that the Student Financial Aid Office will begin awarding FWS (Federal College Work-Study), Federal SEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) and Federal Perkins Loan funds. A completed financial aid application means that the Financial Aid Office has received an official Student Aid Report from the Federal Processing Center.
The Student Financial Aid Office maintains a Web site at www.umsl.edu/services/finaid , where students will find useful information along with the ability to contact the office electronically via e-mail. Also included is a scholarship directory that is updated biweekly
To be considered for all university scholarships offered through the Financial Aid Office, a student must be accepted for admission. A scholarship application must be completed to apply for scholarships awarded through Student Financial Aid. All incoming students should complete the Incoming Freshman Scholarship Application. Continuing students should complete the Continuing Student Scholarship Application.
Many state optometric associations and their auxiliaries offer scholarships and grants. Application is generally made directly to the state association or auxiliary and selection is generally made on the basis of state residence and other criteria. Information may be obtained by writing to the various state optometric associations and/or auxiliaries.
The College of Optometry will provide additional information about scholarships and the school's Handbook of Loans, Scholarships, Grants, and Awards to applicants during the interview process.
The university reserves the right to change fees and other charges at any time without advance notice.
The Educational Fees plateau is 16.0 credit hours.
Any student enrolled for less than 16.0 credit hours will be charged per credit hour at $504.90. Nonresidents pay a nonresident fee of $501.70 per credit hour.
*A Summer Session is required between the third and fourth professional year.
Other Required Fees
Parking fee $18.00 per credit hour for Fall and Winter Semesters. All fourth year students who are away on externship rotation must pay a minimum of $18.00 per semester for parking.
Student Health Insurance (optional)
Currently, five nonresident positions are allocated by state reciprocal agreements for residents of Kansas. Individuals who are admitted under these agreements will pay reduced educational fees. For additional information, contact:
Optometry students will be required to pay nonresident educational fees if they do not meet the university's residency requirements at the time of their enrollment. The definition of "residency" is outlined in the pamphlet Tuition and Residency Rules available from the Cashier's Office, (314) 516-5151.
To assure graduating at the end of a specific semester, all work for that semester and any delayed grades from previous semesters must be completed with the grades sent to the Office of Student Services no later than the official date for submission of final semester grades.
This program will emphasize research aimed at new treatments and cures for vision disorders, as well as research in basic mechanisms of visual functions. The College of Optometry offers both an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. degree. Students may apply to the Graduate School for admission to either the M.S. or the Ph.D. program.
Master of Science in Physiological Optics
The core courses for this program are:
Physiological Optics 6400(400), Sensory Processes and Perception
Each M.S. student must also complete a thesis based on research conducted during the program. The thesis must be approved by a committee of at least three members of the graduate faculty, at least two of whom must be from the graduate faculty in physiological optics.
Ph.D. in Physiological Optics
Written qualifying examinations will be offered each semester. Students must declare their intent to take the examinations at least one month prior to the beginning of that semester or summer session. Full-time students must attempt qualifying examinations before beginning their third year of study. Students must declare their intent to take the examinations at least one month prior to the beginning of that semester or summer session.
The preparation of the dissertation will be supervised by a dissertation committee which will be appointed by the Graduate Dean upon the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Programs in the College of Optometry. Input from the student's advisor will be solicited by the Director prior to finalization of the recommendation by vote of the Graduate Faculty. An oral examination of the written dissertation proposal will be conducted by the Committee. A public oral defense of the completed written dissertation is also required.
The core courses for this program are:
Physiological Optics 6400(400), Sensory Processes and Perception
All CE courses offered by the school are accepted by those states requiring continuing education credit for relicensure.
Continuing Education course information may be obtained by contacting:
University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry
Doctor of Optometry Degree
Doctors of optometry are the major providers of vision care. They provide treatment by prescribing ophthalmic lenses or other optical aids, provide vision therapy to preserve or restore maximum efficiency in vision, and in most states (including Missouri) are authorized to prescribe drugs in the treatment of certain eye diseases.
Doctors of optometry can also detect certain general diseases of the human body such as diabetes, hypertension, and arteriosclerosis that have the potential capacity to affect vision. When an eye examination reveals diseases in other parts of the body, the optometrist will refer patients to the appropriate health care practitioner for treatment. Like physicians and dentists, optometrists are primary health care professionals.
The scope of optometry practice requires an understanding of the development of vision from infancy through adulthood, and the therapeutic and rehabilitative methods required to care for the problems of vision from infancy through the declining years.
Optometry is the largest eye care profession and one of the largest independent health care professions in the United States. Currently, some 28,900 doctors of optometry practice in America. They are widely distributed across the nation, practicing in more than 7,100 different municipalities. In more than 4,300 of these communities, they are the only primary care provider. As such, doctors of optometry provide the major portion of primary eye care services in the United States.
Studies have indicated that a ratio of one practicing doctor of optometry to every 7,000 people (a ratio of 14.3 practicing doctors of optometry per 100,000 population) is a reasonable average for the United States. Despite recent growth in the profession, few states meet this criteria.
As our society becomes more technically oriented, vision requirements become more exacting. The number of persons needing professional help for reading and other near-point visual tasks, including both older citizens and school children, is steadily growing. Increased demands for vision care result not only from population growth but also from increased understanding of how good vision relates to industrial production, student achievement, adjustments to aging, and other areas crucial to modern society.
The patients whom the practicing doctors of optometry treats may have varied and challenging needs. On any given day, an optometrist might be involved in restoring vision to a partially sighted patient; fitting glasses for a child whose vision problem is affecting academic achievement; treating an eye infection with antibiotics; improving the function of a patient's eyes through vision training; helping an elderly patient in a nursing home cope with changing vision through critical eye health education; and performing comprehensive eye examinations for those who need glasses or contact lenses to correct astigmatism, nearsightedness, and numerous other vision problems.
The practice of optometry offers independence, flexibility, and diversity. Doctors of optometry have a wide range of modes of practice. They may choose to practice in the inner cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Opportunities exist for solo practice, associateship, optometric or multidisciplinary group practice, government or military service, clinical or hospital practice, teaching, and research.
Optometry is a rewarding career, both economically and personally. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and surveys by professional associations, optometry is one of the top 10 income-earning professions in the country.
The Ph.D. program prepares students as research professionals in vision science. Employment opportunities are available in college or university teaching and research, in research institutes, and in industry. Within academic optometry, individuals with both O.D. and Ph.D. degrees are in high demand as faculty members.