What's Next?


Are there extern sites in each state?

There are extern sites located in 39 states.

Are there any international extern sites?

There are 2 sites in Canada: Ontario and British Columbia

How are externship sites assigned?

Students are given preferential consideration for their state of record.

Students are assigned in order to their class rank (GPA).

When are externship sites assigned?

Assignments are made in August of the third academic year.

How can I learn more about each extern site?

Detailed site information is available in the Externship Office, Suite 1008

Can I set up a new extern site?

At this time the Externship Office has a sufficient number of high quality sites available.

Adding sites will be considered on a case by case basis with the Director.

Will housing be available at my extern site?

Housing options vary among sites. This information is available in the externship office.

Is my schedule/calendar the same as the College?

Externships begin and end on the same academic calendar as internal courses. Everyone is granted the standard 2 week winter break. 

Weekly schedules are dictated by the site itself so don’t count on extended spring breaks/Thanksgiving breaks, etc. 

Everyone is granted two PTO days to use as necessary (including taking Boards). Any days missed in excess of 2 days necessitate make-up.

Will I have any assignments to complete while away from the College?

Yes. Assignments vary by site type. Case reports and practice management assignments are expected. Additional assignments apply to students rotating in NC.

What criteria should I consider when choosing my extern site?

You should first evaluate the educational opportunities available at the site. Is the focus of the practice something you wish to gain additional experience in? Are there non-clinical opportunities available? Is the program large or small (multiple externs vying for patients)? Location and timing…Can you survive Alaska in December? Financial considerations should be explored. Rural vs. urban site? Review feedback from previous students. Can you handle the pace, demands of preceptors, complexity of cases and expected number of daily patient encounters?




What are the prerequisites for a residency applicant?

Candidates must have earned an OD degree from an accredited optometric institution. Candidates must have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Candidates must have passed NBEO Parts I, II and TMOD in order to submit an application.

Candidates must have past NBEO Part III and be eligible for a license in the state where the program resides in order to accept a residency position.

What types of residencies are available?

Primary Care, Ocular Disease, Low Vision, Cornea/Contact Lens, Family Practice, Geriatric, Pediatric, Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation, Refractive and Ocular Surgery, Community Health, Brain Injury Vision Rehabilitation.

Many combination programs are offered.

How many programs should I consider?

ORMatch will allow candidates to apply to 10 programs for a single fee. The average applicant applies to 5 programs. Things to consider are time off to interview and costs incurred. You will interview at each individual site.

Can I apply for a residency after I have already graduated?

Yes. Anyone can apply as long as they meet the candidate requirements.

How can I make myself a competitive candidate?

Maintain a competitive GPA, join optometric student organizations, reach out and introduce yourself to the Supervisors, advocate for the profession, community service, get involved in research, pick externships with similar disciplines/venues, arrange a visit to the practice if this is practical, research the programs prior to your interview, prepare well thought out questions to ask during your interview, be confident, smile and maintain eye contact during the interview, update your cv, write a strong letter of intent and form positive clinical impressions with your staff doctors so they can write strong, positive and personalized letters of recommendation.  

Will I be paid during my residency year?

Yes, most likely. There are work without compensation programs but these are rare. You can expect a modest salary with paid benefits which vary from program to program.

Will I be able to defer my student loans during residency training?

Deferment is not an option, however, forbearance is. Meaning, you are not responsible for payments during your residency but interest accrues.

What support documents do I need to prepare for my application?

This varies from program to program. In general you will be asked to submit: An application through ORMatch, an application through the affiliate institution, a letter of intent, updated cv, official transcripts, NBEO scores and 3 letters of recommendation.

Where do I send my support documents?

SCO requires all support documents to be sent to the Program Supervisor and the Director for Residency Programs. Again, this varies among academic institutions.

What are the important deadlines to remember?

Application season opens in October and closes in January. Interviews typically take place in late January-early February. The Match (selection of residents) takes place in early March. Most residency programs begin on July 1.

Does a residency’s accreditation status matter?

A residency which is accredited by the ACOE holds an official stamp of approval. Completion will earn points towards a Fellowship in the AAO, NBEO Board Certification and earn you consideration of a Faculty position. 

A residency in its initial year will be labeled as Accreditation-Pending. This is NOT a red flag.

If a program has been offered for more than 1 year and is not accredited you must ask why.

A Fellowship does not go through the accreditation process.

Where can I learn even more about optometry residencies and the programs offered?

ASCO Residency Website

ORMatch Website

Optometric Institution’s Website

Director for Residency Programs

SCO holds a general Residency Information Night each year