First-Year Enrollment Increases 5 Percent

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First-year, full-time enrollment in regular OD programs at optometry schools and colleges grew by 5.2% in 2016-2017 to reach 1913, up from 1818 the year before, according to the 2016-17 Annual Student Data Report published in May 2017 and updated in June by ASCO.  Contributing to this growth was an increase in the number of institutions enrolling students; there were 22 institutions in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico enrolling students this year and 21 institutions in 2015-2016. The number of full-time first-year students enrolled in regular OD programs has increased 14.3% from five years ago when there were 20 programs.

Total enrollment in regular OD programs is 7024, a 1.8% increase over last year and an 11.7% increase over five years. The total number of graduates at the schools and colleges of optometry, both regular and special programs, increased 7.0% from 2015 (1557) to 2016 (1666). There has been a 25.1% increase in graduates from regular and special programs from 2011 to 2016.

In 2016-2017, the average cost for all direct expenses (tuition, fees, books and instruments) for a first-year resident student was $30,614 for a public school (an increase of 1% over last year) and $40,417 for a private school (an increase of 1.7%).  First-year non-residents paid an average $48,426 for all direct expenses at a public school (a decrease of 1.0%), and $41,910 for all direct expenses at a private school (an increase of 1.8%). The full Annual Student Data Report, which includes several more categories of information, can be found on the ASCO web site at Data reflecting trends in optometric education can be found at