What is the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation?

COA accredits two-year Opticianry degree programs and one-year ophthalmic laboratory technology certificate programs in the United States and Canada that are sponsored by post-secondary institutions accredited by agencies recognized by the Department of Education or CHEA.

Does the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation go through the same type of self examination and peer review that it requires of the programs that it accredits?

The COA is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA, http://www.chea.org/), a process that requires a self-study and review by the CHEA staff and the CHEA Committee on Recognition. Recognition is a “key strategy to assure quality, accountability, and improvement in higher education. Recognition by CHEA affirms that standards and processes of accrediting organizations are consistent with quality, improvement and accountability expectations that CHEA has established.” (CHEA Policy and Procedures)
CHEA can be contacted at:
One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 510
Washington DC 20036-1135
(tel) 202-955-6126
(fax) 202-955-6129

Why attend or become an accredited Opticianry program?

Twenty one states require licensure for Opticians. Of those states, nineteen accept graduates of a COA accredited program in lieu of the apprenticeship portion of the process of preparing for licensure, and one requires graduation from a COA accredited school as a condition to be come licensed. Graduation from an accredited Opticianry program gives the individual a nationally recognized credential.

Some scholarships, federal funding, student loans, and fellowships are only available to students who are attending accredited programs.

Does the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation license opticians?

No, licensing is done by states. Many states require that opticians be licensed. Some States that offer a license to dispensing opticians allow graduates to take the licensure exam immediately upon graduation; others require a few months to a year of experience. Check with your state to find out if licensure is required.

Does the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation certify opticians?

No, the COA is not the certifying body for opticians. Dispensing opticians may apply to the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) for certification of their skills. Certification must be renewed every 3 years through continuing education. Those licensed in States where licensing renewal requirements include continuing education credits may use proof of their renewed State license to meet the recertification requirements of the ABO. Likewise, the NCLE will accept proof of license renewal from any State that has contact lens requirements.

I want to attend school to become an Optician. Which of your programs do you recommend?

The process of accrediting a program requires that the Commission determine that the program meets certain minimal standards. To read these standards, go to the “Page Index” web page using the link at the top of this page, and then click on the link for the Essentials for an Opticianry Degree Program. Since all of the accredited programs meet the Commission’s standards, we recommend all of them.

If you do not list a program as accredited, does that mean that it is not a good program, or that it does not meet your standards?

Not necessarily. If a program is not accredited that means that it has not gone through the process of self-study and peer review that is inherent in the accreditation process.

What courses does the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation offer?

The Commission does not offer courses. We do have a power point workshop that is offered to people who are interested in becoming on-site evaluators, or who are interested in learning more about the process of Accreditation.

Who funds the Commission?

The Commission is partially funded by the programs. The rest of the Commission’s funding is provided by donations from people, organizations, and businesses that believe in the importance of formal education for Opticians. Any donation is welcome, and all donations are tax deductible.