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Orthoptic student performing eye exam during Orthoptic Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN

Student experiences

This 24-month training program combines classroom lectures and clinical experience. Students work under the direct supervision of a certified orthoptist. Students also participate in the resident physician lecture series and attend daily grand rounds. Patient examination begins with supervised preliminary testing and expands as the student gains the necessary level of ability and proficiency. 

Curriculum includes:

  • Anatomy
  • Neuro-Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Systemic diseases and ocular motor disorders
  • Principles of surgery
  • Basic ophthalmic exam techniques
  • Ophthalmic Optics
  • Diagnostic testing and measurement
  • Orthoptic treatment

Hands-on clinical rotation

Students start by observing in the clinical setting and becoming familiar with testing equipment. After approximately three months of observations, students start to transition into a full-time clinical workups.

Research experience

Each student shall be required to complete at least one research project under the supervision of a staff orthoptist during their training period. This project will be presented to the ophthalmology department as well as submitted to a Midwest Regional Orthoptic meeting or National Orthoptic meeting. 

Course schedule and descriptions

Learn more about the student schedule and what you can expect from the curriculum. There are 50 total credits in the Orthoptic Program at Mayo Clinic.

Year 1

Year 1: Fall Semester (September to December) 

OPTC 3000: Clinical Orthoptics I
This course will help students understand the basics of a pediatric eye exam. 
OPTC 3010: Ocular Anatomy
This course is designed to help the student develop a comprehensive knowledge of ocular anatomy. 
OPTC 3020: Neuro-Anatomy
This course is designed to help the student develop a comprehensive knowledge of neuro- anatomy.
OPTC 3030: Binocular Single Vision
This course will introduce the student to binocular vision in its normal presentation and also the intricacies of its abnormalities.

Year 1: Spring Semester (January to May) 

OPTC 4000: Clinical Orthoptics II
This course expands on the fundamentals of the patient exam. 
OPTC 4010: Optics
This course will analyze physical, optical and ophthalmic principles. 
OPTC 4020: Strabismus
Extraocular motility disorders and their treatment form the foundation for the understanding of ocular misalignment.
OPTC 4030: Visual Development
This course encompasses a broad spectrum of visual impairments including amblyopia, and nystagmus.
OPTC 4040: Pharmacology
This course will provide a comprehensive knowledge of the general principles of pharmacology in ophthalmology.

Year 1: Summer Semester (June to August)

OPTC 5000: Clinical Orthoptics III
This course expands the students’ knowledge of the clinical exam. 
OPTC 5010: Practicum I
This practicum follows the first two semesters of study and provides the student with the opportunity to participate in direct ophthalmic patient care.


Year 2

Year 2: Fall Semester (September to December) 

OPTC 6000: Principles of Surgical and Non-surgical Strabismus
This course introduces a variety of therapeutic approaches to visual disorders with an in-depth examination of historical and current methods.
OPTC 6010: Practicum II
Students will acquire theoretical and practical skills to conduct a research project in orthoptics.
OPTC 6020: Ocular Pathology
This course will explore the signs and symptoms of ocular dysfunction.

Year 2: Spring Semester (January to June) 

OPTC 7000: Clinical Orthoptics IV
During this course students will have the opportunity to fully synthesize their academic and clinic knowledge. Upon completion students will be prepared to sit for the written and oral orthoptic certification exams.
OPTC 7010: Practicum III
This course runs in conjunction with Clinical Orthoptics IV and follows the completion of all class work.  During this class, student will create a log of patients and finalize their competency books.  Upon completion students will be prepared to sit for the written and oral orthoptic certification exams. 


For the majority of the program, you’re learning schedule includes eight-hour days, five days a week. While the regular week is usually 40 hours, additional projects and homework are assigned.


The Mayo Clinic Orthoptic Training Program is located in the Mayo Clinic building in Rochester, MN. The majority of the patients are examined in the Pediatric Ophthalmology, Neuro Ophthalmology, and Adult Strabismus Services.

Grading or evaluation

All required courses are designated as pass/fail with an online format.

Graduation and certification

At the end of two years, successful graduates are qualified to sit for the national board examination, given by the American Orthoptic Council. The examination consists of a written, oral, and practical board exam to become a certified orthoptist.