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A female student with an optometric device.

Thorough and Intensive

Berkeley Optometry offers a thorough and intensive four-year clinical training program. Students are enrolled in preclinical training laboratories in years 1-2, perform their first primary care exams in the spring semester of year 2, and move on to full-time clinical training and direct patient care during the summer before year 3. Our teaching clinics operate on a twelve-month basis. Students get more clinical training and responsibility as they advance through the four-year degree program. Third-year students spend about half their time in clinic, while fourth-year students spend virtually all their time in clinic.

On average, each student will have experienced more than 2,500 patient encounters by the time of graduation.

Clinical Training FAQs

Preclinical Laboratory Training

One measure of the thoroughness of Berkeley Optometry’s clinical training program is the number of hours students spend in lectures and working with each other and their instructors one-on-one in our preclinical laboratories, where they learn the techniques and procedures necessary to 1) conduct a primary care optometric examination, 2) fit contact lenses, 3) diagnose and treat ocular diseases, 4) diagnose and manage sensory motor anomalies of vision, and 5) perform advanced procedures in ocular disease diagnosis.  

Total Preclinical Laboratory Training Hours = 440.

Clinical Settings

Berkeley Optometry students experience a variety of clinical settings. Our intensive-training clinics (On-Campus Clinics, Off-Campus Externship Clinics, and Community Outreach Clinics) offer services to populations associated with our Berkeley Optometry clinics or affiliated clinics around the country and the world. Perhaps no single measure documents the extent of students’ clinical training better than the number of patients for whom they provide vision care during the second, third, and fourth years of the professional program.

Types of Clinics


Fourth-year students attend at least three externships staffed by adjunct clinical professors who provide mentorships to students. Our goal is to broaden the diversity of patient populations for our students while they undergo intensive training in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of visual disorders.


Patients Seen

The numbers of patients cared for by the average Berkeley Optometry student during training are shown below.

Year 2 | Team Care
6 complete examinations

Year 3 | Summer
20 complete examinations

Year 3 | Fall and Spring
150 complete examinations

Year 3 | Total
560 patient encounters

Year 4 | Total
2,000 patient encounters