Fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry
Become a Fellow: Start Your Application Now
- Start the application process by logging in at academy.aaopt.org.
- Select “Join and Renew” on the left-hand side to purchase your Candidate Dues and the one-time application fee.
- Select “Candidate for Fellowship Application” to complete the application form.
- Begin uploading your written works under the My Candidate Portal.
Download the new applicant user guide here for a step-by-step walkthrough of the application process.
Questions? Contact us.
Candidate for Fellowship Instruction Guide
1) Complete the Application
The application for candidacy for Fellowship is in addition to any previously submitted application for student membership. The questions relating to professional activity and (where applicable) clinical activity are not only for assigning a candidate to the appropriate Admittance Subcommittee but also for fostering subsequent involvement in various Academy programs.
- Prepare your curriculum vitae for submission.
- Find a current Fellow to serve as your proposer to certify that you are a good candidate for Fellowship. If needed, please indicate you would like someone assigned to you on the application.
- Create your proposed plan to earn 50 points of written work.
- Submit payment for annual dues and application fee.
There are three categories of Candidates for Fellowship. Before beginning your Proposed Plan for Written Work, determine which category is most suitable for you.
- Clinical Candidates: Optometrists who are licensed or accredited to practice at the highest level permitted by law in their jurisdiction and are engaged in active clinical practice. At least one case report is required for all clinical candidates.
- Scientific Candidates: Those primarily involved in research relating to the vision sciences. They have published articles in scientific journals and generally have an advanced degree in a vision science area of discipline. At least three first-authored scientific publications are required for all scientific candidates before applying.
- Special Category Candidates: May include administrators, executive directors, clinical consultants, librarians, editors, educators, or others who have distinguished themselves and optometry by their contributions to optometry or vision science. This category is reserved for those candidates who are not in active clinical practice or participating in publishable scientific research. At least one original paper (either 1,200-word paper for 10 points or 6,000-word paper for 50 points) is required for all special category candidates.
2) Communicate with Your Subcommittee Chair
After the Academy receives a completed application, the applicant will receive an acknowledgment by email welcoming them as a Candidate for Fellowship and informing them of the Admittance Subcommittee to which the application has been assigned. Please note, it may take 1-2 business days to be assigned to a Subcommittee. Once assigned to a specific Admittance Subcommittee, it is the candidate’s responsibility to update the appropriate Chair with any new contact information.
3) Compile 50 Points and Submit Written Work
All candidates must submit a Proposed Plan for Written Work during the application process. To begin, first determine the appropriate category for submission. Visit the Important Dates and Deadlines page for more information on when specific items need to be submitted. Candidates have a maximum of three years from the date of application to complete the Fellowship process. If the process cannot be completed in that allotted time, candidates should discuss with their Subcommittee Chair options that may include the following:
Inability to complete the candidacy process within the allotted time:
All requirements must be completed within three years of the initial application. Candidates that are in good standing, but have not completed the process within the time frame, may reapply for candidacy after a one year period of time.
Application for extension in extenuating circumstances:
Candidates who are in good standing and who have made significant and documented progress toward completing the requirements and have experienced extenuating circumstances may appeal to their Subcommittee Chair for a one year extension.
Waiting period for candidates unable to satisfactorily progress:
The candidacy of individuals that have repeatedly failed the oral examination, or who, in the opinion of the Subcommittee Chair, have not made significant and documented progress toward completing requirements, or unsatisfactorily addresses remediating measures will be terminated. Terminated candidates may reapply for candidacy after three years.
|Written Requirement Options||Clinical Candidates||Scientific Candidates||Special Category Candidates|
|Case Reports (10 points each)||Yes*||No||No|
|Publications (10 points each)||Yes||Yes**||Yes|
|Posters and Papers (10 points each)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Academy Lecture (10 points each)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Residency (accredited by the ACOE) or other graduate degree (20 points maximum)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Leadership Contribution (10 points maximum)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Professionally Related Book (20 points maximum)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Original 6,000 word paper (50 points)||Yes***|
|Original 1,200 word paper (10 points)||Yes***|
|Synopsis of five consultative services provided to practitioners (10 points each)||Yes|
|Synopsis of educational course work the candidate has given related to the profession of optometry (10 points each)||Yes|
*At least one case report is required.
**At least three first-authored scientific publications (10 points per publication) are required.
***At least one original paper (either 1,200 word paper for 10 points or 6,000 word paper for 50 points) is required.
- Written work for any of the three primary candidate categories is submitted in the online candidacy application. Please be sure to upload each file as “v1_(workname), v2_(workname),” etc. so it is clear which submission is the most recent in your portal.
- Each item of written work should be unique. For example, two posters that describe essentially the same set of circumstances but were submitted to different meetings will count as 10 points.
- Acceptance of written work is at the discretion of the Admittance Subcommittee Chair. The candidate is responsible for providing any and all documentation of papers, posters, case report information, etc., as needed by the Admittance Subcommittee Chair to grant points.
- All written work is expected to be the candidate’s own original writing. Information taken from references or other source documents must be properly attributed. Plagiarism may cause the candidate’s application for Fellowship to be terminated.
- All candidates will be notified when they have successfully completed the written section of the examination. The candidate must then notify the Vice Chair of Admittance that they would like to schedule the oral exam for the upcoming meeting.
4) Complete the Oral Examination
Oral exams are held only during the Academy’s annual meeting. Candidates MUST register for the annual meeting when completing an in-person oral exam.
All Candidates for Fellowship who are taking oral examinations at the annual meeting are required to stay in a contracted Academy hotel if they are planning to book a hotel, although seeking accommodation with family and friends is acceptable.
The objective of the oral examination is to evaluate candidates on their professional competence in solving their patients’ problems at a level commensurate with the standards set by the Academy. In the case of candidates who are not in clinical practice, standards relevant to the candidate’s professional activity will be used. Candidates will be examined before the same committee that evaluated the written work. To prepare for the oral exam, see the following:
Benefits of Fellowship
In qualifying for and maintaining Fellowship, individuals are evaluated against the highest standards of professional competence. The letters “FAAO” (Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry) after the name of an optometrist, scientist, or other professional signify to colleagues and patients that the rigorous qualifications for Fellowship have been met.
Fellowship is open to the following professionals who demonstrate they meet Academy standards:
- Optometrists who are licensed or accredited to practice by law in their jurisdiction.
- Scientists, educators, librarians, administrators, and editors who have contributed to optometry or vision science.
Academy membership consists of Fellows (including Emeritus, Honorary, and Life Fellows), student members, and Candidates for Fellowship. Although other categories of membership may have similar benefits, only Fellows may use the “FAAO” designation.
- Use of the FAAO distinction
- Inclusion in the Academy’s online directory of Fellows
- Professional camaraderie
- A place to learn from others and share experiences
- Ability to join one or more of the Sections and Special Interest Groups devoted to various areas of focus
- Access to local chapters, social functions, and study opportunities between regular Annual Meetings
Annual Meeting Benefits
- Significantly discounted Academy meeting registration fees
- The latest scientific research
- The best in Continuing Education (CE)
- More than 100 exhibits
- Special and reduced-cost access to previous meeting session recordings
- Optometry & Vision Science, a monthly journal containing papers on the clinical and basic science aspects of optometry and vision science
- Clinical Insights in Eyecare, the Academy’s online case report journal, and reduced fees for publication in the journal
- Eye-Mail® Monthly, members-only updates and information
- Eye-Mail® News Brief, a monthly email featuring optometry-related news items
- Access to the Academy’s Optometry Journal Library
- Access the AVSL-AAO Information Resource Hub to locate journal articles, books, and other useful resources to support research endeavors
Start the process of becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) today.
Important Dates and Deadlines
To sit for the oral examination in 2023 and forward:
- February 1: Submission deadline for first case report for clinical candidates*
- April 1: Submission deadline for second case report
- May 15: Submission deadline for any remaining case reports needed to satisfy 50-point written requirement as well as all other written materials due
- July 15: Submission deadline for submitting any required corrections/modifications
- August 15: Submission deadline for notifying the Vice-Chair of Admittance to schedule the oral examination
*If you are only submitting one case report as part of your 50 points of written work, this case report MUST be submitted for the February 1 deadline.*
Please note, in order to submit written works, you must complete the online application and submit dues payment (if applicable). Application processing may take 1-2 business days, so we encourage completing these steps ahead of the February 1 deadline.
Candidate Dues and Fees
Candidates for Fellowship are considered members of the Academy and are required to pay annual dues, which are due on January 1 of each year. Recent graduates pay a lesser amount on a sliding scale. The initial candidate dues fee is refundable if, for any reason, an applicant does not qualify for candidacy at the time of application. The dues amount required is dependent on your OD or equivalent graduation year. Applications and dues received after October 1st will be credited through the following calendar year.
One Time Candidate Application Fee: $60*
*Current student and resident members are not required to pay the application fee.
Annual Candidate Dues:
- Graduated from professional school during current calendar year: $0
- Graduated from professional school during the previous calendar year: $190
- Graduated from professional school two calendar years ago: $295
- Graduated from professional school three or more calendar years ago: $400
If you are from a low-income or lower-middle-income country per the World Bank index, please contact email@example.com for assistance with the dues processing.
Dues payment includes an online subscription to the Optometry and Vision Science journal, access to and reduced publication fees for the Academy’s Clinical Insights in Eyecare journal, as well as access to the Academy’s Online Journal Library and the AAO-AVSL Information Resource Hub. Candidates for Fellowship also receive reduced rates to attend the Academy annual meeting and access to free and reduced cost distance learning education on Academy Online.
NOTE: Current and prior years’ dues payments are not refundable.
Academy dues are not used for political/lobbying purposes.
- Point System Guidelines
- Guidelines for International Candidates
- Preparation for the Oral Exam
- Case Report Guidelines
- 2023 Resident Checklist
- Residency Timeline
- Timeline – 2 years
- Timeline – 3 years