Our mission is to facilitate the development of optometry around the world and support optometrists in promoting eye health and vision care as a human right through advocacy, education, policy development and humanitarian outreach.

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About the WCO Fellowship Program

The World Council of Optometry (WCO) offers two different types of fellowships that are financially supported by its charitable arm, the World Optometry Foundation.

The fellowships are intended to support the vision and mission of WCO and lead towards the advancement of the role of optometry and its participation in eye and vision care within the health system of a country. For examples of past fellowship projects, click here.


General Fellowships:

  • Innovative projects resulting in long-term sustainable results which improve eye care delivery and develop the role of optometry. Areas of priority for fellowship projects are:
    • Education
    • Advocacy for advancement of optometry and development of eye care
    • Public health
    • Standards, policy ,and legislation
  • Applications for research projects may be eligible for funding if the project outcomes will add to the development of evidence of eye care need and the role of optometry. As guidance, these could include:
  • Epidemiology, including the prevalence, distribution and determinants of vision and eye conditions
  • Analysis of newly initiated or alternate delivery or care models and pathways
  • Increasing health literacy related to eye care, and/or the role of optometry or other areas of public health
  • Support for project costs may include travel costs that are necessary to support the outcomes. The typical maximum amount of funding is $2,000 U.S. although for projects considered by the WCO Fellowship Committee as a high priority the funding may be more. In the case of high priority projects as determined by the Fellowship Committee, multi-year projects may be considered.
  • Also encouraged are programs that focus in integrating optometry into universal health plans on the country level and integrated patient-centered eyecare.
  • Projects which may lead to other sources of funding to develop long-term sustainability are encouraged.


Education Mentor Fellowships:

  • Will match faculty/instructors from established schools of optometry with faculty from WCO member schools that are less established or in development.
  • Example topic areas may include faculty development, student assessment, clinical teaching, curriculum development.
  • Maximum funding amount is $5000 which includes transportation for the mentor to travel to the school to meet the faculty and jointly develop a plan to address the requests. The expectation is that this will be for a minimum of one week.
  • The host school will be asked to co-contribute by meals and accommodation for the mentor while in the country.


Fellowship applications for short term projects such as travel bursaries for the purpose of attending a meeting or for short term “missions” or “eye camps” for vision screenings are not considered to be a high priority for fellowship funds, and are unlikely to be funded.

Preference may be given to applications from low and middle-income countries (according to the World Bank classification) and applications for studies and /or travel to developing and middle income countries to enhance education, to undertake public health studies, or to advance the optometric profession and its role in health care.


Examples of recently funded fellowships:

  • supporting educational development through staff training in a newly developed optometry school in a developing country, continuing education for practitioners and advocacy meetings with health officials
  • training in low vision care and vision rehabilitation to support the development of a low vision clinic in rural hospitals in a developing country
  • development of paediatric optometry toolkits for distribution to developing optometric schools within region to support clinical teaching

Fellowship applications that were not funded:

  • vision screening camps in villages in developing countries
  • travel funding to present research outcomes at an international research conference
  • equipment purchases to fund a private eye clinic


  • WCO fellowships are a member benefit. Applicants must:
    • Reside and work in a WCO member country or
    • Be employed by a WCO affiliate member or
    • Be an individual WCO member
  • Successful fellowship applicants agree to submit a final report on their project to WCO. The outcomes of their fellowship may be disseminated in the form of a news report through the WCO e-news, social media, and website, WCO regional news and social media, local optometry news and social media, poster, or paper presentation at a WCO conference or other conference with refereed abstract submission, or publication in a refereed journal if the project lends itself to this form of publication.

Application Process

  1. Complete the application form below.
  2. Additional information may be requested by the Fellowship Committee and/or the WCO.
  3. The WCO Fellowship Committee will review applications and notify the Executive Committee of the successful candidates. The final decision for fellowships will be made by the Fellowship Committee.
  4. All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by the WCO.
  5. All successful applicants will be required to provide a written report and acknowledge WCO/WOF in all publications or publicity regarding the project prior to the funds being released.
  6. Please contact us with any questions.

Fellowship Application Form

Click here to download the Fellowship Application Budget Form.

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Download the form by clicking the link at the top of the application.
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