CSTEP Program for Underrepresented Minority Students

New York State residents who are full time college and graduate students are eligible for these programs.

As its primary objective, the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) project at SUNY College of Optometry exists to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students in CSTEP-targeted professions, most particularly in the growing and dynamic profession of optometry. Services to current undergraduate college students include the following:

  • Expose, attract and recruit qualified students to the profession of optometry;
  • Assist students applying to SUNY as well as to other colleges of optometry;
  • Assist students in the preparation to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), the entrance exam required as part of the application and admission process;
  • Provide career counseling;
  • Provide students with scientific research opportunities to prepare them for graduate/professional school;
  • Provide science, math, study and time management skills enrichment so that students are better prepared for the rigors of professional school;
  • Provide social and cultural services to SUNY Optometry students (who completed CSTEP) to enhance their morale and camaraderie, while monitoring their academic progress and clinical skills;
  • Assist SUNY Optometry students (who completed CSTEP) before and upon graduation with licensing exams and career placement.


Special CSTEP Programs for Undergraduate Students

Internship Programs

An important delivery mechanism of the CSTEP project is the on-site Internship Program that occurs in the winter and spring/early summer of each project year. Each session accommodates 12 CSTEP students and runs 8 hours per day for 2 consecutive weeks. In addition to the services outlined above, participating CSTEP interns are assigned to work with fourth-year SUNY Optometry students in their own clinical rotations.

Summer Academic Program

During the summer of 2013, the College will offer a credit-bearing optometry course, “Introduction to Vision and Optometry,” at no cost to participants. This course is considered to be a “pre-first year optometry” and “gateway course” and will be taught by SUNY Optometry faculty.

This course provides an overview of exciting topics in vision science and optometry. Students will be introduced to basic ocular anatomy and physiology, visual perception and visual neuroscience. They will also learn and discuss diseases and conditions commonly seen in clinical practice and will have the opportunity to observe clinical eye care in the University Eye Center.

Below is a tentative course outline:



Week 1

Structure/Function of the Eye and Visual System

Biochemistry/Physiology of the Eye

Week 2

Visual Illusions

Color Vision

Week 3

Eye Movements

Binocular Vision

Week 4

Optics of Refractive Errors

How we Become Nearsighted

Week 5

The Brain and Vision

How to Do an Eye Exam

Week 6

Clinic Observations


Week 7

Systemic Disease in the Eye

New Technology in Eye Care

Week 8

Pediatric Vision Care

Students may be able to transfer these courses to their home institutions for college credit.

Introduction to Vision and Optometry” will run for 8 weeks and meet 1-day per week on Tuesdays: May 28th to July 16th, 2013. Depending on the student’s status, this course may be taken concurrently while doing the Spring Internship.

Having already passed a bona fide course in optometry prior to applying or enrolling at SUNY Optometry or other colleges of optometry will give CSTEP students a competitive advantage in the admissions process.

Financial Support

Because many SUNY Optometry CSTEP students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, CSTEP will defray their expenses associated with travel and food by providing a stipend so that they can participate fully in the Internship Programs and the Summer Academic Program. In addition, a select number of students will be awarded stipends that help to defray the cost of enrolling in OAT preparation courses, 3 CSTEP students will be chosen to present their posters and oral presentations at the annual CSTEP Conference with one SUNY Optometry staff member.

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