Completing a higher qualification

  • provides an in-depth understanding of the conditions you deal with every day in practice
  • develops new skills and knowledge so you can provide new patient services or take up new career opportunities
  • formally acknowledges your expertise and commitment to your patients, profession and personal development through the relevant affix.

Higher qualifications also provide Masters level credits. 

Choose your subject area

Higher qualifications reflect the latest research and thinking on key topics and conditions, enabling you to provide the highest standards of patient care. They cover five essential subject areas:

  • Contact lens practice – enabling you to select and fit contact lenses for common eye conditions, and more complex contact lenses for refractive management, ocular surface abnormalities and disease.
  • Glaucoma - enabling you to manage glaucoma and related conditions effectively, and participate in glaucoma clinics at varying levels of responsibility.
  • Low vision - developing your skills in patient assessment and management and helping you to progress to more complex low vision cases and specialist populations 
  • Medical retina - preparing you for working in photography-based diabetic retinopathy screening services and/or working under supervision in medical retina triage clinics and AMD treatment clinics. Candidates completing the Professional Certificate will be automatically exempt from the majority of the NHS England DESP training.
  • Paediatric eye care - helping you to adapt your routine to meet the specific needs of younger patients in a hospital or community setting.

Choose your level

Higher qualifications are suitable for optometrists at all stages of their careers and in all settings. There are three levels:

  • Professional Certificate - boosting your confidence and skills, and enabling you to get  more involved in community schemes.
  • Professional Higher Certificate - enabling you to participate in community or hospital-based schemes involving the diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions such as glaucoma, or work in a consultant ophthalmologist-led medical retina service.
  • Professional Diploma - designed for optometrists working in hospital clinics, or for community practitioners looking to offer commissioned services or run specialist clinics.

Choose your course

Higher Qualification courses are developed and delivered by universities and hospitals and accredited by the College of Optometrists. They are delivered via a flexible combination of distance learning, coursework, assessments and practical sessions and, at higher levels, a portfolio of clinical experience.

Once you have qualified

When you have successfully completed your qualification, your course provider will send the College your results to verify. We will also liaise with the GOC to ensure that your records are updated, and you can then use the appropriate affixes.  We can also issue a certificate. Certificates are free of charge for College members. Non-members can order a certificate by emailing There is a fee of £30, which can be paid over the phone.   

College members are invited to the College’s prestigious annual Diploma Ceremony to have their achievement officially recognised. 

Replacement certificates

Lost or damaged certificates can be replaced for a fee of £10. Email to place an order.

Information for course providers

Thinking of becoming a course provider?

If you would like to find out more about offering College-accredited higher qualifications, please contact

  • Accreditation £775
  • Reaccreditation £555
  • Course change request £555
Accreditation and Reaccreditation deadlines
Submission deadlineAccreditation panel meeting
3 November 202119 January 2022
5 January 202216 March 2022
16 February 20224 May 2022
27 April 20226 July 2022
6 July 202214 September 2022
7 September 202216 November 2022
Submission deadlineAccreditation panel meeting
1 December 202119 January 2022
2 February 202216 March 2022
16 March 20224 May 2022
25 May 20226 July 2022
3 August 202214 September 2022
5 October 202216 November 2022