historic PCO Lab

Salus University’s founding college, the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry (PSCO), was established in 1919 and the history of the school includes a long list of firsts in the history of modern optometry.

In 1932, PCO's growth requires a move to a large, 32-acre campus in the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania State College of Optometry (PSCO) changed its name to Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) in 1964.

Construction on The Eye Institute - the College's main clinical facility-began in 1975 and officially opened in 1978 providing a valuable vision care resource to the community at large and the primary training site for optometry students.

The institution remained a single purpose institution until 1983, when our Graduate Studies in Vision Impairment programs were established, the first of their kind. For more than 20 years, we were the only institution in the United States to offer this combination of four master’s degrees and certificates designed for the education and rehabilitation of the visually impaired.

In 1990, we were the first school or college of optometry to utilize an excimer laser for research and training.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted approval for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry to offer a master of science degree in Rehabilitation Teaching — now called Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) — and a master of science degree in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) in November 1992.

In 1994, we became the first optometric institution to serve as a clinical trial site for a disease-oriented study from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The scope of our research is broadening and now includes audiologic research and non-optometric inter-cellular research.

In 1995, we became the first school or college of optometry to graduate an entire international class in a Master of Science in Clinical Optometry Program.

In 2000, with the advent of our distance education doctoral program for experienced, licensed practitioners, we became the first school of optometry to offer a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree.

In the early 2000s, The Eye Institute added two satellite locations to provide more opportunities for students and better serve its surrounding communities in Philadelphia.

In November 2004, the Pennsylvania Ear Institute - the clinical practice for the Osborne College of Audiology-opened and later expanded in size. Our inaugural class of on-campus audiology students graduated in 2007. 

PA Class

In 2007, we welcomed the inaugural entering class of Physician Assistant Studies students to our campus. Our program is unique in that we are one of the few programs in the country to offer cadaver-based anatomy.

In 2008, PCO was granted University status and Salus University was born.

In 2010, the University added a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program and Public Health certificate programs. When active these programs were distance education, with students located on four continents.

TEI ExteriorAfter a multi-million dollar renovation, The "New" Eye Institute opened in May 2011 with a state-of-the-art design for high quality patient care. Renovations of the second floor, which houses administrative and faculty offices, a classroom, two conference rooms, and a small cafe were completed in late 2011.

In December 2011, the University received authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Graduate Programs in Biomedicine leading to an accredited Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science degree (MSc). The University welcomed its inaugural class of PhD students in August 2012 and we celebrated our first PhD graduate in May 2015.

Also in August 2012, the first class of Occupational Therapy students was welcomed into the Master of Science Occupational Therapy Program.

Entire inaugural SLP class and faculty August 2015

In July 2015, the University’s Master of Science (MS) degree program in Speech-Language Pathology was awarded Candidate for Accreditation status by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The inaugural class of Speech-Language Pathology students, Class of 2017, began its program in August 2015. The Speech-Language Institute - the clinical facility for graduate students in Speech-Language Pathology-opened for client care in July 2015.

In the Fall 2016, the first class for the University's Doctorate of Occupational Therapy began.

In 2017, The Eye Institute, in collaboration with Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc. (DVCH), opened another clinical location in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Also in 2017, the University partnered with the Community College of Philadelphia to bring an Ophthalmic Technician Proficiency Certificate Program to Philadelphia.

In 2018, The Eye Institute celebrated 40 years of service to the Oak Lane community while Salus University celebrated its tenth anniversary as a multidisciplinary institution.

In 2019, the University’s founding College, PCO celebrated its centennial with a year-long celebration, commemorative microsite and fundraising initiative, Focus on Our Future: The Centennial Campaign. The following year, the Osborne College of Audiology, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its inaugural class.

In Fall 2022, the University’s newest program - Orthotics and Prosthetics - officially launched. In 2022, we also celebrated the 30 year anniversary of O&M and VRT programs, as well as the 10 year anniversaries of our Biomedicine and Occupational Therapy programs.

The Department of International and Continuing Education (DICE) has expanded and, as a result, is now the Academic Affairs Division of Global, Interprofessional and Specialized Programming (GISP) as of June 2023.

In early 2024, the Blindness and Low Vision Studies Program became part of the Academic Affairs Division of Global, Interprofessional and Specialized Programming.


Centennial Celebration