Future Students & Residents | Academic Programs

Graduate Program

The Graduate Program in Physiological Optics/Vision Scienceconfers an M.S. and/or Ph.D. degree and prepares students to embark on a career in teaching and/or research in the basic or clinical science of vision. Students are accepted into the program with a minimum of a B.S. degree (or the equivalent) from a variety of fields such as optometry, physiological optics, vision sciences, medicine, ophthalmology, structural and functional biosciences, neuroscience, psychology, optics, bioengineering, and biophysics.

The need for new knowledge in the vision sciences is great, and teaching and research opportunities are numerous in a spectrum of academic, industrial, and professional settings. Although the program has sufficient structure to provide a broad base of scientific knowledge about vision systems, it is at the same time appropriately flexible to permit students to develop expertise in areas of special interest. Students will join the labs of faculty mentors who are studying normal and abnormal visual processes, diseases and disorders of the eye and visual pathways and the development of treatments to prevent loss of vision using a variety of approaches ranging from molecular and cellular, to behavioral and optical.

The Master of Science track requires about two years of study, including 30 semester hours of courses, teaching experience, and a research project with a written thesis. 

The Doctor of Philosophy track normally requires at least four years of study, including 60 semester hours of courses, preliminary examinations, teaching experience, a foreign language or research skill, a qualifying examination, and research with a dissertation. A combined O.D./Ph.D. program, which requires six to seven years of study, is also offered.

The Graduate Program in Physiological Optics addresses a need in the profession for teachers and scientists who are well educated in the vision sciences as well as patient care, and a broader need to expand the body of knowledge within vision sciences and to bring this knowledge and new technology to useful applications. The educational goals of the Graduate Program are to ensure that each graduate student:

  • Achieves mastery of knowledge in biological, physical, and behavioral sciences as they relate to vision;
  • Becomes thoroughly grounded in research techniques essential to the study of vision;
  • Adopts the attitudes and learns the skills essential for good teaching;
  • Develops an understanding of the ethical principles and highest precepts of scientific investigation and discovery.


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