The Graduate Program in Physiological Optics/Vision Science confers an MS and/or PhD 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 BS 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, visual optics, the visual pathways, eye movement control systems, 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 (MS) track requires about two years of study, including 30 semester hours of coursework and research, teaching experience, and a research project with a written thesis. The thesis committee must consist of a minimum of three faculty members, at least two of which are from within the graduate program; one member may be external to the program, from academia or industry, and is approved by the graduate program. Acceptance into the full-time MS program is often accompanied by program financial support, teaching or research assistantships. A combined OD/MS program is also offered.
A combined OD/MS program is available for enrolled optometry students who wish to pursue a Master’s of Science (MS) degree in Physiological Optics/Vision Science concurrently with the doctor of optometry (OD) degree. OD students apply for the combined OD/MS program in the Fall of their for admission in the Spring of their second year. In addition to a total of 30 semesters hours of coursework (12 overlapping with OD coursework) and research hours, the combined OD/MS program requires a written thesis based on original research. The thesis committee must consist of a minimum of three faculty members, at least two of which are from within the graduate program; one member may be external to the program, from academia or industry, and is approved by the graduate program. The research project can be an extension of prior research, generally done during the summer between first and second year of the OD program, in a federally funded summer research training program for OD students.
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) track normally requires at least four years of study, including 60 semester hours of coursework and research hours, teaching experience, a foreign language or research skill, qualifying examinations, and a written dissertation based on a body of original research. Dissertation committees for PhD students must consist of a minimum of four members, including three faculty members from the graduate program, and one member external to the graduate program from academia and/or industry who is approved by the graduate program. Acceptance into the full-time PhD program is generally accompanied by program financial support, teaching or research assistantships. Accelerated placement in the PhD (OD/PhD) program for OD/MS students is also offered.