Vision scientists study the eye and how we see. Their work includes the study of biochemistry, biophysics, epidemiology, molecular biology, cell biology, neuroscience, optics, ophthalmology, optometry, pathology, physiology, psychology, statistics, and any other discipline that relates to the eye and its problems. Both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees provide breadth through a variety of courses and depth through original research leading to a thesis or a dissertation.
The degree requirements for admission are flexible in order to accommodate students who come to vision science from a variety of backgrounds. A bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in science is required, and this should include course work appropriate to the area of vision science in which the student wishes to pursue research.
A total of 30 credit hours is required, of which 15 must be didactic hours in vision science or in approved substitutes. Students holding the O.D. degree, or enrolled in the O.D. program, may apply up to 4 credit hours to this requirement of 15 didactic credit hours.
Early in the program, students participate in a research project under the direction of a faculty advisor. The advisor is chosen by the student after consultation with the director of the graduate program. Research toward the thesis is guided by the advisor and a committee. After completion of the thesis, at least three members of the graduate faculty give it final approval.
A total of 90 credit hours is required, of which 30 must come from didactic courses with grades of B or higher. Students holding the O.D. degree, or enrolled in the O.D. program, may apply up to 6 credit hours to this requirement of 30 didactic credit hours. When the grade point average of a student falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic probation.
Each semester, students are required to register for and participate in the weekly Vision Science Seminar (V 765) known as "Oxyopia." Participation implies that the seminar will be taken for credit and that students will make presentations.
During the first year students will complete two Vision Science survey courses (V 700 and V 701).
Students will select at least one minor subject in any relevant field of study, subject to approval by their advisory committee. The requirements for the minor are determined by the department or program offering the minor.
In order to ensure adequate progress toward the Ph.D. degree, all students must achieve the following milestones at the end of years 1, 2, and 3 of the program.
Advancement to Second-Year Exam
At the end of the first year in the program each student must pass a written examination covering a wide selection of vision science topics in order to advance to the second year of the program. By this time, students should also have demonstrated an appropriate command of spoken and written English.
Advancement to Third Year
By the end of the second year all students should have identified the area of study and the specific experiments that will eventually constitute their Ph.D. thesis. This requirement will be met by submitting a formal abstract describing the proposed experiments to the Graduate Program coordinator. This abstract must be accompanied by written approval of the Ph.D. advisor.
Advancement to Candidacy
By the end of the third year, each student must complete a written and oral qualifying examination. These examinations are administered by the student's advisory committee. The written component is the dissertation proposal, and can be in the form of a grant application. The requirement of 30 credit hours of didactic course work must be fulfilled before the qualifying examination. After successful completion of the qualifying exam, each student will be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Participation in the Ph.D. program will be terminated if a student fails the qualifying examination twice.
The final milestone is completion of the dissertation.
Completion of Dissertation
After completion of the written dissertation, it is presented and defended at a scheduled seminar meeting. The dissertation must be approved by the student's research committee.
IU Office of Research and University Graduate School (RUGS) provides a guide to the preparation of theses and dissertations. Related forms may be acquired from the IU School of Optometry Office of Student Administration.
Students from other departments who wish to minor in vision science should complete Introduction to Vision Science I and II (VSCI-V 700 and 701) and at least one other course from the following group: VSCI-V 705, 723, 783, and 791.
The number of credit hours given a course is indicated in parentheses following the course title. The abbreviation "P" refers to the course prerequisite(s).
V 595 First-Year Research (1-5 cr.)
V 695 Second-Year Research (1-5 cr.)
V 700 Introduction to Vision Science I (4 cr.) The first of a two-semester sequence of courses that provides a comprehensive introduction to vision science. The course is designed for graduate students enrolled in Vision Science, but is also suitable for students from other disciplines who are interested in the eye and vision.
V 701 Introduction to Vision Science II (4 cr.) The second of a two-semester sequence of courses on vision science. V 700 and this course constitute a breadth requirement for Ph.D. students in Vision Science.
V 705 Ocular Surface Biology (4 cr.) Basic biology and physiology of the ocular surface, including the cornea, conjunctiva, and tear film.
V 723 The Eye as an Optical Instrument (4 cr.) P: V 663 or equivalent. V 754 The Motility of the Eye (4 cr.) P: V 665 or equivalent. Quantitative and qualitative study of eye movements and myologic reflexes, monocular and binocular, and related phenomena.
V 765 Vision Sciences Seminar (1 cr.) Students in the Ph.D. program in Vision Science are required to take this seminar and make a presentation annually.
V 768 Special Topics in Vision Science (1-4 cr.) Covers topics that are not offered on a regular basis. Possible topics include cell and molecular biology as it relates to the eye and vision, comparative studies of the vertebrate eye, current research, experimental design, optical and ophthalmic instruments, pathology, and pharmacology. This course may be taken for credit more than once when different topics are covered.
V 783 Monocular Sensory Aspects of Vision (4 cr.) P: V 664 or equivalent. Analysis of visual stimulus and its perception in color, form, brightness, motion, etc.
V 791 Quantitative Methods for Vision Research (3 cr.) Introduction to communication theory approach to problems in vision. Topics include the sensory nerve code, representation of nerve messages by orthogonal functions, sampling theorem, linear filters, Fourier analysis in one and two dimensions, analysis of directional data, stochastic processes, and signal detection theory.
V 792 Ethical Issues in Scientific Research (1 cr.) This course explores the ethical issues and dilemmas raised by research in the biological sciences.
V 795 Third-Year Research (1-5 cr.)
V 799 M.S. Thesis Research (1-10 cr.)
V 801 Basic Experimental Design and Methods in Vision Science (3 cr.) An introduction to basic research skills in vision science.
V 899 Ph.D. Dissertation Research (1-12 cr.)
Graduate students in Vision Science can fulfill some of their didactic credits with relevant courses in other departments, as long as they first receive permission from their faculty advisor and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. A wide range of classes are available, in areas such as:
Cognitive Science: www.cogs.indiana.edu
Computer Science: www.cs.indiana.edu
Medical Sciences: medsci.indiana.edu
Public Health: http://medicine.iu.edu/body.cfm?id=3918&oTopID=3918
Psychological and Brain Sciences: www.indiana.edu/~psych
Scientific Computing: www.indiana.edu/~scicomp/minor.html
A graduate student enrolled in the Vision Science Program may be eligible for fee remission awards and for fellowship and assistantship awards.
Indiana University assistance includes the Graduate Scholars Fellowship, Women in Science Graduate Fellowship, the Ronald E. McNair Graduate Fellowship, and the Educational Opportunity Fellowship. To be considered for one of these fellowships, a student should contact the Indiana University School of Optometry Office of Student Administration. Additional information regarding eligibility may be found at the University Graduate school Web site: www.indiana.edu/~grdschl/internalfunding.php.
In addition, a graduate student may apply for Ezell Fellowships of the American Optometric Foundation, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 506, Rockville, MD 20852; (301) 984-4734; www.ezell.org.
For other financial aid, grants-in-aid, and fellowships, refer to the University Graduate School Bulletin.
Information is also available on the School of Optometry Web site at www.opt.indiana.edu.