Programs by Campus


Vision Science
School of Optometry

Departmental E-mail: opt [at] indiana [dot] edu
Departmental URL:

Degrees Offered

Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy

Program Information and Requirements

The Vision Science Program is designed primarily for students wishing to prepare themselves for teaching and research in the sciences that relate to vision.

Admission Requirements

Course requirements are flexible to accommodate students with interests in vision science but with varying backgrounds. A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) is required. Course work with appropriate laboratories in the following areas is strongly recommended: optics, computing and engineering, physics, biology, mathematics through differential and integral calculus, statistics, and psychology of sensation and perception.

Degree Requirements

Students must demonstrate breadth of knowledge in vision science. This requirement is normally fulfilled by completion of 700 and V701with a minimum grade of B in each course.

Each semester, students are required to register for and par­ticipate in the weekly vision science seminar (V765) known as “Oxyopia.” Participation implies that the seminar will be taken for credit and that the student will make a presentation. Students must complete ethics training, usually fulfilled by completion of V792.

Students commence their research training by joining an ongo­ing research project directed by a faculty member chosen by the student. The research topic will be formulated in consulta­tion with the faculty member and an advisory committee. The topic may or may not be in the same field in which the student expects to do dissertation research.

Master of Science Degree

Course Requirements

A total of 30 credit hours is required, of which 15 credit hours must be didactic hours in vision science (or approved substi­tutes), generally excluding seminars. Students holding the O.D. degree or enrolled concurrently in the O.D. and M.S. programs may accelerate progress by receiving up to 4 graduate credit hours completed in the optometry curriculum. Students must complete courses that satisfy knowledge base in statistics, research design and vision science.

Research Requirements

Candidates must submit a written research report by the end of the first year in residence. Students enroll in a minimum of 3 hours of research credit per semester. A thesis research proposal must be submitted and approved by the end of the first year of study.



Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Course Requirements

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 is placed on academic probation.

During the first year students will complete  two Vision Science survey courses (V700 and V701).
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. A specialized inter-depart­mental minor is also possible, if approved by the University Graduate School before classes are taken.

Vision Science Ph.D. Degree requirements:

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. The student is responsible for submitting the final approved dissertation to the University Graduate School. 

The University Graduate School (UGS) 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.

Teaching: All doctoral students are required to participate in teaching, usually in the second or third year of their program.

Ph.D. Minor in Vision Science

Students from other departments who wish to minor in vision science should complete V700 and V701, Introduction to Vision Science I and II, and at least one other course from the follow­ing group: V705, V723, V754, V783, and V791.

Academic Bulletins

PDF Version

Click here for the PDF version.