Programs by Campus


Vision Science
School of Optometry

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

Departmental URL:

(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)



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.

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
Non-thesis Master of Science Degree

Admission Requirements

The typical candidate for this progam would be a practitioner who has an undergraduate degree in optometry or its equivalent and licensed or license eligible to practice optometry in their home country. GRE results will be required and in addition, all non-native English speakers entering the program must have taken the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) within the last 5 years. Non-typical candidates can also be considered for admission. However, they should first correspond with the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs before applying.


A total of 40 credit hours are required. Most of the courses will be based on the didactic courses in the School of Optometry's Doctorate of Optometry curriculum. Core courses will provide a breadth of background and also provide training in teaching methods, epidemiology, research design and writing and will be required to attend weekly research seminars. These core courses will add up to 15 credit hours. Electives totaling 25 credit hours will concentrate on one or two specialty areas in Optometry. Prior to registration for courses in the first semester, the student will meet with the Associate Dean to identify specialty areas, and to obtain advice on electives.

Thesis based 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

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.



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.

Each semester, students are required to register for and participate in the weekly Vision Science Seminar (V765) known as "Oxyopia" and the accompanying discussion period. Participation implies that the seminar will be taken for credit and that students will make presentations.

During the first year, students will be required to take a special topics course in Vision Science (V768), and either Geometric and Visual Optics 1 (V521) or Systems Approach to Biomedical Science (V542). During the second semester, students will take Vision Science 1 (V560) and either V523 or V543 as well as a special seminar (V768). Students believing they have met these requirements may apply to the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs with an alternative program.
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. Didactic credits applied to the minor can also be counted towards the 30 hour didactic credit requirement for the program.

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 work with the Associate Dean to select an appropriate selection of three Vision Science courses from the follow­ing group: V705, V707, V717, V723, V725, V754, V783, and V791.

Academic Bulletins

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