Graduate Program in Vision Science (MS, PhD)

Degree Requirements

Non-thesis Master of Science Degree
Admission Requirements

The typical candidate for this program 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 for Graduate Programs or a faculty mentor appointed by 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. Students concurrently enrolled in the O.D.  and MS program, may accelerate progress by receiving up to 4 graduate credit hours to this requirement of 15 didactic credit hours.

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 enrolled in the O.D. program, may apply up to 6 credit hours to this requirement of 30 didactic credit hours. Students having received the MS degree in Vision Science from Indiana University can apply those credits towards the Ph.D. degree. 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 be required to take a Special Topics course in Vision Science (V768), and either Geometric and Visual Optics 1 (V 521) or Systems Approach to Biomedical Science (V 542).   During the second semester students will Take Vision Science 1 (V 560) and either V 523 or V 543 as well as a special seminar (V 768).  Students believing they have met these requirements may apply to the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs with an alternative program

Minor Requirements

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. Typically these should be met at the end of years 1, 2, and 3 of the program. In addition, students who are expected to teach must pass Test of English Proficiency for International Associate Instructor Candidates (TEPAIC).

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.

IU University Graduate School

The Indiana University Graduate School 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. See Website at


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: V 705, V 707, V 717, V 723, V 725, V 754, V 783, and V 791.

Academic Bulletins

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