Sep 29, 2022  
Academic Catalog 2022-2023 
    
Academic Catalog 2022-2023

Vision Science Graduate Program


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Vision Science is a broad and growing field. It encompasses numerous disciplines such as anatomy, physiology, psychophysics, optics, neuroanatomy, pathology, eye movements, perception, and color vision among others. Pacific’s Vision Science Graduate (VSG) program provides the student with a broad understanding of vision science and in-depth knowledge of a particular area within the field. Faculty of the College of Optometry have expertise in numerous fields, including contact lenses, ocular disease, binocular vision, sports vision, vision performance, and low vision. Each student works with a faculty advisor to complete a thesis or dissertation based on original research.

Pacific University College of Optometry offers students two graduate programs for advanced study and research of the visual system: PhD in Vision Science Program and MS in Vision Science Program.

Student Learning Outcomes

The mission of the Vision Science Graduate Program is to provide opportunities for graduate students to:

  1. Advance knowledge in vision science,
  2. Develop research expertise in advanced experimental approaches and state-of-the-art research skills,
  3. Gain empirical experience in knowledge dissemination through scientific writing and research presentations, and
  4. Prepare for careers in academic institutions, governmental research/regulation sectors, or private corporations.

Through intense coursework and empirical research work, the students are expected to:

  1. With satisfactory performance in coursework, demonstrate advanced knowledge in the general field of vision science and individual’s specialized topical area(s).
  2. Write a research proposal for IRB review.
  3. Conduct original research or a systematic literature review in the individual’s specialized topical area(s).
  4. Demonstrate quantitative and qualitative skills in data gathering and analysis.
  5. Produce a written original thesis of high quality and successfully defend it orally.

Admission: Doctor of Philosophy in Vision Science

This program is designed to develop research scientists and translational clinical scientists. Students will be familiar with an experimental lab setting. The Vision Science PhD Program welcomes admission applications from students keen on the value of vision research. If you are considering a career in vision science, you are encouraged to apply. 

General Application Deadlines

  • Priority Application Deadline: January 15
  • Final Application Deadline: March 15

Applying on or before the priority deadline will allow you to be considered for an early interview. All applications submitted after the priority deadline will be scheduled for an interview in the spring after the final application deadline. The Vision Science Graduate Programs Committee may accept applications outside of the regular application period.

Apply to the PhD in Vision Science graduate program or inquire today.

Application Eligibility

Applicants to the PhD in Vision Science Program must have a bachelor’s degree (or recognized equivalent) from an accredited institution. While a Master’s degree is not required for application, students admitted to the PhD Program without a relevant Master’s degree must complete the Master’s degree requirement before applying for the PhD Candidacy.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of our program, we accept students with various backgrounds, including psychology, optometry, engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, biophysics, neuroscience, mathematics, molecular and cell biology, and integrative biology. The degree is open to applicants who have completed or are on track to meet the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution and fulfill all of the admissions requirements.

Application Requirements

Application materials vary by pathway. Your complete application must be received no later than the application deadlines to be eligible for admission consideration by the Vision Science Graduate Committee.

 

Application pathways:

General Application |  Current OD or MS Students | Application Under MOU

General Application

Application Deadlines

  • Priority Application Deadline: January 15
  • Final Application Deadline: March 15

 

Application Materials:

  1. Online Application Form
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Personal Essay
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation
  5. Official Transcripts
  6. Prerequisite Requirements
  7. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Report
  8. Proof of English Proficiency
  9. Application Fee: US$40

 

Detailed instructions on application documents:

  • Personal Essay: Describe what inspires your decision for application, career goal, and research interests in vision science.
  • Letters of Recommendation: We require 2 letters from persons who have supervised your research or academic work. At least one letter must be from a professor who taught you in college. Your recommenders will also need to fill out an Applicant Evaluation Form provided by Pacific University.
  • Official Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended should be submitted via the online application. Applicants with degrees from non-US accredited schools must submit the official credentials evaluations report. (list of evaluation agencies)
  • Prerequisite requirements (see the Unofficial Prerequisite Worksheet form): Applicants should have taken the following courses under the traditional classroom teaching format and earned a “C” or higher for each course. Grades of C- or lower are not acceptable. Where possible, all courses should be those intended for science majors.
    1. General Biology: a standard year (two-semester or three-quarter) series with labs
    2. General Physics: a standard year (two-semester or three-quarter) series with labs; Calculus-based not required
    3. Chemistry: a standard year (two-semester or three-quarter) series with labs
    4. Mathematics: three semester or four quarter credits in analytic geometry or calculus
    5. Statistics: three semester or four quarter credits of statistics study from the Department of Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, or Biostatistics; courses from the Business and Economics departments do not meet this requirement.

The VSG Committee may consider the following exceptions for prerequisite requirements:

  1. The prerequisite requirement is waived for applicants currently enrolled in an ACOE-accredited optometry program or applicants with a bachelor’s or advanced degree in optometry or a clinically-related discipline.
  2. Applicants who have taken the required series of the specific content area offered by their institution may appeal to the admission committee regarding the equivalency of course content or credit hours in their transcripts.
  3. While courses from a purely online program are not acceptable, the VSG Committee may consider accepting the credits under special conditions.
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Report: Learn more about GRE.
  • Proof of English Proficiency: Proof of English proficiency is required for non-native English speakers, including resident aliens and citizens, and can be satisfied in one of the following ways:
    1. Achieving satisfactory official test scores:
      • TOEFL: paper-based 550 overall; computer-based 213 overall, internet-based 80 overall    
      • IELTS: 6.5 overall  
      • Chinese College English Test Band 6 (CET-6): score 520 or above
    2. Have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university where English is the only language of instruction.

Test scores are valid for two years after the test date but will still be considered valid if the score exceeds the minimum requirement and the applicant has maintained continuous residency in the United States since the exam date.

Conditional admission may be given without a report of English proficiency for two application cycles, starting from the current application. The student must meet the English proficiency requirement before enrolling in the program. After two cycles, the admission offer is void, and the applicant must re-apply for admission.

Application from Current OD or MS Students

Deadlines:

  • Fall semesters: December 1
  • Spring semesters: March 15

 

Application materials:

  1. Application Form for current OD or MS students 
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. One Letter of Recommendation (from an Optometry faculty)
  4. Personal Essay
  5. An (unofficial) copy of the latest OD transcript with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better

*Application fee, College transcripts, Prerequisite requirements, GRE report, and Proof of English proficiency are waived.

Application Under MOU

Applicants from an institute with MOU or special arrangements established with Pacific University College of Optometry should contact the program director, Dr. Yu-Chi Tai, for details. 

Selection Process

Members of the VSG Committee screen the applicant pool. Selection is based on the published minimum requirements for admission and the following criteria:

  • Depth and breadth of prior education preparation;
  • Strength of recommendations;
  • Written communication skills as assessed in the application essay.

Based on the criteria described above, selected applicants are invited for an interview either in person or through video conferencing. The VSG Committee makes recommendations for acceptance into the program to the Dean of the College of Optometry. Applicants will receive official notification of their status within 30 days after the  application deadlines mentioned above. Admitted students must satisfactorily complete a criminal background check before starting classes.

Student Funding

Students are responsible for the payment of tuition and other expenses. In some cases, research or other funds may be available to support graduate students. Acceptance into the graduate program is independent of the availability of student financial support. Any public funds to support graduate students are subject to the requirements placed upon those funds by the funding source and are generally not under the control or influence of the VSG Committee. If funding is from a research grant or a research contract, the faculty member serving as the principal investigator usually makes decisions about all personnel supported by the grant. The VSG director can alert students to potential funding opportunities.

Immunization Requirements for Admitted Students

All students must be appropriately immunized to protect their health and clinic patients. Students have access to the clinic during their studies; therefore, it is important to be current on all required immunizations. Some immunizations require multiple doses, and some require a titer to test for immunity; getting a head start on this process will make things easier as you start the program.

Policies: Specific to the Vision Science Graduate Program

Course Substitution and Course Waiver

Based on prior coursework taken for credit, professional training and experiences, or a current memorandum of understanding between an educational/research institution and Pacific University, students may apply for a course substitution or course waiver in place of a required course. A maximum of one-third of the course credit requirement for the degree may be satisfied by course substitution or waiver. Exceptions may be made by the VSG Committee. Application for a course substitution and waiver must be submitted to the Director of the VSG Program and be approved by the Dean of Academic Programs.

  1. Credit Transfer: Graduate-level courses taken previously at Pacific University or another regionally accredited institution may be used to substitute for a similarly required course. Application for credit transfer will be reviewed on a course by course basis and must be approved by the Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Director of the VSG Program, and the course instructor(s). To be considered, courses must have been taken within the past five years, cover content comparable to a required course, and have been passed with a grade of C or better (a “pass” grade is not eligible). Credit is applied toward the VSG degree, although the grade earned in the transferred course does not appear on the Pacific transcript nor is included calculating the student’s GPA.
  2. Course Substitution: A course substitution allows students to use an alternative course to replace a program’s required course. Substituted courses must include substantially the same learning outcomes as the required course. Students must submit the Credit Transfer/Substitution Form before the term the required course is completed and must be approved by the program to be counted toward the degree. The following courses have been pre-approved for Credit Transfer/Substitution for OD/MS students. Only dual-enrolled students in the OD program and the VSG program (i.e., OD/MS students) may substitute the following VSC courses with the designated OPT course credits. Application is necessary and must be approved for any course substitution that is not listed in the table below. 

 

Code

Course Name

Credits

 

Code

Course Name

Credits

VSC 503

Evidence-Based Research & Practice

1

=

OPT 560

Evidence Based Optometry

1

VSC 511

Geometric Physical & Visual Optics I

3

=

OPT 501

Geometric and Physical Optics I

3

VSC 511L

Lab for Geometric Physical & Visual Optics I

0

=

OPT 501L

Lab for Geometric and Physical Optics I

0

VSC 512

Geometric Physical and Visual Optics II

3

=

OPT 502

Geometric and Physical Optics II

3

VSC 512L

Lab for Geometric Physical & Visual Optics II

0

=

OPT 502L

Lab for Geometric and Physical Optics II

0

VSC 513

Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics

4

=

OPT 503

Physiological Optics

4

VSC 513L

Lab for Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics

0

=

OPT 503L

Lab for Physiological Optics

0

VSC 521

Anatomy Biochemistry & Physiology of the Eye I

3

=

OPT 531

Ocular Anatomy Physiology and Biochemistry

3

VSC 521L

Lab for Anatomy Biochemistry& Physiology of the Eye I

0.5

=

OPT 531L

Lab for Ocular Anatomy Physiology and Biochemistry

0.5

VSC-522

Anatomy Biochemistry & Physiology of the Eye II

2

=

OPT 532

Anatomy of the Visual System

2

VSC-522L

Lab for Anatomy Biochemistry & Physiology of the Eye II

1

=

OPT 532L

Lab for Anatomy of the Visual System

1

VSC 523

Neuroanatomy of the Visual Pathway

2

=

OPT 535

Functional Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology

3

VSC 631

Common Ocular Diseases

2

=

OPT 631

Ocular Disease III with Lab

4

VSC 644

Fundamentals of Ocular motility

1

=

OPT 701

Ocular Motility

2

VSC 660

Practice of Clinical Skills

1

=

OPT 722

Patient Care VI

1.5

 

 

  • An application for Credit Transfer/Substitution is necessary and must be approved to apply to substitute any VSC course towards the OD degree.

3.  Course Waiver: If the requirements of a course are shown to have been met through non-credit-bearing activities (e.g., a certificate for passing a standardized exam) or earlier coursework for another degree, a student may petition to have that course requirement waived. If granted, the petition typically will not reduce the overall number of credits required for the degree, but will allow a student to take other coursework to replace the required course. The official documentation is required (e.g., certificate, license, transcripts and syllabus, etc.) at the time of application for the waiver.

Time Limits to Complete the Degree

All work for the PhD must be completed within seven years of matriculation. All work for the MS must be completed within five years of matriculation.

Full-Time Status

The minimum full-time study load is nine credits and the half-time study load is five credits.

Academic Standards

All students are required to maintain good academic progress, judged by meeting the following criteria and timely completion of degree requirements:

  • To stay in good academic standing, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better and make satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students whose GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation and have two semesters/terms to improve their GPA to 3.0 or higher. Those who cannot return to good academic standing after two semesters/terms will be subject to APS review and may be dismissed from the VSG Programs.
  • No course credits with a grade lower than C can be counted toward the degree.
  • A substandard grade must be remediated to be included in the degree requirement. The substandard performance will be handled according to the College’s Academic and Professional Standards Policies and Procedures Manual. Students must retake the course if failing a required course at the 700 to 900 levels. Students receiving a substandard grade on an elective course may take another course to fulfill the elective requirement.
  • All other regulations and policies related to professional and academic standards described elsewhere in the College of Optometry section in the university catalog also pertain to students in the graduate program. These standards relate to academic performance, course attendance, professional behavior, grades, and other matters. Violations of these standards can result in the student being placed on warning or probation or dismissed from the program.

Honors

Students who graduate with a GPA of 3.5 or higher will graduate with distinction.

Master of Education in Visual Function in Learning (MEd/VFL

The MEd/VFL program, offered and administered by the Pacific University College of Education in cooperation with the College of Optometry, enables optometrists to specialize in visual problems as they relate to reading and the learning process of children. Candidates must hold or be working toward the professional terminal degree in optometry. Further information is in the MEd/VFL section of this catalog under the College of Education.

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