May 25, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2023-2024 
Academic Catalog 2023-2024

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.

Admission: Doctor of Philosophy in Vision Science

Admissions Information

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 will not appear on the Pacific transcript nor be included in 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. 
  • 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 are 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, etc. Violations of these standards can result in the student being placed on warning or probation or dismissed from the program.


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

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