This program is offered to top students worldwide who are interested in scientific research or case study related to clinic practice. It is designed to engage students to explore the broad field of vision science through basic, translational, or clinical research. The curriculum provides fundamental knowledge about all facets of vision and visual performance, including (but not limited to) physiological optics, anatomy and physiology of human eye, visual perception/cognition, visual neuroscience, eye diseases, public health vision care, sports vision, eye movements/visual search, visual function in learning, and human-computer interaction, we well we other aspects of applied vision. Students will engage in both laboratory-based and clinical-relevant research and exposed to the basic concepts and techniques central to specialized research topics. The program was created to provide high quality optometric education combined with customized rigorous research training. Overarching program goals are to develop students into highly proficient clinicians and talented researchers who are well prepared for careers in vision science whether in academia, industry, or leadership in government-supported/non-profit organizations.
Degree completion usually takes 3 years but may vary depending on whether the student enters with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or any advanced standing (e.g., an OD degree or a post-ungraduated degree in vision science related field). The total time allowed to complete the PhD degree requirements is seven years. Students entering PhD without MS degree should complete the MS requirements within five years and the PhD degree requirements within seven years from the student’s matriculation for graduate study. Students who fail to reach the milestones may be removed from both degree programs.
#1 ACOE Approved OD Degree and Master of Science from Pacific
#1 Students with an ACOE approved OD degree and a Master of Science in Vision Science from Pacific University must complete a minimum of 34.5 credits, listed above.
#2 ACOE Approved OD Degree and a Vision-Science Relevant Master’s Degree from an Accredited Institution
#2 Students with an ACOE approved OD degree and a vision-science relevant master’s degree from an accredited institution (but not Pacific University) must complete a minimum of 48 credits, which include all of the requirements of student category #1, plus:
Basic Research Skills: 13.5 Credits
#3 ACOE Approved OD Degree but Without a Relevant Master’s Degree
#3 Students with an ACOE approved OD degree but without a relevant master’s degree related to the field of Vision Science must complete a minimum of 57 credits, which include all of the requirements of student categories #1 and #2, plus:
MS Colloquium: 2 Credits
- VSC 601 - MS Vision Research Colloquium (1 credit x 2 terms) 2 Credits
MS Thesis Research
Minimum of 4 credits
#4 Master’s Degree in Vision Science Related Field
#4 Students with a master’s degree in Vision Science related field from an accredited institution must complete a minimum of 60 credits, which includes all of the requirements of student categories #1 and #2, plus:
Additional 6 credits from each of the two selected minor concentrations. This will make a minimum of 30 credits required, with 10 credits from each of three chosen topical areas.
#5 Without a Relevant Master’s Degree
#5 Students without a relevant master’s degree must complete a minimum of 91 credits, which includes all of the requirements of student categories #1-4, plus:
VSC/OPT Fundamental Knowledge: 23 Credits
MS Colloquium: 2 Credits
- VSC 601 MS Vision Research Colloquium (1 credit x 2 terms) 2 Credits
MS Thesis Research (minimum of 4 credits)
#6 Master of Science in Vision Science from Pacific
#6 Students with a Master of Science in Vision Science from Pacific University must complete a minimum of 47.5 credits, which includes all of the requirements of student category #1, plus:
A minimum of 30 credits are required, with 10 credits from each of three chosen topical area
Early Research (Master’s Thesis or Peer-Reviewed Research Article)
Students must conduct and present a research study before applying for the qualifying exam. This requirement can be met by successfully defending a Master’s thesis, by having a manuscript accepted in a peer-reviewed journal with the student being the first author or the corresponding author, or by having completed a Master’s thesis in a related field prior to entering into the program. The previous Master’s thesis or peer-reviewed paper must be reviewed and approved by the VSG Committee.
Qualifying Examination of General Knowledge in Vision Science
PhD students must pass a qualifying examination (in written and oral forms) to ascertain the breadth of their comprehension of fundamental knowledge in the field of vision science. After successfully completing at least 20 credits from the chosen topical areas, with approval of the academic advisor, the student may request to take the Qualifying Examination. At the time of the Qualifying Examination, the student also must have met the requirement of Early Research.
The VSG Committee appoints the student’s Qualifying Committee, which shall be comprised of at least 3 faculty members of the College of Optometry. The Qualifying Committee is tasked with designing the Qualifying Examination for the student, and shall be configured to assure eventual student expertise in at least three of the following topical areas of vision science:
- Vision and Optics
- Ocular Anatomy and Physiology
- Eye Diseases and Public Health
- Oculomotor Functions and Visual Performance
The Qualifying Examination includes two components, a written exam and an oral exam. The written exam is conducted first, and the oral examination shall be administered within two weeks after passing the written examination. During the oral examination, the Qualifying Committee will test the student knowledge within the selected topical areas. The oral examination can be combined with the Preliminary Examination of The Dissertation Proposal.
Preliminary Examination of the Dissertation Proposal
In consultation with the student, a research advisor is appointed to replace the academic advisor. The research advisor works with the student and the Director of the Graduate Program to form a Doctoral Dissertation Committee to guide the student’s dissertation work. The dissertation committee requires at least four members with expertise related to the student’s dissertation topic, including:
- The research advisor, who shall serve as the committee chair;
- At least two committee members who are faculty of the College of Optometry;
- One Pacific University faculty member who is not a part of the College of Optometry, who shall be included for the final defense for the purpose of evaluating the dissertation defense. If a non-optometry Pacific University faculty member is not available to serve on the dissertation committee, a College of Optometry faculty will be ubstituted.
- Other experts may be included as appropriate, although inclusion of more than four committee members generally is not recommended.
If changes in the approved advisor or committee become necessary, a written request must be approved by the VSG Committee.
Concurrent with the Qualification Examination, or within one year after its completion, a student submits a dissertation research proposal for the Oral Preliminary Proposal Examination to the dissertation committee. The proposal should be formatted as for grant application (e.g., NIH grant proposal) and include the following (or equivalent) elements:
- Specific aims: Describe the main research questions, the major hypotheses and outline the experiments to test them.
- Background and significance: Include a focused literature review on the topics and rationale for the importance of the research.
- Preliminary studies or progress report: Describe the relevant preparation or research that has been done by the student toward completing his/her dissertation.
- Research design or Methods: Describe the planned research.
Once the Preliminary Examination has been passed, the student is advanced to PhD Candidacy and may begin his/her doctoral dissertation research as approved by the dissertation committee.
Written and Oral Defense of a PhD Dissertation and Dissertation Submission
The final examination for the degree is a defense of the research and its write-up in front of the dissertation committee, invited guests, and the public. The PhD candidate must present the results of original research and give evidence of excellent scholarship and proficiency in critically relevant research techniques.
At the time of applying for dissertation defense, a PhD candidate must indicate how the research proficiency pertaining to his/her research topics has been fulfilled. This can be shown as completion of VSC 862 - Laboratory Study with a satisfactory grade and, when applicable, mastery of other relevant research skills (e.g., computer programming skills, advanced statistical methods, neuroimaging techniques, etc.). The candidate’s dissertation committee will evaluate the candidate’s research proficiency as part of the dissertation defense.
To successfully pass the dissertation defense, the student must deliver to the director of the graduate program and the university library an electronic file of the dissertation approved by each of the student’s Dissertation Committee members along with a scanned signature page signed by the Committee before the degree will be conferred.