This program provides the student with a broad understanding of vision science and also an in-depth knowledge of a particular area within the field. It offers a rich variety of specialty areas within vision science, enables the student to grow expertise in a certain division of vision science, and equips the student to perform research independently. It is designed to prepare the students to continue to the doctorate degree or to seek career opportunities with their specialized applied vision research skills in academic, corporate, and other professional settings.
The program is designed so that a typical student would require 2 years (or 5 semesters, including one summer) of study to complete the degree requirements, but the amount of time required to meet requirements can vary depending upon circumstances. Requirements vary based upon students’ backgrounds; students with advanced standing (e.g., with prior or concurrent training in an ACOE-approved Doctorate of Optometry program, with other optometry-clinically relevant background, or with special MOU agreement) may be able to complete the MS requirements within a shorter timeframe. The total time allowed to complete all MS degree requirements is five years.
This is a multidisciplinary research program. Students must demonstrate breadth of knowledge in vision science and competence in conducting empirical research. Degree requirements include satisfactory coursework, oral examination of thesis proposal, and written and oral defense of final thesis report. If requirements are changed, students may complete programs under the requirements in effect at the time of initial enrollment or readmission. They may elect to move to the new requirements, in their entireity, instead.
Academic Advisor, Thesis Advisor, and Thesis Committee
Upon admission, students are assigned an academic advisor to help prepare a proposed program of study until a thesis advisor is selected. By the end of the first year, the VSG program, in consultation with the student, assigns a thesis advisor to direct the student’s thesis project and to monitor the student’s coursework.
Students work with their advisors to form the thesis committee prior to the start of research and before submitting the IRB proposal, if applicable. The thesis committee provides academic guidance to the student in conducting the thesis project and additional support for the student’s overall professional development, and is the membership of the examination committee for the student’s thesis proosal examination and oral thesis defense. The committee must have a minimum of 3 members:
- The thesis advisor, who serves as the chair of the thesis committee; and
- At least two members, who must be faculty of Pacific University College of Optometry.
- A fourth member may be added to provide expertise when deemed appropriate.
The Director of the VSG Program approves all thesis committees. Changes of committee members must be requested in writing and approved by the VSG Committee.
Examination of Thesis Proposal
All MS candidates submit a thesis proposal for an original research project, ideally at or before the end of their 3rd term in the program. In the proposal, students specify their research hypotheses and include adequate literature background to support the hypotheses and detailed research design. Alternatively, students may submit a proposal for a comprehensive and in-depth topical review thesis. Proposals must be submitted to the Director of the VSG Program and examined by the MS Thesis Proposal Panel before the start of the project and no later than the end of the 4th term after matriculation. The MS Thesis Proposal Panel will be formed by the Director of the VSG Program composing three or more graduate faculty of the college.
The written thesis is based upon original scholarly research, either as an original empirical research or as an in-depth review of a topic. It must contribute new knowledge to the scientific community and must be suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Presentation of the project at local and national meetings is strongly encouraged.
Thesis Defense and Deposit
During the term intended for thesis defense, the student must be registered for VSC 791 Thesis Research.
Prior to the scheduling of the thesis defense, a student must have completed, or has plans to complete at the end of the current term, all required coursework.
Prior to the defense, the student submits a written manuscript that has been approved by the thesis advisor to the thesis committee and the Director of the VSG Program.
The student defends the thesis to his/her thesis committee in both written and oral forms. Passing the thesis defense requires unanimous agreement from the thesis committee, with revisions if necessary. Non-approval of a thesis may be appealed by the student to the Dean of the College of Optometry and to the Provost, or the student may elect to defend again at least 30 days after the initial thesis defense.
Before the degree will be conferred, the student must obtain final written approval from all thesis committee members and submit the approved electronic copy to the Director of the VSG Program and the university library for deposit.