Apr 25, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2021-2022 
Academic Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Vision Science, MS

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This program provides the student with a broad understanding of vision science and also in-depth knowledge of a particular area within the field. It offers a wide variety of specialty areas within vision science, enables the student to grow expertise in a specific 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 two years (or five 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.


Program Admission Information

Degree Requirements

This is a multidisciplinary research program. Students must demonstrate the 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 entirety, instead.


The Master’s curriculum consists of coursework in the following six categories. Students with a bachelor’s degree in Optometry should completed a total of 41.5 credits from all six categories as listed below. OD/MS students who have an ACOE-accredited OD degree or are currently enrolled in the OD program may satisfy some of the coursework with relevant course credits from the OD program. Students with other backgrounds may require additional coursework, as listed in this catalog or determined by the VSG Committee and the student’s adviser.

The Master’s curriculum consists of coursework in the following six categories.

  • Vision Science Core courses: 15.5 credits
  • Vision Science Seminar: 9.0 credits
  • Basic Research skills: 8.0 credits
  • Clinical Skills: 1.0 credit
  • Master’s Research Work: 7.0 credits
  • Elective: 1.0 credit

Total: 41.5 credits

Vision Science Core Courses: 14.5 credits

Ocular Disease: 2.0 credits

Ocular Motility: 1 credit

Optics: 4 credits

  • 4.0 credits for students with BS-Optometry degree
  • 10.0 credits for students without BS-Optometry degree. (*This sequence is required for students without a bachelor’s degree in Optometry.)


Students may fulfill the Optics course requirement in 3 ways:

Vision Science Seminars: 9.0 credits

Students need to take VSC 751, VSC 752, and one of the topical areas of the Advanced Vision Science Seminars to fulfill the seminar course requirement.

Clinical Skills:1 credit

Master’s Research Work: 7 credits

Elective: 1 credit

After the thesis requirement has been met, the elective requirement can be met with an additional credit in VSC 791   Thesis Research, VSC 756   Independent Study, or other courses offered in the College of Optometry except VSC 701, VSC 760, VSC 998, and VSC 999.

Courses listed under Vision Science Core Courses, VSC 701, and VSC 760-Curricular Practical Training cannot be used to fulfill the elective requirement.

OD/MS students cannot apply credits used for the OD electives to the MS elective requirement.

Special Courses

Students who meet the following criteria may take VSC 760, VSC 998, and VSC 999 with approval from the program director. Credits earned from these courses are not counted toward the degree requirement.

Master’s Thesis

1. 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 taking the proposal exam. 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 proposal examination and oral thesis defense. The committee must have a minimum of three members:

  • The thesis advisor, who serves as the chair of the thesis committee; and
  • At least two committee 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.

2. Examination of Thesis Proposal

All MS students need to take a Thesis Proposal Examination on a proposal for an original research project, ideally before or during the third term of their MS study. In the proposal, students specify their research hypotheses and include adequate literature background to support the hypotheses or the need for research. Alternatively, students may submit a proposal for a comprehensive and in-depth topical review thesis upon approval by the VSG Program. The proposal must be submitted to the Director of the VSG Program and the MS Thesis Committee two weeks before the Thesis Proposal Exam. MS Students passing the proposal exam are moved to the MS candidacy and are allowed to submit their thesis proposal to the IRB for review and approval.

3. Thesis Writing

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.

4. 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 plans to complete at the end of the current term, all required coursework.

Two weeks before 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 the Provost, or the student may elect to defend again at least 30 days after the initial thesis defense.

Before the degree is 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.

Calendar: College of Optometry


Tuition and Fees

  • Per semester (9-12 credits):  $10,179
  • Per credit:  $1,131
  • Remediation, per course: $250
  • Audit, per credit hour:  $450
  • ExamSoft Fee:  $65
  • Support Service Fee: $304
  • Graduation Application Fee: $100


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