Degree Programs

M.S. in Vision Science

The M.S. degrees in vision science are offered to students interested in building a strong basis for understanding the scientific background of modern vision science.   We have two types of M.S. programs, intended to be of use to students from different backgrounds. 

Each has separate requirements and is aimed at a different group of potential students.  The M.S. degree is not required for application to the Ph.D. program in Vision Science

Admission Requirements

The degree requirements for the thesis-based M.S. and the non-thesis-based M.S. can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Thesis-based M.S. in Vision Science

The typical student applying to this program has identified a mentor within whose laboratory they wish to work and has communicated with their mentor about their application. Most students within this program are also enrolled in the O.D. program and are applying for a combined O.D./M.S. degree. However, candidates without an O.D., as well as candidates with an O.D. from another institution are encouraged to apply if they have a particular interest in the work of the faculty member.

Course Requirements

A total of 30 credit hours is required, of which 15 must be didactic hours in vision science or in approved substitutes. Students enrolled in the O.D. program may apply up to four credit hours to this requirement of 15 didactic credit hours.

Students are required to complete V 792, Ethical Issues in Scientific Research.

Thesis Requirements (Thesis-Based M.S.)

Early in the program, students participate in a research project under the direction of their faculty advisor. The advisor and a committee guide research toward the thesis. After completion of the thesis, at least three members of the graduate faculty give it final approval.

The University Graduate School provides a guide to the preparation of theses and dissertations. Related forms may be acquired from the IU School of Optometry Office of Student Administration.

Non-thesis-based M.S. in Vision Science

The typical student applying to this program has an undergraduate O.D. or equivalent degree from another country and wishes to build on their knowledge of optometry and vision science.

A total of 40 credit hours are required. Most of the curriculum is based on the didactic courses in the School of Optometry’s Doctorate of Optometry curriculum. Core courses will provide a breadth of background and also provide training in teaching methods, epidemiology, research design, and writing and students will be required to attend weekly research seminars. These core courses will add up to 15 credit hours. Electives totaling 25 credit hours will concentrate on one or two specialty areas in Optometry. Prior to registration for courses in the first semester the student will meet with the associate dean for graduate programs or a faculty mentor appointed by the associate dean to identify specialty areas, and to obtain advice on electives.

M.S. Degree Program course descriptions

The number of credit hours given a course is indicated in parentheses following the course title. The abbreviation "P" refers to the course prerequisite(s). Unless otherwise noted, the prerequisites for all courses include enrollment in the School of Optometry and permission of the instructor.

  • VSCI-V 595 First-Year Research (1-5cr.) 
  • VSCI-V 695 Second-Year Research (1-5cr.) 
  • VSCI-V 700 Introduction to Vision Science I (4cr.) The first of a two-semester sequence of courses that provides a comprehensive introduction to vision science. The course is designed for graduate students enrolled in Vision Science, but is also suitable for students from other disciplines who are interested in the eye and vision.
  • VSCI-V 701 Introduction to Vision Science II (4cr.) The second of a two-semester sequence of courses on vision science. V 700 and this course constitute a breadth requirement for Ph.D. students in Vision Science.
  • VSCI-V 703 Refractive Anomalies I (3cr.) Optics and epidemiology of refractive anomalies of the human eye.
  • VSCI-V 704 Refractive Anomalies II (3cr.) Development, progression, and management of myopia.
  • VSCI-V 705 Ocular Surface Biology (4cr.) Basic biology and physiology of the ocular surface, including the cornea, conjunctiva, and tear film.
  • VSCI-V 706 Ocular Surface II: Current Issues (4cr.) Current issues affecting the ocular surface, including contact lenses, disease, and surgery.
  • VSCI-V 707 Retinal Imaging (2-3cr.) The fundamental methods used in imaging the human retina will be examined, including types of illumination and delivery methods, optical techniques for detection, interaction of light and tissues, systems integration, and selection of imaging modalities based on scientific goals.
  • VSCI-V 716 The Visual Pathways (4cr.) P: Permission of the instructor. For students in the visual sciences, comprehensive study of the human optic pathways.
  • VSCI-V 717 Visual Development in Infancy and Early Childhood  (3cr.) 

    An introduction to structural and functional development of the human visual system and the methodology used to study visual development.

  • VSCI-V 718 Visual Functions in Low Vision (3cr.) Studying behavioral aspects of visual function measurements in the low-vision population.
  • VSCI-V 723 The Eye as an Optical Instrument (4cr.) P: OPT-V 663 or equivalent. 
  • VSCI-V 725 Introduction to Retinal Disease Research  (3cr.) P: Permission of the Instructor This course will examine the underlying structural and functional systems that support our rich visual experience and are damaged by retinal disease.
  • OPT-V VSCI-V The Motility of the Eye (4cr.) P: V 665 or equivalent. Quantitative and qualitative study of eye movements and myologic reflexes, monocular and binocular, and related phenomena.
  • VSCI-V 764 Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Ocular Disease and Injury (4cr.) Study of selected reports dealing with corneal wound healing, the cataractous lens, and retinal degenerations.
  • VSCI-V 765 Vision Sciences Seminar (1cr.) Students in the Ph.D. program in Vision Science are required to take this seminar and make a presentation annually.
  • VSCI-V 767 Electrophysiology of Vision (3cr.) Review of techniques of recording neural events, development of a neural hypothesis, experimental testing of hypothesis, writing and presenting of data and conclusions.
  • VSCI-V 768 Special Topics in Vision Science (1-4cr.) Covers topics that are not offered on a regular basis. Possible topics include cell and molecular biology as it relates to the eye and vision, comparative studies of the vertebrate eye, current research, experimental design, optical and ophthalmic instruments, pathology, and pharmacology. This course may be taken for credit more than once when different topics are covered.
  • VSCI-V 773 Classics in Physiological Optics (1cr.) Study of selected scientific articles of early contributors to our understanding of ocular motility, monocular and binocular functions, the optics of the eye, and ocular physiology.
  • VSCI-V 783 Monocular Sensory Aspects of Vision (4cr.) P: V 664 or equivalent. Analysis of visual stimulus and its perception in color, form, brightness, motion, etc.
  • VSCI-V 784 Binocular Sensory Aspects of Vision (4cr.) P: V666 or equivalent. A study of perceptual phenomena and responses facilitated by binocular vision.
  • VSCI-V 791 Quantitative Methods for Vision Research (3cr.) Introduction to communication theory approach to problems in vision. Topics include the sensory nerve code, representation of nerve messages by orthogonal functions, sampling theorem, linear filters, Fourier analysis in one and two dimensions, analysis of directional data, stochastic processes, and signal detection theory.
  • VSCI-V 792 Ethical Issues in Scientific Research (1cr.) This required course explores the ethical issues and dilemmas raised by research in the biological sciences.
  • VSCI-V 793 Critical Evaluation of Peer Reviewed Publications in Vision Science (1cr.) This course provides experience to students to critically evaluate literature in the area of vision research. Students will meet for two hours each week for an eight week period. Evaluation will be based on attendance, reading assignments and class participation.
  • VSCI-V 795 Third-Year Research (1-5cr.) 
  • VSCI-V 799 M.S. Thesis Research (1-10cr.) 
  • VSCI-V 801 Basic Experimental Design and Methods in Vision Science (3cr.) An introduction to basic research skills in vision science.
  • VSCI-V 899 Ph.D. Dissertation Research (1-12cr.)