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 501 Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye (4cr.) 

    An introduction to the eye.

  • VSCI-V 550 The Miracle of Sight (3cr.) 

    Introduction to all of the key features of vision, from optics, to anatomy, neurophysiology and psychology.  Vision is arguable the greatest achievement of evolution, and this course is designed to provide an overview of the full process we call vision and to identify the key requirements at the human visual system.

  • 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 705 Ocular Surface Biology (4cr.) Basic biology and physiology of the ocular surface, including the cornea, conjunctiva, and tear film.
  • 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 717 Visual Development in Infancy and Early Childhood  (3cr.) 

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

  • VSCI-V 723 The Eye as an Optical Instrument (4cr.) P: OPT-V 663 or equivalent. 
  • VSCI-V 725 Introduction to Retinal Disease Research  (2-3cr.) P: Permission of the Instructor 

    The most common retinal diseases are studied based on peer reviewed literature and book chapters, integrating common mechanisms such as vascular disease, neural degeneration and hereditary factors.  The third credit can be earned by preparing a project by prior arrangement with the course director.

  • 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 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 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.)