OD/PhD in Vision Science

The OD/PhD is a comprehensive program that trains students in translational or patient-based research and is designed to prepare students for faculty positions in academic optometry.  Qualified first year OD students at SUNY College of Optometry may apply for admission into the Graduate Program in Vision Science leading to the joint OD/PhD degree.  OD students apply to the OD/PhD program during the Fall semester of their 1st year in the Optometry Program.  If accepted, they enter the dual degree program in the Spring Semester of their 1st year.

Students follow the optometry curriculum while devoting summers and academic year elective time to graduate seminars and research. The core curriculum requirements  provide a comprehensive introduction to vision science,  a minimum of five seminars/tutorials in different designated Option List areas, an introduction to statistical methods, and a course in ethics in research.  At the end of the second year of the OD program, students work full time towards completing the remainder of the 80 semester credit PhD degree.  PhD students must complete an original doctoral dissertation project in basic, translational or clinical vision research.  During the laboratory rotations, students develop technical laboratory skills needed for research and gain experience interacting with a variety of researchers in different laboratory settings.  PhD students complete a qualifying exam which consists of the submission of a written dissertation proposal followed by the oral defense of the proposal.  Successful completion of the dissertation defense is the final requirement of the doctoral degree. Upon completion of all PhD requirements, students return to the OD program as third year optometry students to complete clinical requirements.

Students who are accepted into the OD/PhD program do not pay any additional tuition for the PhD program during the first two years they are enrolled full time in the OD program.  When they enter their third year as full-time in the PhD program, students are eligible to receive teaching and research assistantships.  As of September 2013, the current graduate assistantship stipend level is $30,000 per year.

Download Graduate Policy Document for a detailed description of the OD/PhD curriculum and requirements:

Graduate Policy Document

Requirements for Admission to the OD/PhD in Vision Science

An applicant must have completed the following requirements to be considered for admission to the OD/PhD Program:

  • Enrolled as a full-time OD student at SUNY College of Optometry
  • Graduate Record Examination (general aptitude tests institutional code 2897) For information on on test locations and dates visit the Educational Testing Service website.
  • Three letters of recommendation submitted to the Admissions Office.   Letters from past research mentors are optional, but can strengthen your application.
  • Applicants should contact the Admissions Office to have any test scores, letters of recommendation, or college transcripts originally provided in their OD program application, transferred to their OD/PhD Program application.
  • Applicants must meet with potential advisor(s) to discuss possible research projects prior to applying to the OD/PhD Program.   Applicants must list a preferred research advisor and provide a synopsis of a proposed project in their applications.

Important Dates

Students applying for OD/PhD program must first be accepted into the OD program before applying.    The deadline for submitting the application to the OD/PhD Program is November 30th.