PhD in Vision Science

Vision science is a highly multidisciplinary field that encompasses basic, translational and clinical research in areas of biology, chemistry, physics, applied mathematics, engineering as well as molecular, cellular, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. The Graduate Program in Vision Science embraces this inherent diversity as the foundation for a robust program offering training that intersects these varied disciplines. Students in the graduate program may work towards either a PhD or MS degree in Vision Science.

The doctoral program provides intensive training for students interested in a research career in academia or industry. PhD students participate in a series of courses, seminars, tutorials and journal clubs and receive intensive training in selected areas of vision research. Students must complete an original doctoral dissertation project in basic, translational or clinical vision research.

The PhD in Vision Science requires the completion of 80 semester hours of course credit. The core curriculum requirements include a year-long Proseminar, which provides a comprehensive introduction to vision science, a minimum of five seminars/tutorials, an introduction to statistical methods, and a course in ethics in research. In addition, students must complete a minimum of two laboratory rotations during the first year. 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. By the end of their third year in the program, 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. PhD students are eligible for financial support through graduate student stipends, tuition waivers, grants and fellowships.

Requirements for Admission to the PhD Program

An applicant must have completed the following requirements to be considered for admission to the PhD in Vision Science Program:

  • Baccalaureate or professional degree
  • Graduate Record Examination (general aptitude tests institutional code 2897) For information about GRE test locations and dates please visit the Education Testing Service website.
  • Competence in both written and spoken English. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit Scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the Test of Spoken English.
  • Three letters of recommendation mailed directly from the recommender to: Ms. Briana Aizin
    The Office of Graduate Admissions, SUNY College of Optometry, GCVR
    33 West 42nd Street,
    New York, NY 10036
    or emailed as a pdf file with a valid signature to
  • Official transcripts of all college and postgraduate courses.
Tuition Waivers and Graduate Assistantships

Full-time PhD students receive tuition waivers and stipends. The stipends are usually in the form of graduate assistantships. As of Fall 2019, the current graduate assistantship stipend is $35,676 per year. Graduate students with an OD degree and a NYS optometric license may also apply for part-time clinical appointments.

Important Dates for PhD Admission

Applications for Fall 2021 will be evaluated on a rolling admissions basis.

Click Here to Apply to the PhD in Vision Science Program

Application Fee

There is a $75 application fee for the PhD in Vision Science application. If you have previously submitted your application, please pay the application fee.

The Graduate Program in Vision Science provides comprehensive research training that positions our students to achieve career success and make significant contributions to the field. It combines a rigorous, intellectual program of study and research with an interactive, collegial sense of community.

  • We have developed a flexible curriculum that can be tailored to the needs of our students, who come to our program with a broad range of interests and from diverse educational backgrounds. Courses stress analysis and discussion of the primary literature and provide training in key skills necessary for a research career in academia or industry.
  • Students can choose from approximately 25 faculty mentors for their thesis research. Look through a complete list of our program’s research faculty, which includes links to their individual or lab web pages.
  • From first year lab rotations, the qualifying exam, and the thesis defense, students receive regular guidance and mentoring from faculty and are evaluated at important milestones to ensure that they progress successfully through the program. Read more about mentoring and milestones of our graduate students.
  • In addition, students attend journal clubs, weekly research colloquia, and additional annual community events, such as the VisioNYC seminar series, which brings together dozens of vision scientists in the New York metropolitan area our spring retreat held in upstate New York.


The Graduate Program in Vision Science operates within the Graduate Center for Vision Research (GCVR). For a concise overview of the program, including its admission requirements, degree requirements and curriculum, please download our Graduate Policy Document or Doctoral Student Handbook.

For more information on the Graduate Program in Vision Science, please contact:

Briana Aizin
Graduate Center for Vision Research
SUNY College of Optometry
33 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 938-5544