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Graduate Programs

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 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:

Debra Berger
Graduate Center for Vision Research
SUNY College of Optometry
33 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 938-5540
Email: dberger@sunyopt.edu

OD/MS in Vision Science

Master of Science students receive a broad education in a variety of areas of vision science as well as training in the concepts and methods used in both basic and clinical research. A total of 40 semester credit hours in courses or research is required. In addition, students must complete a thesis and oral defense. The combined OD/MS degree program is designed for students interested in conducting independent, original research as an adjunct to their optometric education, including those aspiring to a career in academia.

Qualified first year OD students at the SUNY College of Optometry may apply for admission into the Graduate Program in Vision Science leading to the joint OD/MS degree. OD students apply to the OD/MS program during the Fall semester of their first year in the OD Program. Accepted students enter the MS degree program in the Spring Semester of their first year. Elective time during the regular academic year and summers is devoted to graduate courses and research. This enables students to fulfill both OD and MS degree requirements within four years.

Graduate Policy Document

Students who are accepted into the OD/MS program do not pay any additional tuition for the MS degree portion during the four years they are enrolled in the OD program. In addition, OD/MS students may apply for support from the College’s NEI T35 short-term training grant during the summers they devote to research.

Requirements for Admission to the OD/MS Program in Vision Science

To be considered for admission to the OD/MS Program in Vision Science, an applicant must have completed the following requirements:

  • Enrolled as a full-time OD student at the SUNY College of Optometry
  • Submission of OAT scores
  • Three letters of recommendation submitted to the Admissions Office.  Letters from past research mentors are optional, but can strengthen your application.
  • Official transcripts of all college and postgraduate courses.
  • 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/MS Program application.
  • Applicants must meet with potential advisor(s) to discuss possible research projects prior to applying to the OD/MS Program.   Applicants must list a preferred advisor and provide a synopsis of a proposed research project in their applications.

Application Deadline

The deadline for submitting the completed application to the OD/MS Program is November 30.

 

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 the 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 first year in the OD Program. If accepted, they enter the dual degree program in the Spring Semester of their first 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 $33,000 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 the 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.

 

PhD in Vision Science Program


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 in different designated Option List areas, 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.

Download Graduate Policy Document and Doctoral Student Handbook for detailed description of the PhD curriculum and requirements:

Graduate Policy Document
Doctoral Student Handbook

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 September 2014, the current graduate assistantship stipend was $33,000 per year.  Graduate students with an OD degree and a NYS optometric license may also apply for part-time clinical appointments.

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 the Admissions Office or sent directly email.
  • Official transcripts of all college and postgraduate courses.

Important Dates for PhD Admission

  • The deadline for completed applications for admission to the PhD Program in Vision Science is January 15 for Fall semester.
  • Applicants are notified no later than April 1 and are required to respond with a decision no later than April 15.

 

 

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.