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Pictured above is Ph.D. student Kent Harrington, O.D., with the high intensity flicker photometer he designed for his dissertation project. Kent, a 1988 graduate of the College of Optometry program, returned to the college in 2001 and is sponsored by the United States Air Force.

Graduate Studies in Vision Science
Thank you for your interest in studying vision. This section provides information about the Master's of Science (M. S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) degrees. The M. S. program offers research-oriented training beyond that offered in undergraduate programs or in health-care programs. Many optometry schools require that applicants for faculty positions hold an M. S. or Ph.D. degree. Additional employment opportunities are found in industry and in research foundations. The Ph.D. programs prepares students as research professionals in vision science. Employment opportunities are available in college or university teaching and research, in research institutes, and in industry.

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Graduate Student Handbook

To apply, please see the online application. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Student Services, College of Optometry, University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Boulevard, St. Louis MO 63121. The College of Optometry also offers a four-year year program of study leading to the O. D. (Doctor of Optometry) and professional licensure as a health-care provider. Inquiries about that program should be addressed to: Chairperson, Admissions Committee, College of Optometry, University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Boulevard, St. Louis MO 63121.

Vision Science is a multidisciplinary area concerned with the study of normal and anomalous vision. The goal of this program in Vision Science is to train the next generation of researchers in clinical and basic vision science, to conduct research, and to educate faculty for schools of optometry. Students will be required to integrate basic skills in vision science with focal studies in an area of research emphasis. This program will emphasize research aimed at new treatments and cures for vision disorders as well as research in basic mechanisms of visual functions. The College of Optometry offers both an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. degree. Students may apply to the Graduate School for admission to either the M.S. or the Ph.D. program.


Admission Requirements
Students should have the appropriate background for graduate training in vision science and appropriate undergraduate courses for their anticipated research emphasis. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university within the United States or from an equivalent institution outside of the United States. In order to be admitted as regular graduate students, applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (where A= 4.0) in their overall undergraduate work, in their undergraduate major and in any post-baccalaureate academic work. Students must arrange for transcripts of all post-secondary academic work to be sent and to have at least 3 letters of recommendation sent by faculty members at previously attended colleges and universities. Applicants for the M.S. program must have combined scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) of at least 1000, and applicants to the Ph.D. program must have combined scores of at least 1100. In addition, students from countries where English is not a primary language must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores of 550 or better. All materials and scores must be submitted before an application for admission can be decided.


Master of Science in Vision Science

Degree Requirements:
The M.S. degree requires 30 semester hours of course work, including the core courses. At least 25 of these hours will normally be taken from courses offered by the College of Optometry with no more than 10 of these in Vision Science 490 - Graduate Research in Vision Science. Each M.S. student will be required to teach at least two semesters in areas determined by the Graduate Committee in Vision Science. Each M.S. student must also complete a thesis based on research conducted during the program. The thesis must be approved by a committee of at least 3 members of the graduate faculty, at least two of which must be from the graduate faculty in Vision Science.

The Core Courses for this program are:

  • VisSci 6400-Sensory Processes and Perception (3 credits)
  • VisSci 6401-Visual Optics (3 credits)
  • VisSci 6402-Ocular Anatomy and Physiology (3 credits)
  • VisSci 6403-Psychophysical Methods and Experimental Design (3 credits)
  • VisSci 6404-Sensory Neuroscience (3 credits)
  • Special Topics, Individual Studies and Advanced Topics courses in Vision Science are also offered.

Ph.D. in Vision Science

Degree Requirements:
The doctor's degree requires 60 semester hours of coursework, including the core courses. Each Ph.D. student will also be required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language, computer language, advanced statistical methods, or another acceptable tool skill. The tool skill and level of proficiency must be selected in advance in consultation with the Graduate Committee in Vision Science. Students will be required to teach at least two semesters in areas determined by the Graduate Committee in Vision Science. Written qualifying examinations, required for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D., are given at the end of each semester. The preparation of the dissertation will be supervised by a dissertation committee, which will be selected by the student and the student's advisor and will consist of at least three members of the graduate faculty, at least two of which must be from the doctoral faculty in Vision Science. An oral examination of the written dissertation proposal will be conducted by the Committee. An oral defense of the completed written dissertation is also required.

The Core Courses for this program are:

  • VisSci 6400-Sensory Processes and Perception
  • VisSci 6401-Visual Optics
  • VisSci 6402-Ocular Anatomy and Physiology
  • VisSci 6403-Psychophysical Methods and Experimental Design
  • VisSci 6404-Sensory Neuroscience
  • Special Topics, Individual Studies and Advanced Topics courses in Vision Science are also offered.