Graduate Program in Physiological Optics / Vision Science
The Graduate Program in Physiological Optics/Vision Science (http://www.opt.uh.edu/academics/graduate/index.cfm) confers an M.S. and/or Ph.D. degree and prepares students to embark on a career in teaching and/or research in the basic or clinical science of vision. Students are accepted into the program with a minimum of a B.S. degree (or the equivalent) from a variety of fields such as optometry, physiological optics, vision sciences, medicine, ophthalmology, structural and functional biosciences, neuroscience, psychology, optics, optical engineering, bioengineering, and biophysics.
The need for new knowledge in the vision sciences is great, and teaching and research opportunities are numerous in a spectrum of academic, industrial, and professional settings. Although the program has sufficient structure to provide a broad base of scientific knowledge about visual systems, it is at the same time appropriately flexible to permit students to develop expertise in areas of special interest. Students will join the labs of faculty mentors who are studying normal and abnormal visual processes, diseases and disorders of the eye and visual pathways and the development of treatments to prevent loss of vision using a variety of approaches ranging from molecular and cellular, to behavioral and optical.
Admission Requirements for the M.S./Ph.D Program:
Admittance to the graduate program in physiological optics/vision science normally requires the following:
- A Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited academic or professional institution comparable to the Bachelor of Science degree awarded at the University of Houston
- Sufficient training to undertake graduate study in physiological optics
- A grade point average of B (3.00) or above in all previous college-level work with particular attention being given to science courses
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test. Historically, students who score below 300 total for verbal and quantitative sections, or 3.5 on the written/analytical section are typically not competitive.
- Satisfactory evaluation and recommendation by three professors or others familiar with the applicant’s scholarship and research potential.
- Proficiency in speaking and writing English. International students whose native language is not English are expected to take a proficiency exam with a score of 213 or better - computer, 79-internet, on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) with a score of 6.5 or better.
- For the O.D./M.S. Program, a grade point average of B (3.00) or above for courses completed in Optometry school, and participation in research, generally in the O.D. summer research program during the summer between the first and second year.
Applying for Admission
For information on the application process to the graduate program (M.S./Ph.D.) in Physiological Optics and Vision Science, visit the graduate application information website.
Admission Requirements for the O.D. Program:
To be eligible for admission, students must have a baccalaureate degree and a grade of “C” or better in each required prerequisite course. The College of Optometry will generally not consider applicants unless they have achieved at least a B average for all college work. Students may apply for admission while completing their undergraduate admission requirements. Check the website for the admission deadlines and information. Students already in the Optometry program who are eligible (may apply for the O.D./M.S. program in the fall of the second year of the O.D. program, following the instructions for applying for the M.S. degree.
Prerequisites for Admittance:
- Advanced Biology related to human science - 2 Upper-level Courses (8 credit hours)
- Fundamentals of Chemistry with Labs - 2 Courses (8 credit hours)
- Biological Sciences with Labs - 2 Courses (8 credit hours)
- General Physics with Labs - 2 Courses (8 credit hours)
- Organic Chemistry with Lab - 1 Course (4 credit hours)
- Microbiology with Lab - 1 Course (4 credit hours)
- Biochemistry - 1 Course (3 credit hours)
- Calculus - 1 Course (3 credit hours)
- Statistics - 1 Course (3 credit hours)
- Psychology - 1 Course (3 credit hours)
Completed Application Procedure
All applicants must begin by completing an application via OptomCAS (http://www.optomcas.org/), followed by the UHCO Supplemental Application (available via the UHCO web site during the open application periods). Application for admission from OptomCAS and the UHCO Supplemental Application will be accepted starting July 1 through February 15 prior to the fall semester in which the applicant expects to enter. All supporting credentials must be received in the UHCO Office of Optometry Relations by March 15 prior to the semester in which the applicant expects to enter. A fifty-dollar ($50) non-refundable application fee is required. All supporting credentials should be sent to the following address:
University of Houston College of Optometry
Office of Optometry Relations
4901 Calhoun Rd.
J. Davis Armistead Building
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204-2020
Applicants will not need to submit official copies of their undergraduate transcripts to the Office of Optometry Relations for review as that information is submitted via his/her OptomCAS application. After an extended offer of admission is accepted, students should submit a final, official, degree-posted copy of his/her transcript to the Office of Optometry Relations.
Optometry Admission Test (OAT):
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program. All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States and the University of Waterloo, Canada, require the OAT. The OAT consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning. At least one year of college education, which should include courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics, is required prior to taking the OAT. Most students, however, elect to complete two or more years of college prior to taking the exam. The OAT is computerized, and examinees are allowed to take the OAT an unlimited number of times but must wait at least 90 days between testing dates. However, only scores from the four most recent attempts and the total number of attempts will be reported. An applicant may submit his/her application for the OAT and/or request additional copies of score reports online. For additional information on the OAT, please visit http://www.opted.org or call or write the Optometric Admission Testing Program, 800-232-2159; 211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60611-2678.
Three (3) Letters of Recommendation:
Letters of recommendation must be requested through OptomCAS and sent directly to OptomCAS. OptomCAS requires three letters of recommendation but will accept a maximum of four letters. In addition, the University of Houston College of Optometry requires that TWO of the three letters be academic letters of recommendation. That is, two letters must be from faculty who have directly taught the applicant. UHCO strongly recommends that the third letter of recommendation be from an optometrist with whom the applicant has trained and/or shadowed. Remember, letters of recommendation should be sent electronically directly to OptomCAS by the reviewer and not to UHCO or any other optometry school.
OptomCAS does not provide all of the information required by UHCO. Therefore, applicants will be required to complete a UHCO Supplemental Application. The UHCO Supplemental Application will be available to applicants on our web site (http://www.opt.uh.edu) as soon as theOptomCAS application is submitted and an OptomCAS ID is generated. The UHCO Supplemental Application ID will be the same as the OptomCAS ID. A fifty-dollar ($50 US) non-refundable application fee for the UHCO Supplemental Application is required. Students must complete the OptomCAS application and the UHCO Supplemental Application by February 15 prior to the Fall semester in which they expect to enter. All applications and supporting credentials must be received in the UHCO Office of Optometry Relations by March 15 prior to the semester in which a student expects to enter. It may take 4-6 weeks after submission for the OptomCAS application to be verified by OptomCAS and delivered electronically to UHCO. For more information, visit our web site at http://www.opt.uh.edu.
An interview is required for admission to the UHCO OD program. Applicants who are deemed to be competitive will be invited for an on-campus interview until the class is filled. Not all applicants are interviewed. The interview is not an adversarial process but is designed for UHCO administrators and faculty to get to know the applicant and for the applicant to get to know more about UHCO.
In order for a student to be considered for transfer from another professional optometry program, the student must have satisfactorily completed at least one year of course work and be in good academic standing in a school of optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council on Education of the American Optometric Association. The student must also submit an official transcript, a letter stating the reasons for the transfer request, and a letter from the dean supporting the request for transfer to UHCO. Unless the student is in the upper half of the class and presents justifiable reasons for requesting a transfer, such requests are ordinarily denied. The transfer student decision is based on space available in the class and compatibility of curricula between the two schools.
Master of Science Track
The Master of Science (M.S.) track requires about two years of study, including 30 semester hours of coursework and research, teaching experience, and a research project with a written thesis. The thesis committee must consist of a minimum of three faculty members, at least two of which are from within the graduate program; one member may be external to the program, from academia or industry, and is approved by the graduate program. Acceptance into the full-time M.S. program is often accompanied by program financial support, teaching or research assistantships. A combined O.D./M.S. program is also offered.
Combined O.D./M.S. Track
A combined O.D./M.S. program is available for enrolled optometry students who wish to pursue a Master’s of Science (M.S., in Physiological Optics and Vision Science) degree concurrently with the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. This program runs simultaneously with the O.D. program, with students entering in the second year of the O.D. program. In addition to a total of 30 semesters hours of coursework (12 overlapping with O.D. coursework) and research hours, the combined O.D./M.S. program requires a written thesis based on original research. The thesis committee is of the same composition as for M.S. students. The research project can be an extension of prior research, such as during optometry’s federally funded summer research training program for O.D. students.
Doctor of Philosophy Track
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) track normally requires at least four years of study, including 60 semester hours of coursework and research hours, teaching experience, a foreign language or research skill, qualifying examinations, and a written dissertation based on a body of original research. Dissertation committees for Ph.D. students must consist of a minimum of four members, including three faculty members from the graduate program, and one member external to the graduate program from academia and/or industry who is approved by the graduate program. Acceptance into the full-time Ph.D. program is generally accompanied by program financial support, teaching or research assistantships. Placement in an accelerated Ph.D. (O.D./Ph.D.) program for O.D./M.S. students is also offered.