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 Professional (O.D.) Program:
To be eligible for admission, students must have a baccalaureate degree of any major and a grade of “C” or better in each required prerequisite course. While there is no minimum GPA required for application, the College of Optometry will generally not consider applicants with an overall GPA of less than a 3.00 to be competitive for admission. Students may apply for admission while completing these 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 Professional year.
Prerequisite Coursework for Admission:
- General Biological Sciences with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)
- Advanced Biology related to human science - 2 upper-level courses (8 credit hours)
- Microbiology with Lab - 1 course (4 credit hours)
- Fundamentals of Chemistry with Labs - 2 courses (8 credit hours)
- Organic Chemistry with Lab - 1 course (4 credit hours)
- Biochemistry - 1 course (3 credit hours)
- General Physics with Labs - 2 courses (8 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:
- complete an application via OptomCAS, during which the applicant will submit official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work, complete a brief essay, submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation, and list professional work and job shadowing experiences;
- pay the OptomCAS application fee of $170.00;
- complete the UHCO supplemental application (available via the UHCO web site during open application periods); and
- pay the UHCO supplemental application fee of $50.00;
- and, complete the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) in time for scores to be verified by March 30 prior to the semester in which the applicant expects to enter the O.D. program.
Applications for admission via OptomCAS are accepted between July 1 and March 30 prior to the fall semester in which the applicant expects to enter the O.D. program. All supporting materials are due by March 30 prior to the semester in which the applicant expects to enter.
All supporting material should be sent to:
The University of Houston College of Optometry
Office of Optometry Relations
4901 Calhoun Rd.
J. Davis Armistead Building
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 OAT is a standardized examination sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information and required by all schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and the University of Waterloo, Canada. The OAT consists of: 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 elect to complete two or more years of college prior to taking the exam. Although examinees are able to take the OAT’s an unlimited amount of times; waiting at least 90 days between attempts, only scores from the four most recent attempts are reported. The total number of attempts will also be reported. While there is no minimum score required for admission to UHCO’s O.D. program, a Total Science score of 330 (200-400 scale) is considered competitive. For subject information, application to take the OAT, scoring procedures, study guides, and more, please visit: http://www.ada.org/en/oat. Additional information may be found at http://www.opted.org or write/call:
Optometric Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
Three (3) Letters of Recommendation:
Letters of recommendation must be requested via and submitted directly to OptomCAS. A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required, but OptomCAS will accept a maximum of four. Additionally, UHCO requires that TWO of the three letters be academic letters of recommendation written by college or university faculty members 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. Letter not sent electronically to OptomCAS by the reviewer but instead sent directly to The College of Optometry will not be accepted.
OptomCAS does not provide all of the information required by the College of Optometry. Therefore, applicants will be required to complete a UHCO Supplemental Application. This application will be available at: http://www.opt.uh.edu; only after an OptomCAS 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 is required. The OptomCAS application, UHCO Supplemental Application and all supporting materials must be completed and received by the University of Houston College of Optometry, Office of Optometry Relations by March 30 prior to the Fall semester in which the applicant is expected to enter. It may take 4-6 weeks after submission for the OptomCAS application to be verified by OptomCAS and delivered electronically to the College. For more information, visit http://www.opt.uh.edu.
An interview is required for admission, and competitive applicants will be invited for on-campus interviews until the class is filled. Not all applicants are interviewed. The interview allows UHCO’s administration to learn more about an applicant’s passion for optometry, preparation for UHCO’s curriculum, why he/she has chosen to apply to UHCO, and more. Additionally, applicants have the opportunity to experience first-hand UHCO’s facilities; visit with current students; and connect with UHCO’s didactic, clinical, and research faculty.
Criminal Background Checks:
The College of Optometry requires that newly admitted applicants to the Professional Optometric Program, complete and successfully pass a Criminal Background Check (CBC) prior to matriculation. Offers of admission are contingent upon the outcome of the CBC which will be reviewed by the UHCO Admission Committee. Students are expected to complete a second CBC in their fourth professional year, prior to beginning external rotations (externships) at all US Federal Clinical sites (VA Hospitals, military sites, Indian Health Services). This CBC is required 6-12 weeks prior to the date the externship begins and/or as determined by the site. The fee for the CBS is the responsibility of the student.
An applicant accepted into the University of Houston College of Optometry Professional Program must present proof of adequate immunization against: rubeola (common measles), rubella (German measles), mumps, varicella (chicken pox), tetanus and Hepatitis B, prior to the beginning of the first Professional year.
A negative TB skin test or chest clearance must be documented no sooner than three months prior to beginning the fall term of the first professional year. Thereafter, a student must submit documentation of a negative TB skin test or chest clearance to the University of Houston College of Optometry Office of Optometry Relations.
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.