Academic Procedures | Vision Science

Academic Advisor

  • Upon admission to a graduate studies program, the Vision Science Program Committee will assign an academic advisor to help you prepare a proposed program of study until a thesis advisor is selected and reported to the Director of the Graduate Program.

  • The function of the academic advisor is to represent the department to the student: to explain the degree requirements, to get on the case if the student is falling behind the progress, and to aprove the student's class schedule.

  • Students should consult with their academic advisor before the time for course registration and whenever he/she is having difficulties, academically or in other aspects of their graduate life. The academic advisor may be able to act as advocate for the student, either in representing him/her to the college or in providing pointers to resources of assistance. 

 

Coursework

  • The MS program is designed to be completed in 5 semeters / terms, The default MS curriculum can be found on the MS Curicuum page.

  • Full-time students need to take 9 credits or more in fall and spring semester. International students need to maintain full-time status during the study time. Please consult with the Office of International Programs if any concerns.

Course Substitution (Credit Transfer) and Course Waiver

  • ​Based on the student's prior coursework taken for credits, non-coursework activities (e.g., professional training or license qualification exams), or current memorandum of understanding between an educational program / research institute and Pacific University, students may apply for course substitution or course waiver.

  • A maximum of one-third of the minimal credit requirement for the degree may be satisfied by course substitution or course waiver. Exceptions may be made by the VSG Committee.

Course substitution (credit transfer)

  • A course or courses of equal or greater credits taken earlier at Pacific University or another institution may be used in place of a required course in the VSG curriculum.
  • To be considered for course substitution, the course credit(s) earned earlier must:
    • be taken for credit at an accredited academic institution within the past five academic years,
    • have covered comparable course content,
    • have completed with a grade of B or better (“pass” grade is not eligible), and
    • have not been used toward another degree.
  • Students must provide supporting documentation (e.g., copies of the official transcript, course description, syllabus) to the Office of Academic Programs.
  • Approval of course substitution awards the student credits of the substituted VSG course, but the transferred grade will not appear on the transcript nor be included in the calculation of the student’s GPA.

Course Waiver 

  • When a required course is shown to be met through non-credit-bearing activities (e.g., proficiency or exam results) or earlier coursework for another degree, a student may petition for waiver of the course.
  • Students must provide official documentation (e.g., certificate, license, transcripts and syllabus, etc.) along with necessary details for application.
  • Course waiver does not result in the awarding of credit but excuses the student from taking the required course and creates additional elective time for the student; the student must register for additional elective credits equal to or greater than the credits that were waived.
  • The VSG COmmittee has pre-approved the subsitution of the OD/MS students or graduates of ACOE-approved programs for the following courses:
    • OPT-501: Geometric & Physical Optics with Lab
    • OPT-502: Geometric & Physical Optics II with Lab
    • OPT-503: Physiological Optics I with Lab
    • OPT-531: Ocular Anatomy Physiology & Biochemistry with Lab
    • OPT-532: Anatomy of the Visual System with Lab
    • OPT-662: Visual Info Processing & Perception
    • OPT 701: Physiological Optics I
    • OPT-914: Discussion of Optometric Clinical Care
    • OPT 915: Practice of Clinical Skills

Processes for Course Substitution/Waiver

  • A student wishing to petition for a course substitution or waiver should present sufficient documentation and justification along with a written application for Course Substitution/Waiver to the Director of the Vision Science Graduate Program. Once approved, the VSG Director will forward the documents to the Office of Academic Programs at the time for pre-registering for the next term’s course or at another designated time.
  • The Academic Dean will review the student’s petition and consult the instructor(s) as needed to decide whether to approve the student’s petition, and inform the student of the final decision.
  • The petition may be reviewed by the course instructor(s), with any appropriate evaluation methods in deciding whether to grant the petition.
  • The VSG Committee has pre-approved a list of courses for course substitution under specified circumstances. Pre-approved substituted courses for students with an OD degree from an ACOE accredited program, provided that the courses were completed within the last five years, or the student has received COPE (Council on Optometric Practitioner Education) approved continuing education after graduation and maintain a valid license. The substituted courses will not be counted toward the student’s GPA.

 

Thesis Advisor & Thesis Committee

Thesis Advisor

  • Thesis advisor is the person who supervises a MS student's thesis research. Student should identify a faculty as his/her thesis advisor by the end of the first year, if not earlier, with assistance from the VSG Program if needed.
  • How to choose a thesis advisor:
    • Your choice of thesis advisor is one of the most important decisions you'll make as a MS student. The thesis advising process is like apprenticeship and the advisor-advisee relationship can be very personal. You and your advisor should fit well enough to get your thesis research done at a proper pace.
    • There is a lot of informal knowledge both of technical aspects of the knowledge field and of the research process that is not published. You may also consider the style of advisory that you need, such as how much well-defined direction or guidance you need, how much contact you want, or how much emotional support you desire to have, even the possible help on your career development.
    • You may ask the VSG Committee or the Director for guidance on your initial choice of advisor and then go talk to as many faculty members as you can in person.
    • Try to get a feel for what they are like, what they are interested in, and what their research and supervision styles are like before asking for his/her assistance as your thesis advisor. Still, don't be fully depend on your advisor for your thesis research.
  • Once a thesis advisor is determined, the student must notify the Director of the Graduate Program through email and copy the thesis advisor. Your thesis advisor will then replace the role of the academic advisor to advise you on your curriculum, thesis research and general graduate life.
  • Request of changing of thesis advisor must be submitted to the VSG Director and be approved before it can take effect.
  • The thesis advisor will become the academic advisor and serve as the chair of the thesis advisory committee with the following responsibilities:
    • Finalize the student's plan of study,
    • Evaluate his/her academic performance,
    • Oversee the thesis proposal,
    • Choose the thesis committee,
    • Provide guidance on the thesis,
    • Supervise thesis progress and preparation of the oral defense,
    • Submit the result of the thesis examination to the Director of the Graduate Program, and
    • Ensure that all degree requirements are met for graduation.
    • The thesis advisor will serve as the chair of the student's Master’s Thesis Committee and to assist and guide the student through the process of thesis production, from selection of the thesis topic and the members of the thesis committee, study design, proposal preparation, submission of IRB proposal, preparation for the experiment, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, thesis writing, planning for thesis defense, and serving as the chair during the thesis defense. The thesis advisor should also check that the student meets all coursework requirements before accepting his/her final thesis.

Thesis Committee

  • Students are expected to form a Thesis Committee as soon as they chose a thesis advisor and have settled on the topic and scope of the thesis project, ideally by the beginning of the second year. This is done by consulting with their thesis advisor.
  • Each MS Thesis Committee should have no less than three members, including the student's thesis advisor, and at least two of the committee members must be Pacific University faculty members. Other committee member(s) may be faculty of other institute or non-faculty expert(s) in the subject field.
  • Students are required to meet with their thesis committee at least once before the thesis defense, preferably during the stage of preparing their thesis proposal. Students are encouraged to meet with their thesis committee, either individually or as a group, as frequently as they can to get their feedback and guidance on the thesis research.
  • Students are encouraged to take elective courses with faculty members of their thesis committee, including their thesis advisor, on topics related to their thesis. Students may also repeat OPT 995 Thesis Research multiple times with their thesis advisor.

 

Proposal & Thesis Writing

Thesis proposal

  • Prior to registration of OPT 995 Thesis Research, the MS student should submit his/her thesis proposal to the Director of the VSG Program listing the research question and research hypotheses with a brief description of supporting literature.
  • Research involving human subjects must obtain approval from Pacific University IRB.
  • In the early stage of the thesis planning, or at least before data collection, the student should submit a complete research proposal to his/her thesis committee for approval. It is better to obtain feedback and suggestions from the committee before or around the time to submit the IRB proposal. Here is the suggested thesis proposal outline.

Thesis Preparation

  • Students should write their thesis as intended for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • The writing format may differ by the chosen journal or based on the suggestion of the thesis advisor. Usually it should include the following sections: Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, References, and Appendixes (optional). Here is a Thesis Template for your reference. You may contact the Director of VSG Program for a copy of the template in Word format.

 

Thesis Defense & Graduation

Prior to the defense

  • The completed written thesis must pass the oral examination of his or her thesis committee.
  • Prior to the scheduling of the thesis defense, all courses on the plan of study must have been successfully completed or scheduled to be completed by the end of the current term
  • At least one month before the intended defense date, the student should contact the Office of Academic Programs and the VSG Director for the chosen date of MS thesis defense. The actual date and location of the thesis defense may change depending on the availability.
  • At least two weeks prior to the scheduled date of defense, the student should send the complete written thesis to the thesis committee for their review.
  • The thesis defense is open to all college members and should be announced at least one week before the scheduled date.

On the day of the defense

  • The thesis advisor will be the default chair of the MS Thesis Defense but can be changed to other committee members as needed.
  • The questions of the oral defense are not limited to the content of the thesis. The thesis committee may choose to ask questions related to the graduate study of the student.
  • The student will be notified of the outcome immediately following the defense (Pass/No Pass).
    • Passing the thesis defense requires unanimous agreement from the student’s Thesis Committee.
    • The Committee may elect to
      • Pass the student without revision or with suggesteive revisions on the thesis;
      • Pass the student with conditions with required revisions  on the thesis. If so, the required changes must be made before a final written approval on the signature page is given by the Committee. The signature page should not be signed until all of the Thesis Committee members are satisfied with the written thesis.
      • Not pass the student on the thesis. If so, the Committee should clearly list the items that the student needs to work on, preferrably with suggested steps to improve the thesis.

Post-defense

  • The thesis advisor should inform the Director of the VSG Program the result of the thesis defense immediately after the thesis defense. Proper steps should be followed up by the thesis advisor and the VSG program.
  • Thesis defense taht is marked as "Not-pass" may be appealed by the student to the Dean of the College of Optometry and to the Provost, or the student may elect to defend again at least 30 days after the initial thesis defense. 
  • Unless successfully appealed, a "not-passed" thesis should be re-examined. The student needs to go through the defense process again with the same steps. The signature page should not be signed until all of the Thesis Committee members are satisfied with the written thesis.
  • A file of complete written thesis approved by the thesis committee must be submitted to the Director of the Vision Science Graduate Program before awarded of the degree.Please see the thesis submission guideline.

Application for Graduation

  • A course or courses of equal or greater credits taken earlier at Pacific University or another institution may be used in place of a required course in the VSG curriculum.
  • To be considered for course substitution, the course credit(s) earned earlier must:
  • Students must provide supporting documentation (e.g., copies of the official transcript, course description, syllabus) to the Office of Academic Programs.
  • Approval of course substitution awards the student credits of the substituted VSG course, but the transferred grade will not appear on the transcript nor be included in the calculation of the student’s GPA.