Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum comprises a series of four courses split between the Fall and Spring semester of your first year. The series is intended to provide a general overview of the main topic areas in Vision Science for students of widely varying backgrounds. The Core Curriculum requirement must be fulfilled by the end of their first year. Each course must be passed with a B or better. Failure to achieve a B or better will require the course to be retaken the following year for a letter grade.

Optical and Neural Limits to Vision
This course will provide an overview of the early stage limits to human vision, from the eye’s optics to sampling and processing in the retina. Students will learn basic optical properties of the eye as well as objective and subjective techniques on how to measure limits of human vision. The class will comprise a combination of lectures and active learning by the students in the form of a project, to be presented at the end of the semester.

Introduction to Ocular Biology
This course will provide an overview of eye development, anterior eye ocular anatomy and physiology and ocular disease. The course will be a combination of didactic lectures and problem-based learning.

Introduction to Visual Neuroscience
This course will provide an overview of the neuroscience of vision, spanning the entire neural pathway from retinal neurobiology to cortical processing of visual signals. The class will comprise a combination of lectures and active learning by the students in the form of a project, to be presented at the end of the semester.

Seeing In Time, Space and Color
This course will provide an overview of how we see in time (temporal signal processing, eye motion, motion detection), space (stereo vision, depth perception), and color as well as the anatomical and physiological factors that facilitate these capabilities. The course will be series of didactic lectures.

Oxyopia Seminars

Oxyopia seminars are presented to the Vision Science and campus community on a weekly basis during the academic year. These seminars are given by local and visiting researchers and are an excellent way for students to become more familiar with the most recent
developments in vision research. All graduate students, faculty and postdocs are welcomed and encouraged to attend. All first-year and second-year students must take Oxyopia for a letter grade. Starting in their 3rd year, all VS students are required to make an annual presentation on a current research project at the Oxyopia lecture series.

Credit obtained under course VS 298, Section 1 (1 unit; letter grade).

Student Evening Research Seminar (SERS)

The goal of the Student Evening Research Seminar (SERS) is to provide a forum for VS graduate students to discuss and develop strategies for giving effective presentations and to have an opportunity to practice giving scientific presentations in an informal setting. SERS is required course for all first-year and second-year students although all graduate students, faculty and postdocs are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Credit obtained under VS 201B, Section 3 (2 units, S/U).

Survey of Laboratories

The goal of this course is to introduce first-year students to the faculty and labs in the Vision Science program. During the first year of the graduate program, students are presented with an overview of the various research opportunities represented in the Vision Science group. Weekly one-hour lecture and/or lab tours are presented by Vision Science faculty.

Credit obtained under course VS201A – Seminar in Vision Science (2 units, S/U)


In preparation for participation in research, each student is required to take the Ethics in Scientific Research course for a letter grade within the first 2 years of enrollment. Training in the responsible conduct of research is required for all students. This course examines a range of ethical issues that arise in the process of doing science.

Credit obtained under course VS230 – Ethics in Scientific Research (2 units, letter grade)

Teaching Methods

As Graduate Student Instructors in the School of Optometry, all first-year students are required to enroll in a teaching methods course. This course provides instruction in teaching methods and materials and opportunities to practice teaching in classrooms and laboratories.

Credit obtained under course VS375A (offered in Fall) and VS375B (offered in Spring)  – Teaching Methods in Vision Science (1 unit each and 2 units total, S/U)

Additional Coursework

The following represents fields of study that may be beneficial for student success but are not required courses.


Strongly recommended for most areas of Vision Science. Meet with your Graduate Advisor to discuss your statistics background and appropriate courses for your intended area of research.

Advanced Courses and Seminars

These are given as a continuation of the different themes established in the proseminar series. Courses offerings vary, and a complete list will be provided each semester. Please visit the Schedule of Classes for the most current listing.

Beyond Vision Science

Students may also consider courses offered by other departments on campus, according to their needs. Additional coursework is not recommended during the first 2 semesters. Students are encouraged to meet with their research advisor to discuss their needs and the options that are available to them.

As a PhD students you are eligible to take any course on campus during the academic year. This is a great perk and should be taken advantage of but please be aware that your tuition and fees does not extend into the summer so any summer courses taken will be paid out of pocket.