Program Requirements

The Ph.D. in Vision Science is conferred in recognition of the candidate’s command of a comprehensive body of knowledge in the field of vision science and its related disciplines, and their ability to initiate, organize, and pursue the investigation of significant problems in vision science. The program offers appropriate education for careers in teaching and/or research, in institutions of higher education, research centers and industry, where advanced analytical, conceptual and research capabilities are required.


Graduate students are required to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all academic coursework and must make satisfactory progress toward their degree. For each required course, a B or higher is considered a pass; a B- or lower is equivalent to a failing grade. All students must retake all non-passing grades at the next course offering, or as designated by the Chair. Students who do not achieve a passing grade in the Proseminar Series by the end of the second year will be placed on academic probation.

Students must remain in good standing in order to continue being funded by the program; academic probation is a potential basis for removing funding. The “official” Grade Point Average (GPA) is posted on the student’s transcript. Students are responsible for reviewing transcripts to ensure the grades are properly posted and classes taken are accurately listed.

Full-time Status

Graduate students at UC Berkeley are required to maintain “full-time” student status at all times during the academic year. For all students, full-time status is considered enrollment in 12 semester units of graduate or upper division courses each semester. Units may be coursework or research units (VS299).

Students are expected to be in-residence working on their research for the entire year, inclusive of Summer.  Students with special circumstances may seek exceptions with permission from both the Chair and the student's mentor.

Annual Reviews

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress, each year they are required to undergo an Annual Review by the program. Each year, following the VS Academic Advisors meeting, each student will be sent a letter outlining their progress. This letter will outline achievements, upcoming milestones, and any concerns about progress that were raised by the committee.

Student Involvement

Each year the Vision Science Graduate Group puts on a variety of events, in which student involvement is a critical component of success. Everyone is expected to help, but in particular the first- and second-year students will be called upon to act as leads for certain events. During the first year, students will be the leads for Bay Area Vision Research Day (BAVRD). During students’ second year, they will be the leads for Visit Day and New Student Orientation. As a lead, students will help plan and execute these events. Beyond the second year, students will be called upon to volunteer for various student panels and social events with the expectation that everyone volunteers occasionally.

Normative Time to Graduation

The UC Berkeley Graduate Division defines normative time as, “…the elapsed time (calculated to the nearest semester) that students would need to complete all requirements for the doctorate. Normative times for doctoral programs have been recommended by program faculty and approved by the Graduate Council. The usual total normative time for doctoral programs is 12 semesters.”

There are certain situations in which Normative Time can be modified. These are:

Students who are parents
Students with disabilities
Student previously enrolled in master’s programs at Berkeley

For more information please refer to the Graduate Division Guide to Policy.