Student Funding

The Vision Science Group is hosted by the School of Optometry and funded by a number of internal and external sources. We financially support students to fully cover the cost of graduate stipends, tuition and fees, and graduate conference travel for the first 2 years if the student is not funded by an external grant or fellowship. Starting in Year 3 support is provided by the thesis mentor.

Teaching

All students are required to teach for at least two semesters as a GSI. GSI appointments for students that are supported by an NIH training grant are at 24% (up to 9.6 hrs week average per semester), while all other students are appointed at 25% (up to 10 hrs week average per semester), although there is no difference in financial compensation for these two types of appointments. Salary for the GSI appointment is included in the stipend package that is provided by the program or sponsoring faculty. Students are expected to fulfill their teaching requirements in years 1 and 2. However, on a case by case basis, completion of the teaching requirement may be moved to years 3-5. For questions about this, please contact the Berkeley Optometry and Vision Science Admissions Office.

Training Grant and Research Mentor Funding

The NIH National Eye Institute Training Grant is the main source of funding for most Vision Science students in the first two years. It is the goal of the Vision Science Graduate Group to fully support all students (stipend, tuition, fees & health care) for five years. Federal government policy dictates that only US Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible for NIH funding. Not all students are supported by the Training Grant, and some may be supported by competitive UC Berkeley fellowships or are fully sponsored by a Vision Science Faculty member. The Vision Science Graduate Group fully supports students for their first two years of study. Starting in Year 3, full support is provided by the thesis mentor, usually by individual faculty research grants, and in some cases a combination of faculty research grants and a GSI appointment. Students are encouraged to apply for individual fellowships, support from foundations, or career development grants. Optometry (OD), medicine (MD) and other clinical degree graduates in the VS program that are funded through the NIH training grant are supported at the higher post-doctoral stipend level and have opportunities for substantial student loan repayment through the NIH loan repayment program (LRP).

Fellowship Bonus Program

The Vision Science Group has a bonus program for individual fellowship recipients to provide an incentive to encourage VS graduate students to apply for their own funding. Any student who is awarded a fellowship that is administered through our sponsored projects office (e.g., NSF), will receive a salary increment of $2,500 above the standard program salary of $31,000 for the duration of fellowship, or above the level of his or her fellowship stipend, whichever is higher. If a student is working in a lab, then the PI of the lab will be expected to pay the bonus, if funds are available. Some awards are not administered through the sponsored projects office (e.g., Ezell fellowship from the American Optometric Foundation), and in these cases, the student may receive the full amount as a one time personal check; these fellowships or awards are not eligible for the VSG Bonus Program.

External Fellowship Opportunities

We encourage our applicants and students to apply for various funding opportunities that might be available to them. UC Berkeley Graduate Division maintains a webpage containing information on awards and fellowships for entering and continuing students.

Grad Div Funding Info

Other Funding Sources

In addition, here is a list of funding opportunities that Vision Science researchers have been successful in obtaining: