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Vision Science (M.S., Ph.D.)

View PDF of Vision Science Admissions Checklist
Prospective students should use this checklist to obtain specific admissions requirements on how to apply to Graduate School.

View PDF version of the Vision Science catalog description

Degree Offered:

Ph.D.(Traditional and Sensory Impairment tracks), M.S., O.D./M.S.

Program Manager :

Dr. Stefanie Varghese

Phone:

(205) 934-6743

E-mail:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web site:

http://www.uab.edu/vsgp/

Faculty

Franklin R. Amthor, Professor (Psychology)

Claudio Busettini, Assistant Professor (Vision Sciences)

Stephen Barnes, Professor (Pharmacology/Toxicology)

William J. Benjamin, Professor (Optometry)

Christine A. Curcio, Professor (Ophthalmology)

Lawrence J. DeLucas, Professor (Optometry)

Allan C. Dobbins, Associate Professor (Biomedical Engineering)

Patti S. Fuhr, Clinical Associate Professor (Optometry)

Roderick J. Fullard, Associate Professor (Vision Sciences)

Paul D. R. Gamlin, Chair/Professor (Vision Sciences)

Timothy J. Gawne, Assistant Professor (Vision Sciences)

Christopher A. Girkin, Chair/Professor (Ophthalmology)

Alecia Gross, Assistant Professor (Vision Sciences)

Kent T. Keyser, Professor (Vision Sciences)

Robert N. Kleinstein, Professor (Optometry)

Timothy W. Kraft, Assistant Professor (Vision Sciences)

Robin A.J. Lester, Professor (Neurobiology)

Michael Loop, Associate Professor (Vision Sciences)

Lei Liu, Associate Professor (Optometry)

Lori McMahon, Professor (Cell, Developmental & Integrative Biology)

Thomas T. Norton, Professor (Vision Sciences)

Cynthia Owsley, Professor (Ophthalmology)

Steven J. Pittler, Professor (Vision Sciences)

Lawrence Sincich, Assistant Professor (Vision Sciences)

Harold Sontheimer, Professor (Neurobiology)

Om P. Srivastava, Professor (Vision Sciences)

Kristina Visscher, Assistant Professor (Neurobiology)

Shu-Zhen Wang, Associate Professor (Ophthalmology)

David Whikehart, Professor Emeritus (Vision Sciences)

Xincheng Yao, Assistant Professor (Biomedical Engineering)

Program Information

Envision yourself in a lab conducting cutting–edge research that may lead to improved treatments for glaucoma or cataract, gene therapy for blinding retinal diseases, or provide fundamental information on how the brain works so that we can we see. Envision yourself using the knowledge and research skills you gain as a student to establish your own research lab, serve as a scientific advisor to governments or the military, or teach at the graduate or undergraduate level. These are just a few of the many possibilities available to graduates of the Vision Science Graduate Program.

Through basic, translational, or clinical research, the Vision Science Graduate Program offers opportunities to investigate all facets of vision, including (but certainly not limited to) visual neuroscience, the genetics of blinding diseases, visual perception, all areas of the eye and the visual regions of the brain using a variety of techniques, including functional brain and eye imaging. Our didactic courses provide fundamental knowledge about the biological bases of vision. Laboratory research provides intensive involvement with a faculty member and other students to prepare students for postdoctoral study or other research environments. We have the most up-to-date advanced equipment to address our research from many avenues of exploration to solve the most difficult problems. We actively foster unique inter- and intra-departmental laboratory collaborative efforts to exploit the full benefits of UAB’s resources and explore students’ full potential.

Admission and Financial Aid

Applications for admission to the graduate program in vision science are reviewed by the Graduate Admissions and Advisory Committee.

M.S. Degree

O.D./M.S.

Ph.D. Traditional Track

Ph.D. Sensory Impairment Track

GRE Score Required

OAT Score Required

GRE Required

GRE or MAT recommended

 

Financial Assistance available to qualified students

Financial Assistance available to qualified students

 

M.S. Degree

Some students may wish to pursue graduate training at the master's level. Two calendar years are needed to complete the M.S. degree in vision science. Each candidate must complete a minimum of 30 hours of credit: 24 credit hours in vision science and 6 credit hours in related graduate courses.

In addition, the candidate must successfully complete a research thesis by the conclusion of the final year.

O.D./M.S.

Selected students in the UAB optometry professional program are encouraged to combine the O.D. degree with the M.S. degree in Vision Science. Financial assistance is available for qualified students. Potential candidates should have completed undergraduate degree in a biological, physical, or health science field.

Ph.D. Degree (Traditional and Sensory Impairment Tracks)

The Ph.D. degree is based upon completion of graduate course work, a qualifying examination, research, and a dissertation and defense. There is considerable flexibility in the coursework for the Ph.D. in vision science.

Each student is required to take the first-year core curriculum for their respective track.  Students then take three additional courses, selected by the student in consultation with the mentor, and a course in statistics and ethics. The program is flexible so that, for example, students who have interests in visual neuroscience may take courses in the neuroscience sequence: VIS 729, Introduction to Neurobiology; Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology; Integrative Neuroscience; and Developmental Neuroscience.

Other courses at a similar level can be substituted so that students can take maximum advantage of offerings in other programs. Individuals with clinical backgrounds will have an opportunity for clinical development. Students are also offered an opportunity to gain teaching experience.

Additional Information

Deadline for Entry Term(s):

Summer and Fall

Deadline for All Application Materials to be in the Graduate School Office:

January 15th

Number of Evaluation Forms Required:

Three

Entrance Tests

GRE (TOEFL and TWE also required for international applicants whose native language is not English.) OAT is considered for the OD/MS program.  MAT or GRE is considered for the PhD Sensory Impairment Track

Website

Visionscience.uab.edu

For detailed information, contact the graduate program manager, Dr. Stefanie Varghese, UAB Department of Vision Science, WORB 601A, 1720 2nd Ave S., Birmingham, AL 35294-4390 (office location: Worrell Building, Room 601A, 924 18th Street South).

Telephone 205-934-6743

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web http://www.uab.edu/vsgp/

Course Descriptions

Vision Science (VIS)

455 – Electronics for Biologists (3) - This course provides an overview of the fundamental concepts of electronics that are of relevance to a biologist.  The material is aimed at non-engineers who need a background in the circuit concepts needed for studying ion channels, electrophysiology, the basics of the proper use of amplifier and filters, and the use of computers to acquire and analyze data.  There will be a mix of formal lectures and problem sets with practical hands-on experience.

456 – Visual Neuroscience (4) - Vision begins with photons and ends in the brain.  How does it all work?  This course introduces the student to the anatomical and physiological underpinnings of visual perception, stepping from single photoreceptors in the retina on through the cortical neural circuits devoted to capturing every facet of seeing the world.  Lectures are supplemented with hands-on sessions where students can test their own vision.

700 – Literature Review (1) – Vision Science and Visual Neuroscience related literature review and presentation.

743 - Optics and Imaging (3) -  Optical properties of the eye. Transparency, aberrations, modulation transfer functions of the eye. Use of coherent optics (lasers) in vision research, MRI in vision research.

744 - Ocular Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry of Anterior Segment (3) -  Anatomy of the eye. Biochemistry and physiology of ocular tissues, including tears, cornea, aqueous humor, lens, vitreous and sclera.

745 – Biology and Pathology of the Posterior Segment (3) - Examination of ocular anatomy, biochemistry, biology and pathology of the posterior eye.

755 – Electronics for Biologists (3) - This course provides an overview of the fundamental concepts of electronics that are of relevance to a biologist.  The material is aimed at non-engineers who need a background in the circuit concepts needed for studying ion channels, electrophysiology, the basics of the proper use of amplifier and filters, and the use of computers to acquire and analyze data.  There will be a mix of formal lectures and problem sets with practical hands-on experience.

756 – Visual Neuroscience (4) - Vision begins with photons and ends in the brain.  How does it all work?  This course introduces the student to the anatomical and physiological underpinnings of visual perception, stepping from single photoreceptors in the retina on through the cortical neural circuits devoted to capturing every facet of seeing the world.  Lectures are supplemented with hands-on sessions where students can test their own vision.

760 – Sensory Impairment Literature Review (1) - Sensory Impairment and Deafblind literature review and presentation

761 – Neurobiology & Development of the Human Visual System I (3) - This course is a two part sequence that provides in-depth studies of anatomy and physiology of retina and other ocular structures. Basis for understanding of genetic abnormalities and disease processes.   

762 – Neurobiology & Development of the Human Visual System II (3) - This is the second sequence providing in-depth studies of anatomy and physiology of the auditory systems.  Basis for understanding of genetic abnormalities and disease processes. Provides comprehensive exploration of development of embryotic and prenatal visual and auditory systems. 

763 – Central Visual Processing (4) - Analysis of the visual scene by cortical neurons, including temporal coding, motion detection, shape analysis, leading to visual perception. Structure and function of geniculostriate parallel pathways, subcortical projections, and the oculomotor system.

764 – Sensory Impairments (3) - The course includes the development, anatomy, histology and physiology of deafblindness, relating structure to function.  The focus is presentation of deafblind etiology and implications of visual/auditory disorders related to deafblindness. 

765 – Auditory Impairments (3) - The course builds in the basic auditory structure and sequence from outer ear to the auditory cortex.  The course includes the development, anatomy, histology and physiology of the auditory systems, relating structure to function.  The focus is presentation of etiology and implications of auditory disorders.  Psycho-acoustics will focus on the perceptual aspects of sound and acoustic representation in the auditory pathway.  Audiological assessment and technological resources appropriate for persons with deafblindness.

766 – Deafblind Analysis of Sensory Impairments (3) - The course involves additional audio metric and vestibular assessments, approaches and accommodations for deafblindness, implications of deafblindness on sensory integration for communication and learning and the impact of medical conditions and additional impairments.  Also included is the relevance of brain development and neurological implications of deafblindness to teaching and learning.

767 – Deafblind Communication and Technology (3) - The course provides an understanding language, sign language, Braille, development of stages of learners and the effects of timely intervention.  Knowledge of genetic development and frequently occurring anomalies related to deafness, blindness and deafblindness are included in the research and class design.  An understanding of the implications and interventions for multiple disabilities including deafblindness are presented as well as technology used for communication and appropriate interventions for technology.  Instructional planning, strategies of intervention, and research to practice for communication based on language level of a person's neurological functions and sensory integration are the competencies addressed in this course.