The program information below is valid for the fall 2023 term (September 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023).

The Graduate Studies Academic Calendar is updated 3 times per year, at the start of each academic term (January 1, May 1, September 1). Graduate Studies Academic Calendars from previous terms can be found in the archives.

For exceptional students registered full-time in the Master of Science (MSc) program, a conversion into the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is possible before completion of the MSc degree. Progress of MSc students will be reviewed by their advisory committee to determine if transfer to the PhD program is appropriate.

Acceptance into the Accelerated PhD Program

The Accelerated PhD allows students registered full-time in the MSc program to transfer directly into the PhD program without completing the MSc degree. An MSc student can request the acceleration up to 3 full-time terms after initial registration. A request to accelerate can only be made once. The Supervisor and Advisory Committee will consider whether the request for acceleration to PhD is appropriate and desirable. Funding must be available to support a PhD thesis project.

The student must show the potential for independent research necessary to complete a PhD. The Supervisor & Committee must support the request and the criteria that will be used to assess that potential for accelerated PhD are:

  1. A preliminary research proposal that indicates the scope for extension of the work to the PhD level that is acceptable to the committee.
  2. A paper in submission (written in English) to a refereed journal in which the Graduate Student has fulfilled a role as first or second author. The term “first or second author” infers that the Graduate Student’s contribution to the writing of the paper was substantial as assessed by the Supervisor and Advisory Committee. A patent submission by the student as first or second holder would also be an appropriate criterion to use for acceleration.
  3. Completion of at least two graduate level courses and a grade of at least 80% in each.

If the Supervisor and Advisory Committee support the request to proceed, students will go forward for the Acceleration Qualifying Examination (AQE). The AQE is conducted by the Committee and Chaired by a Graduate Officer or designate. The AQE is an oral examination to demonstrate a broad knowledge in the field of Vision Science. The particulars of the exam will be specified by the Supervisor and the Advisory Committee. In order to proceed to the Accelerated PhD program, students must achieve an unconditional pass from all members of the Committee in their first attempt at the AQE. If this standard is not met, the request to accelerate to the PhD program will be declined. In this instance, students may continue their studies for the MSc degree. All components of the Acceleration process must be completed no later than the end of the 4th term of enrolment.

Degree requirements


Course topic requirements are tailored to meet the needs and backgrounds of individual students. Accelerated PhD students will have completed at least two one-term graduate courses (or equivalent) as
MSc students and two additional one-term graduate courses will be required to complete the PhD. Thus, total of four graduate level courses must be completed to meet the Accelerated PhD course requirements. Three of the four courses must be selected from the Vision Science Core Course Streams, with at least one course from Core Stream A – Scientific Methods (Course Numbers OPTOM 650 - 669) and at least one course from Core Stream B – Vision Science (Course Numbers OPTOM 670 - 689). Normally only one course may be an independent study course (OPTOM 608/628).

PhD Seminar

All Vision Science graduate students in the PhD program must present at least two talks on their current research during their degree program as well as attend a minimum of 10 research seminars and a one day research symposium throughout each year of enrolment. The seminar requirement can be fulfilled by attending the School's annual program. Consideration will be given (in special cases) to attend an alternate symposium if it is not possible to attend the School's annual program.

Phd Thesis Proposal

By the end of their 5th term of enrollment in the Vision Science program students must write a formal proposal and make a formal presentation of their proposed PhD thesis research to their advisory committee.

PhD Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination Milestone will be considered complete when students have successfully completed their Acceleration Qualifying Examination.

PhD Thesis

A primary requirement for the awarding of the PhD is the successful completion and defense of a thesis that contributes to knowledge about some aspect of vision and demonstrates proficiency in original and independent research.

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