The program information below is valid for the fall 2020 term (September 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020).

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.

The School of Optometry and Vision Science offers an Accelerated Master's Program for professional optometry students. This program provides an introduction to postgraduate study, academic enrichment and recognition of the contributions research for outstanding optometry students who might otherwise overlook the opportunity of graduate studies. The accelerated program provides a quicker route to the Master of Science (MSc) for outstanding students who will obtain graduate training, an increased scientific component along with the clinical training and a further specialization in an area of Vision Science.

General Principles of the Accelerated Master's Program

An Accelerated Master's Program is one in which the educational process leading through the Doctor of Optometry (OD) to the MSc degree is considered as a continuous unit. The accelerated program also provides the opportunity for mutual enrichment of both programs. The Vision Science background of the OD program serves as a solid precursor to research at the MSc level. The research at the MSc level broadens the application of the Vision Science component beyond that of the OD program and provides an increased scientific component to clinical training. This program provides an alternative scheduling of the requirements of both degrees to that used when the OD is considered a terminal degree.

Conditions

The following are general conditions that all such Accelerated Master's degree programs satisfy:

  1. nine terms of full-time enrolment at the undergraduate level and at least two terms of full-time enrolment at the graduate level are mandatory;
  2. the graduate program must include at least 4 graduate courses and a thesis.

Students in the Accelerated Master's program will fulfill the degree requirements of both the OD program and the MSc program.

The culmination of the accelerated program is the Master's degree; this will be achieved through the completion of a research thesis and 4 graduate courses (0.50 unit weight each).

Identification of a supervisor and conditional acceptance for the accelerated Master's program may occur as early as the term following completion of the first year of the OD program. Formal acceptance and registration for the MSc component will occur during the third year of the Optometry program.

An accelerated Master's degree program must have the flexibility to satisfy the requirements of individual students; at the same time it must have coherence - each student's program must be focused on a well-defined area of specialization in Vision Science.

Structure of the Accelerated Master's Program

Admission requirements

Admission to the Accelerated Master's degree program is restricted to students with a consistently good academic record at the end of the first year and who are granted "conditional admission to the MSc program". The condition to be fulfilled is "satisfactory completion of the requirements for admission to the MSc program and a cumulative 75% average within the Optometry program. In granting admission to the program both the academic record in the OD program and in the preoptometry program and any research experience will be considered. Students must have a minimum 73-76% average within the optometry program to be eligible for admission, and would normally have an 85-89% standing in their preoptometry program. Students must have completed their application and be conditionally accepted into the accelerated program by the beginning of the 4th year. As in any program culminating in a Master's degree, a faculty supervisor is appointed on admission. Students are encouraged to consult faculty members regarding their research interests.

Course programs

Although the supervisor advises students, all course selections and other academic administrative matters concerning each student are subject to the approval of the School's Undergraduate Officer and the Graduate and Research Committee. The courses chosen by the student (with the advice of the supervisor and approval of the Undergraduate Officer and Graduate and Research Committee) should form a coherent series which (together with the thesis) complete the requirements of the OD and, ultimately, the Master's degrees.

A minimum of 4 one-term (0.50 unit weight) graduate courses (600 level or equivalent) is required to complete the Masters degree requirements. 3 of these must be selected from the Vision Science Core Course Streams, with at least 1 course from Core Stream A – Scientific Methods (OPTOM 650 – OPTOM 669) and at least 1 course from Core Stream B – Vision Science (OPTOM 670 – OPTOM 689).

Normally only 1 course may be an independent study course (OPTOM 608). In 3rd or 4th year, 600 level courses may be chosen for credit to the MSc degree. These courses are in addition to the normal academic program for the OD level. Technically, it is necessary for students to register for these courses as "extras" in order to avoid counting them towards the requirements of the OD degree. Advanced standing in these courses will be granted following acceptance to the graduate program. Students will be encouraged to register in OPTOM 441/451 Research Project. A student proceeding to an MSc will normally complete the balance of the 4 required graduate courses in the one or two terms following 4th year.

Summer research terms

It is expected that most of the students proceeding to the MSc degree will be involved in summer research terms following first and second years of the Optometry program. During these summer terms they are not required to register and they may be hired as associate/assistant researchers for the purposes of various research grants, without the restriction of student salaries. This combination can be attractive from the points of view of available research time, income generation for the student and total research cost from a grant. Work done during these summer research terms may be included in the thesis. During summer research terms, students may register as part-time undergraduate students, or, if all requirements for enrolment in an MSc program are met, as graduate students, if they wish to pursue a graduate level course for which they are deemed to have adequate undergraduate preparation.

Fourth-year projects

For students in the accelerated Master's program, OPTOM 441/451 (Research Projects) may be integrated with their summer terms as well as with their work following 4th year. The thesis must contain a substantial research contribution in addition to that submitted for credit in OPTOM 441/451, such that the total normal research requirements of OPTOM 441/451 and the MSc thesis are met.

Granting of degrees

The OD degree will be granted at the normal time, i.e. at the Spring Convocation following the 4th year. The program, however, culminates in the MSc. A minimum of two terms full-time enrolment in the MSc is required in addition to those required for the OD Degree. It is expected that the MSc degree will be completed more quickly than in the regular MSc program. Additional time may be required to complete the thesis or coursework.

Postgraduate scholarships

Students in the accelerated Master's program may apply for graduate scholarships at the same time as their colleagues in the regular programs. They are also eligible for Optometry undergraduate scholarships during the summer terms.

Withdrawal or failure

Students may remain in the accelerated Master's program provided they maintain sufficiently high academic standards. The minimum is a cumulative 75% average (70% in undergraduate courses to the end of 4th year, 70% in graduate courses) and no conditional standing.

A student who fails to maintain this standard will be required to withdraw  rom the accelerated degree program. In such a case, all courses taken up to the end of 4th year, including those originally intended to fulfill part of the Master's degree requirements, will be counted towards the OD degree program elective course requirements and these marks included in the 4th year averages as appropriate. Should the student have then satisfied the requirements for the OD degree, it will be granted at the next Convocation. Such students will not be permitted to enter the regular MSc program.

If a student maintains at least the minimum standard mentioned above, but decides to withdraw voluntarily from the accelerated Master's program, the student may choose to count courses towards the OD degree which were originally intended to fulfill part of the Master's degree requirements. When the requirements for the OD degree have been satisfied, the OD will be granted at the next Convocation. Such a student will be allowed (at a later date) to enter the regular MSc program. For these students, graduate courses counted towards the OD degree may not be applied to the Master's degree, but graduate courses not previously counted towards the OD degree may be counted towards the MSc with the approval of the Graduate and Research Committee

Transfer to the PhD program

Following completion of the OD program, an accelerated Master's student will be eligible for transfer to the PhD program on the same basis as a regular MSc student.

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