The School of Optometry and Vision Science offers an accelerated Doctor of Optometry/Master of Science Program in Vision Science in response to a number of needs among which are:

  • Academic recognition of the contributions of outstanding students to original research and provision of academic enrichment for these students
  • Provision of an introduction to postgraduate study and research for good undergraduate students who might otherwise overlook the opportunity of graduate studies
  • Graduate training which provides an increased scientific component to clinical training and produces graduates who have a further specialization in an area of Vision Science
  • Provision of a quicker route to the MSc for outstanding students already in the OD (Doctor of Optometry) program at the School

General principles of the accelerated OD/MSc program

Please note that this program is only available to current University of Waterloo Doctor of Optometry students. An accelerated Doctor of Optometry and Master's program in Vision Science is one in which it is deemed academically advantageous to treat the educational process leading through the OD to the MSc degree as a continuous unit, while at the same time satisfying the requirements for both degrees.

The following are general conditions of the accelerated OD/Master's program:

  • Students in the accelerated OD/Master's in Vision Science program will fulfill the degree requirements of both the OD program and the MSc in Vision Science program
  • Admission to the accelerated program is on the basis of merit, as is continuance in the program. Admission to the Master’s in Vision Science program is conditional upon the student graduating with the required standing (75% overall average) in the OD program, and satisfactory completion of at least one Master’s level course during the OD program
  • An application to the accelerated OD/Master's in Vision Science program may occur as early as the term following completion of the first year of the OD program. However, please note that one will not be considered an MSc student until the completion of the OD program
  • An accelerated OD/Master's in Vision Science 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 addressed towards a well-defined area of specialization in Vision Science

Structure of the accelerated OD/MSc in Vision Science program

Application and admission

Admission to the accelerated OD/Master's degree program is restricted to students with a consistently good academic record who are granted conditional admission to the MSc program. Students must have all application forms completed for the MSc program by the end of their 3rd year (although they may apply as early as the end of 1st year). Students are encouraged to consult faculty members regarding their research interests; an academic supervisor is required for admission.

Course programs

In 3rd or 4th year, 600 level graduate 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. Upon acceptance into the accelerated program, at least one course at the 600 level must be taken by the student during their OD program. The course(s) will be chosen by the student (with the advice of the supervisor, and approval of the Undergraduate Officer).

A student proceeding to an MSc will normally complete the balance of the 4 required graduate level courses once they enter the MSc program.

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. During these summer terms they are not required to register and they may be hired as associate 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, and income generation for the student. Work done during these summer research terms may be included in the MSc thesis.

Granting of degrees

The OD degree will be granted at the normal time, i.e. at the Spring Convocation following the 4th year. At this point, the student begins their MSc degree, assuming all the conditions in the offer of admission were met. Enrollment in the Spring term following 4th year as a Master’s student is encouraged. A minimum of two terms full-time enrolment in the Master’s program is required in addition to those required for the OD degree. It is expected that the accelerated MSc degree will be completed more quickly than the regular MSc program.

Postgraduate scholarships

Students in the accelerated OD/Master's program may apply for graduate NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), OGS scholarships, etc. at the same time as their colleagues in the graduate programs for the year in which they will begin graduate studies.

Withdrawal or failure

Students may remain in the accelerated OD/Master's program provided they maintain sufficiently high academic standards (the minimum is a cumulative 75% average in the OD program and 70% in graduate courses).

A student who fails to maintain this standard will have their conditional offer of admission to the MSc program revoked. In such a case, any courses originally intended to fulfill part of the Master's degree requirements will be counted towards the OD degree program elective course requirements.

If a student maintains at least the minimum standard mentioned above, but decides to decline the offer of admission into the Master's program, the student may choose to count courses which were originally intended to fulfill part of the Master's degree requirements towards the OD degree.

Transfer to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program

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