University of California, Berkeley Vision Science Graduate Program



Title of program

Vision Science Graduate Program

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Fran Stone, University of California, Berkeley, 488A Minor Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720;

Catalog ($5.75)

ASUC Store, Attn: Mail Order Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered


Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The Graduate Program in Vision Science offers both MS and PhD degrees. These degree programs prepare students for careers in teaching and research in vision science, optometry, ophthalmology, psychology, bioengineering, human factors, neurobiology, cell biology, and other disciplines. The program combines the study of the fundamentals of the vision sciences, the study of advanced topics, and a research program selected and conducted with the guidance of faculty members of the program. Areas of specialization include visual psychophysics, the neurophysiology of vision, ocular physiology, visual development, physiology and psychophysics of visual disorders, visuomotor mechanisms, machine vision, and applied vision. Areas related to human factors engineering include visual requirements for vehicle guidance, detection and identification of warning signals, data compression and computer graphics, and more. The program enthusiastically supports teaching and research on applied problems in vision science.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

PhD 10, MS 2

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered during summer?

Research activities in summer

Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

January 5 for fellowship and admission, February 10 admission only

Application fee

$40 (subject to change without notice)



Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0

GRE: 70% v, 85% q, 85% a

Other: Three letters of reference, statement of purpose, and a background in any of the following areas: biology, psychology, physics, engineering, optometry, mathematics, medicine, neurobiology.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: high

Work experience: medium 

Letters: high 

Interview: low

Tuition and fees

Resident: $2,300/semester 

Nonresident: $7,600/semester (subject to change without notice)



Number of students applying to the human factors/ergonomics program last year

Approx. 30 (some applicants hand-picked)

Number of students accepted into the program last year


Number of students entering the program last year


Anticipated number of openings per year for the next two years




Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance


Amount received per year (minimum – typical – maximum)

$4,000 – $20,000 – $35,000

Types of assistance available

Fellowship, TA, RA (partially tuition exempt), traineeship (tuition exempt)

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application



Graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Number of units required

MS: 20

PhD: 4 semesters of residence (approx. 50 units)

Exams required

MS: none

PhD: qualifying oral exams

Language requirements


Research required

MS: thesis 

PhD: dissertation

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS: 2 

PhD: 5

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Optics and Dioptics of the Eye (2), Visual Neurophysiology and Development (2), Spatial Vision and Machine Vision (2), Anatomy and Cell Biology of the Eye (2), Motion Perception and Binocular Vision (2), Ethics in Vision Research (2), Graduate Student Instructor Training Course (2), "Oxyopia" Noontime Seminar (2)

Electives (units)

Instrumentation and Methodology in Vision Research (2), Biomedical and Environmental Health Science Statistics (4), Neural Networks (3), Machine Vision (3), Quantitative Methods (3), Binocular Vision (3), other (3)

Number of courses outside department that are required


Average or typical class size in a required course




Research and support facilities available to students in the program: 

Research facilities available at Berkeley to graduate students in vision science are unexcelled anywhere in the world. Federally supported research facilities include modern visual psychophysics laboratories plus computers. The optometry laboratory, housing 6,000 volumes and subscribing to 200 periodicals, is part of the larger University of California library, one of the finest in the world.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
All students in the PhD program are required to teach a minimum of 2 semesters. Students can teach up to 8 semesters if they need support. Typically, these graduate student teaching appointments are to instruct the laboratory sections involved in the first 2 years of the optometry curriculum.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:

Aging and visual performance, ocular motility constraints, visual requirements for vehicle guidance, data compression for computer graphics, detection and identification of warning signals, special requirements related to ocular diseases.


Current number of active students in program, by gender

18 men, 16 women

Current number of first-year students in program


Based on current graduate students in the program,
the mean score on admission tests and undergraduate
GPA by degree being sought are

MS: GRE 1165 v + q, GPA 3.6

PhD: GRE 1353 v + q, GPA 3.5



Anthony J. Adams, PhD 1962, Indiana U.; physiological optics

Ian L. Bailey, MS 1971, Indiana U.; physiological optics

Martin S. Banks, PhD 1977, U. Minnesota; developmental psychology

Theodore E. Cohn, PhD 1969, U. Michigan; bioengineering

Gunilla Haegerstrom-Portnoy, PhD 1983, UC Berkeley; physiological optics 

Stanley A. Klein, PhD 1967, Brandeis U.; physics

Clifton M. Schor, PhD 1972, UC Berkeley; physiological optics