The Department of Ophthalmology and Stein and Doheny Eye Institutes are committed to teaching medical students the basics of ophthalmology that any practicing physician might utilize in their communities. More specialized instruction is also available to students who are interested in pursuing ophthalmology as a career. Each academic year, instruction is provided to medical students enrolled in the UCLA School of Medicine, as well as to registered visiting students. Through lectures, small group demonstrations, discussions and clinical practice, students are afforded numerous training opportunities from which to gain knowledge and experience in ophthalmology.

Visiting Medical Student Scholarship in Ophthalmology

Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, Los Angeles

The Department of Ophthalmology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine is committed to eliminating health disparity in ophthalmology. The Department strives to creating an inclusive and diverse climate for our trainees to grow and providing an equal opportunity to grow for all. Students with diverse background and experiences create an environment that inspires excellence as physicians and helps address inequities in healthcare in our patient communities. 

The Visiting Medical Student Scholarship in Ophthalmology program offers two $3,500 scholarships that support non-UCLA medical students with a demonstrated commitment to advancing healthcare equity to undertake an elective rotation in ophthalmology or summer research at the Stein Eye Institute or Doheny Eye Center. The selection criteria include but not are not limited to the applicant’s record of academic achievement, original and significant contributions to knowledge on issues related to poverty, economic mobility, equity, inclusion, diversity, and access in health services, taking into account the applicant’s relative advantages and constraints over the course of their academic career.

To apply for the Scholarship, students will first need to comply with the requirements listed on the visiting student page and complete the visiting student program application at least eight weeks prior to the rotation via the Visiting Student Learning Opportunity (VSLO). Following the completion of the VSLO application, students should complete: 

  • A letter (up to 2 pages) of intent describing your interest in ophthalmology and UCLA Department of Ophthalmology, including specialty and career aspirations, along with your personal history of activity and future plans to address health disparities in ophthalmology
  • Two letters of recommendation that comment on your academic performance
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Medical school transcript

Deadlines: May 1 

All materials should be submitted to: [email protected]

Subject heading: Eliminating Health Disparity in Ophthalmology Visiting Medical Student Scholarship

Additional information can be found on this website:

Applications will be reviewed by Medical Student Award Committee at the UCLA Department of Ophthalmology to determine eligibility for scholarship selection. The selected students will be notified on the status of scholarship by the Department of Ophthalmology.

Diversity in Vision Sciences Undergraduate Summer Research Program

Application deadline: April 15, 2024

This research experience is a full-time, 8-week immersive research experience in vision science at the Stein Eye Institute, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). This program is designed to increase the diversity of undergraduate students in vision sciences through dedicated faculty mentorship, hands-on research training/interactive learning, and career development opportunities. The program is open to undergraduate students with disadvantage background in the greater Los Angeles area in 2024.

Students will have the opportunity to learn and work on an original research project in laboratories with research focuses including but not limited to:

1. Understanding of vision and ophthalmology research and their importance in advancing the understanding of the visual pathways, developing novel therapeutic in various eye diseases, including glaucoma, degenerative retinal disorders, and corneal diseases.

2. Understanding the use of various state of art technology in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine in ophthalmology.

Students learn how to be a scientist in weekly lab meetings and will have the opportunity to present their findings at a UCLA scientific poster session as well as at their home institution. Additionally, students will engage in social activities and career development workshops with other summer research students on UCLA campus, thereby expanding their science community and faculty/peer network.

  • Express an intention to pursue a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. (or other professional joint degree) in a bioscience field.
  • Should not admitted or enrolled in a graduate program (M.S. or Ph.D.) at the time the program begins.
  • Minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0. preferred
  • Reside in the Los Angeles area.

To learn more about this program and how to apply, please contact program directors, Dr. Jie Zheng ([email protected]) and Dr. JoAnn S. Roberts ([email protected]).


Required Ophthalmology

A thread of ophthalmology has been designed to weave through the pre-clinical curriculum of years 1 and 2. This thread includes approximately 10 hours of ophthalmology podcasts as they relate to the body system being studied and approximately 8 hours of small group sessions, led by clinical instructors that focus on ophthalmic history taking, clinical examination skills, and red flag signs and symptoms. Preclinical students also participate in a focused clinical experience for an afternoon examining eye clinic patients.  In this way, each student is exposed to major ophthalmic diseases, significant ophthalmic signs/symptoms, and obtains actual examination experience, all of which are useful in the practice of any medical specialty.

Elective Rotations

In the third year, a two-week selective rotation is offered during the Surgery Clerkship to DGSOM students only. This selective is particularly useful to students intending to pursue careers in internal medicine, emergency medicine, neurology, family practice, pediatrics, and any surgical specialty, as eye problems are pervasive in all types of medical practice. Students become part of the ophthalmology team at any of the teaching hospitals and are expected to perform clinical examinations with supervision, observe ophthalmic surgery, and learn to instrument tie ophthalmic size sutures. They also receive instruction through lectures, reading and internet assignments, grand rounds attendance, discussion, demonstrations, and visits to the ophthalmic pathology laboratory.

The fourth-year medical student program is made up of various 3-week-long electives. These are open to both UCLA and visiting medical students. All elective courses provide extensive exposure to the clinical practice of ophthalmology and the basic scientific knowledge on which it rests. Electives include:

OP250.01 (based at Stein Eye Institute in Westwood)
OP250.02 (based at the Harbor County Hospital resident eye clinic in Torrance)
OP250.04 (based at the Olive View Hospital resident eye clinic in Sylmar)
OP250.08 (based at Doheny Eye Institute faculty practices in Pasadena, occasionally Arcadia, and Westwood for Grand Rounds)
OP250.09 (based at Stein Eye Institute faculty practices in Westwood) and
OP264.01 (Ophthalmic pathology elective in Westwood)

Please see the David Geffen School of Medicine Elective Course Descriptions at the link below for more details.

Additional Information from the David Geffen School of Medicine >
Download the Residency Training Brochure >>


Visiting medical students should submit applications for clerkship electives through the online Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS). For questions regarding fourth year offerings please contact:

Debbie Sato, 4th year medical student elective coordinator.
Mitra Nejad, MD, Director MS4 ophthalmology electives. Contact her for questions regarding MS4 ophthalmology electives.
Co-Directors of Medical Student Education for Stein/Doheny Eye Institutes — JoAnn Giaconi, MD and Gary Holland, MD.