The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester has been a leader in the training of optical scientists and engineers since 1929. It is the oldest academic optics program in the country. More than half of all optics degrees awarded in the US have been granted by the Institute, and three of the twelve most cited books in physics were authored by Institute faculty.

As of spring 2020, approximately 30% of optics majors are international students, 27% are women, and 17% belong to minority groups.

Learn more about the Institute and find out what optics is by visiting our about us and what is optics pages.

For specific program information, check out the Institute of Optics undergraduate handbook, degree program objectives and degree program outcomes.

The bachelor of science degree program in optical engineering at the University of Rochester is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, https://www.abet.org.

Prospective Students

The Institute of Optics offers Photon Camp for prospective high school students. Interested students can also contact Dustin Newman, the Institute’s undergraduate program manager, to visit the Institute.

Note for Prospective Transfer Students: Typically, transfer students seeking an optics degree spend three full years at University of Rochester (MCC 2+2 students excepted). Transfer students should contact Dustin Newman to review their academic history prior to transferring.

Admitted Students

We hope you will visit the Institute of Optics as part of the upcoming college-wide 2024 Experience. If you are on campus for either the 2024E, or touring on your own, please stop by and introduce yourself. We’d love to tell you more about optics and our program here, which can be a great fit for students who enjoy math and physics. Learn more about our information sessions on our 2024 Experience page.

Below is a video of the optics group advising session for first-year undergraduates, held on July 27, 2020. It has information about choices of classes for fall semester, as well as other advising details.

Hot Science

If you've ever used a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays on a summer day, you know that solar energy can produce surprisingly high temperatures. What if you gather that energy and focus it on a pot of popcorn? Would it pop the popcorn, just like on a stovetop? Watch the video below to find out!