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Undergraduate Program


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 fall 2015, approximately 29% of optics majors are international students, 24% are women, and 5% 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 outcomesEnrollment and graduation information (PDF) for the BS degree in optics and optical engineering is also available.

The Bachelor of Science degree program in optical engineering at the University of Rochester is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Prospective Students

The Institute of Optics has several pre-college programs 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.

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!