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Graduate Programs

Master's Program

The MS program in optics is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to contribute to state-of-the-art optics research and development. Students with backgrounds in optical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, and other engineering fields are well-suited to the MS program in optics.

A number of options are available within the general degree requirements to satisfy the needs of a variety of students:

For more information about financing and application requirements, visit the apply to Rochester page.


Coursework MS – Standard Option (2 Semesters)

This program is tailored for students looking to get a basic training in optics and quickly enter the workforce. With the standard option, students can complete their degree in as little as nine months by taking 30 hours of coursework and writing a final essay (15 pages). These courses provide the student with broad knowledge of the field of optics and its applications.

Fall SemesterSpring Semester
Wave Optics and ImagingDetection of Optical Radiation
Foundations of Modern OpticsOptics Laboratory or Elective*
Optics Laboratory or Elective*Elective*
Elective*Elective*

*For more information on the electives available and program requirements, see the Graduate Handbook.

Certified Specialty

Students interested in a particular area of optics can choose to specialize in one of the following areas:

  • Photonics
  • Optical communications
  • Electro-optics/nonlinear optics
  • Optical materials
  • Laser engineering
  • Medical optics
  • Image science
  • Optical design, fabrication and testing
  • Business administration

The timeline for this program is similar to the standard option, with some of the required courses replaced with courses specific to the specialty.

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Coursework MS with Summer Residency (3 Semesters)

This option allows the student to extend the coursework over three semesters while maintaining full-time status. Students in this program typically do a summer residency in a research group or in industry. They can follow the standard coursework or pursue a certified specialty area.

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterFall Semester
Wave Optics and ImagingDetection of Optical RadiationElective*
Foundations of Modern OpticsOptics Laboratory or Elective*Elective*
Optics Laboratory or Elective*Elective*

*For more information on the electives available and program requirements, see the Graduate Handbook.

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Thesis MS (3-4 Semesters)

The thesis master’s program is a great option for students looking to get advanced training in research and pursue a research-based thesis. This option generally requires 18 to 24 months and allows the student to develop a high level of expertise in a specialized field.

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterFall/Spring Semester
Wave Optics and ImagingDetection of Optical RadiationResearch
Foundations of Modern OpticsElective*Writing of Thesis
Optics LaboratoryResearch

*For more information on the electives available and program requirements, see the Graduate Handbook.

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MS Co-Op Program (4 Semesters)

This option is ideal for students looking to combine formal education with practical industrial experience. Students begin with one semester of coursework, and then spend one full year working in industry, before completing a second semester of coursework. During the year in industry, students are paid the normal salary for employees with similar levels of experience. The Institute of Optics assists students in securing a co-op position in industry.

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterFall SemesterSpring Semester
Wave Optics and ImagingWork in IndustryWork in IndustryDetection of Optical Radiation
Foundations of Modern OpticsElective*
Optics LaboratoryElective*
Elective*Elective*

*For more information on the electives available and program requirements, see the Graduate Handbook.

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HOME – Hybrid Optics Master’s Education (online MS with in-person laboratory training)

The HOME is a highly flexible online MS program designed with working professionals in mind. It features three-weeks of in-person laboratory training to instill crucial skills and integrate HOME students with our optics community.

The majority of the HOME is entirely online with courses offered asynchronously—allowing students to set their own schedules. The three-weeks of in-person laboratory training are offered in the summer and winter between fall and spring semesters.

The first HOME cohort will be in fall 2021 with the first in-person laboratory training sessions in winter 2021/22 and Summer 2022. The HOME is compatible with full-time and part-time study and can take as little as 1 year (2 semesters + laboratory training session) to complete.

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Part-Time

All of the MS program options are compatible with part-time study. Part-time students take less than 12 credits each semester—typically 1-2 courses (4 – 8 credits). Students can move from part-time to full-time (and vice versa) between semesters. Part-time MS programs take at least 4 semesters to complete.

Want to receive more information on getting an MS in optics? Fill out the inquiry form.

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