GRADUATE STUDIES AT THE INSTITUTE OF OPTICS
Why study at the Institute of Optics?
- Founded in 1929, The Institute of Optics was the first academic department devoted to Optics in the United States
- More than half of all the degrees in optics in this Country have been granted by the Institute of Optics
- Our alumni/ae include the founders and CEOs of many successful companies, Heads of Department at prestigious universities, and outstanding researchers in academia, national laboratories and industry.
- Over thirty of our faculty and alumni/ae have served as presidents or chairs of professional societies like the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society’s Division of Laser Science (APS DLS), the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), and the International Commission for Optics (ICO).
- Many more have served as editors of highly-ranked scientific journals.
- Three of the twelve most cited books in Physics were authored by faculty of The Institute of Optics.
Job opportunities in optics are many and constantly growing given its increasing role in industrial research and development. As many academic physics and electrical engineer-ing departments are placing more emphasis on research and teaching in optics, demand is growing for faculty who are well educated in this area. Recent graduates have joined the faculties of major universities, taken research positions at industrial and governmental laboratories, or have started or joined companies.
The process of admission to the Graduate Program at the Institute of Optics is very competitive. However, once in the program, our goal is for every student to succeed in his or her studies. We strive to create an environment of collaboration and collegiality amongst our student body. Upon admission, our students become members of a close knight community that includes not only the current students , faculty and staff, but also the many alumni working in industry locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as researchers in government labs and faculty in academia. These connections create possibilities for research interactions while in the program, as well as job opportunities following graduation.
In addition to the faculty at the Institute of Optics, our students have the opportunity to work with a large number of faculty members at the University of Rochester working in optics or closely related areas within the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, as well as the University of Rochester's Medical Center and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. Through events including the biannual Industrial Associates meeting and events organized by the local OSA and SPIE chapters, our students also establish links with the thriving local optics industry. Students can also participate in the research carried out as part of the interdisciplinary research groups within the university, such as the Center for Medical Technology and Innovation, the Center for Freeform Optics, and the Center for Coherence and Quantum Optics.
Typical profiles of applicants to the Graduate Program in Optics
Students may choose to enter The Institute of Optics for different reasons:
- Students of physics may wish to continue their physics education at the graduate level, with a strong emphasis on optics. A wide range of courses in optical physics is offered. Additional courses in subjects such as statistical mechanics, relativistic quantum theory, and condensed matter physics are available in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
- Students of electrical engineering may wish to continue their EE education at the graduate level, with a strong emphasis on optics. Many exciting topics involve an interaction between electrical engineering and optics: subpicosecond electro-optic sampling, image recognition and processing, remote sensing, hybrid electrical-optical computing, and optical communication.
- Students with either science or engineering backgrounds may wish to pursue a graduate education in the area of optical system design and instrumental optics. This area of engineering is now rapidly expanding into virtually all segments of industrial research and product development. It includes the development and use of new optical materials such as gradient index glasses, as well new techniques for the design, fabrication and testing of optical systems and devices for applications ranging from medical diagnosis to astronomical observation.
Of course, not all students fall neatly into one of these categories, which are themselves strongly overlapping. For the student who is not certain of which area would be the most rewarding, The Institute of Optics can be the ideal place.
Graduate Degrees offered at The Institute of Optics
- The M.S. program in Optics offers great flexibility, both in duration and scope. This program can be completed in two, three, or four semesters of full-time study (or over a longer period of part-time study). M.S. students can choose to pursue a broad education in optics, or to specialize in areas such as Medical Optics, Image Science, Optical Design, Fabrication and Testing, Optical Communications, Electro-optics, Nonlinear Optics, Optical Materials, Laser Engineering, or Business Administration.
- The Ph.D. program in Optics prepares students for high-level research in academia, industry, or national laboratories. During the first two semesters, students are exposed to a broad range of areas within this field, through class work, special seminars presented by the faculty, and individual meetings in which students and faculty members can discuss their interests. This exposure allows the students to make educated choices of what path to follow for the rest of their Ph.D. studies. By the end of the second semester, students join a research group and begin working towards a doctoral thesis.
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