The Institute of Optics

Graduate Programs

The MS Program

The optics MS program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to contribute to state-of-the-art optics research and development.

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 great 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 Semester Spring Semester
Wave Optics and Imaging Optics Laboratory or Elective*
Foundations of Modern Optics Elective*
Radiation and Detectors Elective*
Elective* or Optics Laboratory 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:

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

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 Semester Spring Semester Fall Semester
Foundations of Modern Optics Optics Laboratory Elective*
Radiation and Detectors Elective* Elective*
Wave Optics and Imaging Elective*

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

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 Semester Spring Semester Fall/Spring Semester
Wave Optics and Imaging Optics Laboratory Research
Radiation and Detectors Elective Writing of Thesis
Foundations of Modern Optics Research

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

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 Semester Spring Semester Fall Semester Spring Semester
Wave Optics and Imaging Work in Industry Work in Industry Electromagnetic Waves
Foundations of Modern Optics Optics Laboratory
Radiation and Detectors Elective*
Elective* Elective*

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

BS-MS Program in Optics

This program is only for juniors who are already enrolled in the undergraduate optics program at Rochester. Students are accepted into the program in the spring of their junior year and can begin master's-level work during their senior year. The bachelor of science degree is awarded at the end of the fourth year. Work or study for credit in the summer between the fourth and fifth years can be arranged, if desired.

Fall Semester Senior Year Spring Semester Fall Semester Spring Semester
Foundations of Modern Optics Instrumental Optics Wave Optics and Imaging Electromagnetic Waves
Quantum Theory of Optics Optics Laboratory Elective* Optics Laboratory
Radiation and Detectors Elective* Elective* Elective*
Elective* Elective* Elective* Elective*
Part-Time

This option is well suited for engineers and researchers working in industry who desire advanced training in optics. Courses, either standard or certified specialty, can be taken over a period of four or more semesters.

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