Optics and Photonics PhD

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College : Optics and Photonics Degree :PHD
Department : Option : Dissertation
Program Websites : http://www.creol.ucf.edu/


The Optics and Photonics PhD program provides the highest-quality education in optical science and engineering, allowing students to conduct scholarly, fundamental, and applied research, while aiding in the development of Florida's and the nation's technology-based industries.


The Optics and Photonics PhD program is intended for students with a bachelors or master’s degree in Optics, Electrical Engineering, Physics, or closely related fields who wish to pursue a career in research or academia. Students with degrees in related fields may be required to take undergraduate articulation courses determined by the program director on a case-by-case basis.
Total Credit Hours Required:
72 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor's Degree

Students are required to pass a qualifying examination, usually taken after 12 months in the program. About one year after passing the qualifying exam, students must take a candidacy examination, form a dissertation committee, and submit an approved plan of study before being admitted to candidacy doctoral status. The PhD core courses are not absolutely required, but they have been designed to include a significant portion of the material upon which the qualifying examination is based. Consequently, students are strongly encouraged to include most of these courses in their plan of study.

The Optics and Photonics PhD program requires a minimum 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree, of which more than 50 percent should be at the 6000 level or higher. These hours must be comprised of: 

  • At least 39 credit hours of formal course work satisfying the following requirements:
    • at least 30 credit hours must be Optics (prefix OSE) courses.
    • at least 6 credit hours must be science and engineering graduate research methods/laboratory courses of which at least 3 credit hours must be in Optics.
  • at least 15 credit hours of Dissertation (OSE 7980)

Additional notes on the curriculum:

  • Up to 30 credit hours of appropriate graduate courses earned in a master’s program from accredited universities may be waived with approval from the graduate committee.
  • Only courses with grades of “B” or better can be transferred. 

Required Courses—21 Credit Hours

Core Courses—15 Credit Hours

  • OSE 6111 Optical Wave Propagation (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 5115 Interference and Diffraction (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 5312 Light Matter Interaction (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6211 Imaging and Optical Systems (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6525 Laser Engineering (3 credit hours)

Research Methods/ Laboratory Courses—6 Credit Hours

At least 6 credit hours of approved Optics and related science/engineering research methods/laboratory courses are required from the list below. At least one must be in Optics (OSE). One required laboratory may be waived if the student can demonstrate an equivalent hands-on proficiency in that laboratory specialization. These research methods/laboratory courses count toward the formal graduate course work requirement.

  • OSE 6234C Applied Optics Laboratory (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6455C Photonics Laboratory (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6526C Laser Engineering Laboratory (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6615L Optoelectronic Device Fabrication Laboratory (3 credit hours)
  • Other graduate science and engineering labs may be taken with college approval.

Elective Courses—36 Credit Hours Minimum

Restricted Electives—9 Credit Hours

In addition to the required courses above, students will need to complete an additional 9 credit hours to meet the 30 hours of formal Optics (OSE) course work required. An additional three hours of optics course work will also be required if the student waived out of one of the research methods/laboratory courses above, or if one of the laboratory courses taken is not an OSE prefix.

Other courses with significant optics content may be accepted toward the Optics (OSE) course work requirement, upon approval by the Associate Dean. 

    A listing and description of courses offered by the College of Optics and Photonics is found in the "Courses" section of the Graduate Catalog Menu at the top of the page.

    Unrestricted Electives—27 Credit Hours Minimum

    A combination of formal course work and research hours comprise the remaining unrestricted hours. At least 9 of these hours must be formal course work, which may be graduate optics, science or engineering courses. In addition to the 9 hours, 18 credits may be regular formal course work, doctoral research hours, independent study, or doctoral dissertation hours.  The independent study hours are limited to a maximum of 3 credit hours.  Any courses outside of the graduate optics, science or engineering disciplines must be approved by the college associate dean.

    Dissertation—15 Credit Hours Minimum

    • OSE 7980 Dissertation Research (15 credit hours)

    Qualifying Examination

    Before students are eligible to take the candidacy examination, they must pass a written qualifying examination, which for full-time students is normally taken at the end of the first year of graduate study. The purpose of the qualifying exam is for the student to demonstrate mastery of the fundamentals of optics and photonics. The exam is administered by the doctoral qualifying examination committee, which consists of several graduate faculty members representing the appropriate disciplines, appointed by the director or designee. The committee’s duties include the preparation and grading of the examination material, and it may solicit input from other interested faculty. The exam is a closed book written exam in the general areas of electromagnetic foundations of optics, interference, diffraction, coherence, linear systems imaging, and light matter interaction. Students who do not pass the qualifying examination in two attempts will not continue in the program.

    Candidacy Examination

    Students are required to successfully complete the candidacy examination before admission to full doctoral status. The purpose of the candidacy exam is for the student to demonstrate his or her readiness for the PhD program through preliminary research work in the chosen field of study. The candidacy exam is comprised of written and oral portions. The exam is administered by the members of the student's dissertation advisory committee who are full faculty members of the College of Optics and Photonics. External committee members of the dissertation advisory committee are not appointed until after the student has passed the candidacy exam. The exam is normally taken near the completion of required course work. Students must pass the candidacy exam before registering for doctoral dissertation hours (OSE 7980).

    Admission to Candidacy

    The following are required to be admitted to candidacy and enroll in dissertation hours:

    • Completion of most course work, except for dissertation hours.
    • Successful completion of the candidacy examination.
    • The dissertation advisory committee is formed, consisting of approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars.
    • Submittal of an approved program of study.

    Dissertation Proposal and Defense

    Approximately one year after passing the general candidacy examination, and after the student has begun research, the student will write a dissertation proposal and present it to their dissertation advisory committee for its approval. The proposal must include the research performed to date and the research planned to complete the dissertation. The committee, which consists of three graduate faculty members from the College of Optics and Photonics and one faculty member from outside the college, must be approved by the director or designee and will meet annually to review the student’s progress. The dissertation advisory committee also administers the dissertation oral defense examination.

    Independent Learning

    The dissertation satisfies the independent learning experience.

    Application Requirements

    For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

    Before completing general UCF graduate application requirements, all applicants for programs in the College of Optics and Photonics are recommended to complete the pre-application process. The pre-application is located at http://www.creol.ucf.edu/Academics/Prospective/PreApplication.aspx.

    In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

    • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended.
    • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Optics, Electrical Engineering, Physics or closely related discipline.
    • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Goal statements: Personal Statement and Research Statement
      • Personal Statement should describe your career goals.  Please include why you want to come to CREOL and how the PhD will help you achieve your ultimate career goals.  Do you want to work in industry or do you want to go into academia? 
      • Research Statement  should describe the type of research that you are most interested in or specific faculty members that you wish to work with.  If there are multiple areas of research, please provide information for each area.
    • Résumé

    Students with degrees in related fields may be required to take undergraduate articulation courses determined by the program director on a case-by-case basis.

    Application Deadlines

    Optics and Photonics PhD *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
    Domestic Applicants Jan 15Jul 15Dec 1Apr 15
    International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15Jul 1Nov 1
    International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Mar 1Sep 1Dec 15
    *Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


    Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


    Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.