The Optics 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.
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 program 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 programs of study.
Additional notes on the curriculum:
- A minimum of 45 hours of formal course work is required of which at least 30 credit hours must be formal Optics (OSE) courses.
- 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—24 Credit Hours
Core Courses—18 Credit Hours
- OSE 6111 Optical Wave Propagation (3 credit hours)
- OSE 6115 Interference and Diffraction (3 credit hours)
- OSE 5203 Geometrical Optics and Imaging Systems (3 credit hours)
- OSE 5312 Light Matter Interaction (3 credit hours)
- OSE 6525 Laser Engineering (3 credit hours)
- OSE 6432 Guided Waves and Optoelectronics (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—33 Credit Hours Minimum
Restricted Electives—6-9 Credit Hours
In addition to the required courses above, students will need to complete an additional 6 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.
Any formal graduate course with an OSE prefix may be an elective with the approval of the adviser. In addition, the following courses are also accepted toward meeting the Optics (OSE) course work requirement.
- EMA 5610 Laser Materials Processing (3 credit hours)
- PHY 5455 Modern X-ray Science (3 credit hours)
- PHZ 5505 Plasma Physics (3 credit hours)
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 15 of these hours must be formal course work, which may be graduate optics, science or engineering courses. In addition to the 15 hours, 12 credits may be regular formal course work, doctoral research hours, independent study, or doctoral dissertation 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)
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, photonics, and lasers. 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, geometrical optics and imaging systems, light matter interaction, and guided waves and optoelectronics. Students who do not pass the qualifying examination in two attempts will not continue in the program.
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.