Optics and Photonics MS

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College : Optics and Photonics Degree :MS
Department : Option : Thesis, Nonthesis
Program Websites : http://www.creol.ucf.edu/


The Master of Science in Optics and Photonics program is intended for students with a bachelor’s degree in optics, electrical engineering, physics, or closely related fields. The program is interdisciplinary and combines optical science and engineering.


The Optics and Photonics MS program (No Track) requires a minimum of 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. The program offers a thesis and nonthesis option. Students are allowed considerable freedom in planning their study programs, although some foundation Optics courses are strongly recommended as core courses and two research methods/laboratory courses are required.
Total Credit Hours Required:
30 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor's Degree

Additional notes on the curriculum:

  • A minimum of 24 credit hours of formal graduate courses is required in the thesis option of which at least 12 credit hours must be formal Optics (prefix OSE) courses. A minimum of 27 credit hours of formal graduate courses is required in the nonthesis option of which at least 18 credit hours must be formal Optics (prefix OSE) courses. The remaining credit hours can be thesis or other elective and research courses as permitted in the option.
  • At least 6 credit hours of approved optics or related science and engineering research methods/laboratory courses are required in both options. At least one must be in Optics or approved as an Optics substitute.
  • Up to nine credit hours of appropriate graduate courses from accredited universities may be transferred with approval from the College of Optics and Photonics. Only courses with grades of “B” or better can be transferred.

Required Courses—15 Credit Hours

Core—9 Credit Hours

The following foundation courses are required.

  • OSE 5115 Interference and Diffraction (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6111 Optical Wave Propagation (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6525 Laser Engineering (3 credit hours)

Research Methods/Laboratory—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-related science and engineering methodology labs may be taken with approval by the College of Optics and Photonics.

Elective Courses—9 Credit Hours

All students are required to take a minimum of 9 credit hours of electives.  

Other courses with significant optics content may be accepted towards 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.

Thesis Option—6 Credit Hours

The thesis option requires at least 6 credit hours of thesis research.

  • OSE 6971 Thesis (6 credit hours)

Independent study and directed research credit hours are not allowed toward the degree requirements. The student must prepare an approved program of study and form a thesis committee upon completion of nine credit hours. The MS thesis committee consists of three members, with at least two regular graduate faculty members from the College of Optics and Photonics. Students are required to write a thesis and pass an oral exam based primarily on the topics of the thesis and course work.

Nonthesis Option—6 Credit Hours

The nonthesis option requires an additional 6 credit hours of electives.

  • Electives (6 credit hours)

Up to 3 credit hours of directed research (OSE 6918) or research report (OSE 6909) may be included as electives with prior approval of the College of Optics and Photonics although they are not counted toward the required 27 credit hours of formal course work. Students must prepare an approved plan of study upon completion of nine credit hours. Students are required to pass a final oral comprehensive examination based primarily on the subject matter of the courses taken. The purpose of the exam is for the student to demonstrate his or her basic knowledge of the fundamentals of optics and photonics.

The research report is a written report on a subject based on research completed under the guidance of a faculty advisor who is a member of the graduate faculty in the College of Optics and Photonics. The subject matter will be determined by advisor and should be on some aspect of experimental, theoretical, or literature research in the area of optics and photonics. Normally the research and report should be completed within one semester. The written report should contain between 5,000 and 10,000 words and should roughly follow the format of a scientific journal paper. The report will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the advisor and two other faculty members. The student will be expected to present a brief oral presentation of the work to the committee, not less than 5 business days after submitting the written report to the committee and prior to the last day of classes in the semester. The report will be graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis by the advisor, based on the input from the committee.

The nonthesis master's requires a minimum of two methods/laboratory courses as described above. These laboratory courses involve a substantial amount of independent learning on the part of the student. For example, laboratory reports must include sections on the theoretical and historical background behind the phenomena explored in laboratory experiments, and students are expected to obtain this background information on their own by researching the scientific literature. One required Optics laboratory may be waived if the student can demonstrate an equivalent hands-on proficiency in that laboratory specialization. These methodology/laboratory courses count toward the formal course work requirement.

Independent Learning

All students must take a minimum of two graduate methodology/laboratory courses in Optics or a closely related field that include experiments, research and laboratory reports. Nonthesis students also engage in directed research or research report. Thesis students enroll in 6 hours of thesis credits during the completion of their research study.

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.
  • A bachelor’s degree in Optics, Electrical Engineering, Physics, or closely related fields.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • Goal Statement:  Please choose the Personal Statement option.  Your Personal statement should describe your career goals. Please include why you want to come to CREOL and how the MS will help you achieve your ultimate career goals.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • 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 MS *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.