Optics This is a Track

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College : Optics and Photonics Degree :MS
Department : Option : Thesis, Nonthesis


The Optics Track in 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 Track in the Optics and Photonics MS program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree. The program offers thesis and nonthesis options. Students are allowed some freedom in planning their study programs, although some foundation Optics courses are strongly recommended as core courses and one research methods/laboratory course is 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 3 credit hours of an approved optics methods/laboratory course is required in both options.
  • An OSE 6909 Research Report of 3 credit hours is required in the nonthesis option.
  • Up to 9 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—21 Credit Hours

Core—18 Credit Hours

The following foundation courses are required. 

  • OSE 5115 Interference, Diffraction and Coherence (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 5203 Geometrical Optics (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6111 Optical Wave Propagation (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6211 Imaging and Optical Systems (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6265 Optical Systems Design (3 credit hours)
  • OSE 6525 Laser Engineering (3 credit hours) 

    Research Methods/Laboratory—3 Credit Hours

    At least 3 credit hours of approved Optics and related science/engineering research methods/laboratory courses is required from the list below. These research methods/laboratory courses count toward the formal graduate course work requirement.

    • OSE 6526C Laser Engineering 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—3 Credit Hours

    All students are required to take a minimum of 3 credit hours of electives.

    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.

    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 plan of study and form a thesis committee upon completion of 9 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 courses or electives.

    • OSE 6909 Research Report (3 credit hours)
    • Elective course (3 credit hours)

    Up to 3 credit hours of Research Report (OSE 6909) will be included. 

    For students in a nonthesis option, a Research Report may be completed in the last term of study. The Optics or Photonics master's tracks require a research report in the nonthesis option, but this is optional in the general MS degree.

    The research report is a written report on a subject based on research completed under the guidance of a faculty adviser who is a member of the graduate faculty in the College of Optics and Photonics.  The subject matter will be determined by the adviser 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 adviser 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 adviser, based on the input from the committee.

    Students must select an adviser from the College of Optics and Photonics faculty to serve on their Research Report. Students must prepare an approved plan of study upon completion of 9 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. 

    Independent Learning

    Students must demonstrate independent learning by either writing a thesis or a research report. Additionally, all students must take a minimum of one graduate methodology/laboratory course in Optics or a closely related field that includes experiments, research and laboratory reports.

    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 ulitmate 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 *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.