Degree Requirements

Because students will come into this program with strong but diverse undergraduate and graduate training, the multidisciplinary curriculum has been structured on a common basis for all entering students, but will compensate for individual differences and provide depth in specific areas. A total of 48 semester hours of graduate coursework are required, of which 28 semester hours are in designated optics courses. An additional 18 semester hours must be in dissertation research. Students are also required to satisfy the Seminar requirements of their home departments, as required, with a grade of ‘S’ (Note: seminar hours do not count toward the 48 course-hour degree requirement). In addition, all requirements of Graduate School must be met in order to remain in good standing.

The student will complete three study phases, punctuated by three program examinations.

Phase I
(the core phase) will consist of 19 semester hours of coursework. To complete this phase and become eligible for continuation in a focus area, the student must pass the Preliminary Examination (only two attempts will be permitted). After successful completion of this phase, the student should have acquired the common optics background that the program faculty believes is necessary for the doctoral program. Full-time students will normally select a dissertation advisor during their first year. Once an advisor has been chosen and the Preliminary Examination passed, a graduate committee will be appointed and a Program of Study completed.

Phase II
consists of coursework in the Program of Study (which includes a Focus Area). Much of this coursework will support the dissertation research to be conducted in Phase III. This phase will be completed when the student has completed most of the formal course work as prescribed in the Program of Study and has passed the Qualifying Examination which is prepared and administered by the student’s graduate committee. It will contain both written and oral parts. Questions can be drawn from part of the Program of Study (with special emphasis on the student’s Focus Area). This exam will also include a proposal for dissertation research prepared by the student and distributed to the graduate committee. The proposal will demonstrate that the student is intimately familiar with the proposed research, that published research related to the proposal has been reviewed, and that the student has a clear understanding of how to proceed and can set realistic goals. If the student fails the Qualifying Examination, a second attempt will be scheduled. Students who fail in two attempts will be dropped from the program.

Phase III
consists of all experimental and/or theoretical work needed to complete the student’s dissertation. These activities will be directly supervised by the student’s advisor. Since the Ph.D. is a research degree, recipients must demonstrate both the ability to perform independent and original research, and to clearly communicate this work both in written and oral formats. The Final Examination will consist of a public, oral presentation and defense of the dissertation.

Additional Information:

Residence Requirement
The minimum period in which a Ph.D. in optical science and engineering can be earned is three full academic years of graduate study.

Time Limit
All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed in no more than five years after the student has passed the Qualifying Examination. Credits earned toward a master’s degree (including up to 9 hours of master’s thesis) may be applied to the doctoral degree. Dated credits may be accepted if recommended by a student’s committee, the Program Committee, and approved by the Graduate School. For application toward this degree, the student may be required to demonstrate competence in the dated course work.

A student admitted to the program will have a member of the OSE Program Committee as an advisor. The student will be encouraged to consult with all faculty members in the intended area of specialization in order to develop an appropriate program of study and topic for dissertation research. A graduate committee will be appointed for the student as soon as the student passes the Preliminary Examination and selects a research project. The committee will include an advisor and at least four other members. At least one of the committee members will be from a department other than the student’s “home department.” Otherwise, the composition of the committee will follow the rules governing such committees set forth by Graduate School. The graduate committee is charged with supervision and approval of the student’s research and course of study toward the completion of all requirements for the degree.

The following optics courses are also available to students in the OSE program. See listings under indicated departments.

Electrical Engineering

  • EE 532 - Optical System Design
  • EE 633 - Electro-Optical Engineering
  • EE 634 - Optical Communications
  • EE 733 - Nonlinear Optical Devices and Applications
  • EE 734 - Fiber Optics
  • EE 735 - Statistical Optics
  • EE 738 - Optical Transforms and Pattern Recognition


  • PH 544 - Optoelectronics
  • PH 570 - Optical and Photonic Systems Design
  • PH 645 - Lasers I
  • PH 733 - Quantum Devices
  • PH 745 - Lasers II

Mechanical Engineering

  • MAE 546 - Solar Energy Systems
  • AE 677 - Optical Techniques in Solid Mechanics
  • MAE 757 - Optical Techniques in Fluid Mechanics