2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    May 18, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Optics and Photonics MS

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

Program Description

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 College of Optics and Photonics offers an interdisciplinary graduate program in optical science and engineering leading to a Master of Science in Optics and Photonics. The college has grown rapidly and now has 55 faculty members and faculty with joint appointments, 41 research scientists and 148 graduate students with research activities covering all aspects of optics, photonics, and lasers. Research expenditures are over $10 million annually, with over 20 percent of the funding coming from industrial partners, illustrating the effectiveness of the commitment to partnerships that is a foundational value of the COP.

Research activities cover all aspects of optics, photonics, and lasers, and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL), the Florida Photonics Center of Excellence (FPCE), and the Townes Laser Institute (TLI) are integral parts of the College. Current research areas include: linear and nonlinear guided-wave optics and devices, high speed photonic telecommunications, fiber optic fabrication, fiber optic communications, solid state laser development, nonlinear optics, laser-induced damage, quantum-well optoelectronics, quantum optics, photonic information processing, infrared systems, optical diagnostics, optical system design, image analysis, virtual reality, medical imaging, diffractive optics, optical crystal growth and characterization, high intensity lasers, X-ray optics, EUV sources, optical glasses, laser materials processing, free-electron lasers, and light matter interaction.

The MS program is intended for students with a bachelor’s degree in optics, electrical engineering, physics, or closely related fields. The program’s mission is to:

  • Provide the highest-quality education in optical science and engineering
  • Conduct scholarly, fundamental, and applied research
  • Aid in the development of Florida’s and the nation’s technology-based industries


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 a 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.

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.

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.

Comprehensive Examination

An oral master’s comprehensive examination, based on the core courses (OSE 5115  Interference, Diffraction and Coherence, OSE 6111  Optical Wave Propagation, and OSE 5525  Laser Engineering) must be passed as a graduation requirement for the MS degree in Optics and Photonics. Students will be required to take this exam within one semester after completing the core courses.

The exam may be taken twice. After failing on the second attempt, the student will be required to re-take the courses covering the areas in which the examination committee determined the student to be deficient. The retaken courses must be passed with a minimum grade of B+ in order for the student to graduate.

This Comprehensive Examination requirement may be satisfied by passing the Optics and Photonics PhD Qualifying exam.

Thesis Option: 6 Credit Hours

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

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.

  • OSE 6971 - Thesis 6 Credit Hours

Nonthesis Option: 6 Credit Hours

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

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 coursework. Students must prepare an approved plan of study upon completion of nine credit hours. 

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 coursework requirement.

  • Electives 6 Credit Hours

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.

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.
  • A GRE score taken is not required for admission to the Optics and Photonics MS program.
  • Personal Statement:  a brief 1-2 page statement about educational, research, and long-term professional career objectives.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Résumé.
  • Applicants applying to this program who have attended a college/university outside the United States must provide a credential evaluation showing an equivalent bachelor’s degree in the U.S. A course-by-course evaluation must be provided, with a GPA calculation. Credential evaluations are accepted from World Education Services (WES) or Josef Silny and Associates, Inc. only.

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 15 Jul 1 Dec 1 Apr 1
International Applicants Jan 15 Jan 15 Jul 1 Nov 1
*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.

Contact Info

Graduate Program

M. G. “Jim” Moharam PhD
Interim Associate Dean
Telephone: 407-823-6833

Alma Montelongo
Telephone: 407-823-4726
CREOL Room 208

Graduate Admissions

Ashley Rivera Mercado
Telephone: 407-823-2766
Millican Hall 230
Online Application
Graduate Admissions

Mailing Address

UCF College of Graduate Studies
Millican Hall 230
PO Box 160112
Orlando, FL  32816-0112

Institution Codes

GRE: 5233
TOEFL: 5233
ETS PPI: 5233

Graduate Fellowships

Grad Fellowships

Telephone: 407-823-0127

Graduate Financial Aid

UCF Student Financial Assistance
Millican Hall 120
Telephone: 407-823-2827
Appointment Line: 407-823-5285
Fax: 407-823-5241