Your decision to pursue an advanced degree in optics marks one of the most important steps in your career.

The Institute of Optics will help you gain the tools you need to solve real-world problems. Our program will help you to develop a new level of technical competency and leadership instincts. 

The institute prides itself on providing a personalized program, with thoughtful attention to the success of individual students. Optics graduates leave Rochester with the clarity to find opportunities in problems and then create positive change.

Degree Programs

The MS program in optics can be completed between two or four semesters of full-time study, or over a longer period of part-time study. MS students can choose to pursue a broad education in optics, or to specialize in areas such as:

  • Photonics
  • Medical optics
  • Optical communications
  • Electro-optics
  • Optical materials
  • Laser engineering
  • Business administration

Students can also complete their MS coursework virtually through the HOME program

The PhD program in optics prepares students for high-level research in academia, industry, or national laboratories. During the first two semesters, students are exposed to a broad range of areas within this field through class work, seminars, and one-on-one meetings with faculty. By the end of the second semester, all PhD students join a research group and begin working toward a doctoral thesis.

Making Connections through the Institute

The close-knit community here are the Institute not only includes current students, faculty, and staff, but also the many alumni working in industry and government labs, as well as in academia. These connections create possibilities for research interactions while in the program, as well as job opportunities following graduation.

Through events, including the biannual Industrial Associates meeting, the Institute’s students also establish links with the thriving local optics industry. Students can also participate in interdisciplinary research groups within the University, such as the Center for Medical Technology and Innovation, the Center for Freeform Optics, and the Center for Coherence and Quantum Optics.

Want to receive more information on optics graduate programs? Fill out the inquiry form!

Our Personalized Approach

The Institute of Optics provides a personalized close-knit community experience. You will often interact with faculty and staff, whether it's over coffee, attending our career development opportunities, or attending one of our many social gatherings. Our one-to-one focus offers you a leading education and relationships that last a lifetime.

Career Development

Institute of Optics students have access to a full range of professional development services to enhance their career opportunities.

Industrial Associates

The Industrial Associates program connects optics students with industry professionals, very often leading to job opportunities. Industrial Associates meetings are held in the fall and spring semesters. Each meeting features presentations by faculty and industry partners, a student poster session, and job interviews. The Friday evening reception provides a networking opportunity for members, students, and faculty in a relaxed environment. The Company Connection Showcase provides excellent face-to-face interaction for IA members with students.

 For years, graduate optics students have enjoyed virtually 100 percent job placement rate upon graduation with a starting average salary over 100K a year.

The Greene Center for Career Education and Connections

The Greene Center for Career Education and Connections provides a full range of services, programs, and resources to support you.

Alumni Network

Many Rochester graduates continue to be an active part of the University through the University of Rochester Alumni Network. Our alumni attend University and department events, including our Industrial Associates Symposia, holiday party, and optics picnic.

Optics Faculty

Whether it’s through academic research, visits during office hours, or interacting at various social activities, the Institute of Optics professors are highly approachable and accessible, providing leadership and personal guidance to help shape your graduate school experience.

Our smaller size means you will often work one-on-one with some of the world’s most recognized thought leaders in optical sciences and engineering. Our faculty members are independent thinkers who each bring unmatched knowledge, experience, and passion to approaching and solving real-world problems.

grad student in Optics lab