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Optical Sciences (MS) 
Program Description

The Master of Science in Optical Sciences program — offered on campus and online —  prepares students to enter challenging careers in the optics industry or to continue the pursuit of knowledge with doctoral degrees.

Its graduates become engineers, designers and technical managers. They work in hardware design, medical and biomedical technology, lasers and electro-optical systems, fiber optics and communications, measurements, manufacturing, and consumer technology. They work for large corporations, small companies, government agencies, universities, hospitals and research centers. Many even work for themselves, having started successful businesses or gone into consulting.

The M.S. in Optical Sciences has no core curriculum, allowing the program considerable flexibility. A student may limit coursework to a single topic area, or he or she may instead form the nucleus of the master's degree around the core courses for the Ph.D. in Optical Sciences — none of which are required.

Students may also choose between a thesis option and a nonthesis option (see requirements).

Department/Academic Unit(s)

College of Optical Sciences -

The mission of the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences is to provide the state of Arizona and the nation with an internationally pre-eminent program in education, research and outreach in all aspects of the science and application of light.

The College of Optical Sciences, formerly known as the Optical Sciences Center, was established in Tucson, Arizona, in 1964 to fulfill a national need for more highly trained engineers and physicists in the optical sciences. Throughout its 50-year history, OSC has stood on the forefront of the field; today, it educates more students in optics than any institution in the U.S.

Read more about the work we do here in Dean Thomas L. Koch's welcome message.

College of Optical Sciences  
Campuses where offered
Main Campus - Tucson UA Online  
Admissions Contact
Lindsay E Loebig
Graduate Program Coordinator
Lindsay E Loebig
Director of Graduate Studies
Richard J Koshel
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Kristi Renee Davenport
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements:

  • 3.0 GPA
  • GRE general test
  • TOEFL for international students
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Updated CV
  • Unofficial or Official transcripts

Please visit our Admissions page for more information.

Standardized Tests

Required test(s): GRE
Minimum TOEFL: 79

Minimum IELTS: 7

Financial Aid

Masters students have the opportunity to apply to open Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships.  No funding is guaranteed for M.S. students.  Please note that RA and TA positions are competitive and limited.  M.S. students may also apply for optics scholarships for which they qualify.

For more information on tuition, funding, and scholarships, please visit our website:

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: July 15
  • Spring: December 10

International Applicants:

  • Fall: May 1
  • Spring: September 1
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program: 4832

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements


Thesis Option

With the thesis option of the M.S. in Optical Sciences degree program, the student must complete a minimum of 32 units of University of Arizona graduate credit in optics or optics-related courses, including eight units of OPTI 910: Thesis and at least two units of optics laboratory courses. Most graduate courses are three units, so a typical student would take eight or nine academic courses and enroll for an additional eight units of thesis credit.

With approval from the department, up to six units of credit for appropriate graduate courses may be transferredfrom other universities.

Please note that OPTI 597B: Technical Writing and Communication does not count toward fulfilling the units required for the M.S. in Optical Sciences thesis.

For students who select the thesis option of the M.S. in Optical Sciences degree, the final examination is an oral exam based primarily on the content of the thesis.

Nonthesis Option

A minimum of 35 units of University of Arizona graduate credit in optics or optics-related courses is required for the nonthesis option of the M.S. in Optical Sciences degree, including at least two units of optics laboratory courses. Up to seven units of credit for appropriate graduate courses may be transferred from other universities with approval from the college.

The student must demonstrate competence in written communication by successfully completing an appropriate graduate course in technical writing or by writing an acceptable master's report in OPTI 909, for which three units of credit are received. OPTI 597B: Technical Writing and Communication and the UA graduate course PHCL 595B: Scientific Writing Strategies, Skills and Ethics may satisfy the nonthesis option in lieu of the master's report.

OPTI 599: Independent Study units must meet Graduate College policy, and they must be approved by the associate dean for academic programs. Generally, three units of OPTI 599 are approved.

For those selecting the nonthesis option of the M.S. in Optical Sciences, the final oral examination is based primarily on course subject matter. However, by mutual agreement between the student and the examination committee, the student's master's report can serve as the focus of the exam.

Laboratory Requirements

All students must include at least two introductory optics laboratory courses as part of their plan. These classes should provide hands-on experiences to help the students learn the fundamentals that are taught in the core lecture classes. While two lab courses are required, additional laboratory courses are strongly recommended. Some students may qualify to have one lab requirement waived by the associate dean for academic programs. Waiver of a lab requirement does not reduce the overall total number of units required for the degree. The classes currently offered that satisfy this laboratory requirement are:

Minor Requirements
The Academic Unit has not provided this information. 
Student Handbook  
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Last revised 15 Mar 2018