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Photonic Communications Engineering (MS)  
Program Description

The Master of Science in Photonic Communications Engineering was created to educate engineers for modern photonic engineering challenges with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and industrial relevance. The M.S. in PCE, unlike theM.S. in Optical Sciences, has a core curriculum; it pairs classes in systems-level engineering, marketplace demand and the technology commercialization process with course material in leadership dynamics, technology management, ethical professionalism and communication.

Distance Option

All required lectures are available via distance learning. Students choosing distance learning classes will attend, via streaming video, the same classes as on-campus students, communicating with their professors and fellow students through email, Desire to Learn discussion boards and Web chat rooms. Distance learning students buy the same textbooks, use the same professional software, complete the same homework and sit for the same exams as on-campus students.

The University of Arizona requires on-campus and distance students to complete their thesis defense on-campus. A one-day visit will usually suffice.

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.

Engineering Administration -

College of Optical Sciences College of Engineering  
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
Elise Bowler
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, TOEFL for international students
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 Tuition, Fees & Funding page.  

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

Time Limit

  • Six years; however, it is possible to complete the program in one year.

Plan of Study

The plan of study should be submitted by the beginning of your third semester. Completed plans of study should be submitted to the Academic Programs office in Meinel 403 for approval and processing to the Degree Certification Office at the Graduate College. If your coursework changes at degree completion, a change of study plan form will be submitted.

Transfer Courses

Upon admission to the program, you may transfer up to six units of relevant coursework from other universities, pending approval from the M.S. in PCE committee.


The M.S. in Photonic Communications Engineering is comprised of 30 units. Students may opt to write a thesis (four units) or to take an approved elective lecture course (three units) and OPTI 589 (one unit). The following courses, worth 26 units, are required:

The following courses are approved electives:

Laboratory Requirements

Working professionals with applicable industry experience may have the opportunity to waive one or both laboratory course requirements.

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