Optical Science and Engineering, MS

School of Engineering

Program Description:

  • Concentrations: Imaging Science; Optical Science; Photonics. 

Current research areas: Advanced materials, atom optics, biomedical optics, fiber optics, laser physics, lithography, nanostructures, nonlinear optics, optical imaging, optical sensors, optoelectronics, photonic integrated circuits, quantum optics, spectroscopy, and ultrafast phenomena.

The M.S. in Optical Science and Engineering degree program is designed with two distinct objectives: to prepare a student for the industrial workforce engaged in any area of optics and photonics, and to prepare a student to meet the challenges of a more advanced research career in these areas. The program has three alternate plans under which a student can begin to fulfill his or her career goals within a flexible curriculum. Plan I and Plan II-b are designed to launch the student on an industrial R&D career path. In particular, through its internship, Plan II-b allows for private companies, national/federal laboratories, and their contractors to partner with UNM in content areas in mutually beneficial ways by means of either a first look at potential recruits or a more interactive career advancement of their current employees. Plan II-a is a course-based option that includes an examination. Plan II-a is commonly used by PhD students securing a MS degree en route to the PhD degree. Plan III is a pure coursework MS degree. This degree is for the student who wishes to broaden their horizons within optics through academic coursework study as opposed to utilizing an industrial R&D career path.

The Optical Science and Engineering (OSE) Program is jointly administered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy (PandA) and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). This program features an internship option under which a student can apply qualified industrial/government laboratory research along with successfully completed course work toward the degree. Under Plan I (thesis based), a minimum of 24 credit hours of course work and 6 hours of thesis credit is required. Under Plan II-a (non-thesis), a minimum of 33 credit hours of course work, including 3 credit hours of research seminar (PHYC 500/501), at least 2 of which must be in Optics – or individual research/problems (PHYC 552/650, or ECE 551/651) is required. Under Plan II-b (internship-based), a minimum of 33 credit hours of course work - including 3-6 credit hours of internship (ECE/PHYC 559) - is required. Successful completion of an oral M.S. comprehensive examination is required under Plans II-a and II-b. Under Plan III (course-based), a minimum of 36 credit hours of course work are required including 12.0 credit hours of program electives.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Optical Science and Engineering requires a minimum of 52 credit hours of graduate work, exclusive of dissertation. Important: the total credit hours taken from Required courses and Elective courses should be 30 credit hours. A concentration is required for the degree.

Required Courses

Core Courses common to all Concentrations:

  • ECE/PHYC *463 Advanced Optics I
  • PHYC *476L Experimental Techniques of Optics -or- PHYC *477L Experimental Techniques of Optics
  • PHYC 511 Electrodynamics -or- (ECE 555 Foundations of Engineering Electromagnetics -and- ECE 561 Engineering Electrodynamics)


Plus the following core courses depending on concentration:

• Imaging Science
ECE 541 Probability Theory and Stochastic Processes
ECE 533 Digital Image Processing
3 credit hours of seminar, including one Optics seminar

• Optical Science
ECE/PHYC *464 Laser Physics I
ECE/PHYC 554 Advanced Optics II
PHYC *466 Methods of Theoretical Physics I -or- MATH *466 Mathematical Methods in Science and Engineering
PHYC 521 Graduate Quantum Mechanics I
PHYC 568 Nonlinear Optics
3 credit hours of seminar, including one Optics seminar

• Photonics
ECE *471 Materials and Devices
ECE 570 Optoelectronic Semiconductor Materials and Devices
ECE 572 Semiconductor Physics
3 credit hours of seminar, including one Optics seminar

More information, including possible choices of elective courses, is available at the Optical Science and Engineering program Web site.

Admission Requirements:

SemesterDomestic with TA/GADomestic without TA/GAInternational
FallDecember 31stMay 1stDecember 31st
SpringAugust 1stOctober 1stAugust 1st 

:: Required Documents::

  • Application Form: To apply to OSE online, select Interdisciplinary Programs and then choose Optical Science and Engineering (OSE/OPEN). The major code for Optical Science and Engineering is:OPEN 

    The online application allows you to do the following:

    • Fill out the UNM online application
    • Make Letters of Recommendation Request
    • Upload Letter of Intent/Personal Statement
    • Upload Resume/CV

    Domestic Applicants:

    Apply Online:Click Here

    International Applicants:
    Apply Online: Click here

  • Application Fee: Non-refundable application fee of $50.00 made payable to the University of New Mexico. The application fee can be paid by personal check, International Postal Money Order, Travelers Check(s), or by a certified Check drawn on a US bank. Applications will not be reviewed until the fee is received. You may also pay online through the online admissions process by Clicking Here.

  • Transcripts/Academic Records: One copy of your academic record from each college and university that you have attended is required. All documents submitted in support of your application must be official and must bear the original seal, stamp, or signature of the institution's designated administrator. If the documents are in a language other than English, an official certified English translation must be submitted along with each original record. It is important that all students answer and comply with all records requests made by UNM International Admissions Office. 

  • GRE: The General GRE is required. The subject (Physics) is encouraged but cannot replace the General GRE. The Institution Code Is: 4845.

  • English Proficiency: If English is not your first language or if English is not the official language spoken in your country, you must take either the TOEFL, the IELTS, or Cambridge CPE or CAE. The minimum score on the TOEFL is at least 530 ( 213 on the computerized test, or 79 on the Internet-based test). The minimum score for the IELTS is 6.5; and for the Cambridge CPE or CAE is a C. Official test results must be sent directly to the University of New Mexico. International students seeking graduate teaching assistantships, and whose native language is not English, may also be required to submit an acceptable score on the Test of Spoken English. Students who have received a bachelor's or graduate degree from an accredited institution in the United States, English-speaking Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand are exempt from submitting TOEFL scores. The Institution Code Is: 4845. 

    For more information on English Proficiency, please visit the Global Education website by clicking here

Contact Information:

Doris Williams: Program Coordinator