Accelerated Master's Program in Optical Sciences

“The Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) in Optical Sciences is designed for current exceptional Bachelor of Science in Optical Sciences and Engineering (BSOSE) students planning to continue their studies and research in the College of Optical Sciences’ graduate M.S. program.  In as few as five years, a student can complete both the Bachelor of Science in Optical Sciences and Engineering (B.S. OSE) and the Master of Science in Optical Sciences degrees. This program is not open to students who have completed a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree from another institution.”

Program Requirements & How to Apply

Requires completion of 128 undergraduate units of coursework and 35 units of graduate coursework with 12 units shared between the two degrees.  Please see the links below for further details and specific applicant requirements.

Accelerated Master's Program Deadlines
- Pre-Application: Completed by May 15th of the junior year in the B.S. OSE program and
- Formal Application Deadline: June 15th (if the student is approved during the pre-application step)


Click to View/Hide Program Description

A number of employers in the optics industry seek students with M.S. degrees in optics from the College of Optical Sciences. The AMP degree does such in one additional year by using the already extensive optics knowledge you have obtained as a B.S. OSE student. It provides outstanding students with additional training and experience for extended job opportunities, potential leadership positions upon graduation, experience in advanced laboratories, and opportunities in state-of-the-art research. 

Students apply to the AMP near the end of their junior year in the B.S. OSE program.  After review by the Graduate Admissions committee, qualified applicants will be admitted to the AMP before starting their senior, or transition, year.  For completion of the B.S. in OSE program via the AMP, the standard B.S. in OSE curriculum is followed, except that in the fourth-year of study (during semesters seven and eight), 12 units of graduate level coursework are required (i.e., four standard three-unit courses at the 500 to 600 level). The 12 units of graduate coursework includes three core undergraduate courses taken at the 500 level, while the fourth is a technical elective. These units count towards both the B.S. and M.S. degree requirements.  After successful completion of the senior year, typically fourth year, in the B.S. OSE program, the B.S. in OSE degree is awarded. 

During the fifth year, or second year of AMP, students complete all remaining M.S. degree coursework requirements.  AMP students must follow the M.S. program requirements for the non-thesis, Master’s Report option.  There is no core curriculum for the M.S. degree, and students are allowed considerable freedom in planning their study programs in conjunction with their graduate advisor; however, AMP students are required to choose courses that contain substantial, new material relative to their undergraduate classes. The M.S. in Optical Sciences degree is awarded at the conclusion of typically the fifth year, after successful completion of all degree requirements.

The AMP is designed to be a terminal Master’s degree, which means a student’s educational program is typically done at the completion of their M.S. studies.  AMP students must obtain special permission from the Associate Dean of Academic Programs in order to apply to the College’s Ph.D. in Optical Sciences program.  All students interested in being considered for the Ph.D. program are encouraged to consult with the Associate Dean of Academic Programs to discuss eligibility and preparedness for their respective graduate program.  Additionally, the University’s transfer credit policy from AMPs to other degree programs is also discussed with the Associate Dean.

Click to View/Hide Application Requirements

AMP Deadlines

Pre-Application: Completed by May 15th of the junior year in B.S. OSE program and

Formal Application Deadline: June 15th (if the student is approved during the pre-application step).

Minimum Application Requirements

Application to the AMP program will take place during the spring semester of the junior year in the B.S. in OSE program (6th semester). Students must meet all of the following requirements to apply.

  1. Have declared Optical Sciences and Engineering as a major.
  2. Completion of at least 12 earned undergraduate credits with 3.5 GPA in Optical Sciences (OPTI) courses at the University of Arizona’s main campus and a minimum cumulative UA GPA of 3.5 for all undergraduate coursework. Units still graded Incomplete, units graded Pass/Fail, and units taken as Audit will not count toward the requirement of the 12 undergraduate OPTI units.
  3. Completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credit hours is required at the time of pre-application; a minimum of 90 undergraduate credit hours is required at the time of entry into the AMP. If the student’s GPA falls below 3.5 upon completion of 90 units, the student is not admitted into the program. Courses taken for Audit are not included in the total number of units counted for eligibility or admission.
  4. At the conclusion of the junior year, there is no more than one General Education course completion requirement remaining.
  5. Demonstration of the maturity necessary for success in an accelerated, highly competitive program.  This is determined by the student’s performance in undergraduate Optical Sciences courses and through the AMP pre-application process whereby the student is required to meet with the Associate Dean of Academic Programs to discuss their interest and qualifications for the AMP program.
  6. Submission of a graduate application and payment of a graduate application fee (after approval from the pre-application process).
  7. Requirement is to complete the undergraduate degree by the end of the senior year (8th semester)/first year in the AMP optics program. The undergraduate degree requirements must be completed before the student is eligible to have the Master’s degree awarded.

Application Process

Students who meet all application requirements are encouraged to apply for AMP admission in the spring semester of their junior year in the B.S. program.  The two-part pre-application process involves completion of a Pre-Application and Formal Application.

1. Pre-Application

The Pre-Application Form must be completed no later than May 15th.  After the pre-application form is submitted, the student will contact the undergraduate advisor to schedule a meeting with the Associate Dean of Academic Programs to discuss the student’s interest and qualifications for the AMP program.

2. Formal Application

After the pre-application process, the applicant is notified, if approved, to formally apply to the AMP program.  Only approved students are eligible to complete the formal AMP admission application via the University of Arizona Graduate College.  The formal admission application requires the following:

A. Statement of Purpose

  • Your statement of purpose should be no more than two pages.
  • There are no specific prompts for the statement of purpose. Suggested topics to discuss are: why you are interested in Optical Sciences, your career goals, any specific optics interests, including fields of studies and professors, and why you believe you are a strong candidate for the AMP program. This statement is also your opportunity to address any lapse in grades or other past academic issues.
  • Upload your electronic statement to your Graduate College online application.

B. Two or More Letters of Recommendation

  • Recommendations are submitted electronically and should be produced on official letterhead. Select individuals to write these letters who are well acquainted with you and who can comment on your qualifications and promise for a career in optical sciences.
  • Recommendation letters are submitted using the recommendation module in the Graduate College online application. You input the recommender’s name and email; then, the module emails the recommender a link with instructions to upload the electronic letter m. Recommenders who encounter difficulties with the upload can email  

C. Resume or Curriculum Vitae

  • Your resume or CV should include any work experience, research, publications, or activities that demonstrate your ability to be a successful AMP student.
  • Upload your electronic resume/CV to your Graduate College online application.

D. Unofficial Transcript

  • Upload PDF scans of unofficial transcript to the online application. Unofficial transcripts can be attained via UAccess Student Center.  Transcripts must be current up to the point of application.
  • NOTE: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not a requirement of the AMP application.


Click to View/Hide Program Requirements

Time Limit

  • AMP students are expected to complete the program in two years (including the senior year in the B.S. in OSE program and the fifth year as an M.S. student).  Requests for extensions can be discussed with the Associate Dean of Academic Programs.  Such requests are only granted for extenuating circumstances, plans of study that require more time, and so forth.

Plan of Study

  • Once a student has been officially accepted into the AMP by the UA Graduate College, a Master’s Plan of Study must be completed.  The Plan of Study is a list of courses that a student has taken or is planning to take to complete the Master’s degree.  

Ethics Courses

University of Arizona graduate-level ethics courses may count toward the M.S., including AMP, in Optical Sciences from the College of Optical Sciences, but approval from the Associate Dean of Academic Programs is required.


AMP students must follow the M.S. program requirements for the non-thesis, Master’s Report option.  Students must complete a minimum of 35 units of graduate optics or optics-related courses, to include 12 units completed in the transition (senior) year, one additional optics laboratory course, and 3 units of OPTI 909 (Master’s Report).  Only one non-technical course may count toward the M.S. degree. At least 12 graduate units must be taken after all undergraduate requirements are completed.  There is no core curriculum for the M.S. Optics degree, and students in conjunction with their faculty advisor(s) are allowed considerable freedom in planning their study programs. 

Students following the Optical Sciences AMP have the following additional academic rules applied to their study:

  • The undergraduate 400-level version of a co-convening class may not be included in the Master’s plan of study.
  • Students may not include OPTI 599 – Independent Study for units counted both for the B.S. and M.S.
  • For the technical elective in Semester 8, the course may be outside of the College of Optical Sciences (i.e., OPTI) if approved through a petition to the College’s Associate Dean for Academic Programs.
Laboratory Requirements

AMP students must complete one additional laboratory course from the current approved list:

  • OPTI 502L: Fundamentals of Applied Optics Lab (1 unit)
  • OPTI 505L: Fundamentals of Physical Optics Lab (1)
  • OPTI 511L: Lasers and Solid-State Devices Lab (1)
  • OPTI 512L: Mathematical Optics Lab (1)
  • OPTI 513L: Optical Testing Lab (1)
  • OPTI 515L: Optical Specifications, Fabrication and Testing Lab (1)
  • OPTI 521L: Introductory Opto-Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (1)
  • OPTI 523L:  Optomechanical Engineering Lab (2)
  • OPTI 524A: Optical Systems Engineering (4)
  • OPTI 569L: System Programming for Engineers (2)
  • OPTI 571L: Optical Physics Computational Lab (1)
  • OPTI 586L: Polarization in Optical Design Lab (1)
  • OPTI 587L: Photonic Communications Laboratory (1)
  • OPTI 600E: Diffractive Optical Elements: Fabrication and Testing
  • PHYS 578: Laser Spectroscopy and Atomic Structure (4) 

Summary of Units

Undergraduate   Graduate  
BS OSE courses: 116 Taken as Undergraduate: 12
Graduate Level Courses: 12 Master's Report: 3
Required for BSOSE: 128 Lab: 1
    Technical Courses: 19
    Required for MS 35

Sample Plan of Study

Below is a sample plan of study for a student who is pursuing the BSOSE with the Optics Track and AMP. Students pursuing one of the other tracks (Optoelectronics, Optomechanics, and Optical Materials) are encouraged to contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for analogous plans of study.   

Year 1: UNDERGRADUATE - Engineering NMS


Course Units Title
ENGR 102 3 Introduction to Engineering
MATH 125 3 Calculus 1 (or MATH 124, 5 Unit)
CHEM 151 4 General Chemistry 1
ENGL 101 3 First-Year Composition (or ENGL 107)
TIER 1 3 Tier 1 General Education
Total 16  
Course Units Title
MSE 110 4 Solid State Chemistry
MATH 129 3 Calculus 2
PHYS 141 4 Introductory Mechanics
ENGL 102 3 First-Year Composition (or ENGL 108)
TIER 1 3 Tier 1 General Education
Total 17  


Year 2: UNDERGRADUATE - Major: BSOSE, Optics Track

Course Units Title
OPTI 201R 3 Geometrical and Instrumental Optics 1
OPTI 201L 1 Geometrical and Instrumental Optics Lab 1
MATH 223 4 Vector Calculus
PHYS 241 4 Introductory Electricity and Magnetism
Tech Elec† 3 Technical Elective
TIER 1 3 Tier 1 General Education
Total 18  
Course Units Title
OPTI 202R 3 Geometrical and Instrumental Optics 2
OPTI 202L 1 Geometrical and Instrumental Optics Lab 2
OPTI 280 1 Computer Programming
OPTI 210 3 Physical Optics 1
MATH 254 3 Introductory Ordinary Differential Equations
ECE 207 3 Elements of Electrical Engineering
TIER 1 3 Tier 1 General Education
Total 17  


  • Complete Advanced Standing Application form; meet with academic advisor

 To specialize in the Optoelectronics, Optomechanics, or Optical Materials tracks, meet with undergraduate academic advisor for core requirements and technical elective options


Year 3: UNDERGRADUATE - Adv. Standing

Course Units Title
OPTI 341 3 Semiconductor Physics and Lasers
OPTI 380A 1 Intermediate Optics Laboratory 1
OPTI 306 3 Radiometry, Sources and Detectors
Tech Elec† 3 Technical Elective
MATH 322 3 Mathematical Analysis for Engineers
TIER 2 3 Tier 2 General Education
Total 16  


  • Develop research experience
  • Completes minimum 75 units needed to apply to the AMP;
  • Meet with associate dean; fill out College’s Pre-Application Form. See Appendix A.
Course Units Title
OPTI 330 3 Physical Optics 2
OPTI 340 3 Optical Design
OPTI 370 3 Lasers and Photonics
OPTI 380B 1 Intermediate Optics Laboratory 2
Tech Elec† 3 Technical Elective
TIER 2 3 Tier 2 General Education
Total 16  


  • Meets minimum 90 units needed to enter AMP
  • Minimum cumulative GPA 3.50
  • Completion or near completion of general education requirements
  • Apply to the Graduate College by June 15


Year 4: AMP YR 1 Transition

Course Units Title
Tech Elec 3 Technical Elective
OPTI 530 3 Optical Communications Systems
OPTI 521 3 Introductory Optomechanical Engineering
OPTI 471A 2 Advanced Optics Laboratory 1
ENGR 498A 3 Cross-Disciplinary Design
Total 14  
Course Units Title
OTPI 513R 3 Optical Testing
OPTI 471 B 2 Advanced Optics Laboratory 2
ENGR 498B 3 Cross-Disciplinary Design
Tech Elec 4/5† 3 Technical Elective (400 to 600 Level)
Tech Elec 5† 3 Technical Elective (500 to 600 Level)
Total 14  


  • Senior/transition year
  • For co-convened courses, Students taking the undergraduate version, i.e., 400 level, may not use the 500-level course in their Master’s plan of study
  • Bachelor of Science in OSE awarded end of semester
  • Completion of 12 units of graduate-level coursework (counted for B.S. and M.S.); excludes OPTI 599


AMP Checklist


Complete 23 units during 5th year including:
- 1 unit graduate level Lab Course
- 3 units of OPTI 909 - MS Report
- 19 units of approved graduate level coursework


Select Major Advisor and form three member M.S. committee during fall semester if 5th year


Complete Master's Plan of Study during fall semester of 5th year


Schedule M.S. Final Oral Exam during early part of the final semester of 5th year by completing online "M.S. Final Oral Exam Scheduling Form"

  Pass M.S. Final Oral Exam


Submit electronic copy of M.S. Report to Academic Programs office


Prior to graduation, complete OSC Clearance form and Exit Survey


M.S. in Optical Sciences awarded at end of 5th year


Click to View/Hide Additional AMP Degree & Tuition Policies

  1. Students are undergraduates until they complete their undergraduate requirements, which should be no later than the end of the fourth year.
  2. Students entering with Advanced Placement Credit and/or who attend summer school may complete their Bachelor’s degree in their third year. Though not anticipated in Optical Sciences, B.S. OSE students in such circumstances are encouraged to meet with the Undergraduate Academic Advisor and Associate Dean for Academic Programs to develop a plan to enter the AMP in their third year.
  3. During years 1-3 (or approximately 0-90 credits) students are taking undergraduate coursework and charged at the undergraduate rate.
  4. Once admitted to the AMP, during the senior (or transition year), students take up to 12 units of graduate coursework that may apply toward both the Bachelor’s and the Master’s degrees.  Students are charged at the undergraduate rate and retain eligibility for undergraduate scholarships.
  5. After completion of all Bachelors’ requirements, a student is granted graduate status, is charged at the graduate rate, and is eligible for graduate assistantships. The student is not eligible to graduate nor eligible for graduate assistantships until all Bachelors’ requirements are completed. While an undergraduate, students are required to maintain a minimum graduate coursework cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  6. Once a student has completed 12 graduate credits, regardless of undergraduate degree completion, the student is considered a graduate student for financial aid and tuition purposes and coded as ‘graduate’ in UAccess. The student is no longer eligible for undergraduate scholarships nor for graduate assistantships if the undergraduate requirements have not been completed. 
  7. It is expected that the undergraduate degree requirements are completed by the end of the first year in the AMP in Optical Sciences. Students not completing undergraduate degree requirements by the end of the first year of the Optical Sciences AMP are no longer eligible for undergraduate scholarships nor for graduate assistantships.