What Courses Should I Take?

First-year Ph.D. students must follow the core course sequence described in the Graduate Handbook (see Appendices for a summary of the requirements).  In their first semester, most new Ph.D. students will take OPTI 501 (Electromagnetic Waves), OPTI 502 (Optical Design and Instrumentation), and either OPTI 512R (Linear Systems, Fourier Transforms) or OPTI 570 (graduate-level Quantum Mechanics).  New Ph.D. students are also encouraged to take 1-3 units of OPTI 792 (Directed Introductory Graduate Research, to gain experience working in a specific lab with a specific professor).  

M.S. students following one of the emphasis areas of Optomechanical Engineering or Quantum Information Science & Engineering must adhere to the coursework requirements summarized on the previous pages of this section. 

For all other M.S. students, and for Certificate students, there are no requirements to take any specific courses, as long as the general plan of study restrictions are followed (see Graduate Handbook appendices).  There is therefore much flexibility in the courses that can be chosen, and most students will start out by taking courses that cover topics that are fundamental to their area of interest and serve as prereqs for more advanced topics of interest, and for which they have suitable background.

For students who are not really sure where to start, see the following tables for some suggestions.  Please also feel free to reach out to the Graduate Academic Programs staff for guidance.

Course # (credits) Online? Course Name Prereq For Especially Good For... Comments
501 (3) Yes Electromagnetic Waves 584 Optical Physics, Photonics, Image Science  A math-heavy, challenging course
502 (3) Yes Optical Design & Instrumentation 503, 517, 518, 585, 586 Optical Engineering, Instrumentation First essential course for optical engineering. No prereqs.
506 (3) Yes Radiometry, Sensors, & Detectors   Optical Engineering, Image Science Previous OPTI 502 recommended
512R (3) Yes Linear Systems, Fourier Transforms 505R, 512L Optical Engineering, Image Science Relevant for many areas of optics
521 (3) Yes Intro. Optomechanical Engineering 523 Optical System Design, Optomechanical Engineering For students familiar with optical systems, but little mech. eng. experience
570 (3) Yes Quantum Mechanics 544 Optical Physics, Quantum Info. Not an intro. QM course, a prior course in undergraduate-level QM or excellent math preparation is essential
595A (1) Yes Current Subjects in Optics     Attend colloquia and write summaries of the talks, learn about new research across the breadth of optics
604 (3) No Advanced Mathematical Methods for Optics 505R, 512L Image Science A math-heavy course, with emphasis in linear algebra-based concepts

Course # (credits) Online? Course Name Prereq For Especially Good For... Comments
503A (3) Yes Mathematical Methods for Optics and Photonics     a math-heavy course (calculus, integration, special functions, differential equations, complex numbers) 
504 (3) No Optical Spectroscopy of Materials     survey of optical spectroscopic methods
508 (3) Yes Probability and Statistics in Optics 509 Image Sciences, Quantum Information probability theory, stochastic processes, noise, etc.  
510R (3) Yes Photonics   Photonics intro to fiber and waveguide optics, photonic devices.  Some E&M experience is strongly suggested
511R (3) Yes Optical Physics and Lasers     intro to quantum mechanics, light-matter interaction, and laser physics
516 (3) Yes Modern Astronomical Optics   Astronomical Instrumentation overview of astronomical optics systems and techniques
520 (3) No Biophotonics     covers interaction of light with biological material.  Basic understanding of physical optics is required
539A (3) Yes From Photonics Innovation to the Marketplace   Entrepreneurship, Marketing process of technology development in photonics industry. 
595A (1) Yes Current Subjects in Optics     attend colloquia and write summaries of the talks, learn about new research across the breadth of optics
595B (3) Yes Information in a Photon   Quantum Information Theory of optical detection, communication, including quantum limits.  Intro. quantum mechanics strongly suggested.