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Is a B.S. in Photonics worthwhile?

  1. Jun 26, 2013 #1
    Currently, I am an undergrad student in Physics, specializing in Optics (Meaning, my electives and all that are upper-level optics courses). I have every intention of going to graduate school. In fact, the reason that I am at this university, is because it is home to the #2(or 3?) Graduate school for optics worldwide (But the undergrad physics here is just your typical big-state-school fanfare).

    Starting this Fall, they are starting a new B.S. program in Photonic Science and Engineering. This is the program

    I spoke with the director of the program, and he answered a few of my questions. There are no qualifications FE/PE for Engineers in Photonics. However, there are for people in EE, and EE is closely related to this program. The core coursework in this program is being taught by CREOL staff, so that is a MAJOR plus over what I am currently doing. The degree is being issued jointly by UCF and CREOL, which I think is better as far as adding to the "worth" of the degree itself.

    Now, I really enjoy physics, but I have found that, things which I find interesting, I can simply learn on my own. I was more-or-less studying because of personal interest up to this point, but now I am starting to think that maybe getting a job would be beneficial to me at some point. So, here is the issue:

    This program is not ABET accredited, but they have submitted to be, and expect it to happen in 2 years (I presume with the first graduating class). The program is 11 hours longer than the physics program, and they will require me to go back and take some of the lower-level engineering courses (Statics, Dynamics, etc) that are not required for Physics majors. Additionally, some of my completed coursework will not count for anything, and my University has policy that begins charging a percent more per class for people going over their expected credits... This could add 2 semesters or more on to my completion time, which isn't a huge deal, but in my financial situation, it means that I may actually have to take out a loan (for the extra time) rather than remaining debt free (since my GI bill will run out by then).

    I just don't know what I should do. This is the field I (at least think) that I want to work in. I do plan to go to grad school, and I don't know if a standard Physics degree would be better. I'm afraid that I won't like physics grad-school, in which case, I will be in a bad position with a Physics BS, so this seems like a decent option.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2013 #2
    Have you actually taken any optics classes yet or do you just like playing with laser pointers? :tongue:
  4. Jun 26, 2013 #3


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    you will need to ask the grad schools you are interested in for a more meaningful answer. I have bachelors degree specialising in optoelectronics. The best thing I got from it is a funded postgrad programme from the nearby photonics company :)
  5. Jun 26, 2013 #4
    Well no, but I have a lot of experience with optics.

    Well, I wear glasses.

    Okay, I tried some on once at the drug store.

    /Of course I have.
  6. Jun 27, 2013 #5


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    Are you saying that if change to this other program, you'll have done extra classes not materially different from the others (mechanics versus statics/dynamics), and have to pay a punitive rate besides? I would not accept that.

    Specifically, I would consider whether there is another university that is less punitive that would give you credit. Or talk to the dean and express your desire to stay at the university.
  7. Jun 27, 2013 #6
    I wouldn't say that the coursework is not materially different, but there is some overlap. I am willing to accept that at this point, because these few courses are things that quite frankly, I would have taken anyway.

    There is a penalty for excess credits (I think that's what it's called). It's an additional fee on courses that are taken when you have already completed 110% of the (number of) credits required for your degree. In general, suppose I finished 60 credits in physics towards a program requiring 120 credits for example. If I also have taken (or withdrawn from) 72 credits in something non-related (so the total is at 172 credit hours, and thus, 110% of the ideal), then additional courses taken have a surcharge on them of which basically doubles the base tuition... (The tuition isn't doubled from what I understand, just the base rate, so that doesn't include the differential fees and all that other shady junk)

    Every University in my state does this.

    Thank you for your comment on that. I think I will take your advice and talk to the dean about this to see if something can be done.
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