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Masters in Optics

  1. Apr 2, 2012 #1

    I'm in my junior year as a physics major. I started out convinced that I wanted a Ph.D., but now I'm not so sure, so I've been looking around for interesting paths that don't involve one. I've run across the optics/optical engineering masters programs at URochester, UArizona, and a couple other schools, which seem to welcome physics majors; they sound great to me because optics is an area I'm very interested in, and the optical engineering field is one that looks like fun to work in.

    The thing is, there are so few programs in this area that I'm a bit suspicious - are there actually any jobs out there for optics graduates or is this an overspecified, dead-end degree? The schools claim that they have huge demand for their masters optics students, but that's what they would say.

    Anyone have any insight on these programs? Any optical engineers who can talk about what the field is like?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2012 #2


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    I can speak from experience that optical engineering is a lucrative field and highly in-demand. I know several employers (including my own) that recruit optical engineers directly out of school (contingent on grades and experience of course). Professors describe Optical Engineering as an "enabling technology field" in that no single product is purely optical, but all modern products utilize optics either directly in their design or through the manufacturing or development process.

    Being from the U of A myself, I have seen first-hand that optical engineering graduates from the University of Arizona have a high employment rate out of school (even in this economy) and overall work on a large variety of projects in industry and scientific research. I personally am pursuing a graduate degree in optical engineering right now, and that paired with my experience in opto-mechanical engineering has made me quite the subject of interest to company recruiters nationwide.

    If you're interested in the field, I say go for it. With good lab experience, good professor references, and a solid understanding of the field you'll have several choices for employment when you graduate, which is a lot more than can be said for some other degrees these days...
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  4. Apr 2, 2012 #3


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    If you want to learn more about Optical Engineering and its applications, take a look at SPIE.org. Just looking at the conferences and the breadth of topics they cover will give a good idea of which technologies utilize optics in the modern world (hint: it's all of them).


    SPIE Salary Survey:
  5. Apr 2, 2012 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    I agree with Mech Engineer- speaking personally, optical science/engineering has been very good to me.
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