Certificate in Optical Sciences

The Professional Graduate Certificate in Optical Sciences is designed for working professionals would like to supplement their practical knowledge with formal coursework. The program’s rich variety of classes allows students the opportunity to explore the broad fundamentals of optical sciences or to choose courses of particular relevance to their immediate needs.  

Spring Semester Certificate Deadline

Domestic Students: December 10 (On-campus & Online)
International Students: September 15 (On-campus) / December 10 (Online)

Fall Semester Certificate Deadline

Domestic Students: August 1 (On-campus & Online)
International Students: July 1 (On-campus) / August 1 (Online)

A submitted online application with all supporting documents, including submitted letters of recommendation, should be completed by these deadlines. Documents submitted after the date cannot be guaranteed review.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in optics, engineering, physics, mathematics, or a related field strongly suggested.  Others will be considered with sufficient coursework in mathematics and physics or engineering.
  • Coursework must include three semesters of calculus including vector calculus and/or differential equations, with two or more semesters of college physics including an electromagnetism course strongly recommended. A course in linear algebra is also recommended.
  • 2.75 GPA
  • International applicants: TOEFL 79, IELTS 7.0, or CESL Endorsement

Review Timeline

Certificate applications are reviewed throughout they year as they are submitted.  Students are often notified of the outcome of their application within about two weeks of the receipt of all application materials.  

Applications to Certificate Program

1. Application

  • Complete the University of Arizona Graduate College admission application online. There is no separate application for the College of Optical Sciences.
  • Optical Sciences does not offer application fee waivers.

2. Transcripts

  • Upload PDF scans of institute-issued transcripts or diplomas to the online application. All submissions must be in English. Please note that these uploads are not considered your official transcript.
  • Official transcripts are required only if admitted. Information on what is considered an official transcript can be found here.


4. One or More Letters of Recommendation

  • Recommendations are submitted electronically and should be produced on official letterhead except where prohibited by the letter writer's place of employment. Select individuals to write these letters who are well acquainted with you and who can comment on your qualifications for pursuing graduate coursework in optical sciences. 
  • Letters MUST be written entirely by the recommender.  Letters drafted by the applicant are not acceptable and may cause an application to be dismissed.  
  • Recommendation letters are submitted using the recommendation module in the Graduate College online application. You will input the recommender’s name and email address, and they will be emailed a link to upload their electronic letter into the online system. If a recommender is having problems uploading their letter, they can email admissions@optics.arizona.edu.  Unless prohibited by the letter writer's place of employment, email addresses should be professional rather than personal addresses.  

5. 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 area in which you are interested, and why you believe you are a strong candidate for the Certificate program. This is also your opportunity to address any lapse in grades or other past academic or personal issues.
  • Your statement of purpose is read and taken seriously. 
  • Upload your electronic statement to your Graduate College online application.

6. Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

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

7. Proof of English Proficiency (International Applicants Only) 

All international students applying to an Optical Sciences graduate program must submit English proficiency test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or CESL Endorsement). This includes students applying to online and on campus programs.

  • TOEFL scores are required for international applicants. Applicants to the College of Optical Sciences must have a score of at least 600 paper-based (PB) or 79 Internet-based (iBT). Submit your scores to the University of Arizona (code number 4832). All reported scores must be dated within two years of the proposed date of enrollment.
  • Those who completed the IELTS must have a minimum score of 7. Have IELTS send official scores to Graduate Admissions, Administration Bldg. Room 322, The University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210066, Tucson, AZ 85721.
  • Optical Sciences accepts CESL Endorsement. The student must receive the endorsement during or close to the application deadline.
  • Applicants who have completed a bachelors or graduate degree at a regionally accredited institution in the United States, or an approved institution in an official English speaking country.  
  • Exemptions for submitting English proficiency scores are explained on the Graduate College website.
  • Other options may be available as explained on the Graduate College International Applicants website.  

8. Supplemental Documents

Applicants who have publications should not include the actual papers with their application. Instead, applicants can include the publishing information in their resume.


The College of Optical Sciences does not offer funding for Certificate students. To see the current tuition and fees rates, please visit the Tuition Calculator.


For more information about graduate degree program requirements or completing an admission application, please email admissions@optics.arizona.edu or call (520)621-8418.

Graduate Student Handbook


  • The Certificate program does not require the completion of any specific core courses.
  • A Certificate is completed with 15 units of optics graduate coursework, with grades of A or B, subject to the restrictions described in the Graduate Student Handbook.
  • The Certificate program may be completed entirely with classes available to remote students.  Most Certificate students are enrolled through the Arizona Online/ Distance Learning program.  


  • The Optical Sciences Certificate program does not require the completion of any qualifying or comprehensive exams, or a final exam for the program.