In the Master of Science in Optics and Photonics degree program, students learn to harness the power of light to prepare for in-demand jobs or research careers in laser engineering, remote sensing and more. In addition to the its Optical Technology Center founded in 1995, MSU has a culture of interdiscplinary research and a history of partnership with Bozeman's thriving optics and photonics industry.

This degree is an interdisciplinary, cooperative program managed by the Optics and Photonics Degree Program Committee on behalf of the three participating departments: Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Chemistry and Biochemistry. Students apply directly to the Optics and Photonics Master's Program and are admitted through one of the participating departments, selected based on advisor affiliation and student interest.

To apply, visit the graduate school page and click on Optics and Photonics Degree:

Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty to discuss research and funding opportunities prior submitting their application.  For information on research opportunities, visit the research web pages of the participating departments:

During the on-line application process, you will be asked for the following:

  • Statement of Purpose: In an essay approximately one page in length, describe your primary research areas of interest and include a discussion of specific research areas of mutual interest to you and the faculty member(s) you are interested in working with at Montana State University.
  • Conferred bachelor’s degree: Unofficial transcripts can be uploaded by the student during this online process, however MSU must receive official transcripts directly from the university(s) attended. Have official transcripts sent to the appropriate departmental address listed in the contact information area below. Applicants who are undergraduate alumni of MSU-Bozeman do not need to submit their official MSU transcripts, however they should upload unofficial transcripts during the application process.
  • Official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores: Minimum scores:153 Verbal, 153 Quantitative, 3.5 Analytical Writing. Official scores must be received directly from ETS. Use institution code 4488 to have scores sent to Montana State University.
  • Three (3) letters of reference: During this online process, applicants will be asked to provide information about their references. The electronic process will prompt each reference to submit a signed reference letter. Letters should be written by people who are able to judge your ability to succeed in graduate school, e.g., your undergraduate professors, an advisor or supervisor during an internship, other faculty. Please do not ask for letters of recommendation from family members, friends, roommates, etc.
  • International Applicants: In addition to the above, international applicants will be required to submit a variety of additional documentation including English proficiency scores (at or above) the following: TOEFL [iBT: 100, PBT: 600], IELTS [level 7.0], or PTE [68]. Please see International application processfor further information.

Earning the Master's of Science in Optics and Photonics involves satisfying the academic requirements in one of two degree formats:

For additional information, please contact: 
Diane Harn, Program Coordinator, 
Prof. Wm. Randall Babbitt, Chair, Optics and Photonics Degree Program Committee,