PhD Imaging Science Curriculum & Requirements - Academic Year 2012 and Prior


The Ph.D. curriculum offers students a thorough course of study and research, structured and directed by experts in the field. Graduates of the program will contribute to an increase in the fundamental body of knowledge associated with Imaging Science. They will acquire the capabilities, skills, and experience to continue to expand the limits of the discipline, and to meet future scholarly, industrial, and government demands on the field.

The course of study involves approximately two years of course work beyond the baccalaureate and a research-based thesis. The curriculum includes a required ("core") 7-course sequence (see below) designed to provide a fundamental understanding of the physical, electro-optical, mathematical, computational, and statistical foundations of Imaging Science that are necessary to understand, analyze, and optimize imaging systems. Integrated into these core courses are laboratory experiments intended to provide hands-on experience and a common framework for describing and understanding various imaging systems.

Graduate elective courses offered by the Center for Imaging Science (and other RIT academic departments in fields closely allied with imaging science) permit concentration in a range of imaging science research and imaging application areas, including electro-optical imaging, digital image processing, color science, perception and vision, electrophotography, lithography, remote sensing, medical diagnostic imaging, electronic printing, and machine vision.

Graduates of the program must:

  • successfully complete 99 quarter credit hours of core and elective courses and research credits;
  • define a study plan in close consultation with their faculty advisor that has a range of 60 to 72 course credits and a range of 27 to 39 research credits to achieve the 99 credit total;
  • be resident at RIT as a full time student for at least 3 consecutive quarters;
  • pass a series of written and oral examinations intended to demonstrate a solid grasp of the foundation disciplines of Imaging Science and the capability to extend the field in new directions; and
  • complete an acceptable dissertation under the supervision of the research advisor and dissertation committee.

Each student's course work requirements are defined by a study plan defined in consultation with the student's research advisor and the Graduate Coordinator, and must include the completion of the core sequences, plus at least two three-quarter sequences in topical areas. Some examples of topical areas are: remote sensing, digital image processing, digital graphics, electro-optical imaging systems, medical imaging, astronomical imaging, and microlithographic imaging technologies.

Students may take a maximum of 16 course credits in other departments.  Of the 27 to 39 credits of research, 3 credits are associated with the Imaging Science seminar course (1051-706, 707, 708). There is a maximum of 9 research credits per quarter.

Students with a master of science degree in a related field (e.g., physics, chemistry, or electrical or computer engineering) may be granted up to 36 quarter credits toward the doctoral degree in imaging science based on their earlier studies. These credits may be granted after successful completion of the comprehensive examination and approval of their study plan. The required research credits may not be waived by experience or examination.

Admission requirements

Because imaging science encompasses a wide variety of scientific disciplines, students with diverse backgrounds are accepted into the program. Undergraduate preparation leading to a bachelor of science degree in engineering, computer science, applied mathematics, or one of the natural sciences is usually required, but exceptional students from other fields may be accepted. All students admitted to the doctoral program in imaging science must have completed courses in the following areas:

  • Calculus
  • University physics (one year)
  • Modern physics
  • Computer language

Admissions decisions are made by a committee comprised of graduate faculty of the Center for Imaging Science. To be admitted, students must have a record of academic achievement from their undergraduate institutions, as indicated by official transcripts; demonstrate proficiency on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); and request letters of recommendation from two people well-qualified to judge their abilities for graduate study.

Assistantships and Financial Assistance

Graduate assistantships and tuition remission scholarships are available to qualified students. These students typically are funded as Graduate Teaching Assistants during their first year, and as Research Assistants thereafter. The stipend for a newly accepted student is currently $20,00. Prorated Summer quarter support is generally available once a student has begun work with a research advisor. 

Applicants seeking financial assistance from the Center must have all application documents submitted to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services by January 15 for the next academic year. Students whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English, as evidenced, for example, by a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper based), 250 (computer based) or 100 (Internet based). Students whose native language is not English are advised to obtain as high a TOEFL score as possible if they wish to apply for a teaching or research assistantship. These candidates are also encouraged to take the TSE-A (Test of Spoken English), in order to be considered for financial assistance.

Further Information

For more information on Imaging Science graduate program requirements, policies, and procedures, as well as capsule course descriptions and tables of key events during study for the PhD in Imaging Science, please see the Graduate Handbook.

Imaging Science Core Courses
Course Number Class Name Credit Hours
1051-706,707,708 Imaging Science Seminar 3**
1051-716 Fourier Methods for Imaging 4
1051-718 Digital Imaging Mathematics 4
1051-719 Radiometry 4
1051-720 The Human Visual System 4
1051-733 Optics 4
1051-713 Probability, Noise, and System Modeling 4
1051-782 Digital Image Processing 4

**The Imaging Science Seminar sequence counts toward the student's required 27 to 39 credit hours of Ph.D. research.

Example Tracks

(NOTE: other PhD tracks, such as Digital Imaging, Color Science and Astronomical Imaging, are also available, but are under revision due to recent changes to the core curriculum)

Remote Sensing Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
1051-719 Radiometry (a core course) 4
1051-762 Remote Sensing: Sensors and Radiometric Image Analysis 4
1051-763 Remote Sensing: Spectral Image Analysis 4
1051-7xx An elective course from the list below 4
Recommended Remote Sensing Electives: Multivariate Statistics, Spectral Methods and Instrumentation, SAR Imaging, Photogrammetry, Pattern Recognition.


Biomedical Imaging Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
1051-730 (1014-730) MRI 4
1051-753 Ultrasonic Imaging 4
1051-812 Medical Imaging systems 4
Recommended Medical Imaging Electives: Information Theory, 1051-784 DIP: Pattern Recognition, 1051-780 Imaging with Wavelet Transforms, 1014-747 Principles of Magnetic Resonance; and 0301-710 Advanced Electromagnetic Theory


Detectors Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
1051-739 Principles of Solid State Imaging 4
1051-728 Design and Fabrication of a Solid State Imaging Camera 4
1051-742 Testing of Focal Plane Arrays 4


Nanoimaging Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
1051-724 Introduction to Electron Microscopy 4
1051-743 Fundamentals of Radiation-Matter Interactions 4
1051-7xx Nanoscale Science and Technology of Imaging Systems 4

Click here for the official RIT bulletin description of the Ph.D. Imaging Science program.

Additional Information on the Ph.D. Program

Advancement to candidacy

Advancement to Ph.D. candidacy proceeds through the following steps.

  • Advisor selection
  • Submission and approval of preliminary study plan
  • Passing a written comprehensive exam
  • Study plan revision based on outcome of comprehensive exam and adviser recommendation
  • Research committee appointment
  • Candidacy exam based on thesis proposal

If the faculty decision, following the comprehensive exam, is not to permit the candidate to continue in the doctoral track, the advisor and graduate coordinator will counsel the student about options, including pursuit of an MS degree. If the faculty decision is to permit the candidate to continue in the doctoral track then the program continues with study plan revision, research committee appointment, candidacy exam, and, finally, dissertation defense.

Research committee

By the end of the fall quarter after successfully passing the comprehensive exam, the student, in consultation with an advisor, must present a request to the Graduate Program Coordinator for the appointment of a Research Committee. The committee will include the advisor, at least one member of the imaging science faculty, a person competent in the field of research, and an external chair. The external chair must be a tenured member of the RIT faculty, cannot be a member of the Center's Graduate Faculty and cannot have the same home department as any other member of the committee. A nomination for the external chair is made by the advisor to the Graduate Program Coordinator, who passes the nomination on to the Dean of Graduate Studies for approval. The Research Committee will supervise the student´s research, including review of the research proposal, meeting with the student during the course of the research, and conducting the dissertation defense.

Research proposal

The student and the research adviser select a research topic for the dissertation. The proposed research must be original and publishable. Although the topic may deal with any aspect of imaging, the research is usually concentrated in an area of current interest within the center. The research proposal is presented to the student's Ph.D. research committee during the candidacy exam at least six months prior to the dissertation defense.


All students in the program must spend at least three consecutive quarters (summer quarter excluded) as resident full-time students to be eligible to receive the doctoral degree. A full-time academic workload is defined as a minimum of nine academic credits per quarter or an equivalent amount of research, as certified by the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Time limitations

All candidates for a doctoral degree must maintain continuous enrollment during the research phase of the program. Such enrollment is not limited by the maximum number of research credits that apply to the degree. Normally, full-time students complete the course of study for the doctorate in approximately three to five years. A total of seven years is allowed to complete the requirements after admission to candidacy.

Exceptions to residency requirement and time limitations

If circumstances warrant, the residency requirement may be waived via petition to the graduate coordinator, who will decide on the student's petition in consultation with the adviser and graduate faculty. The request must be submitted at least nine months prior to the thesis defense. The time limitation may only be waived via petition to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Scheduling the dissertation defense

The Research Advisor, on behalf of the student, will notify the Graduate Program Coordinator 4 weeks prior to the dissertation defense by forwarding to the Graduate Program Coordinator the dissertation title and abstract, and the scheduled date, time, and location of the defense, along with the names of the Research Committee members. At the same time the Research Advisor will also forward to the Research Committee members for review the final draft of the dissertation. The dissertation defense may not be scheduled earlier than six months after the date on which the student passed the candidacy exam (at which the thesis proposal was presented and approved).

Recording the defense outcome

The outcome of the dissertation defense will be delivered by the Research Committee Chair to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Last Modified: 11:39am 03 Jul 14