Visit the RIT Imaging Science PhD Program of Study page here for additional information.

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") 6-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. Also required is a two-semester laboratory sequence 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 60 semester credit hours of core and elective courses and research credits;
  • define a study plan in close consultation with their faculty advisor that has a minimum of 32 course credits and a minimum of 18 research credits to achieve the 60 credit total;
  • be resident at RIT as a full time student for at least 2 consecutive semesters;
  • 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 a two-semester sequence in a topical area. Some examples of topical areas are: remote sensing, digital image processing, digital graphics, electro-optical imaging systems, medical imaging, detectors, astronomical imaging, and nanoimaging technologies.

Students may take a maximum of 16 course credits in other departments.  Of the 18 credits of research, 2 credits are associated with the Imaging Science seminar course (IMGS-606, 607). There is a maximum of 6 research credits per semester.

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 24 semester 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 $20,000 for the academic year. Prorated Summer 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

Imaging Science Core Courses
Course Number Class Name Credit Hours
IMGS-606,607 Imaging Science Seminar i and II 2**
IMGS-609, 610 Graduate Laboratory I and II 2
IMGS-613 Probability, Noise, and System Modeling 3
IMGS-616 Fourier Methods for Imaging 3
IMGS-619 Radiometry 3
IMGS-620 The Human Visual System 3
IMGS-633 Optics 3
IMGS-682 Image Processing and Computer Vision 3

**The Imaging Science Seminar sequence counts toward the student's required 18 credit hours of Ph.D. research.

Example Tracks

(NOTE: other PhD tracks, such as Digital Imaging 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
IMGS-619 Radiometry (a core course) 3
IMGS-722 Remote Sensing: Sensors and Radiometric Image Analysis 3
IMGS-723 Remote Sensing: Spectral Image Analysis 3
  An elective course from the list below 3
Recommended Remote Sensing Electives: IMGS-756 Performance Modeling and Characterization of Remote Sensing Systems, IMGS-789 Introduction to Radiative Transfer, CSCI-737 Pattern Recognition, STAT-758 Multivariate Statistics for Imaging.
Biomedical Imaging Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
IMGS-730 Magnetic Resonance Imaging 3
IMGS-731 Ultrasound Imaging 3
IMGS-733 Medical Imaging systems 3
Recommended Electives: IMGS-754 Pattern Recognition, CHMP-747 Principles of Magnetic Resonance, EEEE-710 Advanced Electromagnetic Theory

Color Track

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
CLRS-601 Principles of Color Science 3
CLRS-602 Color Physics and Applications 3
CLRS-720 Computational Vision Science 3
Detectors Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
IMGS-639 Principles of Solid State Imaging 3
IMGS-628 Design and Fabrication of a Solid State Imaging Camera 3
IMGS-642 Testing of Focal Plane Arrays 3
Nanoimaging Track (Currently under revision)
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
IMGS-724 Introduction to Electron Microscopy 3
IMGS-743 Fundamentals of Radiation-Matter Interactions 3
IMGS-7xx Nanoscale Science and Technology of Imaging Systems 3
Optics Track
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
IMGS-633 Optics for Imaging (core course) 3
IMGS-737 Physical Optics 3
MCSE-712 Nonlinear Optics 3
MCSE-713 Lasers 3

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 qualifying 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 semester after successfully passing the qualifying 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, must not be a member of the Center 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 two consecutive semesters (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 semester 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.