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Color Science MS

Course Description

Program overview

Color science is broadly interdisciplinary, encompassing physics, chemistry, physiology, statistics, computer science, and psychology. The curriculum, leading to a master of science degree in color science, educates students using a broad interdisciplinary approach. This is the only graduate program in the country devoted to this discipline and it is designed for students whose undergraduate majors are in physics, chemistry, imaging science, computer science, electrical engineering, experimental psychology, physiology, or any discipline pertaining to the quantitative description of color. Graduates are in high demand and have accepted industrial positions in electronic imaging, color instrumentation, colorant formulation, and basic and applied research. Companies that have hired graduates include Apple Inc., Benjamin Moore, Canon Corp., Dolby Laboratories, Eastman Kodak Co., Hallmark, Hewlett Packard Corp., Microsoft Corp., Pantone, Qualcomm Inc., Ricoh Innovations Inc., Samsung, and Xerox Corp.

The color science degree provides graduate-level study in both theory and practical application. The program gives students a broad exposure to the field of color and affords them the unique opportunity of specializing in an area appropriate for their background and interest. This objective will be accomplished through the program’s core courses, selection of electives, and completion of a thesis or graduate project.The program revolves around the activities of the Munsell Color Science Laboratory within the College of Science. The Munsell Laboratory is the pre-eminent academic laboratory in the country devoted to color science. Research is currently under way in color appearance models, lighting, image-quality, color-tolerance psychophysics, spectral-based image capture, archiving, reproduction of artwork, color management, computer graphics; and material appearance. The Munsell Laboratory has many contacts that provide students with summer and full-time job opportunities across the United States and abroad.

Plan of study

Students must earn 30 semester credit hours as a graduate student to earn the master of science degree. For full-time students, the program requires three to four semesters of study. Part-time students generally require two to four years of study. The curriculum is a combination of required courses in color science, elective courses appropriate for the candidate’s background, and either a research thesis or graduate project. Students require approval of the program director if they wish to complete a graduate project, rather than a research thesis, at the conclusion of their degree.

Prerequisites: The foundation program

The color science program is designed for the candidate with an undergraduate degree in a scientific or other technical discipline. Candidates with adequate undergraduate work in related sciences start the program as matriculated graduate students. Candidates without adequate undergraduate work in related sciences must take foundation courses prior to matriculation into the graduate program. A written agreement between the candidate and the program coordinator will identify the required foundation courses. Foundation courses must be completed with an overall B average before a student can matriculate into the graduate program. A maximum of 9 graduate-level credit hours may be taken prior to matriculation into the graduate program. The foundation courses, representative of those often required, are as follows: one year of calculus, one year of college physics (with laboratory), one course in computer programming, one course in matrix algebra, one course in statistics, and one course in introductory psychology. Other science courses (with laboratory) might be substituted for physics.


Color science, MS degree, typical course sequence:
First Year
-Principles of Color Science
-Computational Vision Science
-Historical Research Perspectives
-Color Physics and Applications
-Modeling Visual Perception
-Research and Publication Methods
Second Year

Other admission requirements

-Submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
-Submit official transcripts (in English) for all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
-Submit two professional recommendations.
-Complete an on-campus interview (when possible).
-Have an average GPA of 3.0 or higher.
-Have completed foundation course work with GPA of 3.0 or higher (if required), and complete a graduate application.
-International applicants who native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Minimum scores of 94 (internet-based) are required. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores will be accepted in place of the TOEFL exam. Minimum scores will vary; however, the absolute minimum score required for unconditional acceptance is 7.0. For additional information about the IELTS, please visit http://www.ielts.org.

Additional information

Scholarships and assistantships:
Students seeking RIT-funded scholarships and assistantships should apply to the Color Science Ph.D. program (which is identical to the MS program in the first two years). Currently, assistantships are only available for qualified color science applicants to the Ph.D. program. Applicants seeking financial assistance from RIT must submit all application documents to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services by January 15 for the next academic year.

Visit the Color Science MS page on the Rochester Institute of Technology USA website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. See course description for further details.

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