Color Science MS

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Keith Davis

Department Contact

Mark Fairchild, Ph.D.

Admission Deadlines & Requirements

Program Available Online? No
Application Deadline January 15
Admit Term Fall
Entrance Exam GRE
English Language Exams:
TOEFL (Internet) 100
PTE Academic 68


Priority deadline - COMPLETE applications that are received by this date are given priority consideration for admission and financial aid (if applicable). Applications received after the priority deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.

Rolling - There is no specific deadline for applications; applications will be accepted and reviewed throughout the year until the program reaches capacity.

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 is 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, which 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

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
CLRS-601 Principles of Color Science 3
CLRS-720 Computational Vision Science 3
CLRS-750 Historical Research Perspectives 1
CLRS-602 Color Physics and Applications 3
CLRS-820 Modeling Visual Perception 3
CLRS-751 Research and Publication Methods 2
  Electives 6
Second Year
CLRS-890 Research 6
  Elective 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 30


Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS program in color science, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit scores from the GRE.
  • Submit a one-page personal statement of educational objectives.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from professional sources.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions
  • Participate in an on-campus interview (when possible).

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. Partial tuition scholarships are available for the MS program. Applicants seeking financial assistance from RIT must submit all application documents to the Office of Graduate and Part-time Enrollment Services by January 15 for the next academic year.

Career Outcomes

The RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education website provides information pertaining to student skills and capabilities, salary data, career information, job outcomes, and contact information for the Career Services Coordinator by program.

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