PhD Programs

Explore RIT's unique cross-disciplinary Ph.D. programs, learn more about areas of research and scholarship, and meet some of our outstanding students and alumni. View the Doctoral Programs brochure.

Why Pursue a Ph.D.?

  • Creates more opportunities in the field of higher education, the public sector and private industry
  • Develops a solid foundation for career success and mobility
  • Provides opportunities to contribute to society through research
  • Improves career marketability and increases earning potential
  • Ensures greater likelihood for leadership and supervisory positions.

Why Get a Ph.D. at RIT?

The Rochester Institute of Technology stands at the intersection of pure research and applied science. That place is innovation. Our programs seek to answer the questions and apply the answers to the betterment of humankind. Our programs are multi-disciplinary and collaborative in nature, allowing students to cross traditional boundaries. Our collaborations cross the boundaries between academia, the private sector, and government in order to give our graduates the best opportunity to resolve significant new problems. Our faculty members are known world-wide for their research and our students go on to very successful careers.

General Admission Requirements for RIT’s Ph.D. programs:

  • Bachelor’s degree or above with coursework and/or experience in the subject area
  • Passion, drive and self-motivation
  • Eagerness to discover new things
  • Desire to become intellectually engaged in a specific field



Ph.D. Student Research

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In 1993, Bob Loce received the first doctoral degree awarded by RIT, thereby becoming the first person in the world to earn a Ph.D. in imaging science... [more]

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Erik Golen is looking at the needs of his fellow graduate students from a different perspective than he did while attending RIT as an undergraduate... [more]


Read more about Research at RIT



Astrophysical Sciences and Technology

There has never been a more exciting time to study the universe beyond the confines of the earth. A new generation of advanced ground-based and space-borne telescopes and enormous increases in computing power are enabling a golden age of astrophysics. RIT’s doctorate program in astrophysical sciences and technology focuses on the underlying physics of phenomena beyond the earth, and in the development of the technologies, instruments, data analysis, and modeling techniques that will enable the next major strides in the field. The multidisciplinary emphasis of this program sets it apart from conventional astrophysics graduate programs at traditional research universities. The program is offered as full-time study, on-campus.

  Andy Robinson, Ph.D.
  (585) 475-2726
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Color Science

As a generalization, color science can be defined as the quantification of our perception of color. Its mastery requires an interdisciplinary educational approach encompassing physics, chemistry, physiology, statistics, computer science and psychology. Color science is used in the design and control of most man-made colored materials including textiles, coatings, and polymers and to specify such diverse materials as soil and wine.  It is used extensively in color reproduction including digital photography, desktop and projection display, and printing. As we begin the twenty first century, color science is ubiquitous.

Color science research at RIT encompasses such diverse fields as medical data visualization, computer graphics and animation, art conservation, spectral and spatial measurements of materials, color printing, digital photography, motion picture and television, and modeling of our perceptions for use in defining color quality.

  Mark D. Fairchild, Ph.D., Program Director
  (585) 475-2784
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Computing and Information Sciences

This use-inspired basic research degree is designed to produce independent scholars, well-prepared educators and cutting-edge researchers poised to excel in their work within interdisciplinary environments and industries. The degree highlights two of the most unique characteristics of RIT's Golisano College of Computing & Information Science (GCCIS) — the breadth of its program offerings and its scholarly focus on discovering solutions to real-world problems by balancing theory and practice. The Ph.D. curriculum facilitates and maintains intra- and interdisciplinary collaboration among students and faculty across various disciplines within the College and RIT. The intradisciplinary scope encompasses fundamental concepts across the entire discipline of computing and information sciences. These components are grouped into three knowledge specialty areas: interaction , infrastructure , and informatics.

  Pengcheng Shi, Ph.D., Program Director for Graduate Studies and Research
  (585) 475-6147
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The doctorate program in engineering aims at educating world-class researchers who can capitalize on the most promising discoveries and innovations, regardless of their origin within the engineering field, to develop interdisciplinary solutions for real-world challenges. Graduates from the program are expected to be subject matter experts in a knowledge domain within an engineering discipline. Instead of restricting graduates to individual engineering fields (e.g., chemical, computer, electrical, industrial, mechanical, etc.), the program provides students with the flexibility to become domain experts and engineering innovators in an open-architecture environment, fostering intellectual growth along both interdisciplinary pathways and within the bounds of conventional engineering disciplines. The Ph.D. in engineering students will address fundamental research problems of national and global importance for the 21st Century, centered on four key industries - health care, communications, energy, and transportation.


Watch the video about this program - Engineers Make a World of Difference - The Engineering Ph.D. program at RIT.

  Edward Hensel, Ph.D., P.E.
  (585) 475-7684
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Imaging Science

The pervasive reliance of modern scientific and engineering research on imaging techniques has created the need for a new generation of PhD scientists who cannot only design and develop the optical systems, electronics, sensors, image processing algorithms, and integrated imaging systems of the future, but who can apply those systems to answer fundamental questions about ourselves and our universe. Imaging science uses fundamental physics and mathematics to address questions about every aspect of systems and techniques that are used to create, perceive, analyze, optimize and learn from images. Application areas of imaging are equally diverse, including for example remote sensing, biomedical research, environmental science, astrophysics, vision science, nano-technology, materials science, color science, computer graphics, archaeology, and microelectronic engineering.

  Chip Bachmann, Ph.D.
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Mathematical Modeling

Mathematical modeling is the process of developing mathematical descriptions, or models, of real-world systems. These models can be linear or nonlinear, discrete or continuous, deterministic or stochastic, and static or dynamic, and they enable investigating, analyzing, and predicting the behavior of systems in a wide variety of fields. Every mathematical modeling enterprise has four aspects: the content of the application field, the mathematical formulation and analysis, the analytical and computational methods (which often involve high-performance computing), and the interpretation and analysis of the results. Through extensive research, graduates of this program will have the expertise not only to use the tools of mathematical modeling in various application settings, but also to contribute in creative and innovative ways to solve complex interdisciplinary problems and to communicate effectively with domain experts in various fields.

  Elizabeth M. Cherry, Program Director
  (585) 475-4497
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Microsystems Engineering

RIT offers a unique educational and research program leading to a doctorate degree in Microsystems Engineering. This multidisciplinary program builds on the fundamentals of traditional engineering and science combined with curriculum and research activities addressing the numerous technical challenges of micro- and nano-systems. These include the manipulation of electrical, photonic, optical, mechanical, chemical, and biological functionality to process, sense, and interface with the world down to the nanometer level. The goal of the program is to provide a foundation to explore future technology through research in nano-engineering, design methods, and technologies and their integration into micro- and nano-scaled systems. Research is being conducted in several key areas such as scaling-driven nanoelectronics, microfluidics, nanophotonics, photovoltaics, micro/nano biomedical systems, organic electronics, micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEMS), thin-film electronics, nano-computing, nano-bio devices, systems security, plasmonics, micro/nano-patterning, and others.

  Bruce Smith, Director
  (585) 475-2058
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This Ph.D. program focuses on sustainable production systems — systems that create goods and services using processes that are: non-polluting; conserving of energy and natural resources; economically viable; and safe and healthful for workers, communities, and consumers. Coursework and research takes a systems level and interdisciplinary approach to solving seemingly intractable sustainability problems, as opposed to single disciplinary and locally optimized approaches destined to yield marginal positive impacts.

Students will have the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary faculty and researchers in numerous research centers, including GIS’ National Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery (NC3R) , an internationally-recognized leader for applied research in remanufacturing, the Center for Sustainable Production (CSP) dedicated to enhancing the environmental and economic performance of products and processes, the Center for Sustainable Mobility (CSM) focused on the evaluation of environmental and economic impacts of alternative fuel and vehicle propulsion technologies, the Systems Modernization and Sustainment Center (SMS) that develops technologies for optimal life-cycle design, management, and modernization of large equipment systems, the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) focused on enhancing the development and implementation of pollution prevention techniques, and the NanoPower Research Labs (NPRL) dedicated to the creation and utilization of nano devices and materials for power generation and storage

  Thomas Thrabold, Ph.D.
  (585) 475-4696
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