Color Science master of science degree

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Overview

Understand how humans perceive and interact with color in this unique program that has limitless applications.


Color science is a fundamental field of science that is dedicated to understanding the creation of colored stimuli, sources of illumination, and ultimately the human perception of color. RIT’s graduate color science degree is designed for students who have a background in physics, chemistry, imaging science, computer science, electrical engineering, experimental psychology, physiology, or any other discipline that lends itself to the quantitative description of color. At the only university in the nation offering this program of study, you will be exposed to the rich, dynamic field of color through theory and practical application.

Broadly interdisciplinary, encompassing physics, chemistry, physiology, statistics, computer science, and psychology, the curriculum leads 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 a 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 underway 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 a 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 the 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 disciplines. 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.

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Curriculum

Color science, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
CLRS-601
Principles of Color Science
This course covers the principles of color science including theory, application, and hands-on experience incorporated into the lectures. Topics include color appearance (hue, lightness, brightness, chroma, saturation, colorfulness), colorimetry (spectral, XYZ, xyY, L*a*b*, L*C*abhab, ?E*ab, ?E00), the use of linear algebra in color science and color imaging, metamerism, chromatic adaptation, color inconstancy, color rendering, color appearance models (CIECAM02), and image appearance models (S-CIELAB, iCAM).
3
CLRS-720
Computational Vision Science
Computational Vision Science This course provides an introduction to modern computer-based methods for the measurement and modeling of human vision. Lectures will introduce the experimental techniques of visual psychophysics including threshold measurement, psychometric functions, signal detection theory, and indirect, direct, and multidimensional scaling. Lectures will also introduce the MATLAB technical computing environment and will teach how to use MATLAB to run computer-based psychophysical experiments and to analyze experimental data and visualize results. Laboratory exercises will provide practical experience in using computer-based tools to conduct psychophysical experiments and to develop computational models of the results. Prior experience in vision science and/or scientific computing will be helpful but is not required.
3
CLRS-750
Historical Research Perspectives
Historical Research Perspectives is a weekly forum in which students will learn about historical and classic topics in color science. The course focuses on journal club discussions of papers selected by the students and faculty. It also includes oral presentations from students, laboratory staff, and faculty as well as visiting speakers from within and external to RIT. Students will prepare their own oral presentations and written assignments based on the course readings and independent research. Students will develop professional skills required for formal scientific presentations and writing.
1
CLRS-602
Color Physics and Applications
This course explores the relationship between a material’s color and its constituent raw materials such as colorants, binding media, substrates, and overcoats. These can be determined using a variety of physical models based on absorption, scattering, luminescence, and interference phenomena. These models enable the production of paints, plastics, colored paper, printing, and others to have specific colors. Accompanying laboratories will implement and optimize these models using filters, artist opaque and translucent paints and varnishes including metallic and pearlescent colorants, and inkjet printing. Statistical techniques include principal component analysis and linear and nonlinear optimization.
3
CLRS-820
Modeling Visual Perception
This course presents the transition from the measurement of color matches and differences to the description and measurement of color appearance in complex visual stimuli. This seminar course is based mainly on review and student-led discussion of primary references. Topics include: appearance terminology, appearance phenomena, viewing conditions, chromatic adaptation, color appearance modeling, image appearance, image quality, and material appearance.
3
CLRS-751
Research and Publication Methods
Color Science Seminar II is a weekly forum in which students will learn about current research topics in color science. The course focuses on journal club discussions of papers selected by the students and faculty. It also includes oral presentations from students, laboratory staff, and faculty as well as visiting speakers from within and external to RIT. Students will prepare their own oral presentations and written assignments based on the course readings and independent research. Students will further develop professional skills required for formal scientific presentations and writing. A draft thesis or dissertation proposal will also be prepared.
2
 
Electives
6
Second Year
CLRS-890
Research
Masters-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor.
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).

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Additional Info

Scholarships and assistantships

Currently, assistantships are only available for qualified color science applicants to the doctoral program. Students seeking RIT-funded scholarships and assistantships should consider apply to the doctoral program, which is identical to the MS program in the first two years. Partial tuition scholarships are available for the MS program. Applicants seeking financial assistance from RIT should contact the Office of Graduate and Part-time Enrollment for current application materials and deadlines.