Online PhD in Microelectronics-Photonics

Microelectronics photonics is the study of microelectronics and optical electronics. Although the curriculum is more or less the combination of both electrical engineering and physics, an online PhD in Microelectronics Photonics is its own entity. Students enrolled in this program will participate in cross-departmental research and take courses in engineering, physics, and other science departments. Students will also research materials and other devices to learn how to create new technologies, such as electronic-photonic structures and multichip modules.

An online PhD in Microelectronics Photonics can open many employment opportunities for those interested in science and advanced technology. For example, some of the most useful technologies in today's society, such as lasers, smart phones, tablets, and electronic automotive systems were invented by those who mastered microelectronics photonics. Thus a doctoral degree in Microelectronics Photonics can be extremely useful if you aspire to work in the tech industry. It's also necessary if you would like to teach the discipline at a collegiate level.

About Online PhD Programs in Microelectronics Photonics

As stated before, a doctoral program in microelectronics photonics requires students to partake in extensive research. It also requires several hours of lab work to test products and devices. Thus due to the hands-on components of the program, it's rare to find full online PhD programs in Microelectronics Photonics. However there may be some introductory courses that can be taken online. Also, there are some institutions, like the Stevens Institute of Technology that offer online graduate certificates in microelectronics. That said, below are some example courses you can expect to take while pursuing a PhD in Microelectronics Photonics.

Year One:

  • Semiconductor Device Theory. In this course, students will get an introduction to solid state physics and well as device physics so that these disciplines can be applied to other concepts such as bipolar junction transistors and diodes.
  • Materials at the Micro and Nano Scale. This course teaches the fundamentals of nano and micro engineering so students learn to produce and analyze various materials such as semiconductors, glass, ceramic, metal, and polymers.
  • Micro/Nano Scale Fabrication. In this course, students will learn the history and fundamentals of fabrication at the micro/nano scale, including electron microscopy, micromachining, and atomic force microscopy.

Year Two:

  • Research Communication Seminar for Ph.D. Students. This forum-style course is designed to help students develop their oral presentation skills. Main objectives include teaching students how to thoroughly articulate research proposals. Students will be responsible for presenting on various topics, including micro and nano scale materials.
  • Second Year Operations Seminar-Management and Leadership. This course is designed to help students learn the skills needed to facilitate and manage a technology-based business or organization. Students will learn how to handle situations in the workplace using various scenarios, even those pulled from current events.
  • Proposal Writing and Management. This course prepares Ph.D. students for both the world of academia and tech-based industries. It will help students learn how to write successful proposals as well as introduce students to the possible legal consequences of inadequate proposals.

In order to complete a PhD program in microelectronics photonics, students are required to complete a set number of research dissertation hours. Required hours can range anywhere from 18 to 21 hours, depending on the specific program. The title of the dissertation must typically be submitted and approved by the appropriate committee and or major chair long before the research portion starts. All materials and published works to be used as evidence must also be approved beforehand.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Microelectronics Photonics

If you aspire to conduct research or teach the discipline at the university level, then a doctoral degree in microelectronics photonics is for you. Some organizations that specialize in microelectronics photonics will accept candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree in a relative field to earn an entry-level position. But since microelectronics photonics is such a specialized field, most employers seek candidates with a Ph.D. Thus a PhD in microelectronics photonics can increase your employment opportunities.

Earning a PhD in microelectronics photonics can be extremely rewarding, but it's important that you make sure that it's something you really want to do. It's a very long process and a large financial investment. It would be unfortunate if you changed your mind about the program mid-through. That's just time and money wasted. So research the subject fully to be positive this is where your passion lies. It's also a huge commitment, since there are few online courses available. You will need to be present in order to take courses.

Application & Admission Requirements

To earn acceptance into a quality microelectronics photonics PhD program, most applicants must have a master of science degree in engineering, science, or a similar discipline. Some applicants must also pass a microelectronics-photonics candidacy exam before gaining admission. The candidacy exam is divided into two sections. One is a written exam, and the other is a written research proposal. Typically there is a limited number of times one can take the candidacy exam.

Career Options & Job Market

Although some microelectronic organizations only require a bachelor's or master's degree for entry- level positions, almost all research and leadership positions require a Ph.D. in the subject. While there is a plethora of job titles to choose from, some of the more popular positions include a photonics packer, a biosensor scientist, or a materials scientist. In fact, although pay will vary depending on place of employment and years of experience, materials scientists earned a median annual wage of $84,720 in May 2010, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although employment opportunities for materials scientists is predicted to increase only by 4% within the next decade, a Ph.D. can certainly improve your chances, the Bureau states.

Where to Find Information

The IACSIT Photonics and Microelectronics Society (PMS) is more or less a forum of networking and idea exchange for both engineers and scholars in the photonics and microelectronics community. A chair committee helps organize workshops and conferences for its members on both a domestic and international scale.

  • IEEE Photonics Society The IEEE Photonics Society is an organization dedicated to seeing the advancement of photonics through research and innovative designs. The society's interests are particularly lightwave technology, optical fibers, and lasers. The society helps people in the community network as well as helps publish journals and other research findings which can help you during your studies.
  • International Microelectronic Assembly And Packaging Society (IMAPS). IMAPS is a global organization dedicated to expanding the growth of microelectronics and electronic packaging via public education and other initiatives. Currently there are more than 6,000 domestic members and 4,000 international members. This is a great resource to keep you updated with industry news. The society can also direct you to workshops that can improve career advancement.

How to Get Funding

There are various ways that a graduate student can fund his or her online Ph.D. program, but the most popular route is winning a fellowship which is awarded on academic merit. There is a wide selection of fellowship opportunities to pursue both internally and externally. While some fellowships are generic, the ones that require candidates to conduct research in the microelectronic photonics discipline will most likely benefit you in the end. Students may also have the option of earning monetary compensation by obtaining TA or RA positions. Private scholarships and loans shouldn't be forgotten about either. In fact, below is a selection of loans eligible Ph.D. students can obtain:

  • Federal Direct Stafford Loan. The Federal unsubsidized Stafford Loan is a low-interest, fixed-rate loan that is awarded regardless of financial need. The maximum loan available is $12,000 per academic year
  • Federal Perkins Loan. The Federal Perkins loan is a low-interest loan awarded to full time students in need of financial assistance. Students can earn an average of $3,500 per academic year with a 5.0% fixed interest rate.
  • Campus-Based Aid. Financial Campus-based aid is offered through your school's financial aid office. Campus-based opportunities will vary from each institution, but typically all schools participate in federal programs..

Essential Advice

  • Pay Attention to Deadlines. Every institution varies when it comes to application deadlines. Make sure to periodically check your school's website for any changes.
  • Think of Dissertation Possibilities Early. Since a proposal is needed to earn acceptance into a Ph.D. program, it's smart to start thinking about what you would like to research during your master's degree studies or even your undergraduate studies.
  • Get Involved in Microelectronics Photonics . To increase your chances of acceptance and to get some early experience, you should consider researching internship opportunities or at the very least shadow someone in the industry. Some of your professors may be able to point you in the right direction suggest who to speak to for an opportunity.
  • Establish Good Relationships. It's equally important that you work to establish and maintain your professional relationships with professors and other industry-related personnel so you can have adequate letters of recommendation to improve your chances of acceptance.