Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Training measures and concept

Characteristics of the SAOT educational program

The educational program is specified by the mission SAOT has defined for its research and educational activities being characterized by the five keywords:

SAOT provides an interdisciplinary research and education program of excellence within a broad international network with worldwide leading experts in order to promote innovation and leadership in the fields of optical metrology, optical material processing, optics in medicine, optics in communication and information technology, optical material and systems and computational optics.

The graduates should achieve a high level of personal responsibility for their educational progress very early. With the help of a mentor, they will have to determine their research topic for the doctoral thesis within the first half year after admission to SAOT. The structure of the SAOT education program is displayed in more detail below.

Curriculum SAOT program

Due to the different status of knowledge of the graduates in optical fundamentals and in different application fields, at the beginning of the course program a common entry basis for all graduates is established by a one-week Entrance Academy before admission. In this academy all new graduates (tentative members) come together to acquire this common basis of knowledge by lectures and discussions on fundamentals and on all SAOT research topics of each field. At the end of the academy a written examination must be passed to reach admission and to become a regular SAOT member. Graduates who do not pass this examination successfully will be allowed another two months to revise this knowledge besides the regular SAOT program. Otherwise they will have to leave the graduate school.

Each DC has to select three different topics out of the six main topics described in the academic profile for specialization. This measure warrants the interdisciplinary character of the education allowing the DCs to recognize and handle the border problems between different application fields in optical technologies. This ability is one of the main targets of this kind of joint education. The education and training program typically lasts for 3 to 4 years. During this time period the candidate has to collect at least 90 credit points (CPs) defined in the credit point system (CPS).


The CPS has been introduced to guarantee the intentions given in the SAOT mission reflecting also the excellence of the SAOT program. more...


Doctoral candidates come from different faculties of the FAU. They will also be awarded their doctoral degrees (Dr. rer. nat., Dr.-Ing. and Dr. rer. biol. hum.) from their home faculties according to the corresponding regulations. ...more

The most relevant pillars of the university’s activities, Optics – Medicine – Engineering, are involved in SAOT. Advanced interdisciplinary research and education in these fields is the primary criterion for the construction of SAOT.


The internationality of the graduate school has been achieved by several different structural arrangements, the involvement of international partner institutions and the integration of international guest professors and lecturers. This is possible by the broad international network with distinguished experts in their field which SAOT has established and expanded yet. ...more


The innovative character of the SAOT research and training activities is based on the novelty of ideas coming from a strong fundament of knowledge being created by an extensive experience in the particular field, their implementation into practical research and the transfer into commercially available systems and products. In all these steps the DCs are involved. More than 10 patents have been filed so far with DCs as co-inventors. To kindle innovations, SAOT will run DCs “innovation competitions” with short proposals for “blue sky research ideas” in which the best ideas will be awarded the SAOT Innovation Award with a prize money of 20,000 Euros once a year to carry out feasibility studies.


Special educational steps for the highly talented DCs are introduced to prepare them for leadership tasks in science, industry and society, e.g., by key qualifications and by heading research projects and groups. more...


SAOT provides an interdisciplinary research and education program of excellence within a broad international network of distinguished experts to promote innovation and leadership in the areas

Optical Metrology
Optical Material Processing
Optics in Medicine
Optics in Communication and Information Technology
Optical Materials and Systems
and Computational Optics.