The Master’s Program in Advanced Optical Technologies (MAOT) was established at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in 2007 as part of the Elite Network of Bavaria (ENB), an initiative by the Bavarian State Government comprising about 40 elite Master’s programs and doctoral programs. MAOT can be studied after a Bachelor in physics or an engineering subject. The Master’s program realizes an innovative concept combining three core elements: (1) Interdisciplinarity: The program integrates courses and researchers from five engineering subjects and from physics. The degree of interdisciplinarity goes far beyond traditional programs. (2) Internationality: The program is taught entirely in English and special support is given to international students. (3). Individuality: The course curriculum was adapted at several points based on the experience in the initial years. The same is true for the way in which international students are supported and the type of support they need. The students are given an unusually high degree of freedom to develop an individual curriculum and to pursue research projects. Crucial experience and lessons learned are: (1) Lecturers and researchers have to be coordinated and the perspectives of the different disciplines have to be integrated within one program. Students must be guided in order to deal with the demands and challenges of the different disciplines. (2) International students need support with settling in Germany and with learning and working in a German cultural environment. They need support with administrative issues. Furthermore, they need to analyze and understand cultural differences and how they impact on the cooperation between lecturers and students and on the work in research groups. (3) Students must be helped to develop their own curriculum. They must learn how to combine their first-degree qualification with the specialized qualification which they gain after completing their Master’s program. They need to develop the skills to match their preferences with what is realistic and feasible.


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