Abstract. The stellarator optimization code STELLOPT is used in design studies for the National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX) and the Quasi-poloidal Stellarator Experiment (QPS) to determine the shape of the outer magnetic flux surface, together with the plasma pressure and current profiles, that lead to attractive stability and confinement properties at high beta. A coil optimization code COILOPT then determines the coil geometry and currents that best reconstruct the physics solution. This procedure does not always converge to a design that simultaneously satisfies both the targeted plasma properties (e.g., quasi-symmetry, neoclassical confinement, attainable beta, etc.) and coil engineering criteria (minimum coil curvature, maximum current density, plasma access, etc.). An innovation in compact stellarator design is the integration of the STELLOPT and COILOPT codes to provide a merged plasma-coil optimization tool. This tool ensures that stellarator physics and engineering criteria are simultaneously satisfied. This self-consistent analysis is successful largely because it is implemented only after the separate calculations have identified good candidates for a design point.