The electric field dependence of the linear and nonlinear intersubband optical absorption in double semi-graded quantum wells (DSGQWs) is investigated in the effective mass approximation. In our calculations, the position and the magnitude of the linear and total absorption coefficients depend on the electric field strength and barrier width. The resonant peak of total absorption coefficient can be bleached at sufficiently high incident optical intensities. The modulation of the absorption coefficients and the refractive index changes which can be suitable for good performance optical modulators and various infrared optical device applications can be easily obtained by tuning the electric field strength and barrier width. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.