Master of Science Degree

Diagram of Plan I and II steps towards Master's Degree Plan I or Plan II Courses Thesis Comp Exam

Master of Science Degree Requirements Overview

The M.S. degree program in ECE can be achieved in as little as one year to an average of two years. Students take courses in their area or areas of interest and flexibility is provided to allow for breadth and depth, as well as interdisciplinary options.

Below is a basic overview of the M.S. requirements that graduate students must follow to receive their M.S. degree. For more specific guidelines, it is the student's responsibility to consult the year of entrance ECE Graduate Student Survival Manual and the Graduate Student Resources & M.S. Milestones and Procedures pages.

Timeline (typical)

The ECE Department expects M.S. students to attain the degree in six quarters or less. However, M.S. students have up to four years to actually finish the degree. Students who are unable to complete the M.S. in four years must petition the Graduate Council for an extension of the degree deadline.

  • Thesis: take eight courses minimum over five quarters and then file thesis
  • Comprehensive Exam: take 10 courses minimum over three to five quarters and then pass the comprehensive exam

Plan I or Plan II

Students must select a plan of study - see Plan I (Thesis) and Plan II (Comprehensive Exam) options below.

M.S. Course Requirements

Each of the three program areas have specific course requirements for the M.S. degree. For detailed course listings refer to the year of entrance Graduate Student Survival Manual.

Computer Engineering (CE)

  • Major must be taken in one of these three areas: Very Large Scale Integration and Computer Aided Design; Computer Networks and Distributed Systems; or Computer Architecture
  • Four graduate (200) level courses in one of three major areas
  • Two graduate (200) level courses in one of the remaining seven areas as minor, i.e. other than the chosen major area

Communications, Control & Signal Processing (CCSP)

  • Major must be taken in one of these three areas: Communications; Control Systems; or Signal Processing
  • Four courses in one of the three major areas, and of these courses, one is required and three can be chosen from the list of additional courses
  • Two courses in a minor area

Electronics & Photonics (EP)

  • Graduate degree courses can be grouped into sequences such as: Technology, Electromagnetics, Device Physics & Quantum Mechanics, Electronic Materials, Electronics, Optics & Optoelectronics
  • Graduate students are encouraged to participate in directed research (ECE 596) projects

Plan I (Thesis)

Master's Thesis

A master's thesis is patterned after a Ph.D. dissertation but on a scaled-down level of originality and length. A public seminar presentation is not required for thesis defense.

Examples of the types of projects suitable for M.S. theses:

  • advanced design project, either analytical or experimental
  • experimental or theoretical contribution to a research problem currently investigated within the department
  • critical evaluation of the state-of-the-art of a current research area, going beyond mere literature compilation
  • critical theoretical analysis or a preliminary experimental study intended as

Thesis Advisor / Thesis Committee

The thesis advisor supervises the thesis and the thesis committee approves it. The student selects a committee that consists of three ladder faculty of which two must be from the ECE Department and one of the committee members will serve as the thesis advisor (committee chair). At the department's discretion, a non-ladder faculty member may serve as a fourth committee member. The committee is then approved by the thesis advisor, departmental graduate advisor, and graduate dean.

The thesis is typed in draft form for the committee and after the committee's approval, it is written in the Graduate Division's required dissertation format.

Plan II (Comp Exam)

Comprehensive Exam

The exam is administered by a committee of three ladder faculty members selected by the student called the Examination Committee for the Degree of Master of Science. The formation of the M.S. Comprehensive Exam Committee follows the same procedure as the formation of the M.S. Thesis Committee (see above).

The student must pass the exam before the end of the quarter in which they plan to officially graduate. If a student fails the comprehensive examination on the first try, the decision to allow a second try is at the discretion of the Examination Committee.

The different Program Areas (CE, CCSP, and EP) have slightly different formats for the exam.