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Electrical and Computer Engineering M.S.

Introduction

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) offers master of science (M.S.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree programs and conducts research in the following core areas:

  • Electronic Circuits and Energy Systems

  • Photonic and Electronic Devices

  • Robotics, Control, and Cyber-Physical Systems

  • Signals, Image Processing, and Communication Systems

For more information about the core areas and associated graduate courses, the department, and its faculty, please visit the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department website.

Students begin the program with the completion of courses in a core area of interest and then proceed to do research in their area of specialization. The M.S. degree can be completed in one year. M.S. students must complete a master’s thesis (Plan I: Thesis), pass the comprehensive examination (Plan II: Comprehensive Examination), or complete a project (Plan II: Project). Part-time study is possible for students working in industry while attending school.

The default track for all admitted students is the comprehensive examination track. Upon enrollment, students are assigned an academic faculty adviser. These advisers will assist in course selection and guidance on program options. Students indicate their core area of study on their admission application. Core areas of study are 1) electronic circuits and energy systems; 2) photonic and electronic devices; 3) robotics, control, and cyber-physical systems; 4) signals, image processing, and communications systems. These core areas determine the broad focus of a student’s study (providing depth) while still providing the flexibility needed within the program to allow for breadth and the desire to meet each individual student’s goals for study.

Requirements

Course Requirements

Thesis Track

Each student is required to take 45 credits, which must consist of:

  • At least 15 credits from one of the four core areas defined above.
  • At least 20 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses.*
  • At most 10 credits of independent study (ECE 297, ECE 299) are counted toward the ECE course requirements.
  • At most 5 credits of ECE 290 and ECE 291 can be counted toward the ECE course requirements. A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory.

Total credits required for the M.S. degree is 45.

*The 20 credits of ECE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses.

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits.

Comprehensive Examination Track

Each student is required to take 45 credits, which must consist of:

  • At least 15 credits from one of the four core areas defined above.
  • At least 25 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses*.
  • At most 5 credits of ECE 290 and ECE 291 can be counted toward the ECE course requirements. A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory.

Total credits required for the M.S. degree is 45.

*The 25 credits of ECE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses.

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits. Independent study credits do not count toward the degree requirements for students in the comprehensive examination track.

Each student in the comprehensive examination track must pass three comprehensive exam subjects from ECE courses in their chosen core area. Students may not take the comprehensive exam in the same subject more than twice, and may attempt a maximum of six subjects.

Project Track

Each student is required to take 45 credits, which must consist of:

  • At least 15 credits must be satisfied with courses from one of the four core areas defined above.
  • At least 25 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses*.
  • At most 5 credits of ECE 290 and ECE 291 can be counted toward the ECE course requirements. A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory.

Total credits required for the M.S. degree is 45.

*The 25 credits of ECE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses.

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits.

Other Requirements

Thesis Track

A master's research thesis, viewed as acceptable by a thesis committee appointed by the program faculty, is required of each student in this track. To fulfill this requirement, the student submits a written proposal to a faculty member, usually by the third academic quarter. By accepting the proposal, the faculty member becomes the thesis advisor. The remaining members of the thesis reading committee are appointed by the student's program in consultation with the thesis advisor. The majority of the membership of a thesis reading committee shall be members of the Santa Cruz Division of the Academic Senate. Each committee member is provided a copy of the proposal. Upon completion of the thesis work, the student presents an expository talk on the thesis research, and the final thesis must be accepted by the master’s thesis reading committee before the award of the master of science degree. The completed thesis must be filed with the Graduate Division by the end of instruction in the term in which the student expects the degree to be awarded.

Comprehensive Examination Track

The comprehensive exams are only available for ECE graduate courses approved in the four core areas. Graduate courses approved in the four core areas outside ECE (such as AM or CSE) are not available for the comprehensive exams.

At the end of each quarter students will have the opportunity to take the section of the comprehensive examination relevant to the courses offered that quarter that are approved for the core areas as outlined above. The comprehensive examination will focus on fundamental material related to the subject matter of the course and will be offered, typically, on Friday of the last week of instruction. The results of these examination sections, when integrated, will comprehensively test the student’s mastery of the curriculum. In order to pass the overall comprehensive examination, a student is required to pass at least three sections of the comprehensive examination in the proposed core area of study. Students may attempt more than one section per quarter.

Master’s students must take the corresponding course in order to take the comprehensive exam in a given subject. A maximum of six exams may be attempted, and a student must pass a minimum of three subjects within their core area in order to fulfill the comprehensive exam capstone requirement.

Students must register for the exam subjects they wish to take each quarter when the call for exam registrations is sent. Students who do not register may not be permitted to take the exam.

Students are allocated one hour per exam subject unless arrangements have been made ahead of time with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Students who are taking multiple exams in the same quarter may allocate their exam time as they see fit, however they will receive only one hour of exam time per subject.

Students are notified of their exam results (pass/fail) by email prior to the start of the following quarter, and the results are also recorded in the student’s file by the graduate advisor. If students have questions about the exam or how it was graded, they should contact the instructor who wrote the exam to request a meeting to go over the exam. Once a student has passed three exam subjects within their core area, they have fulfilled the comprehensive examination requirement and are eligible for graduation as soon as they have completed all of the other requirements for the degree.

Students in the M.S. comprehensive examination track are not eligible for Filing Fee status.

Note that Plan II: Comprehensive Examination track, is the default option for all M.S. students. Students can select Plan I: Thesis track, or Plan II: Project, only if they can find a faculty sponsor to supervise the thesis or project.

Project Track

Completion of a project report is required for the master’s degree in this track. To fulfill this requirement, the student submits a written proposal to a faculty member, usually by the third academic quarter. By accepting the proposal, the faculty member becomes the project advisor. In consultation with the advisor, the student forms a project reading committee with at least one additional faculty member, each of whom is provided a copy of the proposal. Upon completion of the project, the student submits the report to the project reading committee, and the final project must be accepted by the reading committee before the award of the master of science degree.

Review of Progress

Each year, the faculty reviews the progress of every student. Students not making adequate progress toward completion of degree requirements (see the Graduate Student Handbook for the policy on satisfactory academic progress) are subject to dismissal from the program. Students with academic deficiencies may be required to take additional courses. Full-time students with no academic deficiencies are normally expected to complete the degree course requirements at the rate of at least two courses each quarter. Full-time students must complete all course requirements within two years for the M.S.

Students receiving two or more grades of U (unsatisfactory) or below B- in Baskin Engineering courses are not making adequate progress and will be placed on academic probation for the following three quarters of registered enrollment. Withdrawing or taking a leave of absence does not count as enrollment. Part-time enrollment is counted as a half-quarter of enrollment.

If an electrical and computer engineering graduate student fails a Baskin Engineering course while on probation, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department may request the graduate dean to dismiss that student from the graduate program. If after being removed from probation, the student again fails a Baskin Engineering course, he or she will return immediately to academic probation.

Graduate students experiencing circumstances or difficulties that impact their academic performance should contact their advisor and the graduate director immediately. Students may appeal their dismissal to the graduate committee.

Applying for Graduation

All candidates for a degree must submit an Application for the Master's Degree to the Graduate Advising Office by the date stated in the Academic and Administrative Calendar for the quarter you wish to receive the degree. Failure to declare candidacy by the deadline means that you cannot be considered a candidate until the next term.

A student is required to be registered or on Filing Fee Status, whichever is applicable, during the quarter in which the degree is conferred. Students should consult the department advisor to determine which option fits their situation. For more information about applying for graduation, visit the Baskin Engineering Graduate Studies website.