Degree Requirements

Entering students are admitted to pursue the Master of Science in Engineering only, the Master of Science in Engineering followed by the Doctor of Philosophy, or the Doctor of Philosophy only. A master's degree may be obtained with thesis, with report, or without thesis or report (coursework only). Pursuit of all degrees and options except for the master's without thesis or report requires the student to find a willing supervising professor; the master's without thesis or report can be overseen by the student's academic track adviser alone. The supervising professor, or a willing co-supervising professor as appropriate, must be a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Studies Committee. More information about course loads, course selection, degree requirements, funding, and related matters is available from the Graduate Advising Office of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Master of Science in Engineering

Traditional MSE Program. The traditional Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) program offers three options for obtaining the MSE degree: with thesis, with report, and without thesis or report. All three options require a Program of Work consisting of thirty semester hours of coursework (ten courses), with no less than twenty-four hours (eight courses) of that being graduate-level coursework. Two (three-hour-minimum) upper-division undergraduate courses not taken for preparatory reasons nor required of undergraduates may be counted toward the required degree hours. The thesis option requires original research and satisfactory completion of a written thesis and two associated three-hour thesis courses taken on the credit/no credit basis within the thirty-hour total. The report option requires satisfactory completion of a written report and one associated three-hour report course taken on the credit/no credit basis within the thirty-hour total. Otherwise, all courses that count toward the Program of Work must be regular classroom instruction courses taken for a letter grade. Students may count only one course with a letter grade less than B-, and no course with a letter grade less than C toward the Program of Work.

The MSE Program of Work is divided into major work and supporting work. At least eighteen hours must be in the major area including the thesis or report courses. At least six hours must be in supporting work, including at least one three-hour graduate level course. Major work can include coursework associated with the student's academic track, as well as closely-related coursework associated with other academic tracks within the department and from other departments. Supporting work can include coursework from other departments and coursework associated with other academic tracks within the department. The track advisers and/or the student's supervisor can provide guidance regarding which courses may be counted toward major or supporting work.  A minimum grade point average of 3.00 is required in major coursework and, separately, in supporting coursework within the Program of Work.

Individual academic tracks may have additional requirements to those described above. Ultimately, all major and supporting coursework must be logically related, and the student’s master's Program of Work must be approved by the student's academic track adviser and/or supervising professor, the graduate adviser of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin. Specific regulations regarding the MSE degree program are available from the appropriate academic track adviser and the Graduate Advising Office of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Integrated BSEE/MSE program. Admission to the Integrated Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Science in Engineering (BSEE/MSE) program is open only to undergraduate students within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. It results in the simultaneous awarding of a BSEE degree (integrated option) and an MSE degree. The MSE degree options and requirements for students in the Integrated BSEE/MSE program are identical to those for students in the traditional MSE program. Admission requirements and procedures for the graduate portion of the Integrated BSEE/MSE program also are much the same as for the Traditional MSE program, except that the requirements for an undergraduate degree upon entering the program and for taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) have been waived by the University.

See the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Integrated BSEE/MSE program section of the Undergraduate Catalog for more details about the requirements of the Integrated Option BSEE degree. Additional information about the Integrated BSEE/MSE program requirements and policies may be obtained from the Electrical and Computer Engineering advising offices.

Professional MSE program.  The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering also offers a primarily online Professional MSE program designed for individuals who wish to pursue a terminal MSE degree (also an option III degree program). Four of the nine academic tracks within Electrical and Computer Engineering will be offered beginning with the fall 2017 semester: 1) Architecture, Computer Systems, and Embedded Systems; 2) Decision, Information, and Communications Engineering; 3) Integrated Circuits and Systems; and 4) Software Engineering and Systems. The remaining five academic tracks will be offered beginning with the fall 2018 semester: 1) bioECE; 2) Electromagnetics and Acoustics; 3) Energy systems; 4) Plasma/Quantum Electronics and Optics; and 5) Solid-State Electronics. The program is administered by the Texas Engineering Executive Education program [http://executive.engr.utexas.edu/pme/ece.php] of the Cockrell School of Engineering. The core objective of the Professional MSE program in Electrical and Computer Engineering is to provide students with the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to advance into leadership positions in industry with greater responsibility and impact. The Professional MSE program seeks applicants who are BSEE degree-holders with very strong technical backgrounds and some industry experience, although some applicants already may have the required qualities and experience upon completion of their bachelor’s degrees. 

Just as the traditional MSE and Integrated MSE programs do, the Professional MSE program offers three options: with thesis, with report, and without thesis or report. All three options also require a program of work consisting of thirty semester hours of coursework (ten courses). There are requirements for major and supporting work just as in the traditional MSE program. Students in the Professional MSE program also are held to the same standards of performance as those in the traditional MSE program.

The Professional MSE program differs from the traditional and Integrated MSE programs in that students may complete 100% of their coursework online. At least 80% of the coursework must be selected from courses offered online. Moreover, among these online courses, students must take two courses that have been designed specifically for the Professional MSE program. To improve the cohort’s cohesiveness, provide exposure to CEOs and thought leaders, and assure true face-to-face interaction between students and faculty, these two courses are taken in the same semester and require students to come to campus for one week that semester. Otherwise, the courses offered online are selected each semester from those offered in the traditional and Integrated programs, vary from semester to semester, and mix the students from the traditional, Integrated and Professional programs in the same classes (albeit virtually in the case of the Professional program students). All of the courses offered online are recorded and delivered online in both synchronous and asynchronous formats that support online collaborations. However, not all courses offered in the traditional and Integrated programs can or will be offered in the Professional program. Additional information about this program is available from the Texas Engineering Executive Education program [http://executive.engr.utexas.edu/pme/ece.php].

Alternatively Scheduled MSE program in software engineering. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering also offers an Alternatively Scheduled terminal MSE degree with a concentration in software engineering through the Texas Engineering Executive Education program [http://executive.engr.utexas.edu/pme/swe.php] of the Cockrell School of Engineering (also an option III degree program). Designed with full-time engineers and computer professionals in mind, this program is an alternative to the department's traditional, Integrated and Professional MSE programs. They attend classes taught by faculty from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering once a month on Fridays and Saturdays for two full academic years. The Alternatively Scheduled MSE program in software engineering offers two options for obtaining the SME degree: with report, and without report (coursework only).  Both options require a Program of Work consisting of thirty semester hours of graduate coursework (ten courses). The report option requires satisfactory completion of a written report and one associated three-hour report course taken on the credit/no credit basis within the thirty-hour total. Otherwise, all courses that count toward the Program of Work must be classroom instruction courses taken for a letter grade. Students admitted to this program are held to the same standards of performance as those in the Traditional, Integrated and Professional programs. Students may count only one course with a letter grade less than B-, and no course with a letter grade less than C toward the Program of Work. A minimum grade point average of 3.00 is required in major coursework and, separately, in supporting coursework within the Program of Work.

This Alternatively Scheduled MSE program and the traditional, Integrated and Professional graduate programs are separate; students within the Alternatively Scheduled MSE program can only register for courses offered by this program. Additional information about this program is published by the Texas Engineering Executive Education program [http://executive.engr.utexas.edu/pme/swe.php].

Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD Program of Work consists of at least thirty hours of graduate-level coursework (ten courses) taken on the letter-grade basis, including appropriate coursework taken toward a master's degree at the University of Texas at Austin or, with approval, elsewhere. At least twelve hours (four courses) of those thirty must be taken at the University of Texas at Austin. (Note that, although typical, having a master's degree is not required to earn a PhD.) Coursework is divided into major and supporting work, with no less than six hours (two courses) of supporting work. A minimum grade point average of 3.50 is required in the major coursework and, separately, in supporting coursework within the Program of Work, with no course grade of less than a B- counted. Coursework beyond that required for the Program of Work consists of at least six hours of dissertation coursework and, likely, multiple research problems courses. Individual academic tracks may have additional requirements.

The PhD is primarily a research-based degree beyond the requirements for a master's degree. Formal entry into the doctoral program is achieved when the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD. As previously noted, the prospective candidate must find a willing supervising professor, and the supervising professor or a willing co-supervising professor must be a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Studies Committee. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Studies Committee considers the student's admission to candidacy upon completion of at least one full semester in residence, based on the student's performance on a doctoral qualifying examination and after a thorough review of the student's Program of Work. The qualifying examination consists of a written and oral proposal to the student's PhD qualifying examination committee. Many academic tracks also require the student to pass a pre-qualifying examination procedure prior to the qualifying examination. A detailed description of the procedure for admission to candidacy is available from the PhD coordinator of the student's academic track and the Graduate Advising Office of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The doctoral program typically requires five to seven years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.