Degree Requirements

Entering students are admitted to pursue only the Master of Science in Engineering, to pursue the Master of Science in Engineering followed by the Doctor of Philosophy, or to pursue only the Doctor of Philosophy. A student admitted to pursue only the Master of Science (MSE), however, may subsequently apply to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The MSE degree may be obtained with a thesis, with a report, or without a thesis or a report (coursework only). Due to the considerable breadth of the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), a student is admitted to one of nine academic tracks, as described under Areas of Study. The coursework only MSE can be overseen by the student's academic track adviser alone. Pursuit of all of other MSE degree options and of the PhD requires the student to find a willing supervisor and perhaps co-supervisor, where the supervisor and/or, if applicable, co-supervisor are members of the ECE Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). The ECE GSC consists of tenured and tenure-track professors from within the ECE department, as well as some other tenured and tenure-track professors active in the field. Degree programs and requirements are discussed briefly in what follows, although individual academic tracks may have additional requirements. Additional information is available online at https://www.ece.utexas.edu/graduate, from a graduate adviser within ECE Advising, and from other sources as noted below.

Master of Science in Engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers four Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) degree programs to meet differing needs: the traditional MSE program, the Integrated BSEE/MSE program, the primarily online Professional MSE program, and the Alternatively Scheduled MSE program with a concentration in Software Engineering. Students may be admitted to pursue only an MSE within the traditional program, or they may be admitted to pursue both an MSE within the traditional program and a PhD simultaneously; students are admitted to the Integrated, Professional and Alternatively Scheduled programs to pursue an MSE only, although they may apply and be admitted to pursue a PhD subsequently. The traditional, Integrated BSEE/MSE and Professional programs share the same academic track advisers; the Alternatively Scheduled MSE program with a concentration in Software Engineering is a single-track program with its own academic adviser. Students in each of these MSE programs are expected to meet the same academic standards.

Each of these MSE programs requires a Program of Work consisting of 30 semester hours of coursework (ten three-hour courses) not taken toward a prior degree, including with approval up to six hours (two courses) of graduate coursework transferred from another university. The traditional, Integrated and Professional MSE programs each offer the thesis, report, and coursework only options; the Alternatively Scheduled MSE program in Software Engineering offers only the report and coursework only options. 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 30-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 30-hour total. Otherwise, all other courses that count toward the Program of Work must be classroom instruction courses taken for a letter grade.

The MSE Program of Work is divided into major work and supporting work. At least 18 hours (six courses) must be in the major area, including any thesis or report courses. At least six hours (two courses) must be in supporting work. However, which courses may be counted as major work and which may be counted as supporting work can vary not only with the academic track but with the interests of the individual student. The Academic Track advisers and/or the student's supervisor can provide guidance regarding which courses a student may count toward major or supporting work. Ultimately, all major and supporting coursework must be logically related, and the student’s MSE Program of Work must be approved by the student's academic track adviser and/or supervising professor, the graduate adviser of the Department of ECE, and the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin.    

A minimum grade point average of 3.00 is required in major coursework and, separately, in supporting coursework within the Program of Work. Moreover, 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.

Traditional MSE program. Students admitted to pursue an MSE within the traditional program attend classes in person on The University of Texas at Austin campus. Students within the traditional program also have access to upper division undergraduate courses and courses taught outside of the Department of ECE. Up to two (three-hour-minimum) upper-division undergraduate courses not required of ECE undergraduates nor otherwise considered preparatory may be included in the 30-hour Program of Work, as major work and/or supporting work.  At least one graduate course must be counted as supporting work.

Integrated BSEE/MSE program. Admission to the Integrated BSEE/MSE program is open only to undergraduate students within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. The integrated BSEE/MSE program is designed to provide a smooth, accelerated connection between the Bachelors of Electrical Engineering (BSEE) degree and the MSE degree. It results in the simultaneous awarding of a BSEE degree (integrated option) and an MSE degree. However, the course options and requirements of the MSE portion of the Integrated BSEE/MSE program are identical to those of the traditional MSE program, and students in the Integrated BSEE/MSE program attend classes in person with those in the Transitional 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 students are expected to have taken and reserved for graduate credit two graduate courses prior entering the graduate portion of the Integrated BSEE/MSE program, and the requirements for an undergraduate degree upon entering the MSE program and for taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) have been waived by the University. Information about the requirements of the undergraduate portions of the Integrated BSEE/MSE program is available from Integrated BSEE/MSE program sub-section of the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering section of The University of Texas Undergraduate Catalog, from http://www.ece.utexas.edu/bsms, and/or from an undergraduate adviser within ECE Advising.

Professional MSE program.  This primarily online program is designed to provide students from industry with the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to advance into leadership positions with greater responsibility and impact, and (as an Option III program) is administered by Texas Engineering Executive Education (TxEEE). However, others for which this format would be advantageous are welcome to apply. Students in this program may complete 100% of their coursework online, including two courses designed specifically for the Professional MSE program. Beyond these two courses and any report course or thesis courses, online courses are selected each semester from graduate ECE courses (only) that are 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. Each of these online courses is provided synchronously and interactively, and recorded and provided asynchronously. However, not all graduate ECE courses offered within the traditional and Integrated MSE programs can or will be offered online. Students within this Professional program, however, may choose to take up to 20% of their coursework (two courses) in person as space allows. Additional information about this program is available from TxEEE at http://executive.engr.utexas.edu/pme/ece.php.

Alternatively Scheduled MSE program with a concentration in Software Engineering. This single-track MSE program is designed with full-time engineers and computer professionals in mind, and also is administered by TxEEE. Students attend classes in person taught by faculty from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering once a month on a consecutive Friday and Saturday. The Alternatively Scheduled MSE program is separate from the traditional, Integrated and Professional MSE programs: students within the Alternatively Scheduled MSE program may not register for courses offered to students in the other MSE programs and vice versa, and this program has its own academic adviser. Additional information about this program is published by TxEEE at http://executive.engr.utexas.edu/pme/swe.php.

Doctor of Philosophy

The ECE PhD program requires a Program of Work consisting of at least 30 hours of graduate-level classroom coursework (ten three-hour courses) not used toward an undergraduate degree, including with approval up to 18 hours (six courses) of coursework transferred from another university. Coursework is divided into major and supporting work, with at least 18 hours (six courses) of major work and at least six hours (two courses) of supporting work. A minimum grade point average of 3.50 is required in major coursework and, separately, in supporting coursework within the Program of Work, and no course with a grade of less than a B- may be counted toward the Program of Work. Individual academic tracks may have additional requirements. Ultimately, all major and supporting coursework must be logically related, and the student’s PhD Program of Work must be approved by the student's supervising professor or professors, the student's dissertation committee (see below), the Chair of the ECE GSC, and the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin

Beyond the requirements for a master’s degree, however, the PhD is primarily a research-based degree requiring the student to make a significant original contribution. Steps toward the PhD include finding a research supervisor or supervisors (as previously detailed) and forming a dissertation committee consisting of the research supervisor or supervisors and of other members inside and outside of the ECE GSC, and subsequently performing a Candidacy Evaluation (and thereafter successfully applying for formal admission to PhD Candidacy to the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Austin), passing a Progress Review, and ultimately writing and successfully defending their PhD dissertation, each before their dissertation committee.