Graduate Handbook

Graduate Program Handbook


Program Length

Master of Science

A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering requires a total of 45 graduate credits.  Both thesis and non-thesis options are available.


A Doctorate (Ph.D.) degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering requires 45 graduate credits of Electrical and Computer Engineering classes, 27 credits of dissertation, and 8 graduate credits of electives.  Elective credits may be from any academic department subject to approval by the student’s PhD advisory committee.  Only graded lecture credits may be used to satisfy the elective credit requirement.

Graduate Advising

Upon admission to a Master’s or Doctoral program, you will be assigned to a faculty member who will serve as your academic adviser.  Coursework taken without adviser approval may not be accepted as part of a student's program.

Students may change advisors as their study plans develop (form in ECE Office), and a faculty member may withdraw from serving as thesis / dissertation adviser to an M.S. or Ph.D. student. The faculty recognizes its responsibility to provide adequate advising to all students, and the departmental Graduate Coordinator will ensure that all graduate students have an academic adviser. To successfully complete an M.S. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation, it is essential that you work very closely with your adviser.

Degree Completion

Theses and dissertations are submitted electronically to The Graduate School studies. See the Graduate School website for specific submission instructions. There is also information on that website about defending your thesis or dissertation.

There are several documents that must be processed before you can be awarded your degree. The ECE department will submit these forms, but is up to you and your adviser to insure the forms are properly filled out and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator on time. See The Graduate School's forms website for a listing of these forms and their associated deadlines.

General Information

Lecture courses taken under the undifferentiated grading option (P/NP) shall not be used to fulfill ECE graduate degree program requirements. Classes are scheduled to best accommodate both full-time and part-time students.

General degree requirements are described in the latest edition of the Portland State University Bulletin. You may also email us at

Teaching and Research Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to well-qualified applicants at both the Master’s and Doctoral level. Teaching Assistantships are used to support the instructional programs in the department. Only in exceptional cases will the department award teaching assistantships to graduate candidates before they have successfully completed at least one quarter of ECE coursework at PSU.

Chances of selection improve as a student establishes a solid work record in ECE classes. If you are interested in serving as a TA, make sure to submit the online application per instructions. A TA for a particular class is chosen by the instructor responsible for that class. If you want to serve as TA for a particular class, you also need to meet with the instructor and convince them that you have the skill and knowledge to teach the material in the class.

Note that the lab equipment in the PSU labs is much more complex than that in most undergraduate programs. If you are applying for a lab TA position, it will be necessary to spend some time learning how to use the equipment. Lab TAs are also required to carefully and completely do all the lab exercises for the lab class before the students start on them. 

Research Assistantships in support of specific research programs are assigned by the professor who is the Principal Investigator of the project. Admission as a regular student, full-time enrollment, and good academic standing are prerequisites for receiving any Research Assistant position.


M.S. students can use up to eight credits of ECE 504 internship work as part of their nine elective credits for a coursework-only M.S. program or as part of their twelve elective credits for a thesis M.S. program. The co-op work must involve some type of design work to qualify, as these are graduate level credits and therefore need to be equivalent to graduate level classes.

Students obtain co-op position offers by submitting applications to appropriate companies.

To enroll in ECE 504, U.S. citizens register via banweb after they are granted an override by department staff and submit an ECE co-op and liability release form. These must be approved by the faculty adviser and Graduate Program Director before submission.

An international student must have completed three full-time terms as an enrolled M.S. student, be enrolled in ECE 504 co-op as Curricular Practical Training, and must need the ECE 504 credits as part of their nine credits of graduate electives for coursework-only M.S. or as part of their twelve credits of graduate electives for the thesis M.S. Therefore, to be eligible for co-op work, they need to save some of their elective credits.

International Students must also submit the following items to the PSU Office of International Affairs: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) form, a copy of their offer letter, and if in their final term and taking less that 9 credits, a Reduced Courseload form. These forms must be signed by the faculty advisor and the Graduate Program Director before submission.

You can find the relevant forms on our internships page.

Academic Standing

Academic Probation

All students admitted to graduate studies (regular, conditional, and graduate certificate) at Portland State University must maintain a GPA of at least 3.00 for all graduate credit earned at Portland State University. An admitted student is placed on probation if:

The student's cumulative graduate GPA at Portland State University, based on the completion of 9 graded graduate credits at Portland State University, is below 3.00 at the end of any term; or

The student's term graduate GPA, based on a minimum of 6 graded graduate hours, is below 2.67 for a given term.

While on academic probation the student will not be permitted to graduate, to be advanced to doctoral candidacy, to receive approval of the masters degree program (GO-12 form), to receive or continue to hold a graduate assistantship, or to register for more than a total of 9 credit hours in any term. Removal of academic probation occurs if the cumulative graduate GPA is brought to 3.00 within the next 9 graduate credits in graded courses in the case of probation due to a low cumulative GPA, or both cumulative and term GPA of 3.00 or above in the case of probation due to a low term GPA.


A student who is disqualified may not register for any graduate courses at PSU for at least one calendar year. Disqualification occurs if:

1. The student on academic probation for low GPA fails to achieve a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.00 or higher within the next 9 graduate credits in graded courses; or
2. The student on probation for a term GPA of below 2.67 does not receive at least a 3.00 term GPA, and does not achieve a 3.00 cumulative GPA with the next 9 graded graduate hours, if applicable; or
3. The student becomes subject to academic probation for a second time. 
Readmission after Disqualification

A disqualified student may petition for re-admission as a degree-seeking student in a graduate program after one calendar year. Re-admission after the mandatory one-year period is initiated by the student's filing of a petition for re-admission to the Graduate Council through the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. Re-admission is not automatic. To be readmitted the student must meet all current admission requirements with the exception of the graduate GPA.

If the student's graduate program has recommended re-admission, the Graduate Council may grant re-admission, with or without additional academic requirements, or may recommend continued disqualification. The readmitted graduate student is subject to all University and program requirements in effect at the time of readmission. The student must raise the PSU cumulative graduate GPA to 3.00 or better with 12 credits of graded graduate coursework after re-admission, or she/he will be disqualified.

Graduate courses completed at other institutions while a student is under disqualification at PSU will not be applied toward a graduate program at PSU.

Leave Of Absence

A student in good academic standing may petition for a leave of absence of up to one year. The leave of absence status ensures the student will not be dropped from the program during an extended absence.  Students formally apply for a leave of absence, in writing, to the Chair of the ECE department graduate committee.  The application must state the dates of absence and the reason why the leave is requested. Any supporting documentation should be included.

A student may petition for a second leave of absence from a graduate program, but approval is required from the department chair and graduate committee of the college or school.  Any student who requests a leave of absence for a non-health related reason must provide supporting evidence that the situation prompting this request will not be repeated. The student must also present a work plan after coming back from the leave of absence. Applications submitted without this information will be returned without action.

A leave of absence will delay any ECE department degree deadlines but it does not constitute a waiver of the time limit for completion of a PSU graduate degree. Moreover, while on a leave of absence the student is prohibited from using any university resources that could contribute to completion of a degree. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, access to the university library, CECS computer accounts and the student's faculty advisor, advisory committee members or thesis/dissertation members.


If a student wishes to appeal a departmental decision then a formal request must be made, in writing, within 60 day of notification (also see section “XI. Readmission Policy” if applicable). To appeal an ECE Department decision, a student must submit an appeal packet to the ECE graduate committee chair. The appeal packet must consist of the following:

1. A statement identifying which decision should be overturned.
2. A statement explaining why the prior decision should be overturned (include any supporting documentation).
3. A letter of support from the student's faculty adviser recommending the prior decision to be overturned.

An incomplete appeal packet will be returned without action.

The ECE graduate committee will review the appeal packet and make a recommendation to the ECE graduate program director who will then render a final decision. The student will be informed of the final decision in writing.

Not all decisions can be appealed. Students must check with ECE graduate program staff prior to submitting an appeal packet (email: or phone 503.725.3002).


This policy applies to all students who were previously admitted to an ECE department graduate degree program or graduate certificate program, matriculated, and then were subsequently dropped from their ECE graduate program for any reason other than misconduct. Students removed for misconduct shall have their applications for readmission returned without action.

In this policy the phrase “graduate program” refers to a master’s degree program, a doctoral program or a graduate certificate program in the ECE department. Furthermore, the term “drop date” refers to the date the ECE department dropped the student from their degree program.

Students dropped from any ECE department graduate program must reapply within 12 months after the drop date. Any readmission application received more than 12 months from the drop date will be returned without action. Students must also comply with any university requirements for readmission.

The readmission application packet must contain the following:

  1. A statement describing why the student was dropped from the graduate program.
  2. A statement explaining why the conditions that lead to removal from graduate program no longer exist. Include any supporting documentation.
  3. Transcripts from any graduate coursework taken since being dropped from the ECE graduate program.
  4. A list of all graduate program requirements remaining before graduation.
  5. A plan showing when the remaining graduate program requirements are scheduled to be completed.
  6. A letter from the student’s faculty adviser supporting the readmission request.

The readmission packet shall be submitted to the ECE graduate program director for review. The readmission must be approved by the ECE department graduate committee.