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Master of Science Program Requirements

Master of Science Program Requirements

Master of Science Degree Options

Thesis and coursework-only options are available in the ECE M.S. program. All ECE M.S. students are required to complete a study plan approved by their faculty advisers before completion of sixteen ECE graduate credits. M.S. students can follow one of the graduate tracks or develop a custom study plan with their faculty adviser. In addition to the university master’s degree requirements, an M.S. student choosing either option must complete at least 45 graduate level credits. Coursework taken without adviser approval may not be accepted as part of the student’s program. Each student will be assigned an interim adviser at the time of admission.

Each of the graduate tracks is comprised of a list of Core courses and a list of Depth and Breadth courses.

Thesis option
Thesis M.S. students usually follow one of the Graduate Track study plans consisting of four Core courses (16 credits), two Depth and Breadth courses (8 credits), 9 credits of thesis, and 12 elective credits. Elective Credits may include additional ECE graduate courses, ECE 501-509 credits, or, with adviser approval, graduate classes from another department.  Only 3 credits of ECE 507 may be counted as elective credits.  A student may substitute an appropriate alternative class or classes for Core or Depth classes in a track by obtaining written permission from his/her Adviser before taking the class(es).
Thesis M.S. students must also develop, write, and give an oral defense of a thesis approved by the student’s thesis committee. The defense is public and its schedule must be posted in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at least two weeks in advance. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator ( to schedule the defense and announcement. See the ECE Graduate Handbook for additional information about thesis requirements and timing.

Coursework-only option

For the coursework-only M.S. option, students take courses following an adviser-approved track of graduate classes. These tracks were designed by the faculty to give both depth and breadth of knowledge in the specified study area. This depth and breadth approach greatly improves a student’s ability to get a job in the specified area or do research in the specified area. Most M.S. students will follow one of the pre-approved, faculty-designed tracks shown. These are the tracks used by the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) to determine if a student is ready to graduate. However, it is possible to develop a custom track with faculty adviser and Graduate Program Director approval. The credits required for this option are sixteen credits of ECE graduate lecture classes that form a core, sixteen credits of ECE graduate lecture classes that provide Depth and Breadth, four credits of elective ECE graduate lecture classes, and nine credits of approved graduate electives. Coursework-only students must submit an adviser-approved study plan Program Completion Form from their desired track no later than completion of sixteen ECE graduate credits.

General PSU Masters Program Requirements and Procedures

The PSU Bulletin is the definitive source for graduate policies and procedures. University-level graduate policies and procedures are shown on The Graduate School site for quick reference. The lists on these sites do not constitute a substitute for the Bulletin. If the requirement you are looking for is not listed in one of those, refer to the current Bulletin or contact the Graduate School at or 503-725-8410.

Students are responsible for knowing and following both university and departmental requirements and procedures for the graduate certificate or degree being pursued. Departments can set more rigorous standards than the University, and can be expected to have additional degree requirements beyond those listed in their section of the Bulletin.

General ECE Departmental Masters Program Requirements

  • All classes used to satisfy ECE lecture credit requirements for core and for depth and breadth requirements must be completed with a B- or better grade. One graduate class with a C or C+ grade may be used as an elective with adviser approval, if overall GPA is above 3.0 as required.
  • Lecture courses taken under the undifferentiated grading option (P/NP) shall not be used to satisfy any graduate degree program requirements.
  • Students may not register for ECE 507 unless they are formally admitted to a master's degree program.
  • No more than three credits of ECE 507 Graduate Seminar can be applied to a MS degree.
  • Each student is required to complete a tentative degree completion plan that has been approved by their adviser no later than the completion of sixteen ECE Graduate credits.  The degree completion form for this purpose is available with the chosen pre-approved track.
  • Coursework taken without adviser approval may not be accepted as part of the student’s program.
  • For a coursework-only M.S. program, up to nine graduate credits may be transferred from other institutions with adviser and departmental approval. For a thesis M.S. Program, up to twelve graduate credits may be transferred with adviser and departmental approval. Transfer courses are indicated on the Program Completion Form that is then signed by the adviser and the Graduate Program Director. Transfer credits count as electives.

Frequently asked questions for new graduate students

Who's my adviser?

Your adviser is usually assigned via your admission letter. If you're not sure, please check with

What classes should I take?

If you're an M.S. coursework-only student, please see our graduate tracks. All students should discuss their coursework with an adviser and fill out a study plan before the end of their second term. 

How do I use my transfer credits?

Transfer credit is applied to the PSU master's program via the GO-21 form. Transfer credit can only be used as elective. For doctoral programs, transfer credit is applied via approval of the Study Plan.

What about Research Assistant (RA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions?

The ECE department offers two forms of student financial assistance: The research assistant (RA) and the teaching assistant (TA). More information about TA appointments can be found on the Assistantships page.

Research Assistant (RA) positions are under control of each individual faculty member.  The ECE office does not keep any records on availability.  You will need to query each individual faculty member to check on their availability of RA funding. However, you should be aware that a faculty member will most likely NOT offer an RA position unless you are studying and conducting research in their specific research area.

Can I change my faculty adviser?

Yes, Master's students can. To change your faculty adviser please complete and return the Change of ECE Graduate Adviser form to the Graduate Coordinator. The new adviser will need to agree to serve.

Doctoral students are normally expected to work with the same adviser for the duration of their degree programs. However, sometimes changes need to be made. Check with the Graduate Coordinator with questions.

How do I get access to the labs?

First, get a white access badge from ID Services in Fariborz Maseeh Hall. Then, take the access badge to Student Services in the Engineering Building (Suite 100). They will activate your card so you have access to general labs and the Fourth Avenue Building on nights and weekends. This access should last as long as you're a registered ECE student.

If you need access to another lab, the faculty member who is in charge of that lab must request access on your behalf. They will need your PSU ID number and access badge number.