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Requirements

Requirements for the Master's Degree

Course Requirements

Thesis Track

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

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

Total credits required for the M.S. degree = 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 cannot be counted as ECE graduate courses.

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits, with the exception of ECE 290 and ECE 291, which are 2 credits and 3 credits, respectively.

Thesis
Completion of a master’s thesis 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 thesis adviser. In consultation with the adviser, the student forms a master’s thesis reading committee with at least two additional faculty members, each of whom 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. 

Comprehensive Exam Track 

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

(1) At least 15 credits from one of the four core areas.
(2) At least 25 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses.*
(3) A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory.

Total credits required for the M.S. degree = 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 cannot be counted as ECE graduate courses.

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits, with the exception of ECE 290 and ECE 291, which are 2 credits and 3 credits, respectively. Independent Study credits do not count toward the degree requirements for students in the Comprehensive Exam Track. 

Each student in the comprehensive exam track must pass the comprehensive examination. Students may not take the comprehensive exam in the same subject more than twice, and may attempt a maximum of six subjects.

Comprehensive Examination
At the end of each quarter, students will have the opportunity to take the sections of the comprehensive exam relevant to the EE graduate courses offered that quarter that are approved for the core areas as outlined above. The  comprehensive exam will focus on fundamental material related to the subject matter of the course and will be offered, in most cases, on Friday of finals week. The results of these exam sections, when integrated together, will comprehensively test the student's mastery of the curriculum. In order to pass the overall comprehensive exam and meet the capstone requirement, a student is required to pass at least three sections of the comprehensive exam in their proposed core area of study. Students may attempt more than one section per quarter. Please note that courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not offered as sections of the comprehensive exam. 

Note that the  Comprehensive Exam Track is the default option for all M.S. students. Students can select the  Thesis Track or the Project Track only if they can find a faculty sponsor to supervise the thesis or project.

Project Track

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

(1) At least 15 credits from one of the four core areas
(2) At least 25 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses.*
(3) At most 5 credits of independent study (ECE 296, ECE 297, ECE 299) are counted toward the ECE course requirements.
(4) A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory.

*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 cannot be counted as ECE graduate courses.

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits, with the exception of ECE 290 and ECE 291, which are 2 credits and 3 credits, respectively. Independent Study credits do not count toward the degree requirements for students in the Project Track. 

Project Report
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 adviser. In consultation with the adviser, 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 committee before the award of the Master of Science degree. 

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Course Requirements*

Each student is required to take 55 credits which must consist of:

(1) At least 20 credits in one of the four core areas.
(2) At least 30 of the total 55 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses.
(3) At most 10 credits of independent study (ECE297, ECE299) will be counted toward ECE course requirements.
(4) A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory.

Total credits required for the Ph.D. degree = 55

The 30 credits of ECE graduate courses can include courses from the core area 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.

*For Ph.D. students already holding a Master of Science in electrical engineering (M.S.E.E.) or equivalent degree, at most 20 credits of transfer credit may be granted for equivalent coursework performed at the students’ M.S. granting institution. Credit transfer is subject to approval by the instructor of the equivalent UCSC course and the ECE Graduate Director.

Preliminary Examination

At the end of the first year, i.e., no later than the fall quarter in the following year after their entry, students admitted to the Ph.D. program must satisfy the requirements of the preliminary examination to continue in the Ph.D. program. This examination will require students to:

  • Pass the M.S. comprehensive exam in one of the core areas (3 subjects)
  • Pass one additional section of the M.S. comprehensive exam, from a different core area than was used to complete the comprehensive exam

Students may not take any single exam subject more than twice, and may attempt a maximum of eight subjects. If the student does not pass the preliminary exam and is to leave the Ph.D. program, the student may choose to exit with a terminal master’s degree, provided that all requirements for the master’s degree are satisfied.

Qualifying Examination

This oral examination is a defense of the student’s thesis prospectus and a test of the student’s knowledge in advanced technical areas of relevance to the dissertation topic. This oral examination consists of a seminar-style talk before the examining committee, where the student describes the thesis prospectus, followed by questions from the committee on the substance of the talk and the areas of presumed expertise of the student. The examination, taken typically in the third year of Ph.D. study, is administered by a Ph.D. qualifying exam committee, consisting of at least four examiners. The composition of the committee must be approved by the Graduate Director and the Dean of Graduate Studies, whereupon the student and the committee are notified.

If the student does not pass the qualifying examination, the student may be asked to complete additional coursework, or other research-related work, before retaking the examination. The student may be allowed to retake the qualifying examination once, and the composition of the examining committee will remain the same for the second try. Students who fail the qualifying examination twice may be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. students who have not advanced to candidacy by the end of the third year may be recommended for academic probation.

Dissertation and Advancement to Ph.D. Degree Candidacy

Advancement to Candidacy requires that the student:

  • pass the preliminary examination;
  • complete all course requirements prior to taking the qualifying examination;
  • clear all Incompletes from the student’s record;
  • pass the qualifying examination; and
  • have an appointed Ph.D. dissertation reading committee.

After advancement to candidacy, work on the dissertation research progresses until the dissertation is completed. The Ph.D. dissertation must show the results of in-depth research, be an original contribution of significant knowledge to the student’s field of study, and include material worthy of publication. The student is strongly advised to submit research work for publication in advance of completing the dissertation so that the latter requirement is clearly satisfied. The Ph.D. dissertation results are presented in both oral and written forms, the oral form being a dissertation defense (see below) and the written form being the Ph.D. dissertation. The student must submit his or her written Ph.D. dissertation to the dissertation reading committee at least one month before the defense.

Dissertation Defense

Each Ph.D. candidate submits the completed dissertation to a Ph.D. dissertation reading committee at least one month prior to the dissertation defense. The appointment of the Dissertation Reading Committee is made immediately after the qualifying examination and is necessary for advancing to candidacy. The candidate presents his or her research results in a public seminar sponsored by the dissertation supervisor. The seminar is followed by a defense of the dissertation to the reading committee (only), who will then decide whether the dissertation is acceptable or requires revision. Successful completion of the dissertation and defense fulfills the final academic requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

Transfer Credit

For Ph.D. students already holding an M.S.E.E. or equivalent degree, at most 20 credits of transfer credit may be granted for equivalent course work performed at the student’s M.S. granting institution. Credit transfer is subject to approval by the instructor of the equivalent UCSC course and the ECE Graduate Director. Transfer credit is not accepted fro students at the M.S. level.

Students not already holding an M.S.E.E. degree, who are studying for the Ph.D. degree, may apply to be granted a M.S. degree when they have fulfilled all the M.S. degree requirements (including submission of an M.S. thesis or project, or passing the comprehensive examination).

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. and three years for the Ph.D.

Students receiving two or more grades of U (unsatisfactory) or below B- in the School of 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 ECE graduate student fails a School of Engineering course while on probation, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department may request the Dean of Graduate Studies to dismiss that student from the graduate program. If after being removed from probation, the student again fails a School of Engineering graduate course, he or she will return immediately to academic probation.

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