The Graduate Computer Engineering Program


M.S. Thesis Requirements

Course Requirements

The M.S. program requires 30 total semester hours of graduate coursework (including thesis hours for the thesis option). There are three options for the M.S. degree in Computer Engineering:

  • Thesis option: This option involves research on a thesis area and a written thesis submitted to the graduate school. A minimum of 6 thesis hours are required, and there must be at least 20 classroom hours in the program of study. A maximum of 3 hours of Independent/Special Studies (CS/ECE 6950) is permitted only when it is self-contained and not related to the thesis.

There are two required courses:

  • CS/ECE 6810 – Computer Architecture
  • CS/ECE 6710 – Digital VLSI Design

In addition, from the following restricted elective list, four courses must be taken by students doing the coursework option, three courses must be taken by students doing the project option, and two courses must be taken by students doing the thesis option. Courses selected should be in an area of specialization selected by the student.

  • CS 6110 – Formal Methods in System Design
  • CS 6150 – Advanced Algorithms
  • CS 6235 – Parallel Programming for Many Cores
  • CS 6460 – Operating Systems
  • CS 6470 – Compiler Principles and Techniques
  • CS 6475 – Advanced Compilers
  • CS 6480 – Advanced Computer Networks
  • CS 7460 – Distributed Operating Systems
  • ECE 5325 – Wireless Communication Systems
  • ECE 5520 – Digital Communication Systems
  • ECE 6530 – Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 6531 – Advanced Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 6580 – Implementation of Digital Signal Processing Systems
  • CS/ECE 6720 – Analog Integrated Circuit Design
  • CS/ECE 6740 – Computer-Aided Design of Digital Circuits
  • CS/ECE 6745 – Testing and Verification of Digital Circuits
  • CS/ECE 6750 – Synthesis and Verification of Async. VLSI Systems
  • CS/ECE 6770 – Advanced Digital VLSI Systems Design
  • CS/ECE 6780 – Embedded System Design
  • CS/ECE 6785 – Advanced Embedded Software
  • CS/ECE 6830 – VLSI Architecture
  • CS/ECE 7810 – Advanced Architecture
  • CS/ECE 7820 – Parallel Architecture

Additional courses on the program of study must be approved by the student’s committee.

At least 24 hours of the 30 M.S. course and thesis hours must be in resident study at the University of Utah. A full time student working on an M.S. program is expected to complete the degree requirements within two calendar years. The Graduate School limits M.S. programs to four years.

Coursework Criteria
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 on coursework listed on the program of study with no grade lower than C- is required for graduation.
  • The coursework to be taken must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
  • Courses taken as part of an undergraduate degree program may not be counted towards a graduate degree.
  • A course taken for 5000-level credit cannot be taken again for 6000-level credit.
  • A student that has taken one of the required courses during their BS degree at either the 5000 or 6000-level must take an additional restricted elective in its place.
  • Where a course has both a 5000- and 6000-level number, the 5000-level version is intended for undergraduates and the 6000-level version for honors and graduate students. The two versions of the class will meet together, but extra work will be expected of honors and graduate students.
  • Students may only register for thesis research after they have set up a supervisory committee.
  • At most 2 credits of seminar hours can appear on a Program of Study (i.e, ECE 6900, 6910, 7900, 7910, CS 6930-6944, CS 7930-7944).
  • Students in the thesis option must be enrolled with a minimum of 3 hours of credit in the semester in which they defend.
  • At least one course must include a project for which a written report is produced (see Final Exam requirements for MS degrees).
Supervisory Committee

Each CE graduate student must form a supervisory committee whose members approve the student’s program of study and guides the student’s research program for degrees with a thesis. An M.S. committee consists of three members. The majority of the committee must consist of CE faculty from either ECE or SoC. The committee should be formed by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program, although a committee may be revised later by petition to the CE committee.

Any ECE or SoC regular faculty member may serve as a supervisory committee chair. Auxiliary faculty may chair supervisory committees if accorded that privilege by the regular faculty and the Dean of the Graduate School. Individuals who are not faculty members may serve on supervisory committees if nominated by the regular faculty on the committee, and endorsed by the CE Committee. The Dean of the Graduate School must grant final approval of all supervisory committees.

The supervisory committee is required to monitor the student’s progress. The student is subject to removal from the program if a student’s supervisory committee finds that the student is not making satisfactory progress.

Program of Study

After consulting with the approved supervisory committee chair, the student must complete a Program of Study that satisfies all the course requirements for the degree being pursued. Approval signatures of the supervisory committee members are to be obtained by the student. Completed and signed forms must be submitted to the CE advisor by the end of the second semester of study. After approval of the CE committee, the program of study is submitted to the Graduate School for their approval. The program of study must be filed prior to taking the comprehensive examination (thesis proposal).

Research Comprehensive Examination

M.S. students doing a thesis must take a Research Comprehensive Examination (thesis proposal) to be administered by their supervisory committee at a time determined by that committee, but no later than the third semester of study (not counting summers). The examination should serve as the defense of the student’s thesis proposal as well as to establish competence in their proposed area of research. The thesis proposal must be approved at least one semester prior to the semester of the thesis defense.

The written proposal should be no more than 10 pages. The choice of which format to use is up to the student after consultation with the chair of the supervisory committee. Students interested in academic research in the future are encouraged to consider using the NSF or NIH format for their proposal (including only the technical proposal and the vita sections). This proposal should be submitted to the members of the candidate’s supervisory committee at least two weeks before the comprehensive exam. Students must notify the CE advisor at least one week before they are going to take the Comprehensive Examination.

Thesis Defense

For degrees that require a thesis, the Final Oral Examination (oral thesis defense) is conducted by the supervisory committee according to Graduate School regulations. A student will be passed only if the committee is satisfied that the thesis research and documentation are unquestionably of the quality that will bring distinction to the candidate and the CE program. The committee may request further work of the candidate before a final decision is made.

All students must understand that they are responsible for ensuring that the submitted thesis meets the requirements of the Graduate School for proper format. Ample help is available from the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Editor in the form of a Style and Format Guide as well as seminars. Theses with improper format will be rejected.

The student must provide the CE advisor with the following information at least one week before the date of the thesis defense: the defense date and time, room, a vita or resume, and an electronic copy of the thesis. A “Report of the Final Oral Examination” form will be completed by the CE advisor for approval signatures during the defense, and the CE advisor will submit the form to the Graduate School.

Thesis Requirements

For degrees that require a thesis, the supervisory committee must give preliminary approval of the thesis one week prior to the defense. The defense can be scheduled after this approval. The student must provide one copy of the thesis to the chair of the supervisory committee at least three weeks before the defense, and one copy to each of the other committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense.

After successfully defending the thesis, the student must obtain approval by having their committee members sign the Supervisory Committee Approval and Final Reading Approval forms. The student should prepare at least three copies of each form on thesis approved paper. The forms are submitted to the CE advisor for the CE Director’s signature. The student must then submit the forms to the University Thesis Editor with a draft of the final thesis. Detailed policies and procedures concerning the theses and dissertations are contained in A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations published by the Graduate School.

Final Exam

For students in the thesis option, the thesis defense serves as the final exam. For students in the project option, they must present their project orally in a public forum such as ECE’s Technical Open House. For students in the non-thesis option, they must fill out a form indicating a class in which they did a project and attach the title and abstract of the report for this project. A passing grade in that class will serve as the passing grade for their final exam. In all cases, a “Report of the Final Examination” form must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School.