Graduate Program Policies and Procedures

The following requirements have been set by the Graduate School, the John and Marcia Price College of Engineering, and/or the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Consult the Graduate Handbook for more information.

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Safety and Wellness

Your safety is our top priority. In an emergency, dial 911 or seek a nearby emergency phone (throughout campus). Report any crimes or suspicious people to 801-585-COPS; this number will get you to a dispatch officer at the University of Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS; If at any time, you would like to be escorted by a security officer to or from areas on campus, DPS will help — just give a call.

The University of Utah seeks to provide a safe and healthy experience for students, employees, and others who make use of campus facilities. In support of this goal, the University has established confidential resources and support services to assist students who may have been affected by harassment, abusive relationships, or sexual misconduct. A detailed listing of University Resources for campus safety can be found here.

Your well-being is key to your personal safety. If you are in crisis, call 801-587-3000; help is close.  The university has additional excellent resources to promote emotional and physical wellness, including the following:

You may also call the ECE department at 801-581-6941 if you need help or have questions.

Graduate Committee

Committee Member Office Room Office Telephone
Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez 2134 MEB 801-585-5657
Yu Xiang  3104 MEB 801-587-5223
Armin Tajalli 2224 MEB 801-581-4840
Massood Tabib-Azar 3737 SMBB 801-581-8775
Carlos Mastrangelo 2224 MEB 801-581-4840
Ken Stevens  2254 MEB  801-585-9176
Masood Parvania  2222 MEB  801-585-0030

John Bolke, Graduate Coordinator  2266A MEB   801-581-6943


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Temporary Advisors

The following faculty members have agreed to act as temporary advisors for new graduate students wishing to specialize in their areas. These advisors are available to help incoming graduate students who do not yet have supervisory committees. Students should contact the temporary advisor in their area if they have any questions about their program. Students should find a permanent academic advisor by the beginning of the second semester. Students who would like to consult with these faculty members may call them at the telephone numbers listed or contact them by email for an appointment.

ECE Discipline Faculty Member Email
Electromagnetics Cynthia Furse
Communications, Signal Processing, and Control Behrouz Farhang
Optics Steve Blair
VLSI, Microelectronics, and Computer Engineering Priyank Kalla
Power Masood Parvania


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Due Dates for the Ph.D. Program

Deadlines for full-time graduate students:
Action/Form Due Date
Supervisory Committee Form Deadline of second semester of study
Candidacy Form (Program of Study) Deadline of second semester of study
Amendment to Program of Study Deadline of semester for which change is requested
SPEAK Test Deadline of second semester of study
Proficiency Requirement Deadline of third semester of study
M.S. Research Comprehensive Exam No later than third semester of study
Ph.D Qualifying Exam During second semester of study
Ph.D. Research Comprehensive Exam No later than fourth semester of study


Deadlines for part-time graduate students:
Action/Form Due Date
Supervisory Committee Form Deadline of third semester of study
idacy Form (Program of Study)
Deadline of third semester of study
Proficiency Requirement Deadline of fourth semester of study


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Change of Degree Status

Graduate students who wish to change degree programs within the department must submit the following to the Graduate Committee for approval:

  1. A letter to the Graduate Committee explaining the reason for the requested change of degree, including a description of the intended research area if the change is to study for a research degree.
  2. A letter of recommendation in support of the application from a faculty member expressing willingness to serve as the chair of the student’s supervisory committee.
  3. The completed Request for Supervisory Committee form for the requested degree.
  4. The completed program of study for the requested degree. If a student wishes to change from a thesis to a non-thesis degree program, a separate sheet must be included indicating at least 12 hours of coursework to be taken after the change is approved.
  5. A current University of Utah transcript.


ECE 6970/7970 hours cannot be used for the M.S. Coursework Option or Projoct Option degree.


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Control Courses

The ECE Graduate Committee has approved graduate students wanting to take control courses to be able to count up to TWO of the following courses for ECE 6000-level coursework:

ME EN 6210, State Space Methods
ME EN 6220, Robotics
ME EN 7200, Nonlinear Controls
ME EN 7210, Optimal Controls

ME EN 6200, Advanced Modeling and Control, will NOT count toward ECE 6000-level coursework but may be counted as an allied course if taken. Of course all Programs of Study must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee.


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Correspondence/Home Study

Correspondence or home study courses are not eligible for graduate credit.


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Credit/No Credit Courses

Graduate students are granted the option, subject to approval by the Department Graduate Committee and review by the Dean of the Graduate School, to enroll in some courses in which they will be graded on a credit/no credit (CR/NC) rather than on a letter-grade basis.

The intent of the CR/NC option is to free students to extend their studies to areas outside their major or specialty and to take classes they otherwise might not take if they had to compete with majors for a letter grade.

Students may not register for CR/NC courses in their major department unless a course in the major department is offered only on a CR/NC basis.

Consult the University’s Graduate Handbook for further information on the CR/NC policy.


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Dual Degree

Students within the College of Engineering are not allowed to be candidates for a Master of Science degree and a research-oriented degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) simultaneously in any one department or in a combination of departments. Students who are candidates for research degrees outside of the College of Engineering cannot simultaneously be candidates for a Master of Science degree in the College of Engineering. Any exceptions must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee and by the dean or associate dean for academic affairs of the College.

Students wishing to pursue more than one graduate degree must have a separate supervisory committee and program of study for each degree. Courses may not be counted for credit for more than one degree.


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Establishing Utah Residency for Tuition Purposes

The Graduate School requires that U.S. citizens who are in a graduate program at the University of Utah apply for Utah residency once 40 graduate credit hours are reached to be eligible for in-state tuition. The Admissions Office website gives the following information on qualifying as a resident:

University of Utah Residency Policies


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ECE Proficiency Requirement

Every candidate for a graduate degree in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program must demonstrate proficiency in three basic areas within one year after enrollment in the program. Each student must show proficiency in Circuits and Electronics and in either Electromagnetic Fields or Systems. It is the responsibility of the student to complete the Fulfillment of Proficiency Requirement form and submit it to the Graduate Coordinator in the ECE office. The Graduate Committee will be the sole judge of whether the requirements are satisfied. Proficiency may be demonstrated either by:

  • Holding a BSEE or BSCE degree from an accredited school

or by any combination of the following:

  • By completing, with a grade of B or better, one of the undergraduate courses listed;
  • By taking all of the regular exams (including the final) in one of the undergraduate courses listed and completing the exams with an average grade of B or better;
  • By completing an advanced course in the area and receiving a grade of B or better.


Qualifying Courses Undergraduate Courses Advanced Courses
Circuits ECE 2240 ECE 5710 or 5720
Electronics ECE 2280 or 3110 ECE 5201, 5202, 5710, or 5720
Electromagnetic Fields ECE 3300 ECE 5320, 5324, or 6310
Systems ECE 3500 or 3510 ECE 5510, 5520, or 5530


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Faculty Consultation

Students studying for the M.S. degree may petition the ECE Graduate Committee for approval to register for ECE 6980, Faculty Consultation, for the following reasons, although approval is not guaranteed:

  • A student needs 3 credit hours to bring their registration to 11 credit hours in a semester for which they are eligible for a full tuition waiver.
  • A student needs to maintain continuous registration and would otherwise not be in residency.
  • A student is not able to take regular courses to maintain residency during curricular practical training.

The petition form is available from t
he Graduate Coordinator and must be submitted before the beginning of the semester for which the student would like to register for ECE 6980.

Faculty Consultation is a CR/NC course and does not count toward the fulfillment of the degree requirements. A student cannot apply for Faculty Consultation if they have enough credits for graduation.


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Health Insurance

The Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty advises students to purchase health insurance. Health insurance coverage may be obtained through the University Student Health Insurance plan, a private plan, a spouse’s plan, an employer’s plan, or a parent’s plan (if the student qualifies).

University Student Health Insurance rates and benefits are available from the Student Health Insurance Coordinator. We recommend that students carefully review any plan they are considering to ensure that they will receive adequate coverage for unexpected medical expenses.

Visit Campus Coverage to compare insurance plans available to students.

Beginning Fall 2004, the Graduate School is offering subsidized health insurance to eligible teaching and research assistants through the Graduate Student Health Insurance Benefit Program. The graduate student health insurance plan is also available for all students who are not TAs or RAs at the student’s own expense without subsidy. Visit the Graduate School website for more information


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Leave of Absence

Students who do not plan to take classes during a fall or spring semester must complete a “Request for Leave of Absence” form and have it approved by the Department and the Graduate School in advance of the planned absence. Students who do not maintain continuous registration or make arrangements to take a leave of absence will be discharged from the program and will have to reapply for admission.


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Nonmatriculated Credit

Up to nine hours of nonmatriculated coursework may be included on a student’s program of study if approved by the supervisory committee and the Department Graduate Committee.


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Registration Requirements

The cumulative GPA on the courses listed on the program of study must be at least 3.0 with no grade lower than C-.

Full-time graduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering are required to register for nine semester hours each semester. All students who are on visas must be registered for at least nine credit hours in every semester (excluding summer), including their final semester, unless they receive permission from the Department Graduate Committee prior to the beginning of the semester. Students being supported by research or teaching assistantships who qualify for the Tuition Benefit Program must register for 9 credit hours each semester. See the Tuition Benefit section for further details.

Students must maintain continuous registration until the completion of their degree requirements by registering for at least three hours per semester (excluding summer semester). Students who do not maintain continuous registration and who have not been granted a Leave of Absence by the Graduate School are inactivated and will have to reapply for admission. See the Graduate Handbook for details.

Students must be registered for at least three semester hours during the semester of an exam, even if the exam takes place during summer semester. This includes the comprehensive exam, Ph.D. qualifying exam, and the thesis defense.


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Residency Requirement

Master’s students must complete at least 24 semester hours in resident study at the University of Utah.

Students studying for the Ph.D. or E.E. degree must spend at least one year of study in full-time academic work at the University of Utah (i.e., the student must enroll for a minimum of nine hours per semester for two consecutive semesters, summer optionally excluded).


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All international graduate students (except Master of Science Coursework Option and Project Option students) who have not earned a degree from an English-speaking country are required to take the SPEAK Test within the first semester of their studies in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Students participating in the International Teaching Assistant Workshop may use the SET test to fulfill this requirement as this test is required for the workshop. The department will deregister students who have not taken one of these tests by the first week of the second semester of study.

A passing score of 50 is required. A student who receives a lower score may be required to take English courses to improve their English-language skills.


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Special Studies

M.S. Coursework Option students are not permitted to take ECE 6950 (Special Studies).

M.S. Project Option students may take a minimum of 3 credit hours and a maximum of 6 credit hours of ECE 6950 (Special Studies). These hours will count toward the ECE required hours.

M.S. Thesis Option students are not permitted to take ECE 6950 (Special Studies).

Ph.D. students may take up to three semester hours of ECE 7950 (Special Studies) which will count toward the required 42 coursework hours.

Students must get permission from the Graduate Committee before taking any Special Studies courses. Permission is obtained by completing and filing the Special Studies Request form with the Graduate Coordinator. The general guidelines state that for every hour of credit, a course generally requires two hours of study per week outside of class. Therefore, it will be understood that for every credit hour of Special Studies, the student will be expected to spend three hours per week on the activity. Special studies courses from other departments cannot be used for the program of study. Special Studies may not include the material of any class taught by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.


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Transfer Credit

Graduate credit may be transferred from other institutions. Credits transferred from another institution may be used for only one degree. Credit cannot be used at the University of Utah if it was previously used for a degree at another institution. Up to six semester hours of transfer credit may be applied toward fulfillment of graduate degree requirements if they (1) are of high letter grade (A or B; “credit only” grades are unacceptable), (2) are recommended by the student’s supervisory committee, and (3) are taken within the prescribed time limit.


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Undergraduate Petition for Graduate Credit

University of Utah students may be allowed to select certain graduate-level courses (5000 level or above) taken while enrolled as an undergraduate student for graduate credit. Such graduate credit is limited to six semester hours or two courses. Credit used to earn the undergraduate degree may not be counted toward a graduate degree. Studen
ts should seek advance approval of the Dean of the Graduate School on an Undergraduate Petition for Graduate Credit form.