Electrical & Computer Engineering

Master's Degree

The Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering has three options (coursework, project, and thesis) to match a student’s various career and professional goals. Students admitted to the MS Program must choose one option to complete for graduation.




The coursework option does not contain research or thesis requirements and instead fills the credit requirement with additional coursework. This track is ideal for students pursuing a Master’s degree for the advantage of enrolling in additional upper-level coursework.

The project option is ideal for students who want to conduct a research project without writing and defending an entire thesis. Students may also choose whether to perform their research and earn credits on-campus or through an industry project.


The thesis option is the most traditional Master’s degree track in which a student will perform research, develop and write a thesis, and defend their ideas in a dissertation. This track is ideal for students wishing to continue for a Ph.D. degree.


The coursework option does not contain research or thesis requirements and instead fills the credit requirement with additional coursework. This track is ideal for students pursuing a Master’s degree for the advantage of enrolling in additional upper-level coursework.


The project option is ideal for students who want to conduct a research project without writing and defending an entire thesis. Students may also choose whether to perform their research and earn credits on-campus or through an industry project.



The thesis option is the most traditional Master’s degree track in which a student will perform research, develop and write a thesis, and defend their ideas in a dissertation. This track is ideal for students wishing to continue for a Ph.D. degree.

Prior to applying for graduation, a student must meet with the Graduate Student Coordinator to review their graduate file and ensure that all degree requirements (Program of Study Coursework, Final Exam Requirement, etc.) are satisfied.

Degree Requirements

Program of Study

A student must meet with the Graduate Student Coordinator and complete the Program of Study Form prior to their final semester of study. After it is approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies it will be submitted to the Graduate School for approval.


The Program of Study must meet the Graduate School requirement of 30 credit hours of graduate coursework:

  • Required courses for EE or CE track
  • 18 Advanced ECE (6000- level and above) credit hours including final exam requirement
    • Coursework Option: Course taken from the Coursework Final Exam Course List – see final exam requirement section
    • Project Option: 3-6 credits of ECE 6950 Special Study – see MS Project page
    • Thesis Option: 10 credits of ECE 6970 Thesis Research is required – up to 10 credits of Thesis Research can count towards Advanced ECE credit, registration for additional credits cannot count on a MS Program of Study.

Allied Courses

In addition to the required 18 Advanced ECE credit requirement, students may complete additional courses for allied credit. Allied courses include:

  • ECE 5000- level courses
  • ECE 5960/6960-011 TA Training
  • ECE 6900/6910 Graduate Seminar (for EE track)
  • ECE 7951 Teaching Engineering
  • ECE 7952 Education Project
  • Allied department 5000-7000- level courses

Allied Departments

  • ANAT – Neurobiology and Anatomy
  • ASTR – Astronomy
  • ATMOS – Atmospheric Sciences
  • BIO C – Biochemistry
  • BIOL – Biology
  • BLCHM – Biological chemistry
  • BME – Biomedical Engineering
  • BMI – Biomedical Informatics
  • CH EN – Chemical Engineering
  • CHEM – Chemistry
  • COMP – Computing
  • CS – Computer Science
  • CTLE – Center for Teaching Excellence
  • CVEEN – Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • ENGIN – Engineering
  • GEO – Geology and Geophysics
  • MATH – Mathematics
  • MBIOL – Molecular Biology
  • ME EN – Mechanical Engineering
  • MET E – Metallurgical Engineering
  • MG EN – Mining Engineering
  • MSE – Materials Science and Engineering
  • MST – Master of Science and Technology
  • NEUSC – Neuroscience
  • NSURG – Neurosurgery
  • NUCL – Nuclear Engineering
  • PHYS – Physics
  • RDLGY – Radiology
  • ROBOT – Robotics

Required Track Courses

Electrical Engineering Track (EE)

ECE 6900 Graduate Seminar I (1.0) – Fall
ECE 6910 Graduate Seminar II (1.0)
– Spring

The graduate seminar credits can be completed in any order within a student’s first academic year in the program. Remote learning only students are not required to complete graduate seminar.

Computer Engineering Track (CE)

ECE 6710 Digital VLSI Design (4.0) – Fall
ECE 6810 Computer Architecture (3.0) – Fall
Courses from CE Restricted Elective List*Various

*Number of courses based on degree option: Coursework – 4 courses; Project – 3 courses; Thesis – 2 courses

CE Restricted Elective List

Students who completed their undergraduate degree at the University of Utah that may have already completed required and/or CE restricted elective courses at the 5000- level will not be required to retake the same class again. They should meet with the Graduate Student Coordinator to make a note that the requirement has been fulfilled, even if the credits are unable to transfer onto the MS Program of Study and count towards the 30 credits for degree completion.

  • CS 6110 – Software Verification
  • CS 6140 – Data Mining
  • CS 6150 – Advanced Algorithms
  • CS 6235 – Program. Many-Core Architecture
  • CS 6300 – Artificial Intelligence*
  • CS 6350 – Machine Learning*
  • CS 6353 – Deep Learning*
  • CS 6450 – Distributed Systems
  • CS 6460 – Operating Systems
  • CS 6470 – Comp. Principles & Techniques
  • CS 6475 – Advanced Compilers
  • CS 6480 – Advanced Computer Networks
  • CS 7460 – Distributed Operating Systems
  • ECE 5325 – Wireless Comm Systems
  • ECE 5520 – Digital Communication Systems
  • ECE 6530 – Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 6531 – Adv. Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 6580 – Implementation of DSP Systems
  • CS/ECE 6720 – Analog Integrated Circuit Design
  • CS/ECE 6740 – CAD of Digital Circuits
  • CS/ECE 6745 – Test & Verif of Digital Circuits
  • CS/ECE 6750 – Synth & Verif Async VLSI Systems
  • CS/ECE 6770 – Adv. Digital VLSI Systems Design
  • CS/ECE 6780 – Embedded System Design
  • CS/ECE 6785 – Adv. Embedded Systems
  • CS/ECE 6830 – VLSI Architecture
  • CS/ECE 7810 – Adv. Architecture
  • CS/ECE 7820 – Parallel Architecture

*As CS 6300/6350/6353 are similar in content, only one will be accepted on a Computer Engineering track student’s Program of Study to count towards the CE Restricted Elective requirement.

Additional Criteria

  • All coursework is to be completed within 4 consecutive calendar years.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 on coursework listed on the program of study with no grade lower than C- is required for graduation. Courses cannot be removed from a transcript after they are taken. If a student receives a grade lower than C- in a course listed on the Program of Study they must take a different course to meet the 30 credit requirement or repeat that same course and receive a higher grade, if the course is required for their track.
    • Students who receive an “Incomplete” grade in a class must complete the class by the following semester, even if the semester is the summer semester.
  • Coursework cannot be used for more than one degree.
  • Cross-listed courses must be registered through the ECE course numbers.
    • A course taken for 5000-level credit cannot be taken again for 6000-level credit.
    • Where an ECE 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.

MS students should graduate in the semester in which 30 hours of coursework are completed. All students who are on visas must be registered for at least 9 credit hours of coursework in every semester (excluding summer) unless they receive permission from the Department Graduate Committee prior to the beginning of the semester. When thesis students defend their thesis they can qualify for the following exceptions:

  • Self-funded domestic students: 1 credit
  • International students: 3 credits per ISSS policy

Master's Supervisory Committee

A student’s supervisory committee should be selected by the second semester of study (or third for part-time MS students). They will work to approve the student’s graduate Program of Study and any special exceptions to coursework that must be made. The MS supervisory committee consists of a minimum of three members – at least two of the committee members must meet the committee member criteria. After the beginning of a student’s 2nd semester of study, if a committee has not been indicated the Graduate Student Coordinator will assign a faculty default committee.

MS students completing the non-thesis degree option (Coursework and Project) will be placed with the default non-thesis supervisory committee based on their area of emphasis. Students who are choose the project option will have their project faculty supervisor as the chair and the other committee members will be selected from the applicable area of emphasis non-thesis supervisory committee.

MS students completing a thesis will have their faculty advisor as the committee chair and will need to find two other members who meet the committee member criteria.

Committee Roles and Criteria

A student’s MS faculty advisor is the committee chair. The chair* and majority of the committee (2 out of 3 committee members) need to be:

  1. University of Utah Faculty
  2. Electrical and Computer Engineering (as Academic Home Department)
  3. Tenure-Line

A list of faculty and their classifications can be verified on the OBIA Faculty Information page. If a committee member does not meet all three of these requirements, they are considered an Outside Committee Member.

A MS Supervisory Committee is permitted to have one Outside Committee Member. If the Outside Committee Member is not University of Utah faculty, the student must request and submit their Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a Justification Letter for approval by the Graduate Committee. For more information, read Rules for Outside Member Necessities.

Any exceptions to these criteria must be submitted as a petition and are not guaranteed approval by the Dean of the Graduate School.

*Tenure-line faculty outside of the ECE Department may supervise a student, but the student must have a tenure-line ECE faculty member serve as co-chair.


The department has an approved list of 6000-7000 level courses that incorporate either an oral presentation or a written report as a required component of the class (see list below). Students must receive a grade of a B or higher in an approved course to fulfill requirement.

Approved Course List

  • ECE 6261 – Phys. Theory of Semiconductor Devices
  • ECE 6322 – Microwave Engineering I
  • ECE 6324 – Antenna Theory and Design
  • ECE 6331 – Optics for Energy
  • ECE 6340 – App. Comp. EM w/ Self-Written Codes
  • ECE 6350 – Comp. EM w/ Commercial Solvers
  • ECE 6420 – Fourier Optics and Holography
  • ECE 6530 – Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 6532 – Digital Image Processing
  • ECE 6540 – Estimation Theory
  • ECE 6590 – Software Radio
  • ECE 6654 – Neural Engineering & NeuroRobotics
  • ECE 6670 – Control of Electric Motors
  • ECE 6671 – Electric Generators
  • ECE 6710 – Digital VLSI Design
  • ECE 6720 – Fund. Analog Integrated Circuit Design
  • ECE 6745 – Testing & Verification of Digital Circuits
  • ECE 6760 – Modeling & Analysis Biological Networks
  • ECE 6960 – Spec. Topics: Biomedical Micro Devices
  • ECE 6960 – Spec. Topics: Comp. Photography
  • ECE 6960 – Spec. Topics: Robotic Millisystems


Students who have chosen the project option will fulfill the final exam requirement through a formal report and/or presentation at the completion of their project, as determined by their supervisory committee chair and/or industry project advisor.


  1. Complete the final report per your advisor’s requirements (If your supervisor is not ECE faculty, they should discuss your project performance with your supervisory committee chair so that an appropriate grade can be entered).
  2. Complete the Project Final Report Form
  3. Submit the form to the Graduate Student Coordinator by the last day of the semester to be entered into your student file.


  • Written Report (generally expected): 10-page summary of your research and project. Publication is encouraged but not required.
  • Presentation (optional): 5-10 minute oral presentation before a class or small lab meeting, demonstrating your project mastery.

For details on enrolling in Project credits and choosing a faculty advisor, please refer to the MS Project Option page.


Students should use the formatting requested by their supervisory committee/chair when writing and organizing their work. If no specific formats are provided or suggested, students are recommended to use the department’s for outlines and additional helps when preparing their written reports and oral presentations.

Throughout their thesis preparation students should regularly refer to the following links:

Minimum Credit for Defending

With tuition benefits 9 credits
Non-funded domestic student 1 credit
Non-funded international student 3 credits


MS candidates should complete and submit their thesis proposal to their supervisory committee no later than the 3rd semester of study.

The proposal is 10 pages written in an NSF or NIH format with a recommended outline available on the Graduate Writing Resources page (please defer to your supervisory committee for alternative paper structures).

MS students are not required to complete an oral presentation for their proposal unless their supervisory committee requests it.

Thesis Submission (Written)

All students must understand that they are responsible for ensuring that the submitted thesis meets the requirements of the Graduate School Handbook for Theses and Dissertations. Theses without proper formatting will be rejected.

Step Deadline
1. Students will complete their thesis in collaboration with their supervisory chair. After the student has verified that they and their paper are ready to be presented they will email the paper to their supervisory committee.

2. The student must upload their thesis for preliminary review to the Thesis Office by semester target dates.

Preferred: 3rd Semester
Final: 5th Semester
3. After a week, if there are no immediate or major objections to student’s paper: the student will email their committee with several dates/times, at least 2 weeks in the future, to determine when would be best for the majority of the committee to participate. (Please note that MS defenses take 1.5-2 hours) 1 week after sending paper to committee
4. Once an appropriate date/time has been found, the student will notify the Graduate Student Coordinator.

5. The Graduate Student Coordinator will send out an event invite to the supervisory committee with the information for the conference room and/or Zoom room link.

2 weeks before the defense date

Thesis Defense (Presentation)

The 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 department. The committee may request further work from the candidate before a final decision is made.

The Defense
Public Presentation 1. On the day of the exam, the student will arrive 10 min. early to the conference room/Zoom link complete setup and verify that sound and video are functional.
2. Once a majority of committee have arrived by the designated time, the student will begin their proposal presentation. If the proposal is broadcast over Zoom, the Graduate Student Coordinator will begin recording.
3. At the end of the presentation, the student will answer questions from the public (supervisory committee, guests invited by the student, etc.)
Private Presentation 4. After finishing the public presentation and question session the Graduate Student Coordinator will stop the recording and additional guests will be asked to leave. The student will remain to answer additional questions from the supervisory committee.
Supervisory Committee Deliberation 5. The student will be asked to leave the room/the Graduate Student Coordinator will place the student in a private Zoom room. The supervisory committee will then deliberate as to whether the student has either passed, failed, must make revisions and/or retry.
Results 6.The student will be invited to re-join the supervisory committee and will receive the results of their proposal.

After the defense, the Graduate Student Coordinator will work with the student’s supervisory committee to process the paperwork and the student will need to:

If a student does not defend/submit their thesis by the semester target date, then they may need to re-apply for graduation the following semester as the Thesis Office cannot guarantee that it will be reviewed and released in time for graduation deadlines.

Resources, Links, & Forms

Safety & 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. 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. Read a detailed listing of University Resources for campus safety.

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 Counseling Center, the Wellness Center, and the Women’s Resource Center. Counselors and advocates in these centers can help guide you to other resources to address a range of issues, including substance abuse and addiction.