ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Graduate

In-Progress 2013-2014 Graduate Student Policy Manual - 2. Admissions

2.1 Degrees Available


The department offers degree programs leading to the Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in both electrical engineering and computer engineering. Several areas of research concentration are possible under each degree. The M.S. and M.Eng. degree programs are discussed in Chapter 4; and the direct-Ph.D. and Ph.D. degree programs are outlined in Chapter 5.

2.2 Admissions


Admission to these graduate degree programs requires the submission of the following materials:
  • Completion of the on-line application found at the Graduate School,
  • An up-to-date, electronic copy of all official transcript(s) must be submitted with the on-line application; please do not mail your official transcripts to the Graduate School until you have received an offer of admission from Virginia Tech,
  • Three (3) on-line letters of recommendation from people familiar with the student's academic and/or work background,
  • The Graduate Record Exam (the GRE general test including the verbal, quantitative, and writing) is required of all applicants, (an exception to this requirement is that the GRE is not required for Virginia Tech undergraduate students earning a B.S. degree in ECE with a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their last 60 hours),
  • The TOEFL or IELTS exam is required for applicants not earning a degree from an accredited university where English is the language of instruction, and
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $65.00.
After all completed application materials are received, the ECE Graduate Admissions Officer can make recommendations to the Virginia Tech Graduate School concerning admission. Departmental guidelines for making these recommendations are detailed in the next section.

Deadlines


For international students the deadlines for all application materials are the following:
  • For fall semester all application materials must be submitted by December 31, and
  • For spring semester all application materials must be submitted by September 1.
All applicants who have not earned a bachelors or masters degree from an accredited university where English is the language of instruction, are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Exam as well as the GRE. Their applications will not be acted upon until both the TOEFL and the GRE test scores have been received.

For domestic students (students currently studying in the U.S.) who want to be considered for departmental funding, the deadlines for all application materials are the following:
  • For fall semester all application materials must be submitted by December 31, and
  • For spring semester all application materials must be submitted by September 1.
For domestic students (students currently studying in the U.S.) who do not want to be considered for departmental funding, the deadlines for all application materials are the following:
  • For fall semester all application materials must be submitted by July 1, and
  • For spring semester all application materials must be submitted by December 1.
All applications and materials must be submitted by these dates for full consideration. Please note that any international applications not completed by these deadlines cannot be considered for admission and will automatically be declined.

Recommended Test Scores


The following test scores are recommended scores for students applying for admission to ECE graduate degree programs; however, they are not the minimum scores required for admission. The department considers the complete student's application in making admissions decisions.

GRE scores (old/revised) TOEFL and IELTS scores
  • Verbal Score 500/153
  • Quantitative Score 725/157
  • Writing Score 4.5

  • TOEFL Internet-based Total 96-97
  • TOEFL Computer-based Total 243
  • TOEFL Paper-based Total 590-593
  • IELTS Band Total 7.5

Deferral and Reconsideration


ECE does not grant deferrals or reconsider applications for admission. Please note the following:
  • If you are accepted and want to defer, you must complete a new electronic application for the semester and year you wish to enroll. Acceptance is not guaranteed as your application will be reconsidered for admission.
  • If you were declined, and wish for your application to be reconsidered, you must complete a new electronic application and be re-evaluated for admission.
Original supplemental materials are maintained within the ECE Graduate Admissions and Recruiting Office, 340-D Whittemore Hall, for one year. It is advisable to submit any updated documents to ECE when reapplying for admission. Deferrals or reconsiderations will be subject to the admission process for the requested semester.

Students with Non-EE/CPE Backgrounds (or switching between EE and CPE)


Students holding or expecting a bachelors degree in a curriculum other than electrical or computer engineering (for the corresponding graduate degree) are handled on an individual basis. GPA requirements for admission status are generally higher than for electrical and computer engineering graduates. (GPA refers to grade point average)

Students from programs such as physics, mathematics, computer science, engineering (other than electrical or computer), and other programs usually lack background in areas of work required of electrical and computer engineering students.

Each student's remedial course requirements must be assessed on an individual basis. The exact nature of courses which a student may need should be decided by the student and his or her interim advisor. Students crossing from CPE to EE or EE to CPE may also require additional undergraduate (or MS level) course work. Typical needs are the following:


Bachelor's Degree Background
Typical Required Course Work Groups
(See tables below for courses related to each group.)
EE CPE
Non-ECE (Engineering) B & C C
Physics C C
Mathematics B & C C
Computer Science A (less Stat 4714), B, & C A (less Stat 4714) & C
Non-Engineering, Non-Physics, Non-Math A, B, & C A & C

Background courses will not apply toward the EE/CPE graduate degree. However, these courses, if taken at Virginia Tech, will be counted by the Graduate School toward a student's overall grade point average (GPA). These courses may be taken concurrently with graduate level EE/CPE courses, assuming prerequisites are met.

Students seeking a graduate degree in ECE with a bachelors degree in a discipline other than EE or CPE (or changing from EE to CPE or CPE to EE) should have or obtain a background equivalent to the following Virginia Tech undergraduate courses.

EE CPE
Group A: PHYS 2305-2306, MATH 2214, MATH 2224,
MATH 2534 (for CPE), STAT 4714 (for EE)
Group B: ECE 3105, EM Fields I No Requirement
Group C: ECE 2504, Computer Engr
ECE 2534, Micro. Sys. Design
ECE 2704, Signals & Systems
ECE 3204, Analog Electronics

Three (3) of the following:
ECE 3106, EM Fields II
ECE 3304, Power
ECE 3614, Communications
ECE 3704, Continuous & Discrete Systems
ECE 2204, Electronics I
ECE 2500, Computer Organization
ECE 2504, Computer Engineering
ECE 2534, Micro. Sys. Design
ECE 2574, Data Struct
ECE 2704, Signals & Systems
ECE 3504, Dig. Design I
ECE 3574, Software Engr

2.3 Graduate Student Status

Ph.D. Programs


The applicant will have received the masters degree from an accredited (or Virginia Tech technically recognized) college or university. Applicants must apply for the Ph.D. Program through the on-line Graduate School Application Form.
  • An applicant will rank high in his or her class academically (U.S. standard: GPA 3.5 or above on work beyond the bachelors as computed by Virginia Tech). Required standardized test scores may also be used in the admission process. The GRE general test and TOEFL (for International students) test are required for admission.
  • The applicant must indicate a field of specialization and discuss potential area(s) of interest in their statement of purpose. Admission to the Ph.D. program requires that ECE faculty must be willing to advise the applicant in their proposed research area(s).
  • The decision of acceptance into a Ph.D. Program will be determined by the ECE Admission Officers typically with recommendation on behalf of the applicant from the research area in pursuit.
  • A student who has not written a thesis or an equivalent research paper may be considered for admission into the Ph.D. program upon the recommendations of at least three faculty members who can comment on the student's research and writing abilities. However, it should be noted that generally a M.S., thesis, is preferred.

Direct-Ph.D Programs


A highly qualified applicant with a bachelors (or equivalent) degree, without an M.S. degree, can apply for the Ph.D. Program through the on-line Graduate School Application Form for the joint MS/Ph.D. direct-Ph.D. Program. Such students generally shall have a bachelor's degree in electrical/computer engineering from a peer university, or from an acceptable institution of higher learning that is recognized by the department.
  • Direct entry into the Ph.D. program shall be contingent upon an earned GPA of 3.5 or higher over the last 60 course credit hours of his/her undergraduate degree.
  • The direct-Ph.D. applicant is advised to establish a relationship with at least one faculty member of the department who agrees to be the student's dissertation advisor.
  • The decision to accept direct entry into the direct-Ph.D. program shall be made by the ECE Graduate Admission Officers with recommendation on behalf of the faculty from the research area in pursuit.
  • The applicant must indicate a field of specialization and be acceptable to the Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty within this field.
  1. Students who are currently enrolled in the M.S. or M.Eng. Programs at Virginia Tech, and desire to continue their studies toward a Ph.D. degree, must apply for the Ph.D. Program through the on-line Graduate School Application Form by the required departmental deadline for semester/year applying. This request must be accompanied by information as follows:
    1. A letter from an ECE faculty member testifying to the student's ability to perform independent research. This letter must also include a brief summary of the student's past academic performance (course work, examinations, etc.)

    2. A letter from the student with a discussion of career goals and proposed area of study.

    3. A letter from the student's MS advisor (if different from the member above) commenting on the student's performance and potential in the Ph.D. program.

  2. A student is expected to have at least a 3.5 GPA on the masters degree at Virginia Tech. Acceptance is not automatic; the willingness of a faculty member to be the student's Ph.D. advisor is required. The Admission Officers determine acceptance for students continuing their graduate studies at Virginia Tech based on academic credentials and the perceived ability to perform research.

Masters of Science (M.S.), Thesis


To be considered for the M.S. degree program, students should meet the following admission standards. Students holding or expecting a bachelors degree from an ABET accredited engineering school should have a minimum GPA of 3.3 for the last 60 course credit hours (approximately last 2 years), as it appears on the transcript. For students from non-ABET programs, the minimum GPA is 3.8 or above, depending on the program. Additional restrictions may apply based on available funding, space within the program, compatibility with program objectives, or faculty advising.

If circumstances warrant an exception, the Admissions Officers may consider an admission status which deviates from the above policy. Factors which enter into such decisions include the institution where the student studied, the specific courses taken and grades earned (e.g., grades in technical courses may be weighted more heavily), work experience in industry or government laboratories, and recommendations from professors and/or work supervisors.

Masters of Engineering (M.Eng.), Project and Report


To be considered for the M.Eng. degree program, students should meet the following admission standards. Students holding or expecting a bachelors degree from an ABET accredited engineering school should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the last 60 course credit hours (approximately last 2 years), as it appears on the transcript. For students from non-ABET programs, the minimum GPA is 3.5 or above, depending on the program. Additional restrictions may apply based on available funding, space within the program, compatibility with program objectives, or faculty advising.

If circumstances warrant an exception, the Admissions Officers may consider an admission status which deviates from the above policy. Factors which enter into such decisions include the institution where the student studied, the specific courses taken and grades earned (e.g., grades in technical courses may be weighted more heavily), work experience in industry or government laboratories, and recommendations from professors and/or work supervisors.

Commonwealth Campus Program


The Commonwealth Campus Program is for individuals that:
  1. Are currently employed and would like to take courses upon advisement of employer, or
  2. Do not have a high enough undergraduate GPA to qualify for regular admission.
The Commonwealth Campus Program is administered by the University. The application deadline for this program is two weeks prior to semester requesting entrance. Upon completion of 9 to 12 credit hours in the Commonwealth Campus Program, students may apply for Regular Admission in EE or CPE. The maximum enrollment of course credit hours per semester is 6 and no more than 12 may be taken under the Commonwealth Campus Program.

For more information regarding the Commonwealth Campus Program, please visit the following site: http://grads.vt.edu/academics/programs/commonwealth_campus_program.html.

Dual Student Status


Seniors within one semester of graduation, with an overall GPA of at least 3.5, may take graduate courses to satisfy an advanced degree program requirements as dual registrants if accepted to the graduate program (refer to the Graduate Catalog for additional details). The student must complete the Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree and Course Designation form (available from the Graduate School web site) in advance of taking the courses. The student may not receive both graduate and undergraduate credit for the same course. Once the B.S. degree is completed, the student status will automatically change from dual to regular masters.

Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree Program


The Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate (UGG) Degree program allows advanced undergraduate students the opportunity to earn both a B.S. degree from their home department and an ECE M.S. or Ph.D. degree. The advantage of the program is that it allows enrolled students to double-count up to 12 course credit hours (with the restrictions listed below) toward both degrees. Beginning fall semester 2010, this program replaces the Five-Year Bachelor/Master's Degree (Honors) Program.

Virginia Tech undergraduate students who have a minimum GPA of 3.5 or better on their last 60 credit hours of course work, and an overall GPA of 3.3 or better on all undergraduate work, may apply for admission to the Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree program and the GRE will be waived. Students with less than a 3.5 in their last 60, but with a 3.3 or better overall, may also apply but will be required to take the GRE. The scores required in order to be considered for admission are 550 (Verbal) and 750 (Quantitative).

A student may enter the program within the 12 month time period prior to the expected completion date of their B.S. degree. Typically a student should apply to the program the semester prior to this time period. Once accepted to the program, and during the last 12 months of their undergraduate program, students may count a maximum of 12 credit hours of course work toward both the B.S. and graduate degrees.

The restrictions on these double-counted courses are that a maximum of 6 credit hours can be at the 4000 level and these courses cannot be required for the undergraduate degree (e.g., ECE 4534 for a CPE major, or a course that is used to satisfy the capstone design credit for an EE major, or any non-elective, 4000-level course required by the student’s major). The remainder of the double-counted courses must be at the 5000-level or higher. To count these courses toward the graduate degree, the courses must be taken for an A-F grade, and the student must obtain a B or higher in each course.

To apply for the Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree program an ECE graduate faculty member must have agreed to serve as faculty advisor for the student’s graduate degree. The student should work with their advisor to develop a Research Statement to be submitted as their Statement of Purpose with their graduate application. Students must submit at least two letters of recommendation with their graduate application; typically these letters are from their undergraduate advisor and their proposed faculty advisor. Students applying for this program are not required to take the GRE for admission.

Students admitted to the program must pursue the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in EE or CpE and are not eligible for the M.Eng. degree. Students pursuing a Ph.D. must apply to the direct-Ph.D. program. Students enrolled in the program must meet all the requirements for the graduate degree as stated in the ECE Graduate Student Policy Manual effective the semester the student enters the graduate program. Once the B.S. degree is completed, students may remain at the Blacksburg campus to complete their graduate degree or transfer to the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center to enroll in the National Capital Region campus consortium. Students enrolled in the UGG program must maintain continuous, full-time status; students that enroll part-time or take a leave of absence during the fall or spring semesters will be unable to double-count coursework for their graduate degree.

To apply for this program students should use the electronic Graduate School Application Form and request admissions into the Masters of Science or direct-PhD for the semester in which they will begin graduate studies. Students should complete the Graduate School’s Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree Program Form and submit it to the ECE Graduate Admissions and Recruiting Office. The recommended dates for submitting these forms are May 1 for students applying for fall semester and October 1 for spring semester admissions. Any updates to this form must be submitted by the end of the semester prior to when the student will begin their graduate program.

Exchange (Non-Degree) Status


Students often come to Virginia Tech to take classes that will be applied toward a degree at another institution. These students are typically enrolled in the equivalent of the UGG program at their home institution. Exchange students in this category may generally take graduate classes if they have completed the 4th year of the equivalent UGG program. A change of status to regular graduate student status will only be considered for students that are currently in the final year of their extended UGG equivalent program. The GRE general test is required for this change of status request. In addition, no more than 6 credit hours of the classes applied toward the degree at the home institution may be used toward a graduate masters degree in ECE at Virginia Tech (a final transcript confirming the courses used will be required before a graduation application may be processed). Credits earned while on non-degree status normally may be applied toward fulfillment of degree requirements, if the status is changed to a degree status and the courses meet the 6-hour limit of courses used at the home institution.