ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Graduate

2013-2014 Graduate Student Policy Manual - 4. M.S. and M.Eng. Programs

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree, which requires a thesis, and the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree, which requires a project and report, are the two Master's degree programs offered in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. The M.S. and M.Eng. degree programs are designed to meet the individual needs of graduate students. Degree preference varies among the employers. Some prefer thesis students (particularly for the demonstration of research and writing skills) while others seek the broad-based knowledge that results from more course work. See the table below for a summary of these degree options.

GENERAL RESTRICTIONS ON COURSES TO BE CHOSEN

The course requirements for the M.S. and M.Eng. Degree Programs differ. The following limitations must be met regardless of which degree option is chosen.

  • No more than 6 credit hours of 4000 level courses can be used for credit towards a Masters degree. The courses 4974 (Independent Study) and 4994 (Undergraduate Research) cannot be counted toward a graduate degree.
  • No more than 6 credit hours in total of 5984 (Special Studies) and 5974 (Independent Study) can be counted toward a Masters degree. No more than 3 of these credit hours may be for 5974. A 5984 course will count as a course only in the area from which the course is submitted. Additional Special Study courses will be approved if they pertain to new departmental courses currently awaiting final university approval. In all other cases, requests for extra 5984 credit must be submitted by completion and submittal of the ECE General Petition Form (form is available from the ECE Graduate Advising Office) to the Graduate Committee for advance approval.
  • All courses, except ECE 5974, must be taken on an A-F basis.
  • Students must complete any required remedial background requirements.

4.1 Masters in Electrical Engineering

Master of Science, Thesis, in EE


The M.S. degree program in EE requires 32 credit hours and the following specific requirements must be met:
  • At least 21 credit hours of senior and graduate-level coursework satisfying the following:
    • A minimum of 12 credit hours of ECE courses, and
    • At least 9 credit hours of electrical engineering courses, and
    • At least 6 credit hours consisting of out-of-area (see the tables that identify courses in the different areas of electrical engineering and computer engineering), and/or out-of-department courses, with no more than 3 credit hours below the 5000 level.
  • 9 credit hours of Thesis, ECE 5994, research.
  • 2 credit hours of Seminar, ECE 5944.
  • Also see the above general restrictions on courses to be taken.
  • An oral final examination consisting of a thesis defense must be passed. The exam must be scheduled through the Virginia Tech Graduate School at least two (2) weeks in advance using ESS.
  • The thesis must be submitted electronically (ETD) to the Graduate School within two (2) weeks of the oral final exam date.

Master of Engineering, Project and Report, in EE


The M.Eng. degree in EE requires 32 credit hours. In addition, the following specific requirements must be met:
  • At least 27 credit hours of senior and graduate-level coursework satisfying the following:
    • A minimum of 15 credit hours of ECE courses, and
    • At least 12 credit hours of electrical engineering courses, and
    • At least 6 credit hours consisting of out-of-area (see the tables that identify courses in the different areas of electrical engineering and computer engineering), and/or out-of-department courses, with no more than 3 credit hours below the 5000 level.
  • 3 credit hours of Project and Report, ECE 5904.
  • 2 credit hours of Seminar, ECE 5944.
  • Also see the above general restrictions on courses to be taken.
  • An oral final examination consisting of a presentation of the project and report topic to the Examining Committee. The exam must be scheduled through the Virginia Tech Graduate School at least two (2) weeks in advance using ESS.
Students who hold a Graduate Teaching Assistantship or participate in the UGG program may not select the M.Eng. degree program.

Electrical Engineering Area Courses


The areas of electrical engineering courses are determined by the course numbering scheme given in the following table. Only courses at or above the 4000-level may be listed on a graduate plan of study.

Circuits and General Electromagnetics Electronics Power Signals, Systems, and Control Communications
x0xx
x1xx
x2xx
x3xx
x4xx x7xx
x6xx


4.2 Masters in Computer Engineering

Master of Science, Thesis, in CPE


The M.S. degree in CPE requires 32 credit hours. In addition, the following specific requirements must be met:
  • At least 21 credit hours of senior and graduate-level coursework satisfying the following:
    • A minimum of 12 credit hours of ECE courses, and
    • At least 9 credit hours of computer engineering courses, and
    • At least 6 credit hours consisting of out-of-area (see the tables that identify courses in the different areas of electrical engineering and computer engineering), and/or out-of-department courses, with no more than 3 credit hours below the 5000 level.
  • 9 credit hours of Thesis, ECE 5994, research.
  • 2 credit hours of Seminar, ECE 5944.
  • Also see the above general restrictions on courses to be taken.
  • An oral final examination consisting of a thesis defense must be passed. The exam must be scheduled through the Virginia Tech Graduate School at least two (2) weeks in advance using ESS.
  • The thesis must be submitted electronically (ETD) to the Graduate School within two (2) weeks of the oral final exam date.

Master of Engineering, Project and Report, in CPE


The M.Eng. degree program in CPE requires 32 credit hours and the following specific requirements must be met:
  • At least 27 credit hours of senior and graduate-level coursework satisfying the following:
    • A minimum of 15 credit hours of ECE courses, and
    • At least 12 credit hours of computer engineering courses, and
    • At least 6 credit hours consisting of out-of-area (see the tables that identify courses in the different areas of electrical engineering and computer engineering), and/or out-of-department courses, with no more than 3 credit hours below the 5000 level.
  • 3 credit hours of Project and Report, ECE 5904.
  • 2 credit hours of Seminar, ECE 5944.
  • Also see the above general restrictions on courses to be taken.
  • An oral final examination consisting of a presentation of the project and report topic to the Examining Committee. The exam must be scheduled through the Virginia Tech Graduate School at least two (2) weeks in advance using ESS.
Students who hold a Graduate Teaching Assistantship or participate in the B.S./M.S. program may not select the M.Eng. degree program.

Computer Engineering Area Courses


The following table lists the courses associated with each of the four areas of computer engineering.

Computer Systems Networking Software & Machine Intelligence VLSI & Design Automation
ECE/CS 4504 ECE 4560 ECE 4524 ECE 4514
ECE 4520
ECE 4564
-- ECE 4540
ECE 4530 ECE 4570 -- --
ECE 5504 ECE 5560 ECE 5524 ECE 5505
ECE 5510 ECE 5565 ECE 5554 ECE 5506
ECE 5550G ECE 5566 ECE 5574G ECE 5514
ECE 5530 -- ECE 5575 ECE 5520
ECE 5544 -- ECE 5576 ECE 5534
ECE 5564 -- -- ECE 5545
ECE 6514 ECE/CS 6564 -- ECE 5546
-- ECE/CS 6570 -- --


4.3 Summary Of Masters Degree Requirements

Master of Science Master of Engineering
Maximum Thesis, ECE 5994, credits 9 0
Maximum Project and Report, ECE 5904, credits 0 3
Minimum course work credit hours1 21 (includes area breadth requirement) 27 (includes area breadth requirement)
Maximum 4XXX course work credit hours 6 6
Maximum 5974 and 5984 course work credit hours 6 6
Minimum Seminar, ECE 5944, credits 2 2
Mandatory Final Oral Exam Thesis Defense Project and Report Presentation


1) Note that there are specific course requirements for EE and CpE that must be met for the degree, not just this minimum. In addition, any background courses specified on your acceptance or by your advisory committee or Graduate Committee must be taken.

4.4 The Core Requirements for an M.S. Degree


In order to receive a master's degree and to ensure that the student's background in Electrical/Computer Engineering is reasonably broad, a candidate must successfully complete the area requirement of section 4.1 or 4.2. Note that an ECE 5984 course only counts in the area that approved the course (the "9" does not count as a separate area), so if the Computer Area approves a 5984 course, it will count as a "5" or Computer Area course.

4.5 Switching Degree Programs Between the M.S. and M.Eng.


To switch between Master's degree programs a Request for Degree Status Change form must be completed and submitted to the ECE Graduate Advising Office in 340 Whittemore Hall. The Request for Degree Status Change form must be submitted to the Graduate School two-weeks prior to the first day of classes for the semester the change of status is to be effective. A student is allowed to make this change only one time. Please consult the ECE Graduate Advising Office for additional details.

Switching from M.S. to M.Eng.


Prior to the completion of 21 credit hours, an M.S. student can request to switch to the M.Eng. degree program subject to the following restrictions.
  • Students that have been funded, or are currently funded, on ECE Graduate Teaching Assistantships cannot switch to the M.Eng. degree program.
  • Students that have been funded, or are funded, on Graduate Research Assistantships (and have never been funded on an ECE Graduate Teaching Assistantship) must have written approval from their faculty advisor (and, if different, their Graduate Research Assistantship sponsor) to switch to the M.Eng. degree program.
  • A complete Plan of Study must accompany the Request for Degree Status Change form.
  • Students that have completed 21 or more hours of coursework are not eligible to switch to the M.Eng. degree program.

Switching from M.Eng. to M.S.


A master's student enrolled in the M.Eng. Degree Program is allowed to change to the M.S. Degree Program. ECE approval will be granted upon completion of one semester, 9 course credit hours, and an overall GPA of 3.3 or higher. A completed Plan of Study Form must accompany the Request for Degree State Change Form.

4.6 The Advisory Committee


M.S. and M.Eng. students must have an advisory committee. The chair of the advisory committee serves as the faculty advisor and major professor, but is not necessarily the initially-appointed interim faculty advisor. The advisory committee will consist of three faculty members (including the faculty advisor) with academic rank of Assistant Professor or higher and this committee is finalized at the time the plan of study is submitted to the ECE Graduate Counselor. At least two members of this committee must be from the ECE Department.

A non-ECE Virginia Tech faculty member in higher education or industry may serve as an extra committee member and is permissible by completion and submittal of the Department Graduate Program Faculty and Graduate Advisory Committee Members form (which replaces the form called "Registration of Committee Members Other Than Virginia Tech Program Faculty") to the ECE Graduate Advising Office. The form must be submitted simultaneously with the Plan of Study Form. Once approved by ECE, the form will be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School for university approval. Participation in an advisory committee implies that, (a) the faculty member is willing to meet periodically with the advisee for the purpose of offering guidance and assistance in the thesis or project and report, and (b) the faculty member will be available for the Final Examination within reasonable bounds of a proposed target date.

Once a student's advisory committee has been constituted and approved by the Graduate School, it may be revised only with the full concurrence of all committee members, both new and old. The Graduate School's "Change of Committee/Advisor" form is required to request any change in membership. The form must be signed by each member, new and old, and submitted to the ECE Graduate Counselor. The examining committee is usually the same as the advisory committee, but may be different if deemed necessary by the advisory committee.

4.7 The Plan of Study


ECE policy requires that an M.S. and M.Eng. completed Plan of Study be submitted prior to 1 April for students entering the previous fall semester and prior to 1 Novermber for students entering the previous spring semester. Students who have not submitted their Plans of Study by these deadlines will have a hold placed on their university academic record.

A Plan of Study is a contract detailing the minimum required course work. It is important to note that all courses taken will appear on the Virginia Tech graduate transcript, but will not necessarily be listed on the plan of study. Students must receive at least a C- grade on courses shown on the plan of study as well as a 3.0 cumulative GPA on the plan of study and on the graduate transcript (overall GPA). Pass/Fail courses, with the exception of ECE 5974, are not permitted on the plan of study.

Although thesis students may use ECE 5994 to fill out the credit hour load to 12 hours per semester, M.S. (thesis) students will be credited with a maximum of 9 hours total of 5994 on their plans of study. Students are expected to perform research with the advisor for the 5994 credit.

The student should complete and submit the electronic ECE Plan of Study Form, available at the ECE Graduate Student Form web site, to your ECE Graduate Academic Advisor for processing. The form requires electronic signatures of the student's advisory committee. After necessary changes (if any) are made, the plan will be entered electronically, approved by ECE and submitted to the Graduate School for final approval. Once entered, the plan of study can be viewed via Hokie Spa by the student and their faculty advisor.

Deviations from the originally filed plan of study should be approved by the student's advisory committee, and must satisfy all ECE and university requirements. Plan changes are accumulated and filed on a Graduate School's Form "Request for Plan of Study Changes" early in the last semester of enrollment in coursework.

Coursework Justification


The Plan of Study should consist of graduate coursework not older than five years at the time of approval by the Graduate School. A request for coursework taken prior to the five year limitation period can be justified with approval of the Graduate School's "Course Justification Request" form. (see the Graduate Catalog for details). The Graduate School's "Course Justification Request" form must be submitted to the ECE Graduate Counselor simultaneously with the Graduate School's "Request to Admit Candidate to Final Examination" form. The revalidation of courses requires a review of the student's knowledge on course material by the committee or a determination of the currency of the material to the current degree being obtained.

Transfer Courses


Students may transfer 50% of graduate coursework taken at other Virginia institutions and these courses may be listed on their plan of study. A maximum of 6 course credit hours, graduate coursework, may transfer from institutions outside of Virginia for students not using the transfer of courses from Virginia institutions. Approved transfer courses are listed on the plan of study, with approval of the advisory committee, under the appropriate transfer course section. Senior level courses are non-transferable so therefore not permitted to be listed on a student's Plan of Study.

4.8 Deviations from Minimum Requirements


Any deviations from the specified minimum requirements should be approved by the ECE Graduate Committee for consideration in advance. The student should document the reason(s) why the proposed deviations from the minimum requirements are more desirable than one satisfying the minimum standards and have the approval of the advisory committee for these deviations. This documentation is not required for plans that exceed the minimum requirements. Deviation from the minimum requirements should not be expected to be approved.

4.9 M.S. and M.Eng. Oral Final Exam


All students must schedule a final exam with the Graduate School to satisfy university requirements. The exam must be scheduled at least two (2) weeks in advance via ESS. There are two statuses in which a student can hold their oral final exam and they are:
  1. Regular Status, students enroll for three (3) or more credit hours for semester/session scheduling the oral final exam. Students in this status can hold the oral final exam any date prior to the deadline set forth by the Virginia Tech Graduate School.
  2. Defending Student Status, this status is for enrollment of one (1) credit hour and exam must be held within the first fifteen days of the semester/session holding the oral final exam.
Defending under the Defending Student Status requires completion of the Graduate School's "Request for Defending Student Status" form. The Defending Student Status Form must be submitted directly to the Graduate School two (2) weeks prior to the first day of class for the semester or session in which the oral defense is to be scheduled. The Graduate School will add the one-credit hour Defending Student Status course to the student's class schedule once their form is in receipt. Therefore, students cannot add this course via the Hokie Spa add/drop system.

4.10 M.S., Thesis (ECE 5994)


Full-time M.S. students must take 12 to 18 hours of credit each semester. An M.S. student may use ECE 5994 to fill out the semester schedule to the required 12 hours. However, no more than 9 hours of ECE 5994 will be credited to a plan of study. Students must enroll in Thesis by the CRN number assigned to their Interim Faculty Advisor or Faculty Advisor. Students are required to inform the faculty of enrollment in their CRN number for ECE 5994 and the total number of credit hours enrolled. Equivalent Credit (EQ) grades are earned and students not fulfilling thesis obligations can be awarded a No Grade (NG) that would affect the overall GPA.

4.11 The Thesis


The thesis should be submitted to the advisory committee in hard copy, unless the committee requests another form.

The dissertation must be submitted electronically (ETD) to the Graduate School within two (2) weeks of the oral final exam date.

4.12 Flowchart for the M.S. and M.Eng. Degree Programs

Flowchart overview for M.S. Degree
Flowchart overview for M.Eng. Degree