Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz offers M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in the following areas:

  • Electronic Circuits and Energy Systems
  • Photonics and Electronic Devices
  • Robotics, Control, and Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Signals, Image Processing, and Communications
Core Areas/Approved Courses

Electronic Circuits and Energy Systems

Photonics and Electronic Devices

Robotics, Controls, and Cyber-Physical Systems

Signals​, Image Processing, and Communications

Ph.D. Requirements

Course Requirements

Ph.D. students are required to take 55 credits which must consist of:

  • At least 20 credits in one of the four core areas.

  • At least 30 of the total 55 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses.

  • At most 10 credits of independent study (ECE 297, ECE 299) will be counted toward ECE course requirements.

  • A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory, but no more than 5 credits from these two courses can be counted toward degree requirements.

Total credits required for the Ph.D. degree is 55.

The 30 credits of ECE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses.

* For students already holding a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (M.S.E.E.) or equivalent degree, at most 20 credits of transfer credit may be granted for equivalent coursework performed at the students’ M.S. granting institution. Credit transfer is subject to approval by the instructor of the equivalent UCSC course and the electrical and computer engineering graduate director.

 

Pre-Qualifying Requirements

At the end of the first year (i.e., no later than the fall quarter in the following year after their entry), students admitted to the Ph.D. program must satisfy the requirements of the preliminary examination to continue in the Ph.D. program. This examination is as follows:

  • Pass the comprehensive exam for the M.S. program in one of the core areas
  • Pass one additional section of the M.S. comprehensive examination from a different core area of the comprehensive examination.

 

Qualifying Exam

This oral examination is a defense of the student’s thesis prospectus and a test of the student’s knowledge in advanced technical areas of relevance to the dissertation topic. This oral examination consists of a seminar-style talk before the examining committee, where the student describes the thesis prospectus, followed by questions from the committee on the substance of the talk and the areas of presumed expertise of the student. The examination, taken typically in the third year of Ph.D. study, is administered by a Ph.D. qualifying examination committee, consisting of at least four examiners. The composition of the committee must be approved by the graduate director and the dean of graduate studies whereupon the student and the committee are notified.

If the student does not pass the qualifying examination, the student may be asked to complete additional coursework, or other research-related work, before retaking the examination. The student may be allowed to retake the qualifying examination once, and the composition of the examining committee will remain the same for the second try. Students who fail the qualifying examination twice may be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. students who have not advanced to candidacy by the end of the third year may be recommended for academic probation.

Additional information on the qualifying exam process, including links to required forms, can be found on the Advancement to Candidacy web page.

 

Post-Qualifying Requirements

Advancement to candidacy requires that the student:

  • pass the preliminary examination;
  • complete all course requirements prior to taking the qualifying examination;
  • clear all Incompletes from the student’s record;
  • pass the qualifying examination; and
  • have an appointed Ph.D. dissertation reading committee.

 

NOTE: This is an abbreviated version of the program requirements. Please review the Program Statement for a full explanation of all program requirements.

M.S. Requirements

Comprehensive Exam Track

M.S. students are required to take 45 credits, which must consist of:

  • At least 15 credits from one of the four core areas defined above.
  • At least 25 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses*. 
  • At most 5 credits of ECE 290 and ECE 291 can be counted toward the ECE course requirements. A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory. 

Total credits required for the M.S. degree is 45.

*The 25 credits of EE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses. 

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits. Independent study credits do not count toward the degree requirements for students in the comprehensive examination track.

Each student in the comprehensive examination track must pass the comprehensive examination. Students may not take the comprehensive exam in the same subject more than twice, and may attempt a maximum of six subjects.

Comprehensive Examination
At the end of each quarter, students will have the opportunity to take the sections of the comprehensive exam relevant to the EE graduate courses offered that quarter that are approved for the core areas as outlined above. The  comprehensive exam will focus on fundamental material related to the subject matter of the course and will be offered, in most cases, on Friday of finals week. The results of these exam sections, when integrated together, will comprehensively test the student's mastery of the curriculum. In order to pass the overall comprehensive exam and meet the capstone requirement, a student is required to pass at least three sections of the comprehensive exam in their proposed core area of study. Students may attempt more than one section per quarter. Please note that courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not offered as sections of the comprehensive exam. 

Note that the  Comprehensive Exam Track is the default option for all M.S. students. Students can select the  Thesis Track or the Project Track only if they can find a faculty sponsor to supervise the thesis or project.

Project Track

Each student is required to take 45 credits, which must consist of:
  • At least 15 credits must be satisfied with courses from one of the four core areas defined above.
  • At least 25 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses*. 
  • At most 5 credits of independent study (ECE 296, ECE 297, ECE 299) are counted toward the ECE course requirements.
  • At most 5 credits of ECE 290 and ECE 291 can be counted toward the ECE course requirements. A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory. 

Total credits required for the M.S. degree is 45.

*The 25 credits of EE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses. 

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits.

Project
Completion of a project report is required for the master’s degree in this track. To fulfill this requirement, the student submits a written proposal to a faculty member, usually by the third academic quarter. By accepting the proposal, the faculty member becomes the project adviser. In consultation with the adviser, the student forms a project reading committee with at least one additional faculty member, each of whom is provided a copy of the proposal. Upon completion of the project, the student submits the report to the project reading committee, and the final project must be accepted by the reading committee before the award of the master of science degree.

Thesis Track

Each student is required to take 45 credits, which must consist of:

  • At least 15 credits from one of the four core areas defined above.
  • At least 20 credits of the total 45 credits must be satisfied through ECE graduate courses*. 
  • At most 10 credits of independent study (ECE 297, ECE 299) are counted toward the ECE course requirements.
  • At most 5 credits of ECE 290 and ECE 291 can be counted toward the ECE course requirements. A combined total of 5 credits from ECE 290 and/or ECE 291 are mandatory. 

Total credits required for the M.S. degree is 45.

*The 20 credits of ECE graduate courses can include courses from the core areas only if they are ECE graduate courses. Graduate courses offered by other departments and approved for the core areas are not counted as ECE graduate courses. 

Note that each graduate course satisfying the above requirements typically covers 5 credits.

Thesis
Completion of a master’s thesis is required for the master’s degree in this track. To fulfill this requirement, the student submits a written proposal to a faculty member, usually by the third academic quarter. By accepting the proposal, the faculty member becomes the thesis adviser. In consultation with the adviser, the student forms a master’s thesis reading committee with at least two additional faculty members, each of whom is provided a copy of the proposal. Upon completion of the thesis work, the student presents an expository talk on the thesis research, and the final thesis must be accepted by the master’s thesis reading committee before the award of the master of science degree.

NOTE: This is an abbreviated version of the program requirements. Please review the Program Statement for a full explanation of all program requirements.

Program Learning Outcomes (PLO)
  1. Broad range of basic knowledge in the field of electrical engineering.
  2. Technical expertise in at least one specific application area relevant to the research.
  3. Ability to identify a theoretical and/or experimental research topic; Ability to solve theoretical and/or experimental problems.
  4. Ability to present the research in a competent technical presentation; Ability to communicate with peers about the research.
  5. Show a high standard of professional and research ethics.
  6. Ability to recognize a research topic, plan a project, and carry it to completion.