The demand for computer engineers is large and growing, engineers who can create innovative systems for computing, control, communication, and storage. Modern computing devices demand innovative approaches to design, fabrication, testing, energy harvesting, dynamic reconfiguration, and cybersecurity protection. The master’s degree in computer engineering will prepare you to:
- Design and analyze complex computer chips that will power tomorrow’s technology;
- Develop smart and energy-efficient embedded computing systems, such as those found in smartphones, robots, cars, appliances, computer networks, smart factories, and the internet-of-things;
- Learn how to develop complex digital systems using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), using various optimization criteria, such as speed, cost, power, energy, reliability, and security;
- Learn the complete software development process targeting microprocessors, multi-cores, microcontrollers, Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), smartphones, and supercomputers;
- Apply new methodologies, such as software/hardware co-design, high-level synthesis, approximate computing, neuromorphic engineering, and trusted computing, to solve complex problems in the area of big data, bioengineering, communications, cryptography, distributed computing, image processing, and machine learning.
Please see the University Catalog for complete information on program requirements and policies. Additional specifications may apply.
To be considered for admission to the master’s program, applicants should have a baccalaureate degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or a closely-related discipline from an accredited program with a reputation for high academic standards, and have earned a GPA of B or better during the last 60 credits. Other requirements are as follows:
- Two letters of recommendation, preferably from academic references or references in industry or government who hold advanced degrees and are familiar with the applicant’s professional accomplishments
- Detailed statement of career goals and aspirations
- For students who have not earned a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. university, satisfactory performance on the GRE
- For students whose native language is not English, a minimum TOEFL score of 575 for the paper-based exam or 230 for the computer-based exam. A minimum score of 600 for the paper-based exam or 250 for the computer-based exam is required for applicants who wish to be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship.
Admission is very competitive. The department’s policy is to admit only those students who have demonstrated a potential for outstanding performance in their graduate work.
Degree Requirements (30 credits)
Before the end of the second semester, each student must submit to the graduate coordinator’s office a plan of study that has been approved by the academic advisor.
Two core courses (with B or better in each) from the following:
- CS 571 - Operating Systems (3 credits)
- ECE 511 - Microprocessors (3 credits)
- ECE 542 - Computer Network Architectures and Protocols (3 credits)
- ECE 545 - Digital System Design with VHDL (3 credits)
- ECE 548 - Sequential Machine Theory (3 credits)
Minimum of 3 ECE or CS courses
With a grade of B or better in each, at the 600 level and above (not including ECE 798 or 799), including doctoral courses (800 and 900 levels).
Elective courses should be chosen either from the list of pre-approved electives strongly suggested for a given specialization area or from the list of elective courses common for all specialization areas. Elective courses from the latter list must be approved by the student’s advisor prior to the registration for a given course.
The plan of study usually has no fewer than 15 credits of courses designated ECE.
Lists of courses appropriate for specialization areas, such as digital systems design, microprocessor and embedded systems, digital signal processing, computer networks, and network and system security, are available on the department website. A self-defined specialization may be created when appropriate, with the approval of the computer engineering graduate program coordinator. This specialization must include components of hardware and software development and the corresponding plan of study should comprise courses from ECE and the Computer Science Departments.
Graduate students are expected to participate actively in the exchange of knowledge and ideas in their discipline. Towards this objective, all degree candidates must attend a minimum of 6 graduate seminars approved for the degree program. Approved seminars are publicized on the departmental webpage. To demonstrate completion of the seminar requirement, students register for ECE 795 in their final semester.
Thesis/Scholarly Paper Option
To complete the program, students may select one of the following options:
Students who select this option must complete ECE 799 - Master's Thesis (6 credits) and 24 credits of course work. The thesis is particularly recommended for those students who wish to develop and document their research skills or contemplate subsequent enrollment in a PhD program. The thesis involves a research effort, which is conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisor. In some cases, permission may be granted to complete a portion of the work at the student’s place of employment. The final written thesis and oral defense are approved by the student’s advisory committee.
Scholarly Paper Option
Students who select to complete their degree program with a scholarly paper must:
- Complete 30 credits of course work
- Register for ECE 797 - Scholarly Paper
- Enroll in a 600-level or above course requiring a research project.
- Write a Scholarly Paper project report and present findings as part of the course requirements.
An acceptable scholarly paper must be technically sound, adhere to accepted formatting standards for technical reports, and contain a significant literature review evidenced by a comprehensive list of cited references. A list of courses requiring projects that can be used to satisfy the scholarly paper requirement will be published on the department website.
Graduates with a master’s degree in computer engineering apply their skills in the workplace by building new computer technologies in either software or hardware. A master’s degree is a necessary to progress in a computer engineering career, as the nature of the field is constantly evolving. Beyond graduate studies, computer engineers generally seek advanced certifications that prove competency in a specialized subject such as programming languages, architectures, systems, and hardware technologies. These certifications are made available through technology vendors and professional societies; i.e. the Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Computer Engineering (IEEE) and/or the Virtual Academy of the Volgenau School of Engineering. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth at a rate of 7 percent in the next 10 years for hardware engineers, and software engineers at 22 percent, significantly exceeding the universal average of job growth in the U.S. Average salary data reflect the strong demand for highly trained experts. Graduates from Volgenau with an MS in computer engineering are highly sought for their experience in building resilient and secure software and hardware systems for the public and private sectors.