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Graduate Student Handbook: Courses and Scholastic Requirements

The information in this section is a synopsis of general graduate school requirements, especially those polices for which there are special ECE requirements. Additional information regarding specific Institute rules and regulations may be found in the Georgia Institute of Technology General Catalog. The information in this handbook is by no means exhaustive; students are required to be familiar with policies, rules, and regulations as recorded in the General Catalog. The Student Rules and Regulations section of the catalog is especially useful for students.

Academic Standing

Students whose grades and/or grade point averages fall below the applicable minimums in any term will have academic standings of “Warning,” “Probation,” “Review,” or “Dismissal” depending upon their specific situation. The Georgia Institute of Technology General Catalog provides the official description of these academic standings and their consequences.

ECE students whose overall and/or term grade point average is below that required by the Institute will be contacted by the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs to discuss their progress and plans for improving their academic performance.

Withdrawal from Classes

Withdrawing from (or dropping) a course is a serious decision. Students are expected to make good progress toward completing their degrees. Graduate Research and Teaching Assistants, students holding F or J Visas or on fellowships, and active duty military are expected to be full-time students.  

  • A Georgia Tech student is entitled to withdraw from a course during the early weeks of the term. Students withdrawing from classes after the close of registration for the term will receive "W" grades in the classes from which they withdraw. Students who must have full time status must make sure that they will retain that full time status after the withdrawal.
  • The exact date of the deadline for withdrawal from classes is posted in the Official School Calendar and are also found on the OSCAR system. It is each student's responsibility to know the exact deadline for each term.  
  • Students withdraw from classes electronically through the OSCAR System. Prior to dropping a class, all students are encouraged to check with an Academic Advisor if their full time status and/or degree progress will be affected by dropping the class. If you are not sure, ALWAYS ask an Academic Advisor! You can send your inquiry via the "Contact Us" form or visit the Academic Office during office hours.


Withdrawal from School

A student who needs to leave school does so by withdrawing from all classes.

  • Students are responsible for completing the electronic withdrawal from school before the official (Institute) deadline.
  • Full-time graduate students who withdraw from school during a term are required to remain out of school in the following term as well. A petition to the faculty (available on the registrar’s website) requesting a waiver of this requirement may be filed.  
  • If the student is not registered in two consecutive terms (including the one in which the withdrawal occurred), an application for readmission must be filed. An application fee is charged when submitting an “Application for Readmission.”
  • Part-time graduate students who withdraw during a term are not required to remain out of school for an additional term.  


  • Any student in "Good" academic standing who is not enrolled for a single term (fall, spring, or summer) is eligible to re-enroll without applying for readmission to the Institute.  
  • Any student who is not enrolled for two or more consecutive terms (including summer) must apply for readmission.  
  • An “Application for Readmission” form is used for this purpose and can be obtained by accessing the Registrar's Website and clicking on “Forms and Student Records,” then “Readmission” and following the directions provided. A fee will be charged for readmission.
  • For purposes of readmission, there is no distinction between the terms of the regular academic year (fall and spring) and the summer term.


Graduate Level Course Structure

ECE's graduate level courses are grouped among 11 Technical Interest Areas (TIAs), listed below. For a list of the current classes under each TIA, check the projected class schedule on the ECE website.

Bioengineering (BioE)
Computer Systems & Software (CSS)
Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
Electrical Energy (EE)
Electromagnetics (Emag)
Electronic Design & Applications (EDA)
Nanotechnology (Nano)
Optics & Photonics (Opt)
Systems & Controls (S&C)
Telecommunications (Comm)
VLSI Systems & Digital Design (VSS)


Cross-Listed Courses

The term "cross-listed courses" is used in two different ways in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  

  • Some ECE courses are cross-listed between two ECE technical interest areas.  
    • Students using these classes toward the degree program must be especially careful not to overlook the cross listing when planning the programs of study since there are limitations on how cross-listed courses can be used to satisfy degree requirements. The cross-listed courses are indicated in the TIA Course listings of this handbook. For details on degree requirements for the M.S. and for the Ph.D., consult those sections of this handbook.
  • The other use of "cross-listed courses" has an Institute-wide connotation and refers to classes that are offered with the same number and same course content in more than one discipline. (For example:  ECE 6789 is also listed as BMED 6789, CHE 6789, ME 6789 and MGT 6789.)  
    • These classes generally have course numbers beginning with "67," but not all "67xx" courses are cross-listed.
    • The Georgia Tech General Catalog indicates which "67xx" courses are cross-listed and the disciplines with which they are cross-listed.  
    • Classes that are cross-listed with ECE cannot be used toward the minor requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

Example ECE courses cross-listed with other disciplines are as follows. To confirm that a specific class is cross-listed, check the current term on Oscar.  

Course #  Course Name TIA(s) GT Cross Listing
6771 Optoelectronics: Materials, Processes, Devices Opt/Nano Physics
6780 Medical Image Processing Bio/DSP Computer Science and BME
6460 Microelectromechanical Devices Nano CHBE


GTA/GRA Marker Courses:
  • GRAs must sign up for ECE 8998, which is a one credit hour audit course that shows up on a transcript indicating the GRA status.
  • GTAs must sign up for ECE 8997, which is a three credit hours audit course that shows up on a transcript indicating the GTA status.
  • In addition, all GTA/GRAs must be registered full time.
Variable Credit Hour Courses:

There are several variable credit hour courses. The default is usually 1 credit hour when students try to register for the courses, so students must change the number of credits when they register. Many of these courses allow up to 21 hours, and we ask all students who plan to take these courses to sign up for the maximum load, which is 21 hours in fall/spring and 16 hours in summer.

  • Research Hours: Students undertaking research must register for research hours to document their activities on their GT transcript, and should register for 21 hours in the fall/spring and 16 hours in the summer.
    • ECE 9000 Ph.D. Thesis (P/F): Doctoral degree students who have passed the Ph.D. Coursework Qualifier, have selected a research advisor, and have submitted the Ph.D. Advisor Selection Form online should register for Ph.D. dissertation hours (ECE 9000) under their advisor.
    • ECE 7000 M.S. Thesis (P/F): Master’s degree students who are taking the “Thesis Option” should register for M.S. thesis hours (ECE 7000). M.S. thesis option students must also provide a completed M.S. Thesis Advisor Selection form to the ECE Graduate Affairs Office before registering for ECE 7000 hours.
    • ECE 8900 Special Problems (P/F): Students who do research under the supervision of an ECE faculty member and are not pursuing the M.S. thesis option degree or have not passed the Ph.D. Coursework Qualifier may register for the section of ECE 8900 assigned to their research advisor. This course is pass/fail and does not count towards degree credit. It should not be confused with ECE 8901, ECE8902, and ECE8903, also called “Special Problems”, which are letter grade courses.
  • ECE 8999 Ph.D. Dissertation Preparation (P/F): For students who are seeking an advisor or a research topic. This class is permit only and can be taken for a maximum of 9 credit hours. It is limited to one semester for M.S. students who seek a M.S. Thesis advisor and to two semesters for Ph.D. students who seek a Ph.D. advisor.   


Special Problem and VIP Hours

Special Problem hours, ECE 8901, ECE 8902, ECE 8903 and CS 8903 are independent study courses under the direction of a faculty supervisor. Special Problem courses are an excellent way to get to know faculty members and to become involved in research that is going on at Georgia Tech. Please note that students may not count Special Problems course credit towards their degree if they simultaneously were paid for doing the work (as a GRA or as a Graduate Assistant) or if they were registered for thesis hours to do the same work.

  • Master’s students may include up to a total of six special problem credits in their graduate program as free elective hours.  
  • Ph.D. students, under specific circumstances and with approval by the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, may use up to six hours of special problem credits as free elective hours in their graduate programs.
  • A registration permit is required to be able to register for special problem hours.
  • The last digit in the course number refers to the number of credit hours awarded for the ECE Special Problem; i.e. 8901 = 1 credit, 8902 = 2 credits, and 8903 = 3 credits.  
  • CS special problem hours can also be used towards the elective course requirements, both for M.S. and Ph.D. students. CS 8903 is a variable hour course that has to be taken for letter grade. ECE accepts CS 8903 only for 1, 2 or 3 credit hours and only with the letter grade option. Please visit the Academic Office before taking a special problem in CS that you plan to use towards your degree requirements.
  • Students wishing to undertake a special problem should:
    • Meet with a faculty member and define a research problem.
    • After the problem is defined a special problem form is prepared and signed by the student and faculty advisor.  The forms are found as follows:
    • A one-page proposal of the problem is included with the special problem form. The proposal should state the problem, study method to be applied, and expected results.
    • The completed ECE 8901/8902/8903 special problem request is automatically submitted upon DocuSign completion to the Graduate Affairs Office for approval. Once approved, a registration permit will be issued for the particular faculty member’s section.
    • CS 8903 permits will be issued by the CS department.
Audit Hours
  • The GRA/GTA marker courses ECE 8998 and 8997 are the only audit hours that ECE students should be using toward their full-time course loads.
  • ECE classes are not offered on an audit basis, therefore, no ECE courses other than 8997 and 8998 can be scheduled on an audit basis.
  • Students wishing to take classes in other schools or departments on an audit basis must contact that school to inquire if this is possible.  
  • Since ECE classes are only offered on a letter grade basis, students wishing to take an ECE class on an audit basis may only do so informally by “sitting in” on the class in agreement with the class instructor.  
Seminar Courses

Seminar courses are one credit hour pass/fail courses. Some of the following courses may be allowed to be used as free electives (M.S. and Ph.D. degree requirements differ): ECE 8001, ECE 8002, CS/CSE 800x, ECE 8022, ECE 6792, PHIL 6000.  

Last revised July 30, 2021