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Graduate Student Handbook: The Master of Science Degree

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the Master of Science and Ph.D. degree sections which follow in this handbook, the term “6000 level” is used frequently when referring to graduate classes. Included under the heading of “6000 level” are courses at the 7000 and 8000 levels. An indication that a “6000 level class” is needed to meet a requirement, means that an appropriately approved 7000 or 8000 level class may also be used. It should be further noted that not all ECE 6000, 7000, 8000 level courses are approved for use toward the graduate degree coursework requirements. Specific notations as to the type of classes that must be used to fulfill requirements are indicated in the information that follows.

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers an extensive graduate program encompassing a broad range of areas of specialization. When designing the M.S. curriculum, the ECE faculty intended that the graduate degree requirements would be flexible enough to meet the individual needs of ECE graduate students while at the same time insuring that all graduates complete a well-rounded program of study that will support their professional goals. The school offers two options: a thesis option and a non-thesis option.

M.S.E.C.E. Degree Requirements

The following table summarizes the requirements for the master's degree in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  

Requirement Class Hours (Non-Thesis Option) Class Hours (Thesis Option)
Group I - ECE 6000 level classes in one or two Technical Interest Areas (TIAs) 9 6
Group II - ECE 6000 level classes, at least two of which come from TIA(s) other than those in Group I 9 6
Group III - Elective Hours (4000 level or above) 12 6
Group III cont. -Technology Entrepreneurship
*Mandatory course for students who matriculate in Fall 2020 or after.*
3 3
M.S. Thesis Research 0 12
Total Hours 30 30


Groups I and II – Selection of ECE 6000 Level or Higher Classes
6000-level or higher ECE courses offered by specific TIAs can be used to satisfy these requirements, including Special Topics courses.

  • Technical Interest Areas (TIAs) are groups of related courses within electrical and computer engineering and include: Bioengineering, Computer Systems & Software, VLSI Systems & Digital Design, Digital Signal Processing, Electrical Energy, Electromagnetics, Electronic Design & Applications, Nanotechnology, Optics & Photonics, Systems & Controls, and Telecommunications.
  • Nine hours of 6000 level or higher coursework in one or two Technical Interest Areas (TIAs) are needed to fulfill the Group I requirement for non-thesis master’s candidates and six hours for the thesis master’s students.
  • In Group II, at least six hours of 6000 level or higher coursework must be completed outside the TIA(s) of Group I.  These courses must not be cross-listed with the TIA(s) chosen for Group I.  Group II classes may be selected from one, two or three TIAs, provided degree requirements are met.  ECE courses not designated to belong to a TIA cannot be used for Group II or Group II requirements.
  • To verify the technical interest area of a particular course, look at the course listings in the “Graduate Level Course Structure” section of this manual or on the course lookup page of the ECE website.
  • To determine the TIA of a Special Topics course, students may examine the Projected Course Schedule available on the ECE website.
  • Pass/Fail, audit, and Special Problems courses cannot be used to satisfy Group I and Group II requirements.
  • M.S. students planning to pursue the Ph.D. degree should note that all nine hours of classes in Group II must be from TIAs other than those in Group I to fulfill the Ph.D. coursework requirement.  

Group III (Electives and Technology Entrepreneurship):  12 Hours

  • These hours may be selected from most disciplines offered at Georgia Tech (including ECE). Students choosing elective hours outside of ECE or other technical/engineering/math/science disciplines may be asked to justify their choices.  
  • Any student who matriculated in Fall 2020 or after will be required to complete the Technology Entrepreneurship course or similar. Group III: 9 Elective credit hours (4000 level or above) and 3 credit hours of Technology Entrepreneurship ECE 6001.
  • Special Problems courses, ECE8901, ECE8902, and ECE8903 (but not ECE8900), CS 8903 and VIP courses can be used to satisfy Group III requirements only for the non-thesis option. A combined maximum of 6 VIP or special problems credits can count toward the degree requirements. Additional VIP or special problems credits cannot be applied.
  • No courses below the 4000 level can be used toward Group III (Electives) or any other portion of the M.S. program.  
  • In the thesis-option M.S. degree, only 6 Group III ECE electives are needed. The rest of the degree requirement is fulfilled by 12 hours of 7000 hours (M.S. thesis research).
  • Pass/fail hours may only be used in the Group III portion of the program, and no more than three hours of pass/fail coursework may be used toward the non-thesis M.S. degree. The only pass/fail courses that are acceptable elective hours are the ECE seminars (ECE 6792, 8001, 8002, 8022, 7721), CS/CSE seminars (CS/CSE 800x) or PHIL 6000 (Responsible Conduct of Research).  
  • Ph.D. students, who have completed the Professional Communications Seminar (ECE 8022) and/or Future Faculty (ECE 7721) are petitioning for an M.S. degree, may use ECE 8022/ECE 7721 as  pass/fail classes that may be used in the elective portion of their M.S. degree requirements.


General Requirements
  • A minimum grade of “C” is required in all classes used toward the master’s degree.
  • A master’s degree student must have a minimum GPA 2.70 in order to graduate. Georgia Tech does not round GPAs, they truncate them. So a 2.67 is not sufficient to graduate.  
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.70 must be maintained to remain in “Good” academic standing in the M.S. program.
  • No more than 9 hours of 4000 level courses can be used toward a graduate level ECE degree.
  • ECE 8900, 8997, 8998, 8999, 9000 and CETL courses cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements


Thesis Option 
  • Students registered for M.S. thesis hours are expected to complete the M.S. thesis option degree. However, circumstances might arise that impede the completion of the thesis. The student can switch to non-thesis option if in agreement with the thesis advisor but will not be able to count any of the thesis hours toward the non-thesis degree requirements.
  • Students choosing the M.S. thesis option must complete a minimum of 12 hours of ECE 7000 to meet degree requirements. These hours are shown in the Group III (Electives) portion of the M.S. coursework plan.
  • 6 credit hours in Group I: 6000-level or higher ECE classes in one or two Technical Interest Areas (TIAs)
  • 6 credit hours in Group II: 6000-level or higher ECE classes, at least two of which come from TIA(s) other than those in Group I
  • 6 credit hours in Group III: Elective Hours 3 credits (4000 level or above) and 3 credits of Technology Entrepreneurship  
  • 12 credit hours in Thesis Research
  • 30 credit hours total
  • Thesis option students are required to have a research advisor who will indicate their commitment to serve as advisor by signing the "M.S. Thesis Advisor Selection" form and submitting the completed form to the ECE Graduate Affairs Office.
  • M.S. thesis option students present a research review (proposal) to their M.S. Thesis Committee (research advisor and two additional ECE faculty members) when a significant portion of their research is completed.  
  • The research advisor determines the manner in which this review is to be presented.
  • After the research progress is reviewed, the committee provides a signed “Master's Thesis Topic Approval” form to the ECE Graduate Affairs Office for processing. The form has to be submitted together with a Thesis Summary of 5 to 10 pages.
  • There must be a minimum of 90 days between submission of the “Masters Thesis Topic Approval” form and the submission of the Cerificate of Thesis Approval.
  • Detailed guidelines related to the M.S. thesis option degree, along with a link to the M.S. Thesis Topic Approval Form.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology thesis preparation and submission guidelines are available online.
  • The links for all the above listed documents and forms, along with a checklist, are available online.
  • The format of the thesis and other related reporting are controlled by the Graduate Studies – VPR office (Savant Building). The student must keep in touch with that office in order to insure that all degree requirements are met.
  • The Graduate Studies – VPR office strongly urges M.S. thesis students to have their thesis format checked before submitting the final version of the thesis to them. Information on deadlines is posted on the Graduate Studies website.
  • If, at any time, there is uncertainty about the M.S. thesis process, check with the ECE Graduate Affairs Office. Do not rely on secondhand information!


RCR Requirement for M.S. Thesis

  • The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Academic policy requires M.S. students enrolled in 7000 thesis hours to complete the appropriate RCR training requirement before the Request for Approval of Master’s Thesis Topic Form can be processed.
    • First Option - Successfully complete the online CITI RC course                                                                      OR                             
    • Second Option - Successfully complete an in-person requirement - PHIL 6000 has been approved for ECE doctoral students and may also be used for M.S. Thesis students. ECE does not have its own in-house RCR course but will accept an academic program's in-house RCR training approach (Please see the Ph.D. section of this handbook for approved courses).
M.S. in Cybersecurity

Starting Fall 2018, graduate students in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering may pursue the Master of Science in Cybersecurity with a Cyber-Physical Systems track (M.S.C.S.E.C.) degree.

The Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree requires 32 credit hours of coursework (including a 5 credit practicum project course). Two of the core courses, which students in each track will take, will provide a broad overview of technology and policy dimensions of cybersecurity. The flexible core course will provide breadth because it must come from a track separate from the one in which a student is enrolled. Finally, a practicum project (5 credit hours) with common learning objectives across all participating units is a core requirement.
The M.S.C.S.E.C. degree requirements are as follows:

Core Courses: Group I

Course #

Course Name


CS 6035

Introduction to Information Security



PUBP 6725

Information Security Policies



PUBP 6266

Information Security Practicum



Flexible core course – 3-hour course must be different from ECE’s track – (To meet this requirement, a student must complete a required course from a specialization track that is different from the one in which they are enrolled).






Total Core Course Hours


Cyber-Physical Systems Track: Group II

Course #

Course Name


ECE 6320

Power Systems Control and Operation


ECE 8853

Cyber-Physical Security in Electric Energy Systems  (same as Introduction to Cyber-Physical Electrical Energy Systems)   


ECE 8813

Introduction to Cyber-Physical Systems Security
Hardware Oriented Security and Trust


ECE 8803 CPS

Cyber Physical Design and Analysis






Total ECE Track Hours


Electives: Group III - Select Two Courses from List Below

Course #

Course Name


ECE 6550

Linear Systems and Controls


ECE 6607

Computer Communication Networks


ECE 6615

Sensor Networks


ECE 6102

Dependable Distributed Systems


ECE 88X3

Advanced Computer Security


ECE 8813

Network Forensics


ECE 6323

Power System Protection


ECE 88X3

Smart Electricity Grids


ECE 88X3

Advanced Topics in Malware Analysis
(same as Software Vulnerabilities and Security)


ECE 88X3

Side-channels and Their Role in Cybersecurity



Total Elective Hours


TOTAL DEGREE REQUIREMENTS                                                                                                     32

More details about the program can be found on the Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IISP) website.

Degree Completion Progress

Graduate students in the ECE degree programs are expected to make diligent progress toward completion of degree requirements. It is in the best interests of both students and faculty for all students to progress through the program expeditiously. The following recommendations indicate reasonable progress in the M.S. program:      

Non-thesis Option

  • A full-time master’s student seeking the non-thesis M.S.E.C.E. should complete all degree requirements in a maximum of three semesters of enrollment, not counting summer terms, or a maximum of four semesters of enrollment if that student participates in the Cooperative Education (co-op) program.  
  • It is possible to complete the requirements in fewer terms.
  • Students are permitted to spend one regular (non-summer) semester as an intern in an industrial or government position during their program of study. For more information about the co-op program please refer to the “Graduate Co-Operative Program” section of this handbook.

Thesis Option

  • A full-time master’s student seeking the thesis-option M.S.E.C.E. should complete all degree requirements in four semesters of enrollment, not counting summer terms.  
  • Students are permitted to spend one regular (non-summer) semester as an intern in an industrial or government position. For more information about the co-op program please refer to the “Graduate Co-Operative Program” section of this handbook.
Transfer Credits
  • Up to six semester hours of graduate-level credit from another graduate school in the United States or an international partner school may be transferred toward the ECE M.S. degree. The grades for classes to be transferred must be at the “B” level or higher.
  • Students who are enrolled at Georgia Tech may not receive credit for courses completed at another institution during the same academic term, unless prior permission has been obtained for cross enrollment or concurrent registration.
  • A completed “Request to Transfer Classes” form, original transcript showing completion of the class(es), and a syllabus and other descriptive materials must be submitted to the Academic Office for use in arranging transfer credit.
  • An original letter from the registrar of the institution where the classes were taken must be provided. This letter certifies that the classes to be transferred were not used toward any degree at that school.
  • The ECE Faculty will evaluate this material and make a decision. Not all classes completed elsewhere will be allowed to transfer.
Change from M.S. to Ph.D.

Students admitted as M.S. who want to switch to Ph.D. will have to apply to the ECE Academic Office in order to be considered alongside the other applicants to the Ph.D. program.
M.S. students who wish to be admitted into the Ph.D. program have to meet the following requirements:

  • Pass the Ph.D. Coursework Qualifier
  • Find a research advisor
  • Have a funding source
  • Maintain a 3.5 graduate GPA

The following papers will have to be submitted to the Academic Office for approval prior to filling out a Change of Major form with the Registrar’s Office:

Additional requirements, to be verified in the Academic Office, are:

  • Pass the Coursework Qualifier
  • Maintain a 3.5 minimum graduate GPA



Last revised August 5, 2022