Degree Requirements

Course Work

Each student must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate-level credits beyond the bachelor's degree under one of the two options listed below. This work must represent a cohesive set of courses leading to comprehensive knowledge in one area of Computer Engineering. It cannot be a set of disjoined courses.

Plan of Study

for the degree must include the following:

  1. Two out of five core courses with B or better in each.

    • CS 571, Operating Systems
    • ECE 511, Microprocessors
    • ECE 542, Computer Network Architectures and Protocols
    • ECE 545, Digital System Design with VHDL
    • ECE 548, Sequential Machine Theory
  2. A minimum of three ECE or CS courses at the 600 level or above (not including ECE 798 or 799), with a grade of B or better in each.
  3. A minimum of 15 credit hours of ECE designated courses. With the concurrence of the student's advisor, Computer Engineering oriented IT courses and courses transferred from other universities may be considered as ECE courses.
  4. 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. 
  5. Before courses are transferred into the Computer Engineering program, they must be submitted to and receive an approval of the student's advisor and the Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Thesis and Scholarly Paper Options

Thesis Option

Thesis students must complete ECE 799, Master's Thesis, (6 credit hours), and 24 hours of course work. The thesis option is particularly recommended for those students who wish to develop and document their research skills, and/or who contemplate subsequent enrollment in a Ph.D. program. The thesis involves a significant 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. Thesis students may not register for ECE 798 Research Project.

Scholarly Paper Option (starting Spring 2016, recommended)

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 is published here. Scholarly papers must be individual written project reports – not group projects. To qualify as a scholarly paper an oral presentation of the project is required. A passing grade for the project, reflecting both the written report and the oral presentation, satisfies the scholarly paper requirement.

A successful scholarly paper will be recorded by awarding a satisfactory (S) grade for ECE 797 – Scholarly Paper. Students are eligible to attempt the scholarly paper and register for ECE 797 after completion of 18 hours of coursework. Students choosing the scholarly paper option are not eligible for graduation until they have received a final, passing grade for ECE 797.

Scholarly Paper Option (pre 2016, discouraged)

Students who select this option must complete 30 credits of course work or 27 credits of course work plus 3 credits of ECE 798, Research Project. In addition the student must research, write and present a Scholarly Paper.

The Scholarly Paper is a technical report on an independent study, laboratory or computer experimentation, or literature search done by the student on a current scientific or technological topic, such as a survey of some new technologies, or new methodologies, or a case study of new applications, on a theme selected under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Full and appropriate references must be noted. The student must demonstrate knowledge of the topic and make a satisfactory technical presentation of the paper in a Graduate Seminar.

The Scholarly Paper and the final oral presentation must be approved by the student's Advisory Committee. When a student elects to base the Scholarly Paper presentation on an ECE 798, Research Project final report it is expected that the 3 credit hours of effort in ECE 798 will result in a much more substantial paper than a Scholarly Paper submitted in addition to 30 hours of regular course work.

Scholarly Paper/Thesis Presentation

Following completion of all required faculty and room arrangements, the Scholarly Paper or Thesis presentation must be announced at least two weeks prior to the presentation via: (a) a flyer, prepared by the student and given to the ECE Department secretary, and (b) an electronic form in pdf or HTML format (email preferred, disc accepted), prepared by the student, so that it can be posted on the ECE Department “Seminars” web page. See the Guidelines for the Scholarly Paper for details required for the seminar announcement. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for a presentation day and time that is acceptable to all members of the Advisory Committee. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for a presentation room (normally the ECE Department conference room). It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for any audio visual equipment needs (laptop computer, projector, overhead projector, etc.)

Seminar Requirement (starting Spring 2016) 

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. Starting from Spring 2016, the approved seminars will be limited to:

  • ECE Distinguished Series Seminars
  • ECE Departmental Seminars
  • PhD Thesis Presentations
  • PhD Seminars.

To demonstrate completion of the seminar requirement, students must register for ECE 795 - Engineering Seminar in their final semester. The department office will verify that the seminar requirement has been met and submit a grade of S (satisfactory) upon completion of the requirement. Students who have not met the seminar requirement in their final semester must continue to register for ECE 795 in subsequent semesters until the requirement is met. As with all other aspects of the CpE and EE degrees, the George Mason Honor Code applies to attendance and reporting of Seminar attendance. See the ECE homepage for approved seminars .

Seminar Requirement (pre 2016) 

Each student must attend a minimum of 10 approved seminars. MSEE students must attend approved ECE Department seminars. MSCpE students must attend approved ECE or CS seminars. It is the students’ responsibility to maintain their own personal record of the seminars they have attended and also to ensure their attendance at each seminar is recorded on the attendance sheet and promptly reported to the ECE Department office. The Seminar Attendance Log form that must be submitted when applying for graduation is available online here. As with all other aspects of the CpE and EE degrees, the George Mason Honor Code applies to attendance and reporting of Seminar attendance. See the ECE homepage for approved seminars .

GPA Requirements

A maximum of two courses with a C grade may be applied toward the degree. The student must present a GPA of at least 3.0 for all courses submitted for the degree. Students receiving grades of F in two courses, C grades in 9 credit hours of course work, or whose overall GPA falls below 3.0 may face Academic Dismissal or Academic Termination as described in the Graduate Policies of the George Mason catalog.

Time Requirement

All degree requirements (transfer courses, George Mason courses, seminars, thesis, Scholarly Paper) must be completed within a 6 year period. Non-course work (thesis, Scholarly Paper, seminars) must be completed before the Degree Conferral Date. Course work must be completed by the 6th week after the Degree Conferral Date.

Electronic Archiving

In addition to submitting their Scholarly Papers, or Research Project Reports, or MS Thesis in hard copy, students are encouraged to also develop electronic versions of these documents in MS Word, HTML, Power Point or Acrobat (PDF) and submit them to the Department for posting. These documents can be copyrighted. Posting on the ECE website is at the discretion of the ECE Department. This will make work of the student more visible and will help students in subsequent years.