M.S. in ECE - Requirements

Students who entered Fall 2014 and Spring 2015, please refer to the 2014-2015 program handbook for program policies and protocols.
Students who are entering Fall 2015, please refer to the 2015-2016 program handbook for program policies and protocols.

The Professional M.S. is available to qualified students who have earned an undergraduate degree. Select undergraduate students in ECE at Carnegie Mellon may be admitted into the IMB Program. Typically, three semesters are needed to complete the M.S. degree. However, it is possible to complete an M.S. in ECE in one year. IMB students typically complete these requirements within 5 years of starting their undergraduate degree.

Students in the M.S. program must satisfy a set of course requirements to earn the degree. Beginning with the incoming class of Fall 2015, all international students must be enrolled full-time (36 units) each semester. Continuing students may enroll part-time in their final semester with authorization from their academic advisor.

Course requirements

Each MS in ECE candidate must complete 96 units of coursework. These units are made up of the following degree requirements:            

ECE Core Graduate Coursework: 60 units

The ECE program requires 60 units of core coursework that may not be waived or substituted. These courses should be courses in the Computer Science Department (15) at the 700-level or above (exceptions include 15-894) or in the ECE Department (18) at the 600-level or above (exceptions include 18-601, 118-603, 18-605, 18-606, 18-700, 18-703).             

Restricted Electives: 24 units

Students have the opportunity to pursue a wide range of electives in which they have a special interest. These courses can be taken from the following departments:

  • Any ECE (18) course at the 500-level or above
  • Any course at the 600-level or higher from one of the following colleges or programs (with restrictions noted below)
  • Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT)
    • Biomedical Engineering (42)
    • Chemical Engineering (06)
    • Civil & Environmental Engineering (12)
    • Engineering & Public Policy (19) (restrictions include 19-655, 19-722)
    • Information Network Institute (14)
    • Integrated Innovation Institute (49)
    • Materials Science & Engineering (27)
    • Mechanical Engineering (24) (restrictions include 24-792)
    • CMU Rwanda (04) (restrictions include 04-601, 04-602, 04-605, 04-900, 04-980)
    • CMU Silicon Valley (96) (restrictions include 96-705)
  • Dietrich: Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (86)
  • Heinz School of Information Systems (95)
  • Heinz College-Wide Courses (94)
  • Mellon College of Science (MCS)
    • Biological Sciences (03)
    • Chemistry (09)
    • Mathematical Sciences (21)
    • Physics (33)
  • School of Computer Science (SCS)
    • Computational Biology (02) (restrictions include 02-713, 02-613)
    • Computer Science (15) (restrictions include 15-602, 15-603,15-604, 15-617, 15-623, 15-624, 15-637, 15-649, 15-650, 15-662,15-663, 15-666, 15-669, 15-686, 15-689, 15-697, 15-698, 15-749, 15-862)
    • Entertainment Technology Center (53)
    • Institute for Software Research (08)
    • Robotics Institute (16) (restrictions include 16-861, 16-865)
    • Human-Computer Interaction Institute (05) (restrictions include 05-834, 05-820)
    • Language Technologies Institute (11) (restrictions include 11-641)
    • Machine Learning (10)
    • Software Engineering (17) (restrictions include 17-643)
  • Tepper School of Business (45)

Courses outside these departments that have been approved to be counted towards the 24 units of Restricted Electives include: 36-725, 46-926, 46-929, 47-830, 47-834, 51- 882, 90-756, 93-711, 94-808, 94-834, 94-835, and 94-860.

         Less-Restricted Elective: 12 units

The remaining 12 units may be at any level (including undergraduate) from the same colleges, departments and programs listed above.

Three units of internship (18-994 Internship for Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Students) or professional development (39-699 CIT Professional Development Course) coursework may count towards the Less-Restricted Elective.

Courses where more than 50% of the course grade is based on a group project or more than 20% is based on attendance cannot be used towards the required 96 units.

Petitions for exceptions to these criteria may be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee. Please see your academic advisor for more information.


Of the 96 required units, you may not count:

  • More than 15 units of graduate project units
  • More than 12 units of undergraduate courses at a 400-level or below
  • Any units of physical education, ROTC, seminar courses, or courses taken as pass/fail or audit

Transfer credit from previous universities or colleges

Only one graduate-level course, or the equivalent of 12 units, can be transferred from another university as credit toward the M.S. degree. As a guideline, three-credit courses from other universities equate to 9-unit CMU courses; a four-credit course equates to a 12-unit CMU course. The course being transferred can not have been counted towards another degree and a letter grade of "B" or better must have been received. To transfer credit from another university, a formal petition must be submitted to and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. No credit will be considered or granted prior to admission to the M.S. degree program.

Course credit for continuing IMB Students

CMU students who received their B.S. degree from ECE may use courses that were not used towards satisfying the B.S. degree to satisfy the M.S. degree course requirement.

Quality Point Average (QPA) requirement

To remain as a student in good standing, the student must maintain a 3.0 QPA in course units and a separate 3.0 QPA in project units. The letter grades "A," "B," or "C," represent 4.0, 3.0, and 2.0 points in the QPA calculation, respectively. Transfer credits are not included in the QPA calculations.

For the final degree requirements, the QPA is calculated using the highest, appropriate, scores of 96 units out of the first 120 course and project units attempted. The units used to calculate the QPA must satisfy the M.S. course requirement.

Applying to the Ph.D. program

Students in the Professional M.S. and IMB programs

Students in the Professional M.S. and IMB Programs may apply to the Ph.D. program. These students must complete one year (two semesters) in the Professional M.S. or IMB programs before they can apply to be admitted to the Ph.D. Program.

Carnegie Mellon students from outside of ECE and Carnegie Mellon staff

Carnegie Mellon students from outside ECE and Carnegie Mellon staff may take graduate courses in ECE, including those that can be counted toward an M.S. degree in ECE, subject to the same rules and requirements as currently exist and subject also to the availability of space in those courses.

  • Courses to be counted toward an M.S. degree cannot be more than 6 academic years old at the time the degree is awarded.
  • To obtain the M.S. degree, Carnegie Mellon students from outside ECE and Carnegie Mellon staff must be admitted into the ECE M.S. Program and meet all of the admission requirements that are standard practice in the department and described in ECE documentation.
  • Admission to the M.S. Program must take place no later than the semester before all of the M.S. degree requirements are to expected to be met, although earlier admission is preferable.

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