MS ECE Degree Coursework Planning

The ECE website serves as a means by which students may obtain information about graduate degree requirements, policies and procedures. The ECE Graduate Handbook has detailed information pertaining to academic matters for graduate studies in the School of ECE at Georgia Tech.

It is very important that students understand the MS ECE degree requirements early on in the program. Most GT-Shenzhen students will complete the MS ECE degree in 3 semesters. However, it is also possible that a student has completed 30 credit hours in 3 semesters with good GPA but cannot graduate due to course selections not satisfying the degree requirements. In such a situation, the student will have to take additional course(s) until the degree requirements are met, resulting in extra cost (time and money) to the student.

In the discussions below, we assume that the student takes the minimum 30 credit hours required for graduation. Almost all courses offered at GT-Shenzhen have 3 credit hours so students typically spend 3 semesters to complete 10 courses. We anticipate that most students will have course loads distributed as (3, 3, 4) or (3, 4, 3) or (4, 3, 3) or (2, 4, 4) or (4, 2, 4) or (4, 4, 2) over 3 semesters. If English is not your native language, you may wish to avoid taking 4 courses in the first semester. GT classes are not easy and you may need a period of time to adjust to the US education system and the heavy workload of GT courses.

When designing the MS curriculum, the ECE faculty intended for the graduate degree requirements to be flexible enough to meet the individual needs of ECE graduate students while at the same time ensuring that all graduates complete a well-rounded program of study that will support their professional goals. Your courses should be divided into 3 groups to meet the MS ECE degree requirements. Note that only the non-thesis option is available at GT-Shenzhen.

Groups I and II – Selection of ECE 6xxx, 7xxx, and 8xxx Classes

ECE’s graduate level courses are grouped among 11 Technical Interest Areas (TIAs), listed below:

  • Bioengineering (BIO)
  • Computer Systems & Software (CSS)
  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
  • Electrical Energy (EE)
  • Electromagnetics (EM)
  • Electronic Design & Applications (EDA)
  • Microelectronics (Micro)
  • Modern Optics (Opt)
  • Systems & Controls (S&C)
  • Telecommunications (Telecom)
  • VLSI Systems & Digital Design (VSDD)

6xxx, 7xxx, and 8xxx level ECE courses offered by specific TIAs are used to satisfy these requirements, including Special Topics courses. Nine hours of 6000 level or higher coursework in one or two TIAs are needed to fulfill the Group I requirement. 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 that the degree requirements are met.

To verify the TIA of a particular course, look at the course listings on the ECE Website at or check the ECE Classes by TIA on the Graduate Projected Course Schedule. Cross-listed courses are indicated with the second TIA written in parentheses after the course number. Although ECE 6500 is listed under the Optics & Photonics TIA, it is considered a “wild card” course and can be treated as belonging to the DSP or S&C or Opt or Telecom TIA.

When choosing the 10 courses, make sure that 6-8 courses are from ECE, and of those ECE courses, at least 6 of them must have course numbers in the 6000-8999 range. Designate those 6 courses for Groups I and II of the MS ECE degree requirements. Any remaining ECE courses not used towards Groups I & II requirements can be allocated to Group III (elective).

The intention of the Group I requirement is for the student to achieve certain depth of knowledge in a given TIA, whereas the Group II requirement is intended for the student to attain breadth in ECE knowledge as well. For example, if a student takes 6 ECE graduate level classes belonging to 6 different TIAs, the Group I requirement will not be met. Another extreme is if a student takes 6 ECE graduate classes all in one TIA in which case the Group II requirement cannot be met.

The examples below are by no means exhaustive, but they illustrate how courses may be arranged to satisfy the Group I and II requirements of the MS ECE degree. Let us use letters A, B, C, D and E to designate the different TIAs.

Examples with 2 different TIAs:

  • Group I: A, A, A + Group II: A, B, B
  • Group I: A, A, A + Group II: B, B, B

Examples with 3 different TIAs:

  • Group I: A, A, A + Group II: A, B, C
  • Group I: A, A, B + Group II: B, C, C
  • Group I: A, A, B + Group II: C, C, C

Example with 4 different TIAs:

  • Group I: A, A, A + Group II: B, C, D

Example with 5 different TIAs:

  • Group I: A, A, B + Group II: C, D, E

As you can see, there is a great deal of flexibility in taking graduate level ECE courses to meet the Group I and Group II requirements.

Group III (Electives): 12 Hours

9 Hours of 4000 level courses can be used to fulfill the Group III, provided the ECE degree requirements are met.

Additional Important Considerations

The MS ECE Degree Requirements also specify that at least 21 of the 30 credit hours (i.e. 7 out of the 10 courses) must be at 6000 or higher levels. Although elective courses can be at the 4000 level, you cannot take only 4000 level courses for the Group III requirements since that would account for 12 of the 30 credit hours for the degree. Another overriding consideration is that your overall GPA must be at least 2.7 in order to graduate, and each of the courses that you use for the degree petition must have a grade of C or higher. If you earn a D or F grade in a course, that course cannot be used for the degree, but it is included in the GPA calculation. You will have to keep taking additional course(s) until you have earned grades C or above for at least 10 courses whose combination meets the Groups I through III requirements and until your overall GPA reaches the minimum 2.7. Thus it is possible for a student to have to take more than the minimum required 30 credit hours for the degree and spend more than 3 semesters to earn the degree if somewhere along the way, he/she earns a D or F grade, or chooses a combination of courses that do not meet the MS ECE Degree Requirements.

Elective hours outside of ECE or other technical/engineering/math/science disciplines may not be acceptable for the MSECE degree.  As a reminder, you should contact us before registration closes if you are not sure which courses are acceptable for electives.  In addition, only special problems (8903, 8902, and 8901) from ECE, CS, and CSE are acceptable to be used as electives for the graduate degree in ECE.

MS Coursework Planning Worksheet

GT-Shenzhen students are required to submit the MS Coursework Planning Worksheet by the first week of the second semester on the program.  Please email your completed coursework form to Ms. Chelcea Warren for review. Please be sure to complete all pertinent form fields (“grayed” text boxes). She will notify you if your coursework plan is problematic. Revisions to the coursework completion form should be submitted to Ms. Warren whenever coursework changes are made to your study plan and submitted online Failure to do so may result in your not taking the right mix of courses needed for graduation. Your final coursework form should be consistent with the degree petition paperwork that you submit to Georgia Tech.