Computer Engineering involves knowledge of hardware and software development. The students learn how to design new generations of computers, as well as embedded computing systems, such as those found in smartphones, cars, appliances, computer networks, smart factories, and the internet-of-things. The program covers the entire digital integrated circuit design process targeting Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), using various optimization criteria, such as speed, cost, power, energy, reliability, and security. It also encompasses the complete software development process targeting microcontrollers, microprocessors, multi-cores, and Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). It teaches students how to efficiently partition the system into software and hardware components, and develop high-performance interfaces between these two parts. Project-oriented courses and labs expose students to modern computer-aided design tools for hardware and software design. The students master the art of writing comprehensive technical reports and giving successful oral presentations. The computer engineering program offers the following concentrations: computer architecture and embedded systems, computer networks, digital signal processing, digital system design, hardware security and cryptographic engineering, internet of things and network security, and space-based systems.

Admissions

Requirements

To be considered for admission to the degree, applicants should have a baccalaureate degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or a closely-related discipline from an accredited program and have earned a GPA of B or better during the last 60 credits. Other requirements are as follows:

  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably from academic references or references in industry or government who hold advanced degrees and are familiar with the applicant’s professional accomplishments
  • Resume and detailed statement of career goals and aspirations
  • For students who have not earned a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. university, satisfactory performance on the GRE
  • For applicants who have not earned an academic degree in an English-speaking country (as defined here), a satisfactory score on any of the English proficiency examinations accepted by Mason, namely, TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. Satisfactory scores are specific to Volgenau School of Engineering and are listed here.

Students with BS or MS degrees in ECE-related disciplines (for example, computer science, cyber security engineering, mathematics, mechanical engineering, or physics) are encouraged to apply for admission. Domestic students may be admitted provisionally and required to satisfy provisional requirements before taking advanced coursework. Such students may also be advised to take some courses from the undergraduate electrical or computer engineering curriculum, according to their intended concentration and specific backgrounds.

Policies

Student Advising

Students can select a concentration from those available in the MS degree program at the time of application to the program or later during their studies. In the former case, students are assigned an academic advisor from the selected concentration at the time of admission. In the latter case, students can petition for a change of an academic advisor to match their concentration choice.

Plan of Study

Before completing 6 credit hours of coursework, each student must submit to the department a plan of study that has been approved by the academic advisor. This plan should be kept up to date by regular consultation with the academic advisor. A final, signed version of the plan must be turned in when the student submits a graduation application.

Banner Code: VS-MS-CPE

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students must complete a minimum of 30 graduate credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. The plan of study for the degree must fulfill the following requirements:

Core Course Requirement

Select 15 credits from the following:15
Hardware Security
Internet of Things
Computer Architecture
Mobile Systems and Applications
Learning From Data
Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Introduction to Wireless Communications and Networks
Digital Signal Processing
Computer Network Architectures and Protocols
Digital System Design with VHDL
Advanced Computer Architecture
Applied Cryptography
Master's Thesis 1
Total Credits15

Concentration Requirement

Accomplished by choosing one of the concentrations, and then meeting course requirements for this concentration with the grade B or better in each course. For each concentration, related ECE 590 Selected Topics in Engineering courses can be used in addition to all explicitly listed 500-level courses, and related ECE 699 Advanced Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering courses can be used in addition to all explicitly listed 600 level or above courses, subject to approval by the student’s academic advisor. With assistance from their advisors, students may petition the graduate program coordinator to approve a specialization area of their own design, not fulfilling the requirements of any concentration.

Available Concentrations

Concentration in Computer Architecture and Embedded Systems (CAES)

Required Courses
ECE 511Computer Architecture3
ECE 516Mobile Systems and Applications3
Total Credits6
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Operating Systems
Analysis of Algorithms
Internet of Things
Real-Time Concepts
Digital System Design with VHDL
Advanced Computer Architecture
Real-Time Embedded Systems
Software/Hardware Codesign
Advanced Mobile Systems and Applications
Total Credits9

Concentration in Computer Networks (CNWK)

Required Courses
ECE 528Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering3
ECE 542Computer Network Architectures and Protocols3
Total Credits6
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Internet of Things
Introduction to Wireless Communications and Networks
Error Control Coding
Design and Analysis of Computer Communication Networks
Network Switching and Routing
Applied Cryptography
Wireless Networks
High-Speed Networks
Advanced Applied Cryptography
Total Credits9

Concentration in Digital Signal Processing (DISP)

Required Courses
ECE 535Digital Signal Processing3
ECE 545Digital System Design with VHDL3
Total Credits6
 
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Learning From Data
Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sensor Engineering
Introduction to Wireless Communications and Networks
Introduction to Digital Image Processing (DIP)
Software/Hardware Codesign
Software-Defined Radio
Error Control Coding
Adaptive Signal Processing
Computer Arithmetic
Advanced Digital Signal Processing
Digital Signal Processing Hardware Architectures
Total Credits9

Concentration in Digital System Design (DSYD)

Required Courses
ECE 511Computer Architecture3
ECE 545Digital System Design with VHDL3
Total Credits6
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Hardware Security
Learning From Data
Digital Integrated Circuits
Software/Hardware Codesign
Computer Arithmetic
VLSI Design for ASICs
VLSI Test Concepts
Digital Signal Processing Hardware Architectures
Total Credits9

Concentration in Hardware Security and Cryptographic Engineering (HSCE)
Required Courses
ECE 505Hardware Security3
ECE 545Digital System Design with VHDL3
Total Credits6
 
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Computer Architecture
Learning From Data
Computer Network Architectures and Protocols
Digital Integrated Circuits
Software/Hardware Codesign
Error Control Coding
Computer Arithmetic
Applied Cryptography
VLSI Design for ASICs
Advanced Applied Cryptography
Cryptographic Engineering
Total Credits9

Concentration in Internet of Things & Network Security (INNS)
Required Courses
ECE 508Internet of Things3
ECE 542Computer Network Architectures and Protocols3
Total Credits6
 
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Real-Time Concepts
Computer Architecture
Sensor Engineering
Advanced Computer Architecture
Real-Time Embedded Systems
Error Control Coding
Design and Analysis of Computer Communication Networks
Applied Cryptography
Advanced Applied Cryptography
Cryptographic Engineering
Object-Oriented Software Specification and Construction
Secure Software Design and Programming
Total Credits9
Concentration in Space-Based Systems (SBSY)
Required Courses
ECE 511Computer Architecture3
ECE 580Small Spacecraft Engineering3
Total Credits6
Electives
Select at least three courses from the following, including two courses at the 600 level or above:9
Real-Time Concepts
Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sensor Engineering
Digital Signal Processing
Digital System Design with VHDL
Advanced Computer Architecture
Real-Time Embedded Systems
Software/Hardware Codesign
Software-Defined Radio
Adaptive Signal Processing
Applied Cryptography
Space Systems Engineering
Digital Signal Processing Hardware Architectures
Cryptographic Engineering
Total Credits9

Upper-Level Course Requirement

A minimum of 9 credit hours of ECE or CS courses at the 600 level or above, other than ECE 799 (including, but not limited to, the selected concentration electives), with the grade B or better in each course. No more than 3 credit hours of either ECE 698 or ECE 798 may be used to fulfill this requirement.

ECE Course Requirement

A maximum of 6 credits of non-ECE courses may be used to fulfill degree requirements, subject to prior approval by the student's academic advisor, in the form of a plan of study signed by the advisor and submitted to the ECE Office. Additional 6 credit hours of CFRS, CS, ISA, or SWE courses may be used to fulfill degree requirements, subject to the same approval process.

Electives

Electives can be chosen from among all ECE graduate courses, as well as related graduate courses with other designations. The students are encouraged to discuss their choice of electives with their academic advisor prior to the registration.

GPA Requirements

A maximum of 6 credits of courses with grades of C or B- may be applied toward the degree. The student must present a GPA of at least 3.00 for all courses submitted for degree conferral.

Seminar Requirement

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.

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 Engineering Seminar in subsequent semesters until the requirement is met.

Thesis/Scholarly Paper Option

To complete the program, students may select one of the following options:

Thesis Option

Students who select this option must complete:

ECE 799Master's Thesis6
Coursework24
Total Credits30

The thesis is particularly recommended for those students who wish to develop and document their research skills or contemplate subsequent enrollment in a PhD program. The thesis involves a research effort, which is conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Choosing the thesis option requires approval of a full-time faculty member willing to serve as a thesis advisor. The topic and scope of the thesis must be approved by the thesis 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.

This committee consists of at least three full-time faculty members, including two affiliated with the MS in Computer Engineering Program, one of whom must be from the ECE Department. Thesis students may not register for ECE 798 Research Project. Students must register for at least 3 credits of ECE 799 Master's Thesis for their first thesis semester. Following their first thesis semester, they must register for at least 1 credit of ECE 799 Master's Thesis each fall and spring semester until graduation.

Scholarly Paper Option

Students who select to complete their degree program with a scholarly paper must:

Complete 30 credits of coursework30
ECE 797Scholarly Paper0
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
Total Credits30

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 will be published on the department website. 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 Scholarly Paper 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.

Computer Engineering, BS/Computer Engineering, Accelerated MS

Overview

The university offers highly-qualified students in the Computer Engineering, BS the option of obtaining an accelerated Computer Engineering, MS.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students in the Computer Engineering, BS program may apply to this option if they have earned 75 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of 3.00. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the Computer Engineering, MS program.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy the requirements for the BS and MS programs, with 6 credits overlap.

Students take 6 credits of 500-level courses as part of their technical electives or substitutes for required courses as part of their 126-credit undergraduate program. The specific courses that may be taken and applied to the accelerated program will be specified by the ECE Department.

Students may take additional graduate-level courses as part of their BS technical electives with advisor approval. These additional graduate-level courses will not count toward the MS degree.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements to have the BS degree conferred. In addition, at the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must complete a Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form that is submitted to the Office of the University Registrar and the VSE Graduate Admissions Office. At the completion of MS requirements, a master's degree is conferred.

Computer Science, BS/Computer Engineering, Accelerated MS

Overview

The university offers highly-qualified students in the Computer Science, BS the option of obtaining an accelerated Computer Engineering, MS.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students in the Computer Science, BS program may apply for this option if they have earned 75 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.00. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the Computer Engineering, MS program.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy the requirements for the BS and MS programs, with 6 credits overlapping.

Students take 6 credits of 500-level ECE or CS courses as part of their technical electives or substitutes for required courses in the Computer Science, BS program.

Specifically, students are encouraged to take two of the following courses:

CS 571Operating Systems 13
ECE 508Internet of Things3
ECE 511Computer Architecture3
ECE 516Mobile Systems and Applications3
ECE 527Learning From Data3
ECE 542Computer Network Architectures and Protocols3

Degree Conferral

Students must apply the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements to have the BS degree conferred. In addition, at the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must complete a Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form that is submitted to the Office of the University Registrar and the VSE Graduate Admissions Office. At the completion of MS requirements, a master's degree is conferred.

Cyber Security Engineering, BS/Computer Engineering, Accelerated MS

Overview

The university offers highly-qualified students in the Cyber Security Engineering, BS the option of obtaining an accelerated Computer Engineering, MS.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students in the Cyber Security Engineering, BS program may apply for this option if they have earned 75 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.00. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the Computer Engineering, MS program.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy the requirements for the BS and MS programs, with 6 credits overlapping.

Students take 6 credits of 500-level ECE or CS courses as part of their technical electives or substitutes for required courses in the Cyber Security Engineering, BS program.

Specifically, students are encouraged to take two of the following courses:

CS 571Operating Systems3
ECE 505Hardware Security3
ECE 508Internet of Things3
ECE 511Computer Architecture3
ECE 542Computer Network Architectures and Protocols3

Degree Conferral

Students must apply the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements to have the BS degree conferred. In addition, at the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must complete a Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form that is submitted to the Office of the University Registrar and the VSE Graduate Admissions Office. At the completion of MS requirements, a master's degree is conferred.

Electrical Engineering, BS/Computer Engineering, Accelerated MS

Overview

Highly-qualified students in the Electrical Engineering, BS have the option of obtaining an accelerated Computer Engineering, MS.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students in the Electrical Engineering, BS program may apply to this option if they have earned 75 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of 3.00. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the Computer Engineering, MS program.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy the requirements for the BS and MS programs, with 6 credits overlap.

Students take 6 credits of 500-level courses as part of their technical electives or substitutes for required courses as part of their 121-credit undergraduate program. The specific courses that may be taken and applied to the accelerated program will be specified by the ECE Department.

Students may take additional graduate-level courses as part of their BS technical electives with advisor approval. These additional graduate-level courses will not count toward the MS degree.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements to have the BS degree conferred. In addition, at the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must complete a Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form that is submitted to the Office of the University Registrar and the VSE Graduate Admissions Office. At the completion of MS requirements, a master's degree is conferred.