Master's Degree Requirements
(Revised and in effect on May 7, 2019)
Degree Offered: M.S.E.C.E.
Non-Thesis Option: Graduate students who are enrolled in the M.S. non-thesis option must earn a minimum of 30 credits;
- 7 courses must be in ECE (minimum 21 credits). (*CMPSI 677 AND CMPSI 611 may be considered as ECE courses for this requirement)
- 7 courses at 600 level* or higher (minimum 21 credits).
- Up to 3 courses from: a) ECE 500 level, and/or b) outside ECE 400 or 500 level.
- At most 6 credits of 400 level courses (outside the major field)
- Only one (1) ECE or Non-ECE Independent Study Course is allowed.
- Registration for a one credit seminar course (ECE 793-Fall and 794-Spring) is MANDATORY, but this credit does not count toward total credit requirements.
- Credits transferred from another institution cannot be used to satisfy the university’s requirement for graded credits nor the 600-800 course level requirement. Graduate courses which have been applied toward any baccalaureate or advanced degree may not be used for fulfilling requirements for any other Master's degree at the university.
Thesis Option: Graduate students who are enrolled in the M.S. thesis option must take and pass a minimum of seven (7) graduate courses and earn a minimum of nine (9) thesis credits. These 7 graduate courses must meet the following requirements:
- A minimum of five (5) courses (at least 15 credits) at the ECE 6xx* level or higher (*CMPSI 677 AND CMPSI 611 may be considered as ECE courses for this requirement).
- Up to two (2) courses from ECE 5xx level and/or from non-ECE 4xx/5xx levels.
- Only one (1) ECE 696 independent study course or non-ECE graduate independent study course with a maximum of 3 credits.
- Registration for a one (1) credit seminar course (ECE 793-Fall and ECE-794-Spring) is MANDATORY for graduation, but this course does not count towards total credit for degree requirements.
- Credits transferred from another institution cannot be used to satisfy the university’s requirements for graded credits nor the 600-800 course level requirements. Graduate courses which have been applied toward any baccalaureate or degree may not be used for fulfilling requirements for any other Master’s degree at the university. In addition to the requirements which apply to all master's degree candidates, the following requirements apply specifically to graduate students who must submit a Master's thesis:
- Committee: Preparation of the Master's thesis shall be under the direct supervision of a Thesis Committee. That committee shall consist of 3 faculty members from the student's major program. Only on rare occasions are committee members appointed outside of UMass 5-college campus. To initiate this process the following must be submitted to the ECE Graduate Office: 1) a letter of support from the student’s faculty advisor with strong justification; 2) curriculum vitae of outside faculty member. To appoint a nonvoting outside member, a curriculum vitae is needed. The committee must be nominated prior to the presentation of the M.S. Thesis Outline/Proposal. A thesis committee has been officially constituted when the Graduate Dean sends formal notification of its formation to all members, to the Graduate Program Director, and to the student. Members of the Thesis Committee must agree to not only assist in the supervision of the thesis project, but also to attend the thesis defense. Selection of the committee is a matter of "academic judgment," which should be made by the GPD and the Department Chair, and approved by the Graduate Dean. Please remember that most faculty are on a 9-month contract and do not assume that committee members will be available during the summer months.
- Thesis Outline/Proposal: A master's candidate must prepare a suitable thesis outline/proposal to be approved and signed (on the cover sheet) by each member of the Thesis Committee and the Department Head. The original, signed (by all committee members) thesis outline cover sheet and one original of the M.S. outline/proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Program Office for departmental approval a minimum of four (4) months prior to the date that the final thesis defense will be scheduled.
- Thesis Defense: An oral thesis defense (final defense) must be scheduled by the student and announced to the Graduate Program Office at least one week (5 days) before the defense date, by the Committee Chair. The result of the Thesis Defense must be sent immediately following the defense to the Graduate Program Office by the Committee Chair. The student must submit the approved (signed by all committee members), original of the thesis cover sheet to the Academic Programs Office immediately following the defense. These originals will be signed by the department head, a copy will be kept in the student file and the originals will be returned to the student for submission with two originals of the M.S. Thesis to the Graduate Degree Requirements Office in Goodell Building.
Master's Thesis: The master’s thesis is required to be electronically submitted through the University of Massachusetts Amherst Scholarworks Web site. Refer to the handout "Electronic Guidelines for Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations."
- Thesis Credit: A Master's with Thesis degree candidate must register for nine (9) Master’s Thesis credits, ECE 699. These credits do NOT count toward the 600 level course degree requirement.
- Language requirement: Not required
- General Examination: Not required
Degree Eligibility Form: The Degree Eligibility Form must be completed by all Master's degree candidates and submitted to the Graduate Program Office to be approved/signed by the Graduate Program Director and the Department Head. The graduate student should verify the accuracy of the information on this form from his/her records (see SPIRE). The completed form, with appropriate fees & signatures, must be received by the Office of Degree Requirements by the posted deadline. These deadlines are strictly observed and will not be extended. Degrees CANNOT be awarded retroactively. You must complete the student portion of this form and submit it to the Graduate Program Office at least three (3) days IN ADVANCE of the deadline for verification and signatures. It will then be forwarded to the Office of Degree Requirements where it will be held until your degree work is complete. Students should arrange to pay their graduation fees to the Office of Degree Requirements.
NOTE: Degree Eligibility Forms are NOT routinely mailed to graduate students; they can be obtained in the ECE Graduate Program Office, 210 Marcus Hall. The M.S. Degree Eligibility Form is available on-line at:
A minimum of 3.00/4.00 GPA is required to be eligible for graduation by the Graduate School. Degrees are issued approximately two months after the graduation deadline. If you require a verification of degree eligibility, please send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our department may provide you with a temporary certificate, depending on your circumstances.
- Credit Requirements: Minimum number of dissertation credits required: 18. The department requires no minimum number of credits beyond the completion of the required “core” courses for the doctoral program, with the exception of dissertation credits and seminar. Registration for a one credit seminar course (ECE 793-Fall & 794-Spring) is MANDATORY for all students registered for credits (students paying program fee are exempt). This seminar credit does not count toward degree eligibility requirements.
- Residency Requirements: A doctoral candidate must spend the equivalent of at least one academic year of full-time graduate work (minimum 9 credits per semester – no exceptions) in residence at the University. The residency year must be either a Fall/Spring or Spring/Fall sequence. During this year, the student must spend some part of each week physically on campus.
- Language Requirement: Not required
- Preliminary Comprehensive Examination: The Preliminary Comprehensive Exam consists of two (2) parts: (1) The Core Requirement, including the four-course core curriculum in residence (see “Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination Policy”); (2) Research Qualifying Exam, including documentation and presentation of a research project involving the formation of a four (4) member committee; submission of documentation and an oral presentation (see “Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination Policy”).
- Research Qualifying Examination Results: The result of the Research Qualifying Examination (Oral Comprehensive Examination) is e-mailed to the ECE Graduate Program Director by the student’s faculty advisor.
Doctoral Dissertation Committee: As soon as possible after the student has completed all core requirements and passed the Research Qualifying Exam (passed the Preliminary Comprehensive Exam), the Doctoral Dissertation Committee is formed by the student and nominated to the Graduate Program Director by the student’s proposed Committee Chair.
From the Graduate Student Handbook: The dissertation committee is composed of at least three (3) graduate faculty members; the chairperson, 1 other member from the candidate's department, and 1 member from outside the candidate's department. [Only on rare occasions are committee members appointed outside of UMass 5-college campus (see p. 52). Note: To appoint a non-voting outside member, a curriculum vitae is needed.] Members of the Dissertation Committee must agree to not only assist in the supervision of the dissertation project, but also conduct (be present at) the Final Oral Examination (Final Dissertation Defense). Students should remember that most faculty are on a 9-month contract and should not assume that committee members will be available during the summer months. The Graduate Dean makes the official committee appointment. The committee is officially constituted when the Graduate Dean sends formal notification (letters) of its formation to each committee member, the Graduate Program Director, and to the student.
- Dissertation Credit Requirement: The total number of dissertation credits (ECE 899) required are18 credits. There is no maximum number of dissertation credits to which a student is limited; however, a student can register for only a maximum of nine (9) dissertation credits per semester. Doctoral candidates will not be recommended to the Board of Trustees for graduation unless they have the requisite minimum number of dissertation credits (18) and have met all degree requirements.
- Dissertation Prospectus/Outline: After completing the core requirements and passing the Research Qualifying Exam (passing the Preliminary Comprehensive Examination), the graduate student must prepare a dissertation prospectus/outline describing the research to be conducted, analyzed, and presented in the dissertation. The cover sheet must be signed by each member of the Dissertation Committee to indicate approval of the topic and its plan of execution. The prospectus/outline must be received by the Graduate School at least seven (7) months prior to the Final Oral Examination/Dissertation defense.
- Announcement of Final Oral Dissertation Defense: At least seven (7) months following the presentation of the dissertation outline, the student must schedule the final oral dissertation defense in consultation with his/her committee chair. Notice by email must be sent to the Graduate Program Director by the Committee Chair at least 5 weeks in advance of the defense date. Written notification of the scheduling of a Final Ph.D. Oral Defense must be sent to the Office of Degree Requirements by the Graduate Program Director no less than four (4) weeks prior to the date of the defense. The exam must be held on campus. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be present at the defense. An examination/defense cannot be held unless it has been publicly announced by the Graduate School.
- Final Oral Dissertation Defense Results: Immediately following the final defense, the members of the committee present must sign the original dissertation signature sheets in indelible black pen. The Department Head’s signature will be obtained by the Graduate Programs Office and the original sheets returned to the student. A copy will be kept in the student’s permanent file. The student is responsible to deliver the original dissertation to the Degree Requirements Office. The results of the final defense are sent to the Graduate School by the ECE Graduate Programs Office.
- Dissertation: The dissertation must be typed in a prescribed format on acid-free paper. Refer to the handout entitled Typing Guidelines For Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation, available on-line and on paper in the Office of Degree Requirements. The dissertation must be approved and signed by all members of the dissertation committee in black indelible pen. Following notification to the GPD that the student has passed the final defense (including submission of the signature sheets), the ECE student submits the original dissertation and one copy to the Office of Degree Requirements. The Graduate School is the final and only arbitrator of what is an acceptable dissertation.
- Degree Eligibility Form: The Ph.D. Degree Eligibility Form is obtained from the ECE Graduate Programs Office. It must be completed by all doctoral degree candidates and submitted to the ECE Graduate Programs Office for signature/approval by the Graduate Program Director and the Department Head at least ONE week prior to the official Graduate School posted deadline with a current printed SPIRE unofficial transcript attached. The completed form will be sent to the Graduate School by the ECE Graduate Programs Office following approvals. The student is responsible for submitting the dissertation, all appropriate fees, and the Survey of Earned Doctorates and University Microfilms forms to the Office of Degree Requirements by the posted deadline. These deadlines are strictly observed and will not be extended. Degrees cannot and will not be awarded retroactively.