M.S. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General

Who is the general contact for the ECE M.S. Degree?

Students can email the ECE Student Affairs Manager, Val de Veyra - val@ece.ucsb.edu.

The Student Affairs Manager can answer most questions related to graduate degrees or refer the student to the proper contact.

Plan I (Thesis Option)

Who can be on my thesis committee?

The Thesis Committee consists of the Thesis Advisor (generally the committee chair) and at least two additional faculty members. Both the Thesis Advisor and committee members are chosen by the student but the committee must be approved by the Thesis Advisor, Departmental Graduate Advisor, and Graduate Dean. The Committee must include at least three ladder faculty (not temporary faculty), two from the department and the third faculty member may be from another department. At the Department's discretion, a non-ladder faculty member may serve as a fourth committee member.

How far in advance should the M.S. Form I be completed?

The M.S. Form I (Thesis Committee Nomination form) should be completed as soon as the thesis committee is formed. A Conflict of Interest (COI) form must accompany it. The Graduate Division requires both forms before the thesis is submitted. The ECE Graduate Student Office processes both forms but the COI form requires the student's signature.

If I only had one course left to take to complete my course requirements for the Master's degree, can I take that course elsewhere or through UCSB Extension?

No, all courses must be taken at UCSB. However, some students go through a program called Intercampus Exchange Program Studies for Graduate Students (IEPGS) with other UC campuses. Details on this program are in the UCSB Graduate Division's Graduate Policies and Procedures Handbook.

Can I take undergraduate courses and apply those towards the degree?

Yes, under the thesis option, students may count up to 12 units of upper-division science or engineering electives. Upper-division courses required for either the Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering majors may not be counted towards the M.S. course requirements but will count towards the calculation of G.P.A.

Is a thesis defense required?

The department does not require a thesis defense. A thesis defense is at the discretion of a student's thesis committee.

If the committee requires me to do a thesis defense exam and how far in advance do I book a room?

Reserve a room as soon as possible can but no later than two weeks before the exam. Refer to the Room Reservation box on the M.S. Milestones and Procedures page.

What are the format requirements and and filing procedures for the thesis?

Reference Graduate Division's "Completion and Filing of the Thesis or Dissertation" page

What other paperwork is required to finalize my M.S. degree?

The M.S. Study Plan from the ECE Graduate Student Office is the clearance sheet for graduating.

  • Once a student submits the thesis with the Graduate Division, the student must inform the ECE Graduate Student Office to initiate the processing of the M.S. Study Plan since the date of thesis submission is required on the form.
  • If a student is registered the quarter in which the thesis has been submitted, instructors must have reported all grades for the quarter - especially for the courses reflected on the M.S. Study Plan before the M.S. Study Plan can be processed (i.e. signed by the student, their faculty advisor, etc.).
  • If a student is on a filing fee leave of absence during the quarter in which the thesis is submitted, then they must pay the filing fee, which is half of the registration fees for that particular quarter. Pay at the Cashier's Office (1212 SAASB).

Plan II (Comprehensive Exam Option)

What is the comprehensive exam and how is it different for each area (CE, CCSP, and EP)?

The exam is administered by a committee of three ladder faculty members selected by the student called the Examination Committee for the Degree of Master of Science. The formation of the M.S. Comprehensive Exam Committee follows the same procedure as the formation of the M.S. Thesis Committee. The student must pass the exam before the end of the quarter in which they plan to officially graduate. If a student fails the comprehensive examination on the first try, the decision to allow a second try is at the discretion of the Examination Committee.

Each program area (CE, CCSP, and EP) has a different format for the exam (Comprehensive Examination — Formats by Area - pdf)

Who can be on my comprehensive exam committee?

The formation of the M.S. Comprehensive Exam Committee follows the same rules as the formation of the M.S. Thesis Committee. The Committee must have at least three-ladder faculty (not temporary faculty), two of whom must be from the ECE department; the third faculty member may be from another department. At the Department's discretion, a non-ladder faculty member may serve as a fourth committee member. For those in Computer Engineering, the exam committee must consist of three faculty members with whom the student has taken, collectively, a total of three or more graduate-level Computer Engineering courses. A faculty member with whom the student has taken at least one graduate-level ECE course shall chair the committee. It is the student's responsibility to approach faculty to be part of the exam committee.

How far in advance should I book a room for the exam?

Reserve a room as soon as possible can but no later than two weeks before the exam. Refer to the Room Reservation box on the M.S. Milestones and Procedures page.

Can I do a project in lieu of the comprehensive exam?

Yes, this option is possible only for those with the CCSP (Communications, Control and Signal Processing) emphasis. The Computer Engineering exam is an oral exam, and this is at the discretion of the committee. The EP (Electronics & Photonics) is always oral. It's a power point presentation on a topic of the student's choosing. The topic presumably should relate to an area of concentration that the student has already chosen by their course selections. Whichever area, all students will need to form an exam committee.

What happens if I the exam?

For students who fail the comprehensive examination on the first try, the decision to allow a second try is at the discretion of the Examination Committee. So, it's a good idea to schedule the exam as early as possible during the quarter.

Can I take undergraduate courses and apply those towards the degree?

Yes, under the comprehensive exam option, one may count up to 16 units of upper-division science or engineering electives. Upper-division courses required for either the Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering majors may not be counted towards the M.S. course requirements but will count towards the calculation of G.P.A.

If I only had one course left to take to complete my course requirements for the Master's degree, can I take that course elsewhere or through Extension?

No, all courses must be taken at UCSB. However, some students could go through a program called Intercampus Exchange Program Studies for Graduate Students (IEPGS) with other UC campuses. This is reserved for students who wish to take courses related to their research or curriculum and such courses are not offered at UCSB. To apply for this program for a term, one must submit the requisite paperwork at least six weeks before the term for which they wish to be on IEPGS. Approval is not always guaranteed. Details on this program are in the UCSB Graduate Division's Graduate Policies and Procedures Handbook.

What other paperwork is required to finalize my M.S. degree?

The M.S. Study Plan from the ECE Graduate Student Office is the clearance sheet for graduating.

  • Once a student passes their comprehensive exam and the Graduate Student Office receives the paperwork back from the exam committee chair and all the coursework for the M.S. degree is completed, then we initiate the processing of the M.S. Study Plan since the date of the exam is required on the form.
  • If a student is registered the quarter in which s/he passes the comprehensive exam, instructors must have reported all grades for the quarter and especially for the courses reflected on the M.S. Study Plan before the M.S. Study Plan could be finally processed (i.e. signed by the student, their faculty advisor, etc.).
  • If a student is on a filing fee leave of absence during the quarter in which s/he passes the exam, then the student must pay the filing fee, which is half of the registration fees for that particular quarter. Pay at the Cashier's Office (1212 SAASB).