Jul 21, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Engineering, M.S.Cp.E.

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Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering admission requirements for an M.S. degree, applicants are required to satisfy the following:

  1. A bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science or closely related discipline. Applicants with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines may also be admitted to the program and may be required to take articulation coursework.
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.000 on a 4.000 scale in the student’s junior and senior years.
  3. A reasonable level of mathematical maturity.

Degree Requirements

In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering degree requirements for an M.S. degree, candidates are required to satisfy the following:

  1. Either 24 credit hours of coursework and a master’s thesis or 30 credit hours of coursework.
  2. Twelve credit hours of core courses. Students on campus are required to register for a seminar course (for zero credit hours) for at least one term and secure a grade of Pass.
  3. Six credit hours of concentration. Thesis students take six credit hours of thesis, instead of concentration.
  4. Twelve credit hours of electives. All students are allowed to take at most three credit hours of independent study, which will be counted as one elective course.

The ECE Department requires that the courses taken constitute a coherent program leading to mastery in computer engineering. These requirements are discussed in the subsequent subsections. Any deviation from the stated requirements must be approved in writing from the student’s adviser and department chair.


All students entering the program are expected to possess knowledge equivalent to the following courses:

  • CS 1341 - Principles of Computer Science
  • CS 1342 - Programming Concepts
  • CS 2240/ECE 3381 - Assembly Language Programming and Machine Organization
  • CS 2341 - Data Structures
  • CS 2353 - Discrete Computational Structures
  • CS 3353 - Fundamentals of Algorithms
  • CS 3381/ECE 2381 - Digital Logic Design
  • CS 4381/ECE 3382 - Digital Computer Design


Students with deficiencies may be granted conditional admission to the program and be required to take some of courses as articulation. Students are required to complete these articulation courses, maintaining a minimum 3.000 GPA. A student who fails to achieve this record is automatically dropped from the graduate program, may not enroll in graduate courses and may be denied the right to petition for readmission. Students who maintain the minimum 3.000 GPA in these courses may advance into the balance of their plan of study. As nearly as possible, these articulation courses should be completed before the courses in the balance of the plan of study are attempted. An articulation course must be completed before undertaking any graduate coursework, which requires it as prerequisite.

Residency and Level Requirements

A minimum of 30 graduate credit hours must be earned toward an M.S. degree, of which at least 24 must be earned in residency at SMU. Up to six credit hours may be transferred with departmental approval. Of the 30 credit hours needed for graduation, at least nine credit hours must be at the 8000 level, with the remainder at the 7000 level or above. For the 8000-level courses, at least six credit hours must be ECE or CS courses.

Distribution of Courses

Courses are considered to be core, concentration or elective. Core courses cover material fundamental to graduate-level computer engineering and are required of all students. Each student is expected to specialize in some area of computer engineering. The concentration area is a mechanism by which students can tailor a coherent program of study to their interests. Electives are courses taken to round out the 30 credit hour requirement. Transferred credit hours may be used to satisfy any of these requirements. The specific requirements are discussed in detail in the following subsections.

Course Requirements

A student who elects to take the nonthesis option must take 12 credit hours of core courses and 18 credit hours of electives. The electives may be selected from available graduate-level course offerings in the Lyle School of Engineering, subject to the residency and level requirements and adviser approval. Those who elect to take the thesis option will substitute 6 of the elective credit hours with thesis credit hours.

Total: 12 Credit Hours


Electives may be selected from available graduate-level course offerings in the Lyle School of Engineering, subject to the residency and level requirements and adviser approval.

Total: 18 Credit Hours

Thesis Option

A student may elect to write a master’s thesis, which counts as the six credit hours of electives. The student must register for at least six credit hours under ECE 7(1–6)96. If the thesis option is chosen, all other requirements are the same. The six credit hours of thesis satisfy six of the nine required credit hours for advanced (8000 level) courses.

A master’s thesis represents one or more of the following: synthesis of divergent ideas or a scholarly critique of current literature, a creative research activity or a significant design project, the results of which must be documented in a well-written thesis. The thesis should be of publishable quality, and it is recommended that it be submitted to an appropriate conference or journal before the thesis defense.

A thesis must be supervised by a faculty adviser selected by the student. Any full-time faculty member supporting the student’s concentration area may serve as the thesis adviser. It is the student’s responsibility either to find an adviser willing to provide a thesis topic or willing to supervise a topic of the student’s choosing.

Once the student has found an adviser and a topic has been selected, the student and adviser should jointly form a thesis supervisory committee. This committee must consist of at least three members. The adviser chairs this committee. The makeup of this committee must be approved by the chair of ECE and the director of the graduate division.

The student must provide the members of the committee with a written thesis proposal. Typically, this will be done before the faculty agrees to serve on the committee.

A thesis is judged by the supervisory committee based upon technical merit, originality and presentation. The thesis must be presented orally to the committee at a thesis defense. A copy of the thesis must be made available to each member of the committee at least two weeks before the planned defense. The defense must be scheduled with the ECE department office and posted in appropriate bulletin boards. The defense is open to the public.

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