University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
Prof. Susan Hagness in the classroom, point to wave forms projected on a screen.

Professor Susan Hagness describes illustrated examples of electromagnetic waveforms while teaching a graduate-level class. Photo by Jeff Miller.

The department offers graduate studies leading to the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees. The master's program emphasizes the enhancement of professional knowledge and research techniques. The doctorate is a research degree emphasizing creativity and original approaches to problem-solving in electrical and computer engineering.


The typical graduate course load is eight to 12 credits per semester, which can include research credits. We encourage degree candidates to select major professors and begin research work soon after enrolling, preferably by the beginning of their second semester in residence.


Master of Science Degree


The MS degree in electrical engineering is awarded for successful completion of any one of three options designated by the ECE department. An MS degree in electrical engineering is awarded in one of three ways: course, project, or thesis option. All MS applicants will be evaluated on their fundamental proficiencies after they have been admitted. If evidence of proficiency is insufficient, the student must take the fundamental exam or the fundamental courses.


The thesis option consists of 24 semester hours of graduate credits and approval of a master's thesis based on independent research. Three to six of the 24 hours are earned as a result of a research program.


The project option consists of the same requirements as the thesis option, except that a project of more limited scope is substituted for the thesis. A student may choose to diminish the level of course work slightly in either the thesis or project options at the expense of increasing the credit requirement to 27 semester hours.


The course option consists of 30 semester hours of course work but no research, project or thesis.


Doctor of Philosophy Degree


A student who is admitted to the PhD program must pass the PhD Qualifier Examination (QII), usually in the 4th semester, and achieve Advanced Graduate Standing (AGS) by the ECE department Graduate Committee. Students must satisfy the UW-Madison Graduate School credit requirement, and pursue a major, secondary, and minor field of study in consultation with a faculty advisor.


The doctoral program involves a study phase with course requirements in the student's major area of study, describing the proposed dissertation research, and culminating in the presentation and oral defense of an original research thesis. Typical minor programs draw upon the expertise of mechanical engineering, computer sciences, math and physics.


Research at both the MS and PhD levels can be performed within interdisciplinary cooperative projects.