Master’s students select one of the three programs of study. Students can select the thesis, project, or course option. Master’s students select one of the three programs of study. Students can select the thesis, project, or course option.

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Graduate Study
Curriculum & Requirements for MS Program

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers master’s degrees in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.

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Master of Science Degree Areas

Computer Science

Courses and research in computer science include artificial intelligence, including models of memory and reasoning, knowledge representation, natural language understanding, planning, and problem solving; human computer interaction; distributed interactive systems; theoretical computer science, focusing on algorithm design and analysis; “frictionless” proactive context and task-sensitive information retrieval systems; distributed and real-time systems, networks, performance analysis, prediction and scheduling, Internet, and grid application development; and computer graphics and human computer interfaces for spatial applications, visualization, and computer entertainment.

Computer engineering

Courses and research in computer engineering include computer systems, computer architecture, distributed and parallel systems, parallel processing, parallel algorithms, computer networks, hardware software interaction, VLSI design, embedded systems, numerical analysis, systems simulation, robotics, neural networks, switching networks, and large-scale systems.

Electrical Engineering

Courses and research in electrical engineering include solid-state devices, quantum electronics, electronic materials, fiber optics, lasers, optical materials, nano-photonics, spintronics, microwave and electromagnetic theory, computational electromagnetics, communication systems and networks, information theory and coding, detection and estimation theory, control and large-scale systems, digital circuits, digital signal processing, image, speech, acoustic, and tactile processing, computer vision and robotics, ultrasonics, and biomedical electronics.

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MS Program Requirements

At least 12 units of graduate study are required for the MS degree. Typically, one unit of credit corresponds 
to a one-quarter course. With the exception of EECS 590, all courses must be taken for a grade. All coursework for the MS degree must be taken within the Northwestern University Graduate School and must be completed within five years. Every MS student is required to take at least three relevant courses at the 400 level. Not all coursework must be taken in EECS; exceptions are allowed based on the recommendation of the student’s adviser and the approval of the graduate committee. The courses completed for undergraduate credit at Northwestern or elsewhere cannot be repeated for graduate credit.

In addition to the coursework, each student working toward an MS degree in electrical and computer engineering or computer science must choose one of the following plans to be approved by the student’s adviser.

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Degree Plans

Plan A (Thesis MS)

The student must write an MA thesis for which he or she may receive two or three units of research credit 590. This can be counted toward the 12-unit requirement for the MS degree. The thesis must be approved by the student’s MS examination committee.

Plan B (Project MS)

The student must complete a project and write a project report for which he or she will receive one or two units of research 590, which can be counted toward the 12-unit requirement for the MS degree. The difference between an MS thesis and an MS project is that the thesis normally has substantial original research results, while a project contains results based on existing theory or techniques. The project report must be approved by the student’s MS examination committee.

Plan C (Course MS)

The student must take 12 courses approved by the student’s adviser. The choice of courses must represent a coherent program of study that prepares the student for advanced work in a specific field. The student’s performance in the coursework will be evaluated by an MS examination committee. Not all programs allow this option.

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Residency Requirement

The minimum residency requirement for the MS degree is the equivalent of three quarters of full-time registration in graduate courses. Full-time registration is defined as three or four course units per quarter.

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Graduate Study Manual

For more information about the requirements for the master of science program and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, please download the department’s graduate study manual.

Graduate Study Manual