Master of Science

The Duke Master of Science (MS) in Electrical and Computer Engineering is an advanced engineering degree that provides you with the skills you need to succeed in a technology career in industry, research, or government.

Wankun Zhu

"The programming courses I took at Duke gave me broader options with my career choices."

Wankun Zhu
Software engineer, Google
Read Wankun's story »

Our curriculum is flexible and tailor-made by you, working in collaboration with your adviser and your graduate committee.

During the program, you will take specialized technical coursework. Many of our students also broaden their professional foundations through activities such as internships. Exceptional students also have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants.

Concentrate your studies in:

  • Computer Engineering: Including software development and hardware design
  • Signal and Information Processing and Robotics: Including Big Data analysis and robot design
  • Engineering Physics: Including information physics and metamaterials
  • Microelectronics, Photonics and Nanotechnology: Including nanoelectronics and optoelectronics

Degree requirements, detailed below, include:

  • 30 course credits
  • Coursework-only,
    Project and Thesis options

How To Apply

Areas of Concentration

Computer Engineering

Our concentration area in computer engineering is especially geared toward preparing you for a job in the technology industry.

Masters students interested in a research-focused degree (often in preparation for a PhD) can complete a degree one in any of these areas, working closely with our world-class faculty.

Software Development

Our highly dedicated and experienced computer engineering faculty includes leading researchers who literally wrote the book on programming.

Our curriculum is designed for students whose undergraduate degrees may not be in engineering or computer science. We’ll make you a serious programmer.

Key Courses

  • ECE 551D: Programming, Data Structures, and Algorithms in C++
  • ECE 550D: Fundamentals of Computer Systems and Engineering
  • ECE 651: Software Engineering
  • ECE 650: Systems Programming and Engineering

Other Notable Courses

  • ECE 553: Compiler Construction
  • ECE 555: Probability for Electrical and Computer Engineers.
  • ECE 558: Computer Networks and Distributed Systems
  • ECE 564: Mobile Application Development
  • ECE 565: Performance, Optimization, and Parallelism
  • ECE 590: Enterprise Storage Architecture
  • ECE 563: Cloud Computing
  • ECE 590: Engineering Robust Server Software [New in Spring 2017]

Hardware Design

Duke ECE master's students learn in the classroom and the lab from faculty working on new, resilient hardware architectures for emerging platforms, spanning the gamut from major datacenters to personal mobile devices.

Several faculty members working hardware design have industry experience, including holding visiting research positions at Microsoft Research and Intel Corp.

Key Courses

  • ECE 550D: Fundamentals of Computer Systems and Engineering
  • ECE 552: Advanced Computer Architecture I
  • ECE 559: Advanced Digital Design
  • ECE 539: CMOS VLSI Design Methodologies

Other Notable Courses

  • ECE 555: Probability for Electrical and Computer Engineers.
  • ECE 561: Datacenter Computing
  • ECE 562: Energy Efficient Computing
  • ECE 652: Advanced Computer Architecture II
  • ECE 590: Enterprise Storage Architecture
  • ECE 554: Fault Tolerant and Testable Computer Systems
  • ECE 526: Semiconductor Devices for Integrated Circuits
  • ECE 532: Analog Integrated Circuit Design.
  • ECE 538: VLSI System Testing

Sample Degree Plan

First Year

Fall Semester

Most students take both of these:

  • ECE 551D: Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms in C++
  • ECE 550: Fundamentals of Computer Systems and Engineering

And, one of these math-for-engineers classes:

  • ECE 555: Probability for Computer Engineers
  • ECE 590.xx: Vector Space Methods With Applications

Spring Semester

Most students take both of these:

  • ECE 651: Software Engineering
  • ECE 650: Systems Programming and Engineering

And, one of these based on their interests:

  • ECE 590.xx: Engineering Robust Server Software
  • ECE 563: Cloud Computing

Other available courses, based on offerings, include:

  • Engineering Robust Server Software
  • Datacenter Architecture
  • Heterogenous Computing
  • Energy-Efficient Computer Systems
  • Fault Tolerant and Testable Computer Systems

Second Year

Choose from a variety of advanced ECE and Computer Science courses, such as:

  • ECE 564: Mobile App Development
  • ECE 552: Advanced Computer Architecture I
  • ECE 565: Perf/Optimize/Parallel
  • ECE 558: Computer Networks
  • ECE 553: Compiler Construction
  • CompSci 512: Distributed Systems
  • CompSci 510: Grad OS
  • CompSci 531: Graduate Algorithms

Other courses, based on available offerings, may include:

  • Datacenter Architecture
  • Heterogenous Computing
  • Energy Efficient Computer Systems
  • Fault Tolerant and Testable Computer Systems
  • Advanced Computer Architecture II

Or, take pursue advanced opportunities such as:

  • Independent study
  • MS Final Project

Signal and Information Processing and Robotics

Duke ECE has a strong experimental and theoretical research presence in novel and structured metamaterials, surface science, electromagnetic and acoustic waves, quantum sciences, imaging systems and communication systems. 

Big Data Analysis

Our courses in data analysis prepare you for a role in the fast-emerging field of Big Data, through which many of the most important scientific and technological advances of the next several decades will flow.

Our focus on data analysis provides master's students with the tools to manage and interpret large amounts of data through a thorough grounding in the mathematical foundations of Big Data, training in practical programming, and instruction in machine learning, statistics and information theory.

Key Courses

  • ECE 590: Vector Space Methods With Applications
  • ECE 581: Random Signals and Noise
  • ECE 551: Programming, Data Structures, and Algorithms in C++
  • ECE 681: Pattern Classification and Recognition Technology.
  • STA 561: Probabilistic Machine Learning

Other Notable Courses

  • ECE 582: Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 590: Textual Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • ECE 590: Uncertainty Analysis [new Spring 2016]
  • STA 601: Bayesian Methods and Modern Statistics
  • ECE 587: Information Theory

Robotics

Our Robotics Group trains students in the Duke ECE master's degree programs for work in the design of unmanned aerial vehicles, intelligent vehicles, sensor networks, motion planning and controls, and cyber-physical systems.

Key Courses

  • Fundamentals of Robotics
  • Robot Decision Making
  • Robot Planning, Perception and Control
  • Advanced Robot Systems Design (offered starting fall 2018)

Other Notable Courses

  • CEE 690: Numerical Optimization
  • ECE 551D: Programming, Data Structures, and Algorithms in C++
  • ECE 590.xx: Vector Space Methods With Applications
  • ECE 581: Random Signals and Noise
  • ECE 681: Pattern Classification and Recognition Technology
  • ECE 588: Image and Video Processing
  • STA 561: Machine Learning
  • ME 548(263). Multivariable Control
  • ME 542(230). Modern Control and Dynamic Systems
  • ME 555.XX: Autonomous Systems Engineering
  • ME 555.XX: Human Factors Engineering

Engineering Physics

Duke ECE is home to international leaders in information physics research, embodied in pathbreaking programs in metamaterials, quantum devices, and optical systems. This interdisciplinary research involves the design, fabrication and testing of revolutionary new devices, based on novel physical concepts, with a foundation in rigorous computational modeling in electromagnetics and quantum mechanics.

Microelectronics, Photonics and Nanotechnology

Microelectronics, photonics and nanotechnology (MPN), is a highly vertically integrated area, ranging from innovative materials, devices, and interconnects, through chip-scale integrated systems. Duke ECE is home to international leaders in MPN-related interdisciplinary research, including the areas of nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, microfluidic systems, integrated optics, sensors, integrated multifunctional devices/systems, energy conversion devices, and quantum sensors. MPN research at Duke is highly interdisciplinary, and includes the fabrication of devices and circuits through the state-of-the-art Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMIF) cleanroom and characterization lab. .

Our concentration area in MPN is designed to either prepare students for PhD research or to enable them to directly obtain engineering jobs in the broad semiconductor industry:  

Nanoelectronics

Our curriculum on nanoelectronics is designed by leaders in the field to either prepare students for PhD research or to enable them to directly obtain engineering jobs in the broad semiconductor industry. Additionally, students are eligible to leverage Duke’s strength in nanoscience across the university by receiving the Graduate Certificate in Nanoscience in conjunction with their MS or MEng. 

Coursework in this area will provide master’s students with a strong foundation in solid-state and quantum device theory, along with device design, fabrication, operation, and characterization. The deep industry experience of our MPN faculty will prepare master’s students to succeed in nanoelectronics, and the semiconductor industry in general, through the following:

Key Courses

  • ECE/NANOSCI 511: Foundations of Nanoscale Science & Technology
  • ECE 512: Emerging Nanoelectronic Devices
  • ECE 526: Semiconductor Devices for ICs
  • ECE 521: Quantum Mechanics

Other Notable Courses

  • ECE 523: Quantum Information Science
  • ECE 527: Analog Integrated Circuits
  • ECE 528: Integrated Circuit Engineering
  • ECE 529: Digital Integrated Circuits
  • ECE 532: Analog Integrated Circuit Design
  • ECE 533: Biochip Engineering
  • ECE 546: Optoelectronic Devices
  • ECE 722: Quantum Electronics 

MS Degree OPtions

A minimum of 30 units of earned graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the MS degree. The distribution of these 30 units depends upon whether a student chooses the courses-only, project, or thesis option.

Click below for details:

Coursework Only

Coursework Requirements (30 units total)

  • 12 units of graduate-level ECE courses (ECE 899 courses may not be used as part of this requirement)
  • 6 units of approved graduate-level technical electives (ECE 899 courses may not be used as part of this requirement) from Engineering (including ECE), Math, Statistics, Computer Science, or Natural Science (i.e., Chemistry, Physics, Biology), or other courses approved by the faculty
  • 12 units approved graduate-level electives

Note:

  • Graduate-level courses are numbered 500 and above
  • No more than two ECE 899: Independent Study courses may be used to satisfy MS degree coursework requirements.
  • Undergraduate courses do not satisfy requirements for the MS degree.
  • English for International Students (EIS) courses do not count toward the 30 total units required for the MS degree.
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing and to graduate.
  • Course selection is formally approved by submitting a Program of Study form

Coursework MS Final Exam

The Graduate School requires a final exam approved by a committee made up of three Graduate Faculty members, one of whom must be from a department other than ECE or outside the student’s main curricular area. The committee must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of the Graduate School at least one month prior to the examination date. The student is not required to generate a written document for the ECE department, and the format of the exam is determined by the department.

Download the MS Coursework Evaluation Form

Project

Coursework Requirements (30 units total)

  • 12 units of graduate-level ECE courses (ECE 899 courses may not be used as part of this requirement)
  • 15 units approved graduate-level electives
  • 3 units of ungraded research

Note:

  • No more than two ECE 899: Independent Study courses may be used to satisfy MS degree coursework requirements.
  • Undergraduate courses do not satisfy requirements for the MS degree.
  • English for International Students (EIS) courses do not count toward the 30 total units required for the MS degree.
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing and to graduate.
  • Course selection is formally approved by submitting a Program of Study form

Project MS Final Exam

For the project option, a written research report and oral presentation are required to be presented to a committee made up of the student's advisor and two other members of the graduate faculty, one of whom must be from a department other than ECE or outside the student’s main curricular area. The committee must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of the Graduate School at least one month prior to the examination date. The format of the written and oral project reports are determined by the student’s advisor. The project report is not submitted to the Graduate School; however, a final copy must be submitted to the ECE Department.

Download the Project MS evaluation form

Thesis

Coursework requirements (30 units total)

  • 12 units of Graduate-Level ECE coursework (excluding ECE 899)
  • 12 units of Approved Electives chosen to provide a coherent program of study
  • 6 units of ungraded research

Note:

  • No more than two ECE 899: Independent Study courses may be used to satisfy MS degree coursework requirements.
  • Undergraduate courses do not satisfy requirements for the MS degree.
  • English for International Students (EIS) courses do not count toward the 30 total units required for the MS degree.
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing and to graduate.
  • Course selection is formally approved by submitting a Program of Study form

Thesis MS Final Exam

A written thesis must be uploaded by the guidelines presented in the Graduate School’s Guide for the Electronic Submission of Thesis and Dissertation, and the thesis must be defended orally before a committee composed of the faculty member under whose direction the work was done and at least two other members of the graduate faculty, one of whom must be from a department other than ECE or outside the student’s main curricular area. The committee must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of the Graduate School at least one month prior to the examination date.

Download the Thesis MS evaluation form

Download complete MS Requirements

Additional Details

Application Deadline

Cost of Attendance

Financial Aid and Fellowships

Because many master's degrees are professional degrees rather than research degrees, most students pay their own tuition costs. Many students use student loans and believe there will be an excellent return on investment.

In certain circumstances, we provide limited financial aid to Master of Science (MS) students.

Diversity Scholarships

For MS, limited financial aid is available to highly qualified candidates through academic scholarships with an emphasis on increasing diversity within our master's degree programs.

Underrepresented minorities may receive up to 50 percent per year in tuition scholarship through our Diversity Scholarships. Additionally, up to $10,000 per year may be allocated for the student to gain experience in a research setting under the direction of a principal investigator (PI).

Externally Funded Scholarships

For MS students, we also offer support to recipients of select competitive externally funded scholarships, such as:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowships
  • Fulbright Scholar Program

Fellowships

Some departments will occasionally provide some reduced-tuition assistance, but most of Pratt’s masters students pay through a combination of loans and their own money.

Also see Duke Graduate School Master Student Financial Aid web page.

Federal Loan Programs

Duke University offers the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Programs for graduate students, including Stafford unsubsidized loans, Graduate PLUS, and Perkins loans. Each of these loans has different terms and conditions, but they are generally deferrable until after graduation or until the student is enrolled for less than half-time.

These federal loans are available only to United States citizens. Visit the Duke Financial Aid website for more information and application procedures for student loans.

On-Campus Work

While enrolled in the program, many students work in a variety of places, such as campus libraries and various departments within Duke. Teaching assistantships are available in various departments, and some departments have research assistantships as well.

These positions are paid an hourly rate, and most students work between 10 to 20 hours per week. Positions are generally posted and filled just a week or two before classes begin each semester.