Areas of Concentration

ECE majors must select a minimum of four upper-level courses from the departmental Areas of Concentration

To provide depth, at least two of these courses must be selected from the same area. To provide breadth, courses from at least two different areas must be chosen.

Students who elect to complete a more in-depth pathway in Machine Learning can earn a Concentration in Machine Learning designation on their transcript.

  • For students expecting to enter the engineering profession after graduation, a two-course or three-course sequence prepares the student for professional work in that area of concentration
  • For all students, including those expecting to enter fields such as medicine, law, or business management, these upper-level courses reinforce the broad relevance of the powerful problem-solving methodologies of engineering and illuminate enabling technologies for breathtaking applications of technology

Important Notes

  • Some concentration areas have a foundation course identified in bold
  • If two (2) or more courses are taken in such a Concentration Area, the Foundation Course for that area must be taken
  • In the lists below, prerequisite courses are indicated by square brackets: [...]

Concentration Details

Click for info and courses

Computer Engineering and Digital Systems

This discipline is concerned with the operation and design of computers and computer-based systems. Although analog computers, in which electrical signals directly represent physical quantities, were historically important in the development of modern computers (and continue to be used in some systems), digital computers are today predominant and are the primary focus of the computer engineering effort in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Pratt School. The Computer Engineering curriculum begins with a course in logic design that studies the binary language of digital systems, and the means for manipulating and storing ones and zeroes to accomplish useful functions. Students can then study computer architecture (how modern computers work, and how to design them), computer networking, VLSI chip design, and other advanced topics. Computer engineering interfaces strongly with many other areas of electrical engineering (electronics, electromagnetics, signal processing, and control theory) as well as with computer science.

The Digital Systems curriculum is a set of advanced courses in the Computer engineering curriculum; it assumes that students have mastered the material in the two prerequisite courses ECE 250D and ECE 350L.


  • FOUNDATION COURSE - ECE 350L Digital Systems (Sp) [ECE 250D & COMPSCI 201] 
  • ECE 353 Intro to Operating Systems (C/L COMPSCI 310)(F, Sp) [COMPSCI 250D or ECE 250D]
  • ECE 356 Computer Network Architecture (F) [ECE 250D]
  • ECE 459 Introduction to Embedded Systems (F) [ECE 350L or ECE 331L or ECE 330L]
  • ECE 536 Synthesis & Verification of VLSI Systems (F) [ECE 350L]
  • ECE 538 VLSI System Testing (Sp) [ECE 350L]
  • ECE 539 Full Custom VLSI Design (F) [ECE 350L and ECE 331L]
  • ECE 552 Advanced Computer Architecture I (F) [COMPSCI 250D or ECE 250D]
  • ECE 553 Compiler Construction (Sp) [ECE 250D or COMPSCI 250D or (ECE 550D and ECE 551D)]
  • ECE 554 Fault-Tolerant and Testable Computer Systems (F) [ECE 250D or COMPSCI 250D]
  • ECE 555 Probability for Electrical and Computer Engineers (F) [MATH 216]
  • ECE 556 Wireless Networking and Mobile Computing (Sp) [ECE 356 or COMPSCI 310 or Instructor Permission]
  • ECE 557 Performance and Reliability of Computer Networks (Sp) [ECE 356 and ECE 555]
  • ECE 558 Computer Networks and Distributed Systems (C/L COMPSCI 514)(F)
  • ECE 559 Advanced Digital System Design (Sp) [pre-/co-req ECE 331L and pre-req 350L]
  • ECE 560 Computer & Information Security (F) [COMPSCI 310/ECE 353]
  • ECE 561 Datacenter Architecture (F) [ECE 250D or COMPSCI 250 or ECE 550D] 
  • ECE 562 Energy-Efficient Computer Systems (F) [ECE 250D or COMPSCI 250 or ECE 550D]
  • ECE 565 Performance Optimization and Parallelism (F) [ECE 250D and COMPSCI 310 and ECE 552]
  • ECE 566 Enterprise Storage Architecture (F) [COMPSCI 310/ECE 353]
  • ECE 567 Cyberphysical System Design (Sp) [ECE 350L and ECE 353/COMPSCI 310]
  • ECE 590 Full-Stack IoT Systems (S24, F24) [ECE 250D] -- now taught as ECE 655
  • ECE 590.01 Cyberphysical System Formal Methods (Sp17) [ECE 350L and ECE 353/COMPSCI 310]
  • ECE 590 Emerging Memory and Computer Architecture (F17, Sp19) [ECE 250D]
  • ECE 590 Conventional & Emerging Memory Systems (Sp20) 
  • ECE 611 Nanoscale and Molecular Scale Computing [ECE 350L and ECE 511]
  • ECE 652 Advanced Computer Architecture II (Sp) [COMPSCI 550 or ECE 552]
  • ECE 654 Edge Computing (Sp) [ECE/CS 350L or ECE/CS 356 or CS 310/ECE 353]
  • ECE 655 Full-Stack IoT Systems [ECE/CS 250D; ECE/CS 356 recommended]
  • ECE 661 Computer Engineering Machine Learning and Deep Neural Networks (F) [COMPSCI 201]
  • ECE 662 Machine Learning Accelerator & Neuromorphic Computing (F) [ECE 250D or ECE 552]
  • ECE 663 Machine Learning in Adversarial Settings (Sp) [ECE 580 or ECE 687D or CompSci 371D]
Signal Processing, Communications, and Control Systems

The disciplines concerned with representing, storing, interpreting, and transmitting information in systems of finite capacity in the presence of interference and noise; with extracting information from speech, image, video, radar, sonar, and medical data signals; and with using information, including feedback information comparing actual and desired system states, for controlling, shaping and stabilizing system performance in the presence of noise, delay, and inertia. Applications include telecommunications, intra- and inter-system communications, remote sensing, imaging, robotics, feed-back stabilized electronics, and the remote control of electro-mechanical systems, both large and small


  • ECE 381 Fundamentals of Digital Signal Processing (F) [ECE 280L and one of STA 130, MATH 230, ECE 380, or ECE 555]
  • ECE 382 Linear Control Systems (F and Sp) [ECE 280L]
  • ECE 383 Introduction to Robotics and Automation (F) [ECE 280L or ME 224L]
  • ECE 480 Applied Probability for Statistical Learning [Math 216 or Math 218D-2 or equivalent, and statistics]
  • ECE 483 Introduction to Digital Communication Systems (Sp) [ECE 280L and statistics]
  • ECE 485 Digital Audio and Acoustic Signal Processing (Sp) [ECE 280L and statistics]
  • ECE 486 Wireless Communications Systems (F) [ECE 280L and statistics]
  • ECE 488 Digital Image and Multidimensional Signal Processing (Sp) [ECE 280L and statistics]
  • ECE 495.08 Introduction to Robotics (F21) [Math 216 and co-requisite ECE 382L]
  • ECE 495.01 Introduction to Natural Language Processing (F24) [Math 218D-2 and (EGR 103L or CS 201) and statistics] 
  • ECE 580 Introduction to Machine Learning [ECE 280L and (Math 216 or Math 218D-2) and CS 201 and ECE 480]
  • ECE 588 Image and Video Processing (F) [ECE 280L and (Math 216 or Math 218D-2) and statistics]
  • ECE 590.06 (Sp23) The Fourier Transform and Applications [ECE 280L or ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 681 Pattern Classification and Recognition Technology [(Math 216 or Math 218D-2) and statistics]
  • ECE 682D Probabilistic Machine Learning [(Math 216 or Math 218D-2) and (Stat 250 or Stat 611)]
  • ECE 684 Natural Language Processing (F) [ECE 480 or ECE 580 or ECE 581 or ECE 682D/STA 561D/COMPSCI 571D] 
  • ECE 685D Introduction to Deep Learning (F) [ECE 580 or ECE 681 or ECE 682D/STA 561D/COMPSCI 571D]
  • ECE 687D Machine Learning (F) [ECE 580 or ECE 681 or ECE 682D/STA 561D/COMPSCI 571D]
Solid-State Devices and Integrated Circuits

This area is concerned with the properties and manufacture of building-block devices (diodes, transistors, lasers) used in integrated circuits to build electronic and photonic systems. Example applications include: digital computer components (CPUs, RAM, GPUs), telecommunications equipment components (parts essential for cell phones, digital switches, wifi routers), and displays, which underlie a large array of consumer products (televisions, tablets, touch-screen systems). It also encompasses the burgeoning field of microelectromechanical, micromechanical and microfluidic devices made possible by the fabrication techniques underlying integrated circuit manufacture.


  • ECE 330L Fundamentals of Microelectronic Devices (F) [ECE 230L]
  • ECE 331L Fundamentals of Microelectronic Circuits (F and Sp) [ECE 230L]
  • ECE 511 Foundations of Nanoscale Science and Technology (Sp) [Physics 152L and Chem 101DL]
  • ECE 512 Emerging Nanoelectronic Devices (Sp) [ECE 230L]
  • ECE 524 Introduction to Solid State Physics [ECE 521 or Phys 264L]
  • ECE 526 Devices for Integrated Circuits (F) [ECE 330L]
  • ECE 527 Analog Integrated Circuits (Sp) [ECE 526]
  • ECE 528 Nanoscale Integrated Circuit Chip Technology (Sp) [ECE 230L and Chem 101DL]
  • ECE 529 Digital Integrated Circuits (Sp) [ECE 331L]
  • ECE 532 Analog Integrated Circuit Design (Sp) [ECE 330L or ECE 331L]
  • ECE 539 Full Custom VLSI Design (F) [ECE 350L and ECE 331L]
Engineering Physics (formerly Electromagnetic Fields)

The discipline concerned with the underlying laws of nature (specifically those governing electromagnetic, optical, and quantum phenomena) and how those laws can be applied. Application areas for electromagnetics, optics, and quantum mechanics are extremely broad and include communication systems, radar, radio astronomy, transmission lines, waveguides, optical fibers, cameras, remote sensing, quantum-based communication encryption, and quantum computing.


  • ECE 340L: Optics and Photonics (F) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 370D: Intermediate Electromagnetic Theory (F) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 420/520: (Grad) Introduction to Quantum Engineering (F) [ECE 270DL and ECE 280L and (Math 216 or Math 218D-2)]
  • ECE 521: Quantum Mechanics [Math 216 or Math 218D-2]
  • ECE 523: Quantum Computing (Sp) [ECE 521 or PHYSICS 464]
  • ECE 524 Introduction to Solid State Physics [ECE 521 or Phys 264L]
  • ECE 541: Advanced Optics [ECE 340L]
  • ECE 542: Holography and Coherent Imaging [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 543: Statistical Optics [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 571 Electromagnetic Theory (alt F) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 572 Electromagnetic Communication Systems (Sp) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 573 Optical Communication Systems (F) [ECE 270DL & 280L]
  • ECE 574 Waves in Matter (Sp) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 575 Microwave Electronic Circuits (Sp) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 577 Computational Electromagnetics (F) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 621: Quantum Error Correction [ECE 420 or ECE 520 or ECE 523]
  • ECE 623: Quantum Information Theory [ECE 521 or PHYSICS 464 or (Math 216 or Math 218D-2)]

The discipline concerned with the application of optical and optoelectronic technologies in information science. Photonic applications include information transmission on fiber and free space networks, data storage on disks and volume media, visible and infrared imaging systems, and displays. The Duke photonics program emphasizes hands-on experience with optical systems in communications, sensing, and display applications. Photonic engineering at Duke spans experiences as diverse as logical layer analysis of network protocols over fiber systems, analysis and testing of fiber dispersion, materials studies for optical memory, design of 3D microscopes for biomedical imaging, testing of liquid crystal materials and interfaces, analysis and construction of quantum dynamic systems, and explorations of laser-material and laser-tissue interactions.


  • ECE 340L Optics & Photonics (F) [ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 341L Solar Cells (Sp) [Physics 152L or equivalent]
  • ECE 449 Sensor and Sensor Interface Design (Sp) [ECE core courses and (ECE 330L or ECE 331L or ECE 340L or ECE 350L)]
  • ECE 523 Quantum Computing (alt Sp) [ECE 521 or PHYSICS 464] (Note the similar but different ECE and PHYSICS course numbers!)
  • ECE 545 Foundations of Nanoelectronics and Nanophotonics (Sp) [ECE 230L and ECE 270DL]
  • ECE 546 Optoelectronic Devices for Optical Fiber Networks (F) [ECE 526]
  • ECE 573 Optical Communication Systems (F) [ECE 270DL and ECE 280L]