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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

Students with undergraduate degrees in physics, mathematics, or related sciences, as well as in various branches of engineering, are invited to apply for admission. They should typically be able to complete the master's degree in five academic quarters; note that many courses are not taught during the summer. Students with undergraduate degrees in other fields may also be admitted for graduate study; see below.

The master's degree program may provide advanced preparation for professional practice or for teaching at the junior college level, or it may serve as the first step in graduate work leading to the degree of Engineer or Ph.D. The faculty does not prescribe specific courses to be taken. Each student, with the help of a program adviser, prepares an individual program and submits it to the faculty for approval. The master's program proposal must be submitted to the department office during the first quarter of graduate study; modifications may be made until one quarter prior to degree conferral. Detailed requirements and instructions are in the Handbook for Graduate Students in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University ( Programs of at least 45 units that meet the following guidelines are normally approved. Cognate (extradepartmental) courses of the appropriate level are considered as Electrical Engineering courses.

  1. A sequence of three or more letter-graded electrical engineering courses numbered above 200, to provide depth in one area. The student must maintain an average 3.0 grade point average (GPA) or better in both the depth area and overall courses taken.
  2. At least one letter-graded EE course numbered above 200 in each of three distinct course areas outside of the area selected under item 1 to provide breadth. Two courses are not considered to be in distinct areas if they can be found under a common depth area.
  3. Enough additional units of EE courses so that items 1 through 3 total at least 21 units of letter-graded EE courses numbered above 200, including at least 9 units of such courses numbered in the 300s or 400s. Some 600- or 700-level summer courses may also be considered for inclusion in the M.S. program. Special studies units may not be used.
  4. Additional course work to bring the total to 45 or more quarter units
    1. of which at least 36 must be letter-graded units
    2. of which 36 units must be at or above the 100 level
    3. of which 30 units must be in technical areas such as engineering, mathematics, and science
    4. thesis and special studies units cannot be included.
  5. Either (a) one formal EE seminar course for credit, or (b) attend a minimum of eight informal or formal EE research seminars, and submit with the final M.S. program a list of the seminars with a paragraph describing the content and the signature of the M.S. adviser. This requirement is to ensure that students sample the many available research seminars.

Capable students without formal undergraduate preparation in electrical engineering may also be admitted for graduate study. Such students may have graduated in any field and may hold either the B.S. or B.A. degree. Each student, with the help of an adviser, prepares a program of study to meet particular needs and submits it to the faculty for approval. A student with adequate preparation in mathematics through calculus and college physics including electricity can usually complete the M.S. degree requirements within two academic years. A student with some additional preparation in electrical engineering may be able to complete the M.S. requirements in only one academic year.

Graduate study in EE demands that students be adequately prepared in circuits, digital systems, fields, lab work, mathematics, and physics. Skill in using modern computing facilities is essential for electrical engineers, and an increasing number of courses routinely require it. This skill should be acquired early in the program, either by taking one of the regular computer science courses or one of the special short courses given by the Computation Center, or by self-study.

It is the student's responsibility, in consultation with an adviser, to determine whether the prerequisites for advanced courses have been met. Prerequisite courses ordinarily taken by undergraduates may be included as part of the graduate program of study. However, if the number of these is large, the proposed program may contain more than the typical 45 units, and the time required to meet the degree requirements may be increased.

Students working toward the Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering who are considering a Ph.D. or Engineer degree program in Electrical Engineering at Stanford must request the addition of a new degree program by submitting a Graduate Program Authorization Petition for approval by the department. The petition must be submitted and approved at least one quarter prior to M.S. degree completion. Once the M.S. degree in EE has been conferred, a student may not register for additional course work without this approval. Permission to study beyond the M.S. degree is normally granted to students who were originally admitted to the Ph.D. program if the student:

  1. has passed the Ph.D. qualifying examination within the past year, or
  2. has a written commitment from a regular member of the EE faculty to serve as an Engineer or Ph.D. dissertation adviser, and has a satisfactory academic record to date.

Students originally admitted only for the M.S. degree and not to the Ph.D. program may petition the EE graduate admissions committee during Autumn Quarter of their second year at Stanford for a change of status to the Ph.D. program with permission to take the Ph.D. qualifying exam in January. Requirements for the petition include a grade point average of 3.5 on Stanford courses and a written statement of support from an EE faculty member with whom the student has conducted preliminary research through directed reading (EE 390 or 391) or as part of a 300-level project course. Decisions are based on performance and the strength of the support letter. If admitted to the Ph.D. program, permission to study beyond the M.S. degree is normally granted under the same conditions as those described above for students originally admitted to the Ph.D. program. Students not admitted to the Ph.D. program are normally granted permission to continue past the M.S. degree only if there is a written commitment from a regular member of the EE faculty to serve as an Engineer dissertation supervisor. The student should file for candidacy for the Engineer degree within one quarter of receiving the M.S.


The Department of Electrical Engineering and the School of Law offer a joint degree program leading to an M.S. degree in EE combined with a J.D. degree. The J.D./M.S. program is designed for students who wish to prepare themselves for careers that involve both Law and Electrical Engineering.

Students interested in this joint degree program must apply to and gain admission separately from the Department of Electrical Engineering and the School of Law, and as an additional step, secure consent from both academic units to pursue both degrees simultaneously. Interest in the program should be noted on a student's application to each academic unit. A student currently enrolled in either the Department of Electrical Engineering or the School of Law may apply for admission to the other academic unit and for joint degree status after commencing study in that unit.

Joint degree students may elect to begin their study in either the Department of Electrical Engineering or the School of Law. Faculty advisers from each academic unit participate in the planning and supervising of the student's joint program. In the first year of the joint degree program, students must be enrolled full-time in the School of Law. Students must satisfy the requirements for both the J.D. and the M.S. degrees as specified in the Stanford Bulletin.

The Electrical Engineering Department approves courses from the Law School that may count toward the M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering, and the Law School approves courses from the Department of Electrical Engineering that may count toward the J.D. degree. In either case, approval may consist of a list applicable to all joint degree students or may be tailored to each individual student's program.

No more than 45 quarter hours of approved courses may be counted toward both degrees. No more than 36 quarter hours of courses that originate outside the School of Law may count toward the Law degree. To the extent that courses under this joint degree program originate outside of the School of Law but count toward the Law degree, the School of Law credits permitted under Section 17(1) of the Law School Regulations shall be reduced on a unit-per-unit basis but not below zero.

The maximum number of School of Law units that may be counted toward the M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering is the greater of:

  1. 12 units


  2. the maximum number of units from courses outside of the department that M.S. candidates in Electrical Engineering are permitted to count toward the M.S. degree under general departmental guidelines, or as set forth in the case of a particular student's individual program.

Tuition and financial aid arrangements are typically administered through the school in which the student is enrolled.


Many of the department's graduate students are supported by the Honors Cooperative Program (HCP), which makes it possible for academically qualified engineers and scientists in nearby companies to be part-time graduate students in Electrical Engineering while continuing nearly full-time professional employment. Prospective HCP students follow the same admission process and must meet the same admission requirements as full-time graduate students. For more information regarding the Honors Cooperative Program, see the "School of Engineering" section of this bulletin.

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