Santa Clara University

Graduate Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering Degree Programs

For all degree programs, students should also refer to the graduate engineering bulletin for more complete information.


Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering

The MSCSE degree requires a minimum of 45 quarter units of work. During the first term of enrollment, all students must file a program of studies in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Foundation Courses

All students admitted to the MSCSE program are expected to already have competence in the fundamental subjects listed below, as required within an accredited program for a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering or Computer Science. An applicant without such background may still be admitted, provided the deficiencies are corrected by coursework that is in addition to the normal degree requirements and that is completed within the first year of graduate studies. Alternatively, a student may take a similar course at another approved accredited institution. The subjects and corresponding SCU courses that may be used to correct the deficiencies include:

  • Logic Design (COEN 21)
  • Data Structures (COEN 12)
  • Computer Organization and Assembly Language (COEN 20 or ELEN 33)
  • Discrete Math (AMTH 240)
  • Probability (AMTH 210)
  • One of Differential Equations (AMTH 106), Numerical Analysis (AMTH 220 and 221), or Linear Algebra (AMTH 245 and 246)
  • One additional advanced programming course or one year of programming experience in industry
MSCSE Core (12 units)
  • COEN 210 — Computer Architecture (4 units)
  • COEN 279 — Design and Analysis of Algorithms (4 units)
  • COEN 283 — Operating Systems (4 units)

Note that COEN 233 (Computer Networks) and COEN 256 (Principles of Programming Languages) are no longer part of the MSCSE core starting in 2007–2008.

MSCSE Specialization Track (12–20 units, including track electives)

A theory course approved by the advisor in the area of specialization is required. A student must take a minimum of 8 units of COEN 300 or above courses. The following are suggested courses for each area of specialization; suggested courses may be replaced by other graduate courses with advisor’s approval.

  • Data Science: COEN 280, 281, 272, and one of the following: COEN 241, 242, 266, 317, 380, AMTH 212, 247, and other classes as approved by advisor

  • Software Engineering: COEN 260, 275, 285, 286, 385, and 386

  • Information Assurance: COEN 225, 250, 252, 351; AMTH 387; and one of the following: COEN 226, 253, 254, or 350

  • Multimedia Processing: COEN 201, 202, 238, and 338; and 6 units from AMTH 211, COEN 290, 336, 339, 340, 343, 347, ELEN 241, 244, or 444

  • Computer Networks: COEN 233, 239, and at least 12 units from COEN 234, 235, 236, 315, 316 , 317, 329, 331, 332, 335, 337, 338, 339, 347, 350, 351 (at least 6 units of 300-level courses)

  • Computer Architecture and Systems: COEN 307, 313, 318, and 320; and 4 units from COEN 203, 204, 207, 208, 218, 301, 303, 319

Free Electives

Students must complete sufficient units to bring the total to at least 45. All electives must be approved by an academic advisor.


Master of Science in Software Engineering

The MSSE degree requires a minimum of 45 quarter units of work. All applicants for the Master of Science in Software Engineering program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year program.

The program (sample course plans) consists of a software engineering core, a set of software engineering electives, and a capstone project. The electives expose each student to multiple areas of study within technology, thus providing breadth to their technical proficiency. Students must work with their advisor to select 15 units of appropriate software engineering electives. The capstone project comprises three consecutive terms of effort and provides an opportunity for students to apply their technical breadth and the core engineering principles toward the development of a complex, team-oriented software project.

MSSE Core (20 units)
  • COEN 260 — Truth, Deduction, and Computation (4 units)
  • COEN 275 — Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (4 units)
  • COEN 285 — Software Engineering (4 units)
  • COEN 286 — Software Quality Assurance and Testing (2 units)
  • COEN 288 — Software Ethics (2 units)
  • COEN 385 — Formal Methods in Software Engineering (2 units)
  • COEN 386 — Software Architectures (2 units)

MSSE Electives (15 units)

  • Restricted electives: 4 or more units selected from COEN 200–399
  • Free electives: 11 or more units selected from any graduate course offering
MSSE Capstone Project (6 units)
  • Students are expected to register for three consecutive quarters of COEN 485
  • Students may not register for more than 2 units of COEN 485 in any one term
Free Electives

Students must complete sufficient units to bring the total to at least 45. All electives must be approved by an academic advisor.


Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Engineering

The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is conferred by the School of Engineering primarily in recognition of competence in the subject field and the ability to investigate engineering problems independently, resulting in a new contribution to knowledge in the field. The work for the degree consists of engineering research, the preparation of a thesis based on that research, and a program of advanced studies in engineering, mathematics, and related physical sciences. The student’s work is directed by the department, subject to the general supervision of the School of Engineering.

The student and his or her advisor jointly develop a complete program of studies for research in a particular area. The complete program of studies (and any subsequent changes) must be filed with the Engineering Graduate Programs Office and approved by the student’s Doctoral Committee. Until this approval is obtained, there is no guarantee that courses taken will be acceptable toward the Ph.D. course requirements.

A minimum of four consecutive quarters of full-time study must be undertaken at the University for the doctorate; spring and fall quarters are considered consecutive. The residency time shall normally be any period between passing the preliminary examination and completion of the thesis. For this requirement, full-time study is interpreted as a minimum registration of 8 units per quarter during the academic year and 4 units during summer session. Any variation from this requirement must be approved by the Doctoral Committee.

A preliminary written exam is offered at least once per year by the School of Engineering as needed. The purpose is to ascertain the depth and breadth of the student’s preparation and suitability for Ph.D. work.

After passing the Ph.D. preliminary exam, a student requests his or her thesis advisor to form a doctoral committee. The committee consists of at least five members, each of which must have earned a doctoral degree in a field of engineering or a related discipline. This includes the student’s thesis advisor, at least two other current faculty members of the student’s major department at Santa Clara University, and at least one current faculty member from another appropriate academic department at Santa Clara University. The committee reviews the student’s program of study, conducts an oral comprehensive exam, conducts the dissertation defense, and reviews the thesis. Successful completion of the doctoral program requires that the student’s program of study, performance on the oral comprehensive examination, dissertation defense, and thesis itself meet with the approval of all committee members.

All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within eight years following initial enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Extensions will be allowed only in unusual circumstances and must be recommended in writing by the student’s doctoral committee, and approved by the dean of engineering in consultation with the Graduate Program Leadership Council.

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