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 SCU coursework that is in addition to the normal degree requirements and that is completed within the first year of graduate studies.

  • Logic Design (COEN 21)
  • Data Structures (COEN 12)
  • Computer Organization and Assembly Language (COEN 20)
  • Discrete Math (COEN 19 or AMTH 240)
  • Probability (AMTH 108 or 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)

In consultation with an advisor, a student is encouraged to choose courses from one of the following specialization tracks:

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.

Upon the student’s request, the advisor will form a Doctoral Committee. The committee will consist of at least five members, including the thesis advisor and at least two members from the Department of Computer Engineering. The committee must also include at least one member from outside the department, preferably from outside the School of Engineering. The Doctoral Committee will review the proposed program of studies and determine any further changes that may be required prior to approving the program.

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