Return to: School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science
The Field of Computer Engineering integrates topics across Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Computer engineers design, program, produce, operate, and maintain computer and digital systems. They generally apply the theories and principles of science and mathematics to the design of hardware, software, networks, and processes to solve technical problems. Hence research in Computer Engineering covers a broad spectrum of topics, such as robotics, cyber-physical and embedded systems, computer architecture, parallel and grid computing, computer networks, digital system design methodologies, computer security, distributed, mobile, cloud computing, dependable computing, lower-power and high performance VLSI, wireless health devices, networks, and systems, computer vision, graphics, and image analysis. (engineering.virginia.edu/computer-engineering-program)
The CpE Program offers a Ph.D. degree, the primary focus of which is a dissertation describing publishable quality research (directed by a faculty advisor) of significant depth. The CpE Program also offers two Masters degrees: a Master of Science (MS), which requires a thesis, and a Master of Engineering (ME). The time limit for degree completion after entering the Masters program is five years for the MS and seven years for the ME although the average time for completion is two years. The time limit for the PhD degree completion is seven years although most students graduate in five years. Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the following CpE Graduate Program requirements.
Research Areas of Focus
The faculty of both the Department of Computer Science and the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering welcome Computer Engineering students who combine interest in hardware and software. Students have the freedom to focus on a traditional research area or to work with faculty in both departments to develop a personalized area of research interest. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
- Computer Architecture And High Performance Computing
- Computer Security, Privacy & Cryptography
- Cyber-Physical Systems
- Data Science, Data Mining And Machine Learning
- Dependable, Resilient And Reconfigurable Computing
- Embedded Systems, Autonomous Systems , and Wireless Sensor Networks
- High Performance Computing
- Human-Machine Learning
- Internet Of Things (IoT) And Physical Systems
- Medical and Wireless Health
- Image Processing
- Mobile, Distributed And Cloud Computing
- Networks And Internet
- Smart And Connected Health Systems
- Smart Energy And Power Management
- Smart Cities
- VLSI; System-On-Chip; Low-Power Design
English Language Requirements
All new graduate students whose native language is not English are tested for English proficiency near the beginning of their first semester at UVA. All non-native speakers of English must take the Virginia Language Proficiency Exam (UVELP) administered by the Center for American English Language and Culture. If the student is being appointed to a Graduate Teaching Assistant position (CS 8897, CS 9897, ECE 8897, ECE 9897), he/she will take the SPEAK test instead. Portions of the Virginia Language Proficiency Exam and the SPEAK Test are merged into a single composite exam. The exam is used to assess the students English skills and to place the student in the appropriate ESL course administered by the Center for American English Language and Culture. The student must meet the minimum requirements in English prior to defending the thesis. Students must pass this test before:
- Taking the Qualifying Examination
- Being appointed to a Graduate Teaching Assistant position or commencing a doctoral-program Graduate Teaching Experience.
- Applying for a graduate degree.
If a pass grade is not achieved on the SPEAK test, CAELC offers a program of courses of instruction in preparation for a repeat test at a later date.
Requirements & Procedures for the Masters of Engineering Degree
The Masters of Engineering (ME) degree in the Computer Engineering Program (CpE) requires 30 graded course credits. Please see the Curriculum Distribution Requirements listed below for an outline of the exact course credit requirement. Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the following CpE Graduate Program requirements. The time limit for degree completion after entering the Masters of Engineering program is seven years although the average time for completion is 1.5 years. Graduation procedures are outlined in detail on the SEAS Graduate section of the record. No more than 9 credits of 5000-level courses can be applied to a graduate degree of which no more than 6 credits may be from any one department (within SEAS delineation plus Data Science). No more than 3 graded credits of Independent Study course and no more than 6 graded credits of supervised project research may be applied towards an ME degree. Transfer Credit is subject to approval from the CpE Graduate Director, ME candidates may transfer a maximum of 12 credits of approved graduate courses into the program. Students may only transfer courses in which they earned a grade of B or better. Requests for transfer credit should follow the procedure outlined by SEAS.
Outcome assessment for Master of Engineering degree programs in SEAS is based on the Coursework and the Program assessment forms. The assessment form for the ME degree must be submitted prior to graduation. The student will request a current or past instructor to complete the forms for Oral Communications, Technical Writing, and Engineering Analysis.
Requirements & Procedures for the Masters of Science Degree
The Master of Science (MS) degree in Computer Engineering requires at least 24 graded course credits plus up to 6 credits of 8999 (Master’s Thesis Research) for a total of 30 credits. Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the following CpE graduate program requirements. The time limit for degree completion after entering the Masters of Science program is five years although the average time for completion is two years. Graduation procedures are outlined in detail on the SEAS Graduate website. No more than nine credits of 5000-level courses can be applied to a graduate degree of which no more than 6 credits may be from any one department (within SEAS delineation plus Data Science). Also, no more than 3 graded credits of Independent Study or 6 graded credits of supervised project research may be applied towards an MS degree. Requests for transfer credit are subject to approval from the CpE Graduate Director, MS candidates may transfer a maximum of six credits of approved graduate courses into the program. Students may only transfer courses in which they earned a grade of B or better.
Each M.S. student must produce a thesis describing research of publishable quality. In this spirit, at least one paper submission to a refereed conference/journal is expected of all MS candidates. The research and development of the thesis will be directed by the student’s advisor or advisory committee. Once the thesis has been written and approved by the advisor, a public oral defense is required. The format of the oral defense is a presentation by the student (maximum 30 minutes) followed by a question and answer period. This defense is open to the public. The examination committee for the MS oral defense consists of a minimum of three faculty members. The chair of the committee cannot be the advisor and must be from either the CS or ECE Department. This examining committee is selected by the student and the advisor and approved by the CpE Program Director.
Outcome assessment for Master of Science degree programs in SEAS is based on the thesis and its oral defense. The assessment form for the MS thesis must be submitted with the Report on Final Examination and Thesis and Dissertation Assessment forms. The assessment form is prepared by the student with the help of the Graduate Coordinator and is given to the chair of the examining committee at the beginning of the examination and defense. Follow the SEAS rules with regards to the format and submission of the Thesis.
Requirements & Procedures for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree
The primary focus of the Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in the Computer of Engineering Program is a dissertation describing publishable quality research (directed by a faculty advisor) of significant depth. The time limit for completion of the Ph.D. is seven years after admission to the doctoral program. Please see the Curriculum Distribution Requirements listed below for an outline of the exact course credit requirement. Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the following CpE Graduate Program requirements. The PhD degree requires at least 24 hours of 9999 – Dissertation, and at least 9 graded hours of graduate-level coursework beyond the master’s degree. Although a Masters degree in CpE is not required, a student is required to meet a set of “pre-requisite coursework requirements,” defined to include the architecture/design course requirement, Computer Science course requirements, and Electrical & Computer Engineering course requirements (see the Curriculum Distribution Requirements). For the courses meeting the requirements, a Ph.D. student must receive a minimum grade of A-. Petitions for substitution of the required courses by courses taken outside the university will be considered by the CpE Graduate Director. While submitting a petition, the student may be asked to submit transcripts, detailed course syllabus, and sample homework assignments and examinations. If such a petition is not approved, the CpE Graduate Director may recommend that the student register for courses needed to fulfill their missing requirements. Alternatively, the student may be given the option to demonstrate core competency in the subject matter by taking the final examination of an appropriate course with the approval of the course instructor. Transfer credits are subject to approval from the CpE Graduate Director, PhD candidates may transfer PhD-level courses and dissertation credit hours from other schools of recognized standing. Students may only transfer courses in which they earned a grade of B or better. Students should discuss courses acceptable for transfer of credit with their advisor, prior to submitting the request. Please work with the Graduate Coordinator to prepare the requests for transfer credit.
Student desiring a PhD should take the qualifying examination as soon as possible. Students entering with a master’s degree should take the exam no later than the beginning of their third semester. Students entering with a bachelor’s degree should ideally take the exam by the beginning of their third semester, but no later than the beginning of the fourth semester. (The exam should not be postponed in order to finish a master’s degree first.) The objective of the qualifying examination is to assess the student’s potential to begin doctoral-level research. We have identified a set of six research areas from which each candidate will be required to select a primary research area and two secondary areas for the examination. The areas are: Computer architecture and high-performance computing; VLSI, System on chip; low power design; Distributed systems; Dependable and Secure computing; software engineering; Cyber-physical systems; Embedded, Autonomous, Mobile and Robotic Systems; Machine Learning; NLP; Vision, Image and Signal Processing; and Networks and Internet; Internet of Things; Cloud computing. Each student will select a primary and a secondary area from a list of papers provided by the committee about two months before the exam. The student will submit a written report (maximum of 3 pages in IEEE standard format at http://www.ieee.org/portal/pages/pubs/transactions/stylesheets.html) on the paper in the primary area to the head of the CpE qualifiers committee. The student should also prepare a 20-minute (max) presentation on the primary paper, and a 10-minute (max) presentation on each secondary paper summarizing their salient points, for delivery at the oral examination Students will be evaluated on the combined written submission and oral examination. The result will be a clear-cut pass or fail for the entire exam; no remedial work will be allowed to alter the outcome. A student who does not pass the qualifying exam on the first try must retake it at the next offering. A student who fails the examination twice will lose financial support and must leave the program at the end of that semester. The assessment of the qualifying exam performance is recorded on the program specific assessment form. The assessment form must be submitted with the PhD Examination Report form that records the result of the examination.
After a student has successfully passed the qualifying examination, the student should put together a Proposal Examining Committee of at least five faculty members, including the research advisor and one member outside the student’s advisor’s department. One of the faculty members should be from the ECE department and one member must be from the CS department. The outside member must come from a department that is different from the advisor’s department. If the adviser is in the ECE department then a CS member can serve as the outside member, for example. The student should prepare an acceptable dissertation proposal done under the guidance of the student’s advisor. This proposal should be presented before any extensive research is undertaken, in order to receive early faculty approval of the suitability of the proposed research. Successful completion of the dissertation proposal examination will result in elevation to candidacy for the degree. The assessment of the dissertation proposal is performed by the advisory committee at the time of the defense of the proposal. The examining committee completes the dissertation proposal assessment form at the time of the proposal submitted with the Dissertation Proposal form. The student must complete at least one full semester as a candidate before the degree is awarded. In the event that a suitable proposal is not presented but the faculty believes the student has sufficient research potential, another research presentation will be scheduled within 6 months. If a suitable proposal is still not presented, the student is subject to dismissal from the program.
At a minimum, all Ph.D. candidates are required to submit an advisor approved article related to their research to a refereed journal or conference, prior to completing their dissertation defense. If the student’s advisor is not a co-author of the paper, the advisor must provide the CpE graduate committee with a note indicating the advisor’s approval of the paper. Students are strongly encouraged to complete one semester of guided undergraduate teaching experience with the approval and supervision of a faculty member. The faculty supervisor does not have to be the student’s advisor.
The culmination of the PhD program is the defense of the dissertation. This dissertation will be the result of the final research outlined in the dissertation proposal. It is expected that the work be of sufficient quality to warrant journal publication. The dissertation defense, which is announced publicly, is an oral defense before the student’s Ph.D. final examining committee as well as any other interested faculty, students or other persons. The examining committee should meet the same guidelines as the examining committee for the proposal. The student presentation portion should not exceed 45 minutes. Follow the SEAS rules with regards to the format of the dissertation and the number of copies required for distribution two weeks prior to the defense. The assessment form for dissertation work is completed at the time of the defense and is submitted with the Report on Final Examination form. Also required is a list of publications. Both the Report on Final Examination and the assessment form are to be completed by the examining committee at the conclusion of the examination and defense.
Curriculum Distribution Requirements
Every graduate student in the Computer Engineering Graduate Program must successfully complete 24 credits of graded course work for the MS and PhD, or 30 credits of graded coursework for the ME including:
- One of the following courses:
- CS 6354 Computer Architecture.
- ECE 6435 Computer Architecture and Design.
- At least 9 graded course credits from CS (may include CS 6534).
- At least 9 graded course credits from ECE (may include ECE 6435).
- Of the 24/30 credits of graded coursework, at least 18 must be CS/CPE/ECE courses with the following restrictions:
- No more than 3 graded credits of independent study, no more than 6 graded credits of “supervised project research.”
- No more than 9 credits at the 5000-level of which no more than 6 credits may be from any one department (within SEAS delineation plus Data Science).