Electrical and Computer Engineering MS Program

The Master of Science (MS) degree is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credits. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- for course credit. 

Students are expected to complete the MS degree as follows:

  • MS (Non-Thesis)- three Semesters and one Summer Session.
  • MS (Thesis)- four Semesters and one Summer Session.

Students must complete their Thesis by the end of the fourth Semester (not including the Summer Session). Students who require additional time to complete their Thesis must apply for an extension per the time limits and extensions policy.

Assessment Test

To facilitate the design of an individual study plan students without all admitted MS students must take a written assessment test when they arrive on campus. The assessment determines whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate-level courses taught in the program. Students must prepare for the test by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST. The study plan requirements must be satisfactorily completed, in addition to the university degree requirements.

In the case of failure of the assessment test MS students are mandated to take 100-level courses and will be graded Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) for these courses but do not receive academic credit toward their degree. Students mandated to take the full Fall Semester of the PGDip Program and who wish to transfer to the PGDip Program in the Spring Semester must apply to do so before Week 1 of the Spring Semester.

More information regarding the assessment test is available on the ECE Website

MS Course Requirements

MS students must complete the following requirements:

  • Core Courses (12 credits)
  • Elective Courses (12 credits)
  • Research/Capstone (12 credits)
  • Graduate Seminar (non-credit)
  • Winter Enrichment Program (non-credit)

Core and Elective Courses must be technical courses and cannot be substituted with Research, Internship, or Broadening Courses to fulfill degree requirements.

Core Courses (12 credits)

Core Courses provide students with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area. Students must complete 12 credits (4 Core Courses) and be aware that Core Courses may be offered only once per academic year.

AMCS 211Numerical Optimization


AMCS 241/STAT 250Stochastic Processes


CS 204Data Structures and Algorithms


CS 244Computer Networks


CS 256Digital Design and Computer Architecture


ECE 202Analog Integrated Circuits


ECE 206Device Physics


ECE 208Semiconductor Optoelectronic Devices


ECE 221Electromagnetic Theory


ECE 231Principles of Optics


ECE 242Digital Communication and Coding


ECE 245Wireless Sensors and Sensor Networks


ECE 251Digital Signal Processing and Analysis


ECE 263/ME 226Cyber-Physical Systems


ECE 271A/ME 221ALinear Control Systems


Elective Courses (12 credits)

Elective Courses allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives with the permission of the Academic Advisor. ECE students are required to take the following:

  • One 200/300-level ECE course (3 credits). ECE courses taken as Core do not count toward this requirement.
  • Two 200/300-level course from any program at KAUST (6 credits)
  • One AMCS or STAT course (3 credits). If a Core course is from AMCS or STAT, then this course can fulfill the applied mathematics/statistics requirement. In this case, the Elective would need to be fulfilled using another 200-level/300-level course from any degree program at KAUST.

Graduate Seminar (non-credit)

Students must register for ECE 398 and receive a Satisfactory grade for two Semesters during their MS.

Winter Enrichment Program (non-credit)

All students must register for WE 100 and successfully complete one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP), usually taken in the first year of study.

MS Thesis

Students planning to pursue the Thesis option must complete a minimum of 12 credits of Thesis Research (ECE 297).

Thesis Application

Students must complete the application and have it approved by the Program Chair no later than the end of week one of their third Semester. The Thesis Advisor must be a full-time program-affiliated Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor at KAUST. The Thesis Advisor can only become project affiliated for the specific thesis project with the Program Chair’s approval. The application must include a  Thesis Proposal endorsed by the Thesis Advisor  and a timeline for completion.

Students who meet the graduation requirements of the non-thesis track may drop the thesis up until the end of their third Semester. Students not able to complete their thesis after this deadline will face academic dismissal.

Thesis Committee Formation

Students must form the Thesis Committee by the deadline published in the Academic Calendar. The Thesis Defense Committee, which must be approved by the Dean, must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members. At least two of the required members must be KAUST Faculty. The Chair plus one additional Faculty member must be affiliated with the student's program. This membership can be summarized as follows:

Member Role Program Status
1 Chair Within program
2 Faculty Within program
3 Faculty Outside program, inside KAUST
4 Optional Faculty or Research Scientist Inside or outside KAUST


  • Members 1-3 are required; Member 4 is optional.
  • Co-Chairs may serve as members 2, 3, or 4 but may not be a Research Scientist.
  • Members 2 and 3 must use primary affiliation only.
  • Adjunct Professors and Professors Emeriti may retain their roles on current Committees but may not serve as Chair on any new Committees.
  • Professors of Practice and Research Professors may serve as members 2, 3, or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student's program; they may also serve as Co-Chairs.
  • Visiting Professors may serve as member 4.

View a list of Faculty and their affiliations here.

Petition to Defend Thesis

Students must submit a petition to defend their Thesis by the deadline published in the Academic Calendar. Students are responsible for scheduling the Thesis Defense Date. All committee members must attend the Defense.

Thesis Defense

The format of the Oral Defense is left to the discretion of the Thesis Committee. Students defending their Thesis receive an outcome of a Pass or Fail. A Pass is achieved when the Committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote; otherwise, the outcome is a Fail. In the case of a Pass, students must send the Thesis Result Form within 2 days of the Thesis Defense to the GPC. In the case of a Fail, the Committee Chair must inform the GPC immediately to take the necessary action. Students must submit the Final Approval Form by the deadline published in the Academic Calendar. The required forms are available on the webpage of the Office of the Registrar. 

Thesis Document

Students must follow the Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available from the KAUST Library when they write their Thesis. Once the Thesis is ready to be examined, students must determine the Defense date with the agreement of all members of the Thesis Committee.

Thesis Archiving

Students must archive the Thesis in the KAUST Library two weeks from the final result form. This must not exceed the duration of study or the deadline published in the Academic Calendar.

MS Non-Thesis

Students wishing to pursue the non-thesis option must complete a total of 12 capstone credits, with a maximum of 6 credits of Directed Research (ECE 299). Students must complete the remaining 6 credits through one or a combination of the options listed below: