Graduate Study in Engineering

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The College of Engineering and Applied Science offers degree programs for the master of engineering (ME), master of science (MS), and doctor of philosophy (PhD) degrees. There are degree programs in each of the following departments or fields:

  • aerospace engineering sciences
  • chemical and biological engineering
  • civil engineering
  • computer science
  • electrical, computer, and energy engineering
  • engineering management
  • mechanical engineering
  • telecommunications

The master of science in applied mathematics is offered through the Department of Applied Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Graduate programs within each engineering department offer a variety of options, providing a number of alternative careers.

The aerospace program places a strong emphasis on astrodynamics and satellite systems; bioastronautics; remote sensing; Earth and space sciences; and aerospace engineering systems, including aerodynamics, controls, structures, and mechanics of materials.

Key activities in chemical and biological engineering include membrane and thin-film science, biomedical engineering and biotechnology, surface science, biofuels and biorefining, polymeric and ceramic materials engineering, microelectronics, nanomaterials, and fluids. 

Fields emphasized in civil engineering include geotechnical engineering and geomechanics, structural mechanics and engineering, building systems engineering, construction management and engineering, environmental and geoenvironmental engineering, hydrology, environmental fluid mechanics, civil engineering systems, and engineering science. 

Strengths in computer science include computer architecture, operating systems, networking, mobile computing, computer security, computational biology, robotics, algorithm design, artificial intelligence, software and web engineering, programming languages, database design and data mining, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, machine learning, lifelong learning and design, numerical and parallel computation, speech and language processing, scientific computing, and theoretical computer science. 

Areas of focus in electrical, computer, and energy engineering include photovoltaic, wind, and renewable energy systems, power machines and systems, electromagnetic theory, microwave and optical guided wave devices, antennas, remote sensing, biomedical engineering, communications and signal processing, medical imaging, computer architecture and software optimization, optical devices, optoelectronics, nanomaterials and nanodevices, biophotonics, robotics, man/machine interfaces, high-performance autonomous vehicles, and computer aided design for VLSI. 

Engineering management offers a core management curriculum in leadership, project management, quality, and finance. Areas of concentration are available in managing innovation, project management, performance excellence, engineering entrepreneurship, quality systems, software management, research and development, and Six Sigma methodologies. These courses are designed for engineers and technical professionals preparing for management assignments in high-technology fields.

Mechanical engineering core areas of concentration include air quality, bioengineering, design, energy and environment, materials, mechanical engineering fundamentals (e.g., heat transfer, fluid mechanics), mechanics of materials, microsystems, and simulation-based mechanical engineering sciences. Within these core areas specific expertise includes air quality measurements and modeling, biomedical devices, electronic packaging, mechatronics and robotics, pollution prevention, membrane sciences, combustion sciences, energy conversion, nondestructive structural evaluation, micro-electro-mechanical systems, nanotechnology, computational fluid dynamics, product design, and engineering education.

Telecommunications offers a cross-discipline curriculum from electrical engineering, computer science, business, economics, policy, and law for master's and doctoral degrees. The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program offers students access to its world-class telecommunications laboratory where students design, plan, analyze, and manage telecommunications systems including the Internet. Students enter this program from a wide variety of technical, information technology, and liberal arts undergraduate studies. Students have the opportunity to select two areas of emphasis, such as wireless networks, network architecture, cyber security, and regulatory policy, among others. Graduates receive job offers not only in the telecommunications sector but also in other rapidly growing industries that rely on the integration of two-way telecommunications technology into existing and newly created information infrastructures. This includes healthcare, e-commerce, social networking, and utilities. 

Graduate Degree for Science Majors

Science graduates who have good academic records and strong backgrounds in mathematics and science may be eligible for admission as graduate students in engineering or may be able to qualify with some extra course work. Information may be obtained from the appropriate academic department office.

Distance Learning and Professional Development Programs

The Center for Advanced Engineering and Technology Education (CAETE) offers 24-7 distance education for students seeking graduate engineering education. For over 28 years, thousands of students have earned master’s degrees and graduate specialized certificates from the highly ranked College of Engineering and Applied Science.

While pursuing graduate education goals with 24-7 distance education, students can:

  • Pursue a master’s degree, a graduate specialized certificate, or take individual courses in aerospace engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, engineering management, and interdisciplinary telecom
  • Choose to watch lectures in full rich media whenever and wherever they are—studying when and where it’s convenient
  • Download lectures to virtually any portable device—ideal for the traveling professional
  • Engage in discussions and activities with motivated, experienced peers
  • Learn from practicing engineers and experienced research faculty with the latest information and methodology
  • Balance family and work demands while achieving their academic goals
  • Earn the education necessary to increase their earning potential

Access to over 100 previously recorded courses via a virtual library is available for academic course work or for purchase by companies for in-house training.

Students may enroll in a course before being accepted into a graduate program but should apply for admission before finishing a third course. Courses taken before admission are considered transfer credit. Nine transfer credit hours will be accepted toward a graduate degree program. All applicable courses taken after admission will count toward the degree requirements.

Noncredit courses are available in such fields as networking, project management, and other engineering and technical areas.

For more information visit the CAETE website at, call 303-492-6331, e-mail, or write to CAETE, University of Colorado Boulder, 435 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0435.

Master of Engineering, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy 

Students wishing to pursue graduate work in engineering leading to candidacy for advanced degrees should read carefully the requirements for advanced degrees in the Graduate School section. Some departments also have available explanatory material on their advanced degree programs.

Prerequisites. To enroll for an advanced degree in any department of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the interdisciplinary telecommunications program, candidates either must have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in a curriculum that includes the necessary prerequisites for that branch of engineering or must qualify for the concurrent BS and MS program. If the candidate’s preliminary education was taken at some other institution, the degree of qualification for advanced work is determined by the department concerned and by the dean of the Graduate School.

Graduates of engineering technology programs should note that the equivalent of a BS degree in an appropriate engineering field is required for entry into the Graduate School. Because the goals and orientation of engineering programs differ from those of technology programs, technology graduates should expect to make up deficiencies before being admitted to graduate study in engineering. Students may not be admitted to the Graduate School while making up deficiencies, but can enroll as non-degree students.

For admission as a regular degree student, an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.000 is normally required.

Language Requirement. PhD candidates should note that some engineering departments have foreign language requirements.

Course Work. Graduate work in each department of the College of Engineering and Applied Science falls into two classes:

  1. Courses that are offered for candidates who have chosen to major in the particular department
  2. Courses that are offered for candidates who have chosen their major in some other department, but who are pursuing a certificate or other complementary course work

Graduate students majoring in any department may not use toward graduate degrees those courses listed as required undergraduate work in the same department. They may, however,  use up to 6 hours taken at the 3000–4000 level toward a master’s degree. These course must be taken from an engineering department other than that in which they received their bachelor’s degree, and must have the approval of the department granting the degree and the dean of the Graduate School.

Availability of Courses. All courses are not necessarily offered every year. They are available only if there is sufficient demand.

Qualifying Examinations. Graduate students who plan to become candidates for the MS or PhD degree may be required to take a qualifying examination in the appropriate field of specialization during the first semester in which they are registered as candidates for a graduate degree. Individual departments should be consulted concerning the timing or requirement of this examination. The purpose of this examination is to enable the advisor and student to plan a suitable program of study.

Teaching Assistant English Proficiency and Intelligibility

The College of Engineering and Applied Science requires that all graduate teaching assistants be proficient and intelligible in spoken English. In order to ensure that this is the case, all prospective teaching assistants whose native language is not English, or others for whom the department graduate program coordinator believes that spoken language intelligibility is a concern, regardless of native language, will be tested for spoken language intelligibility prior to or at the beginning of the semester in which the teaching assistantship is awarded. In the event that a prospective teaching assistant does not demonstrate a satisfactory level of proficiency, as determined by the Graduate Education Council of the college, that student will be required to participate in training designed to improve intelligibility.