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Courses How hard are Electrical Engineering graduate courses?

  1. Jan 22, 2012 #1
    I don't really have a background in EE, I have a background in Computer Engineering Technology. It's a lot less theoretical and more of a hands on degree.

    I'm just wondering if I'll have a hard time in graduate level courses in EE. I have a strong programming background, know my way around MATLAB pretty well, and I've self taught myself quite a bit more math than is required for my degree.
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  3. Jan 22, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    The assumption made in a grad school class is that every student understands the material at the level of a recent graduate who majored in that subject. If that's not the case for you, I imagine you'll find it pretty hard.
  4. Jan 22, 2012 #3
    Am I correct in assuming most graduate courses start with a quick review of a topic if it's relevant to a new one being introduced?

    Most undergraduate courses I've had in sequence often go through to a lot of trouble of spending some time on reviewing old material before introducing new concepts.

    Also how do graduate programs deal with people who haven't recently graduated? Do they just assume their students have retained material that they've learned from a very long time ago?
  5. Jan 22, 2012 #4
    Ben, you probably don't stand a chance being admitted.

    There is no review.

    They deal with it by admitting only qualified candidates; people who have been working in that field or have a very closely related bachelors degree already. Computer science, physics or mechanical engineering isn't close enough of a background to begin graduate level EE classes.
  6. Jan 22, 2012 #5


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    This really depends on the instructor, but I wouldn't count on it. And being able to follow and comprehend a "quick review" if you've never seen the material before is unlikely.

    Basically yes. Your supervisory committee may allow or recommend remedial coursework at the senior undergraduate level. But this is usually done when you have a student with a general background who didn't take a senior undergraduate "introductory" class in the field he or she is getting into as a graduate student.
  7. Jan 22, 2012 #6
    I spoke with the graduate coordinator of my preferred grad school. He said he'd be willing to admit me on the condition that I graduate with a GPA of 3.7 and that I knock the math part of the GRE out of the park.

    I've specifically asked him if I'd need to take any undergraduate courses to make up for my lack of background in EE, and he said that I would not formally be asked to take undergraduate courses, but that I'd free to audit classes on my own if I wanted to. He said that the three series course in electronics/circuits that I took should be enough, along with the math I took.
  8. Jan 22, 2012 #7
    I see. But if this is the case why are some graduate level courses labeled "Introduction to XXX"? Say, introduction to RF and Antenna design?
  9. Jan 22, 2012 #8
    A number of EE masters/phd programs I have looked at told me a BS in mathematics was sufficent so long as I took 5 undergrad EE classes.

    I think you would need to get a BS in something....
  10. Jan 22, 2012 #9
    I do have a BS, just not in electrical engineering. I have it in Computer Engineering Technology.

    I'd be perfectly happy being forced to take remedial courses, but at least two graduate schools that I'm applying to have told me that I will not be forced to take them.

    I've also considered enrolling in a second degree program, but from the looks of things it would take me at least two years to complete them, two years I could have spent working full time and working towards a masters degree.
  11. Jan 23, 2012 #10
    It's like saying "Introduction to Brain Surgury". Just because the word "introduction" is in the course title, it doesn't mean the material is remedial. Quite the opposite at the graduate level.
  12. Jan 23, 2012 #11
    So what would the wisest course of action be? Should I enroll anyway and take my chances?
  13. Jan 23, 2012 #12
    If you get in, you might at well take your chances. However, you should exercise some common sense. Just because remedial undergraduate coursework won't be required from you doesn't mean you are as well prepared as a person with an EE degree. For example, you say you self-studied more math than was required for your major, but do you know as much math as an EE major who has taken classes in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations? I strongly suggest going through the sample curriculum of an EE major and seeing which courses you are missing. Out of these missing courses, some may be more important for grad school preparation than others. Maybe someone from the EE department at your preferred grad school can give you some advice about which courses you could take/audit to be more well prepared. For example, electromagnetics and signal processing are important courses taken by EE undergrads that you may not have taken.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  14. Jan 23, 2012 #13

    That's not true.

    I know a guy who did a bachelors in ME and did his masters in EE, he got interested in solid state devices so he took the relevant classes as electives for his ME degree and was admitted into the EE grad program at my school.

    To the OP, a tech degree is not an engineering degree; so I suggest taking as many actual engineering courses as you can. Engineering circuits, signals and systems, logic design, along with the relevant math and physics is probably what you need.
  15. Jan 23, 2012 #14
    They are definately going to expect you to know the basics of whatever the course topic is... by this I would mean like your junior level engineering class work in that area. Some expect more and it depends on the professor and what the class is about.

    My experience was that for a given class the first class or two was a review of all the relevant material you should already know, but this was more as a refresher and if you hadn't seen it before you would be lost.

    You can always try sitting in on a class right now before you enroll and see if you can follow what is being taught. Especially now if you can catch one of the first few classes of the semester. Another option is to find out what texts some of the classes are using and review them.
  16. Jan 23, 2012 #15
    Interesting. How did he fare in the classes once he enrolled? Was he completely lost? From this post it seems that the only thing that separates me and him are two or three electives.
    Yes I'm painfully aware, but I don't think I'll be able to take any additional classes prior to enrollment. I will look into remedial courses though.
  17. Jan 23, 2012 #16
    I've taken up to multivariate calc in school, in addition to differential equations and linear algebra. I'm taking a probability/statistics course next semester, and I've worked through a few chapters of two books in my own time, one in complex analysis and the other in PDEs.
    Our curriculums are similar as far as the math goes, but I agree I am fairly lacking in physics. I also never took a chemistry class.
  18. Jan 23, 2012 #17
  19. Jan 23, 2012 #18
    I don't know that a power class would be the best of examples on what you might encounter because it doesn't share a lot of the same techniques that a lot of other electrical engineering areas do.

    I would suggest looking at:

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-003-signals-and-systems-spring-2010/lecture-notes/ [Broken]

    If you already know a lot of what is in that class, you are good. I use that class as a good example because you will see most of what they are covering there in any class on communications, signal processing or controls classes. You also will use some of those ideas should you take classes in analog electronics desgin classes.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  20. Jan 23, 2012 #19

    Vanadium 50

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    Also, it's not 100% obvious that the grad school will require someone less-prepared to take undergrad classes. They may figure "what the heck, he's an adult, he can figure out whether he's behind or not, and he can figure out what to do about it."
  21. Jan 23, 2012 #20
    Yeah that seems to be the case, despite in the graduate bulletin they do explicitly say remedial courses may be required for deficiencies.

    Personally I'd much rather be required to take remedials. It gives me a clear and concise vision of what I need to complete with an allotted time frame, which would hopefully fully prepare me for graduate studies.

    I wish more graduate schools in my area had a program similar to the LEAP program that I read about on here.
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