Dec 01, 2020  
2020-2021 General Catalog 
  
2020-2021 General Catalog

Computer and Engineering Science, M.S.


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The Master of Science degree in Computer and Engineering Science (MS-CES) at Sonoma State University is a graduate program focused on the interconnection between electrical engineering hardware and computer science software. The 32-unit curriculum blends relevant academic coursework with practical engineering experience, thereby addressing the evolving demands upon engineering in our progressively technology-driven world. The program is recognized as a Professional Science Masters (PSM) program by the Council of Graduate Schools.

The Master of Science degree in Computer and Engineering Science (MS-CES) program emphasizes the application of Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and/or Electrical Sciences fields to the design, analysis and synthesis of engineering problem solutions, exposes the student to management training and provides practical real-world experience through internships and graduate seminars. The MS-CES faculty is composed of professors from Sonoma State University, whose interests traverse the fields of science and engineering, as well as professionals from the local community who have cutting-edge expertise in the various engineering disciplines of interest and are qualified to be adjunct faculty at SSU. A linkage with local industry in the form of an Industry Advisory Board (IAB) is an integral part of the program. Such an advisory board is critical to ensure the Program meets local community needs. The IAB provides the program with valuable input regarding the new scientific and technological developments and educational needs of the industry. It also facilitates internship opportunities for students, joint student research/project development and supervision, faculty-scientists/engineers joint project opportunities, equipment and financial support from the industries. Through this linkage of academic learning and practical application, students obtain a solid education indispensable for working in a professional environment. The MS-CES is a self-supported program that is underwritten by local industry as well as student tuition revenue.

MSCES Program Educational Objectives

  • Educate and prepare students to be independent investigators;
  • Educate students to be leaders in their professions; and
  • Educate students to be socially responsible engineers, committed to community service.

MSCES Program Outcomes

The students of this program will acquire:

  • Knowledge of the theory of high-performance computing, communications and/or networking (and bioengineering in case of Bioengineering Track);
  • Critical thinking ability and analytical and simulation tools to do system performance evaluation;
  • Ability to model and analyze scientific and engineering problems.
  • Ability to apply theory to design and to implement efficient computing and/or communications systems.
  • Ability to integrate knowledge from multiple interrelated disciplines to formulate, design, and/or implement interdisciplinary projects;
  • Ability to investigate and formulate research problems and/or design projects independently; and
  • Ability to demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills.

Admission to the Program

For admission, the applicant must have:

  1. A baccalaureate degree in a scientific or technical discipline from an U.S. institution accredited by an appropriate accreditation body, or an equivalent baccalaureate degree from a foreign institution of high reputation;
  2. Attained grade point average of at least 2.6 (A=4.00) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted;
  3. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a minimum paper-based score of 550, minimum computer-based score of 213 or minimum internet based score of 79. Sonoma State’s ETS code is 4723. (This requirement does not apply to those applicants who have studied in the U.S for at least three consecutive years.)
  4. Demonstrated competency in writing by one of the Written English Proficiency Test criteria for MS-CES students given below. If this requirement is to be met by writing an essay, it should be submitted with the application for admission; and
  5. Completed the following SSU courses or equivalent at the undergraduate level with a GPA of 2.6 or higher:

Whenever possible, the department offers highly intense and compressed courses such as CES 490  which cover the material necessary to satisfy the prerequisite requirements in an expeditious manner. Please contact the department office for more information regarding such offerings.

Conditional Admission

The applicants whose GPA is less than 2.6 but greater than 2.5, or who lack not more than 18 units of prerequisite work (generally, 6 courses), may be accepted conditionally and must complete a program of study specified by the graduate coordinator at the time of admission before being given full admission.

Written English Proficiency Test Requirement

All students are required to demonstrate competency in written English. A student can satisfy the Written English Proficiency Test (WEPT) requirement by meeting any one of the following five criteria:

  1. A student who has obtained his/her bachelor’s degree from a CSU institution will be deemed to have satisfied the WEPT requirement.
  2. A student who has obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from an accredited institution(s) with English as the medium of instruction for both the degree programs will be deemed to have satisfied the WEPT requirement.
  3. A student who scores at least 3.5 in the analytical writing portion of the GRE test will be deemed to have satisfied the WEPT requirement.
  4. A student who takes and passes the campus WEPT test.
  5. A student may write and submit an article of at least 500 words in length to demonstrate his/her writing proficiency in English. It will be evaluated by the MS-CES curriculum committee for (i) competent analysis of complex ideas, (ii) development and support of main points with the relevant reasons and/or examples, (iii) organization of ideas, (iv) ease in conveying meaning with reasonable clarity, and, (v) demonstration of satisfactory control of sentence structure and language (including spelling, punctuation, and proper use of grammar). If accepted by the curriculum committee, the student will be deemed to have satisfied the WEPT requirement.

Concurrent MBA and MS in Computer & Engineering Science (MSCES) Degree Programs

The MBA and MSCES programs can be taken concurrently, and completed in as little as 2.5 years. By achieving these two master’s degrees, students prepare themselves for careers in technology management. Students must meet all admission and graduation requirements for both programs. Some cross-listed courses may apply to the degree requirements of both programs. Please contact the department office for more information.

Degree Requirements

The program requires completion of a total of 32 semester hours.

The Culminating Experience requirement can be completed in one of two different ways, referred to as Plan A (thesis), or Plan B (design project). In addition, a student must also demonstrate that he/she has acquired proficiency in written English.

Duration of Program Completion

The entire Program requires 32 (Plan A and B) semester hours to complete. A full-time student taking 9 semester hours of average load per semester can complete the 32-unit Program in four semesters, and a working professional taking 6 semester hours of average load per semester is likely to complete this program in 6 semesters.

Student Mentoring Plan

Each student in a program is assigned a faculty advisor who helps the student develop a plan of study based on his/her interest. The faculty advisor monitors the student’s progress and addresses any difficulties that the student may be having in making satisfactory progress in the program. At an appropriate time, generally midway through the completion of the coursework, the student is advised to choose a master’s project guide, who then takes over as the student’s mentor. The role of the two mentors is to guide and prepare the student to succeed in the real world and be a leader in his/her field of work.

Culminating Experience through Thesis/Design Project/Lab and Technical Report Experience

All students are required to complete a culminating experience which may take one of the following forms:

  • Research and Thesis (Plan A)
  • Design Project (Plan B)

A supervisory committee is appointed for the students who choose Plan A or Plan B. A supervisory committee consists of three faculty members. One of the three members can be an adjunct faculty. A student interested in choosing Plan A or B chooses a faculty member to be his/her thesis/project supervisor. Subsequently, the faculty supervisor becomes chairman of the student’s supervisory committee. In consultation with the faculty supervisor, two other members of the committee are selected.

Under Plan A, a student chooses to do thesis research and write a thesis under the guidance of the faculty supervisor and members of the supervisory committee.

Under Plan B, a student chooses to prepare a design project focused on the design of devices, instruments, or systems. As in the case of Plan A, the project is mentored by the student’s faculty supervisor and members of the supervisory committee.

Upon approval by the student’s supervisory committee, the thesis research or design project may be carried out at the student’s place of employment under the supervision of an approved senior scientist/engineer of the company. However, an SSU faculty supervisor must oversee the research/project and regularly examine the student’s progress. It is expected but not required, that the results of the research/project will be presented in an appropriate technical conference and/or published in a relevant professional journal.

Internship Requirement

As a part of the culminating experience, each MS-CES student is required to do an internship in an industry, university, laboratory, utility company, government organization, etc. The objectives of the internship must be to gain hands-on training in dealing with and solving real-world engineering problems within the scope of the student’s plan of study, develop teamwork and presentation skills and develop an understanding of the differences in ideal and real world situations. The internship must be completed within one semester. The number of hours worked as an intern should be at least 45, preferably much more. The supervisory committee’s and graduate coordinator’s approval must be obtained before starting the internship. After completion of the internship, a report of the performed work and achievements certified by the intern’s supervisor must be submitted to the supervisory committee and department for its acceptance.

Students with industrial experience can petition for a waiver of the internship requirement. However, the petition may be considered by the student’s supervisory committee and the graduate coordinator of the MS-CES program only if the student can support the petition with proper supporting evidence that he/she fulfills this requirement based on his/her past industrial experience.

GPA Requirements

All MS-CES courses must be completed with a B- or better.

Laboratories

The program has the following eight state-of-the-art laboratories in various areas of interest located in the Cerent Engineering Sciences Complex in Salazar Hall.

  • AFC Access Technologies Laboratory
  • Agilent Technologies Communications Laboratory
  • Rolf Illsley Photonics Laboratory
  • William Keck Microanalysis Laboratory
  • Networking Laboratory
  • Human-Computer Interaction and Systems Laboratory
  • Software Engineering Laboratory
  • Electronics Laboratory

These labs provide excellent facilities to our students and faculty for hands-on experience, research, project development, implementation, and testing. Many of these labs are sponsored by the high-tech industries in the North Bay region of the San Francisco area.

Program of Study


A student’s program of study consists of the following four components: a common core, a track core, culminating experience, and technical electives. Details of these components are as follows.

Culminating Experience


Research and Thesis (Plan A): 6 units of Culminating Experience
Design Project (Plan B): 3 units of Culminating Experience

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