Constructing an MS Program Plan
A program plan is an essential planning tool for both students and the department. At its most basic level, the program plan lists all the courses that a student plans on taking in order to complete all of the curricular requirements for a student's chosen degree program. Even at this most basic level, the process of constructing a program plan is of benefit, providing a forum for discussion between the student and the graduate advisors regarding university and departmental policies, degree curricular requirements and the student's educational and professional goals.
At a deeper level, the program plan also encompasses two other important components: 1) the term during which each of the courses a student has chosen will be taken and 2) an indication of planned quarters of non-registration. Putting together a program plan that includes all of these elements affords a student the opportunity to consider not only academic policies, but also other issues that affect a student's path to degree including financial, professional and personal concerns. From the department's perspective these complete program plans assist with course scheduling and inform future degree program and course planning.
Given the value of this tool for both the student and the department, each student pursuing an MS degree in the ECE Department is required to develop, submit and have approved by the graduate advisors a program plan that:
- includes all courses to be taken during enrollment in the MS degree program at Drexel University;
- indicates the term in which each course is to be taken;
- lists all approved graduate transfer credit;
- satisfies all curricular requirements for the MS degree program of choice; and
- clearly indicates all terms of planned non-registration.
The following information and resources should help students pursuing an MS degree in one of the programs administered the ECE Department successfully construct a program plan that meets the above criteria. If at any point during the program planning process a student has questions or needs additional guidance, the student is encouraged to contact the graduate advisors.
Students pursuing an MS degree on a full-time basis, must have an approved program plan on file with the ECE Department by the last day of classes of their first term in the program. Part-time students must meet this requirement by the last day of classes of their second term in the program. In order to allow sufficient time for an iterative review and revision process leading to final approval by the graduate advisors, students are asked to submit the first complete drafts of their program plan to the graduate advisors by the end of the fifth week of classes during the term in which their final program plan is due.
The ECE Department utilizes DegreeWorks for program plan submission, review, and approval. DegreeWorks is an online program planning tool available to all students pursuing an MS degree within the department. This tool not only allows students and advisors to create, review, and save program plans, but also allows for tracking of progress towards degree completion by recording completed and currently enrolled courses and matching these courses against the curricular requirements for the degree program in which a student is enrolled.
DegreeWorks can be accessed through DrexelOne by:
- logging in to DrexelOne;
- selecting the "STUDENT" tab at the top of the page; and then
- selecting the "Graduation Requirements (DegreeWorks)" link in the "Student Records" box.
More information about the overall functionality of DegreeWorks can be found in the document DegreeWorks Functionality at a Glance for Students. More information about the specific process of creating a program plan can be found in the document Making a Plan of Study for Students.
Once a student has constructed a program plan that the student wishes to be reviewed, the student should email the graduate advisors, requesting such a review.
An important component of the program plan creation process is an understanding of curricular requirements of the student's chosen degree program. The following links can be used to access the curricular requirements for each of the MS degree programs that the ECE Department administers:
Depending on the curricular requirements of the MS degree program being completed, it may be possible for a student to earn a graduate certificate within the minimum credit hour requirement for said MS degree program or by completing of a small number of additional graduate credit hours above this minimum requirement. Enrollment in these graduate certificate programs are controlled by the offering academic unit. Students interested in pursuing such an option should become familiar with the eligibility and curricular requirements for the chosen graduate certificate program through information available from the offering academic unit. One such graduate certification program for students completing an MS degree program administered by the ECE Department is the Engineering Management Certificate.
In order to select courses that meet the degree program curricular requirements and a student's educational and professional goals, the following additional course information resources may be useful.
- Term Master Schedule: The Office of the University Registrar makes the course offerings of all academic departments for the current and remaining terms of the current academic year publicly available at this site.
- ECE Departmental Graduate Course Offerings: The ECE Department strives to provide an accurate list of the likely departmental graduate course offerings for the current and coming two academic years. These course lists can serve as a reference point for ensuring realistic placement of courses in specific terms on a program plan and for providing a reasonable estimate of what future departmental course offerings may include.
- ECE Departmental Graduate Course Foundations: The ECE Department faculty members have identified undergraduate courses offered at Drexel University that provide the foundational academic background for departmental entry-level graduate courses. This information can help students determine the background that is suggested by the instructors for each of these courses and whether additional preparation may be necessary to take a particular course that a student is planning to take.
- ECE Departmental Graduate Course Groupings: The ECE Department has created a number of graduate course groupings to help guide the program planning process. These course groupings have been constructed in order to provide in depth coverage of a single topic or a set of closely related topics or to present a substantive overview of a subfield within the domain of electrical and computer engineering.
- Transfer Credit: This page provides information about the policies and procedures governing transfer credit evaluation. Students should consult the curricular requirements for their chosen degree program for additional information about how transfer credits are incorporated into the overall structure of the degree.
- Graduate Course Descriptions: The official university catalog course descriptions for all graduate coursework can be accessed at this link. These descriptions provide a very brief overview of course content and are also an important resource of prerequisite course requirements. Please be aware that the ECE Department graduate courses are divided into six subject codes:
In order to assist MS students in the planning process, the graduate advisors have put together some program plan templates. These program plan templates have been constructed around specific popular areas of interest to provide a solid foundation in said area and have been created using the ECE Department's likely course offerings to meet all of the curricular requirements of the degree programs for which they have been created. Please keep in mind that the concentration areas covered by these templates are not exhaustive of all possible program plans for each degree program and each student is welcome and encouraged to construct a program plan that fits the student's particular interests and goals while meeting the curricular requirements of the chosen degree program.
The program plan templates presented here specify recommended key courses, placed in their appropriate terms of offering, and include placeholders for the remaining curricular requirements. It is important to note that these templates have been developed with a focus on the structure of a program plan for a typical full-time MS student entering the graduate program in the Fall Quarter. Despite this fact, the course recommendations from these templates could still be used by part-time MS students and full-time MS students entering the graduate program in a term other than the Fall Quarter to inform course selection based on area of interest.
These program plan templates can be accessed at the pages below, broken down by academic year:
Besides the academic factors discussed in the previous sections, there are a myriad of other considerations that can have an impact on the program planning process. Some of the major areas to consider during this process are touched upon below.
It is important in the program planning process that students consider not only how the student plans on paying for educational and living expenses during tenure in the degree program, but also how the chosen funding sources may impact program planning factors such as number of credits to be taken per term, planned terms of non-registration, and course selection. Some of the considerations with regards to more common financing sources for students pursuing an MS degree are discussed below.
Federal Financial Aid
For students that are utilizing federal financial aid or have received federal financial aid in the past, it is important to understand the eligibility requirements, deadlines, and other restrictions associated with continued receipt of these funds or repayment of past funds. In particular, students should be aware of regulations, policies, and procedures that affect program planning aspects such as quarterly time status, graduate co-op participation, and registration for online coursework. Students with questions about these matters should consult the Drexel Central Financial Aid & Assistance page.
Employer Tuition Remission or Reimbursement
Some students are fortunate enough to receive some form of tuition assistance from an employer in order to pursue graduate degree completion. It is important that students who intend to take advantage of this type of benefit fully understand the eligibility requirements, deadlines, and other restrictions associated with said benefit. Some important program planning questions to consider in relation to this type of benefit are:
- Is there a cap on the amount of money, the number of credits, or the number of courses that can be covered by the benefit over any given time period?
- Are there restrictions on the delivery format - face-to-face, online, hybrid - of the courses that can be covered by the benefit?
- Are there restrictions on the subject of the courses or the degree program that can be covered by the benefit?
- Must a specific grade be earned in order for a course to be covered by the benefit?
Scholarships, Fellowships & Assistantships
Acceptance of scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships - whether from a private organization or from Drexel University - as part of an overall educational funding plan can have significant impacts on program planning. Like employer tuition remission or reimbursement benefits discussed above, it is important that students fully understand the eligibility requirements, deadlines, and other restrictions associated with acceptance of these types of funding sources. In particular, these types of funding may provide explicit requirements regarding such areas as student time status, course and degree selection, and sustaining minimum GPA. In addition, they may also require additional time commitments during or after degree completion in the form of research participation, teaching activities, and community service.
It is essential that students who are utilizing these funding sources consider the implications of these factors during the program planning process. Some important program planning questions to consider in relation to these types of funding are:
- Is there a requirement for full-time student status associated with acceptance of this funding?
- Are there restrictions on the subject of the courses or the degree program that can be covered by this funding?
- Are there restrictions on the delivery format - face-to-face, online, hybrid - of the courses or degree program that can be covered by this funding?
- Is there a minimum GPA required in order to continue receiving funding from this source?
- What is the duration of this funding?
- Are there additional time commitments associated with acceptance of this funding such as research participation, teaching activities, or community service? If so, must these commitments be met during tenure in the degree program?
For students that are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, additional considerations must be made in order to ensure compliance with applicable immigration regulations. In particular, students should be aware of regulations that affect program planning aspects such as quarterly time status, graduate co-op participation, registration for online coursework, and the timeframe for degree completion. Students with questions about these matters should consult the International Students and Scholars Services office.
Professional Obligations, Personal Commitments and Life Events
Students also deal with a host of other less tangible factors that can have a significant impact on program planning. These can include things like professional workload, employment attendance policies, family commitments, and participation in extracurricular pursuits. Some important programming questions to consider in relation to these aspects are:
- Are there particular times of year during which one's professional workload is particularly heavy, which may necessitate a reduced quarterly course load or planned terms of non-registration?
- Are there times of year during which professional travel commitments may make online coursework a more feasible option that on campus offerings?
- Will an employer permit flexible work hours to allow course attendance?
- Are there important life events that will take place during the student's tenure at Drexel University that may necessitate planned terms of non-registration?
- Does participation in extracurricular pursuits restrict the amount of time that can be devoted to coursework attendance, assignment completion, and study?