M.S. Plan I (Thesis) Pathway

Steps listed here are summarized to provide students with an overview of degree requirements. Students are responsible for becoming familiar with:

Questions regarding these regulations and requirements should be directed to the appropriate ECE staff/faculty and then, if necessary, to the Graduate Studies staff.


Deadlines: Every semester prior to registration

Advisement holds are automatically placed on ECE student records every semester. The ECE Advisement Hold serves as a reminder to discuss planned coursework and thesis progress with your faculty advisor.

How to Get Your Advisement Hold Lifted

Complete an Advisement Worksheet and have your faculty advisor approve it. Please e-mail this signed form to the ECE Graduate Office at ecegradadvise@unm.edu for hold releases or course overrides.


Deadlines: Completed by end of graduation term

M.S. Plan I (thesis option) requires 24 credit hours of coursework with a mini­mum of 15 hours in ECE, 1 hour of ECE 590 Graduate Seminar, and 6 hours of thesis credits. ECE graduate students are required to choose an emphasis area. Coursework must include at least 12 credit hours of ECE core courses, among which 9 hours are required by the emphasis area as three major core courses, and the other 3 hours are selected from another emphasis area as a minor core course. The minor core course must be selected from one of the core courses outside of the student’s major core (emphasis). The remaining courses are free electives. Students should familiarize themselves with ECE’s M.S. Degree Requirements.

Transfer Credits

With the approval of the ECE Graduate Office, a maximum of 50% of the course work requirements for the master’s degree may consist of a combination of applied/transfer credits, assuming they meet the restrictions specified in the UNM catalog. Coursework that has been counted toward a previous degree may not be counted again in the Program of Studies for a master’s degree. All applied/transfer credit must meet the following criteria:

  1. The course work was taken at an accredited institution and is approved by both the ECE Graduate Office and the UNM Dean of Graduate Studies.
  2. The course work is graded at least a B and was completed within the required seven-year period; and
  3. The courses are submitted to the ECE graduate office for approval. This usually requires a course syllabus and consultation with the Graduate Program Director and appropriate faculty members.

Important Course Notes:

  • Thesis Continuous Enrollment - Once graduate students begin enrollment in ECE 599 thesis hours, they must enroll in 599 every term until the manuscript is accepted by Graduate Studies. The summer term is excluded from this policy except when the student is graduating in the summer.
  • ECE 400/500 Cross-listed Courses - Students who have completed 400-level ECE core courses at UNM in undergraduate status SHOULD NOT register for the same 500-level course before discussing options with their faculty advisor. Completing the same cross-listed 400/500 course at both levels will appear as a repeated course on the transcript and will not count toward degree requirements.
  • ECE 495 and 595 Special Topics Courses - The maximum combined ECE 495 and 595 credits allowed are 15. ECE 595 credits earned beyond this limit, will not count toward degree requirements.

Deadlines: By March 1st for Summer graduation; July 1st for Fall graduation; October 1st for Spring graduation

Students must submit a Program of Studies (POS) listing all the courses that apply to their degree. The POS can be submitted after completing a minimum of 12 hours of graduate courses in graduate status, but no later than the term before the student intends to graduate. The POS form should be submitted to the ECE Graduate Advisement office well in advance of the deadline to allow enough time for department approval.


Deadlines:  Last Thursday of the term prior to graduation.

ECE students must submit a Proposed Graduation Form by the last Thursday of the term prior to their planned graduation. Link to electronic form can be found on the ECE Current Students webpage. This link is updated every term to accept submissions for the upcoming term.

Master’s students must be enrolled for and complete at least 1 graduate credit in the term they sit for an examination or complete degree requirements. In order to qualify to sit for a master’s exam/thesis defense during the intersession, the student must be registered for the following semester.

Courtesy Policy

Students who miss the degree requirement deadline (April 15 for spring graduation, July 15 for summer graduation, November 15 for fall graduation) but complete all degree requirements on or before the last day of that term, may choose to follow the Courtesy Policy. These students will be eligible to graduate the following term without having to be enrolled. They must, however, complete the ECE Proposed Graduation form for the actual term of graduation. See notification of intent to graduate above. 


Deadlines: April 15th for Spring graduation, July 15th for Summer graduation or November 15th for Fall graduation

All M.S. Plan I students are required to pass a final master’s exit examination. The student will have at most two opportunities to pass this exam. The final master’s exam for Plan 1 is the thesis defense. Plan I students will be examined over the thesis material by the thesis committee.

Advisor and Examination Committee

When students are ready to schedule the M.S. Plan I Exit Exam/Thesis Defense, they will form an examination committee, in cooperation with their academic advisor. The committee will include three members, two of whom must be ECE faculty. The examination committee should generally be chaired by an ECE tenure-track faculty member. See Graduate Studies website for Master’s Exam/Thesis Committee guidelines.


Deadline: At least 2 Weeks prior to Thesis Defense

Students should carefully review Thesis & Dissertation Policies and Procedures found on the Graduate Studies website.

The forms listed below should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the defense date by e-mail to the Manuscript Coordinator, Mayra Estrada, at mayra85@unm.edu.

  • Information Cover Sheet
  • Certificate of Final Form (student signature initially)
  • Electronic ETD Release Form (student signature)

These forms can be found under the “Manuscript Forms and Procedures” section of the Graduate Studies Forms page.


Deadline: At least 2 weeks prior to Thesis Defense

Students should coordinate the date, time, and location of their dissertation defense with their defense committee. If the defense will be conducted in the ECE building, the student should reserve a room with ECE Reception at ecereception@unm.edu prior to submitting the announcement of exam form.

Students must then notify Graduate Studies at least 2 weeks prior to the date of their thesis defense by electronically submitting the Announcement of Exam form. 

Students must be enrolled during the term of their master’s examination/thesis defense. The master’s exam may be taken only after the Program of Studies has received approval by the Graduate Dean and only if the student is in good academic standing.


Deadlines: April 15th for Spring graduation, July 15th for Summer graduation, or November 15th for Fall graduation

All UNM Master’s students must submit their theses to Graduate Studies for electronic filing in the UNM Repository. Manuscript formatting guidelines and  Manuscript Tutorial are available on the Graduate Studies website.

M.S. Plan I Graduation Checklist

  • Program of Studies (POS) has been submitted and approved
  • Student has submitted Proposed Graduation form
  • All coursework has been completed by end of graduation term
  • Thesis defense date, time and location have been coordinated with ECE Receptionist
  • Location of defense has been reserved with the ECE Graduate Advisor if defense will be held in ECE Building
  • Information Cover Sheet, Certificate of Final Form (student signature initially), and Electronic ETD Release Form (student signature) have been submitted to Manuscript Coordinator
  • Announcement of Exam has been submitted at least 2 weeks prior to thesis defense date
  • Student is enrolled in at least 1 graduate credit hour during graduation term (unless eligible for Courtesy Policy)
  • All Incomplete (I) and Unreported (NR) grades have been resolved. Students may not graduate with incomplete or unreported grades.

Two graduation ceremonies are available to ECE students during the spring and fall terms. Graduates may attend one or both events, along with their family and friends.


The University Commencement Program takes place in the Dreamstyle Arena (better known as “The Pit”). UNM’s President presides over this ceremony and officially confers degrees upon the graduates. Students must be dressed in academic regalia (i.e., cap and gown) to walk in this ceremony. Regalia can be purchased at the UNM Bookstore. To participate, students must sign-up at: http://graduation.unm.edu. Other details about UNM Commencement are also available at this site.


The second event is the School of Engineering Convocation. The Convocation is the School’s own ceremony specifically to honor you in the presence of your family and friends. The highlight of this event is the recognition of each SOE graduate individually on stage, where you will be congratulated by your department faculty and staff, your deans, and the Convocation’s honored guests. Graduate students will be met on the stage by their faculty advisor for the traditional “hooding” ceremony. For additional details see: https://graduation-engineering.unm.edu/.


Students do not receive their official diploma at the graduation ceremonies. Official diplomas are mailed to the student’s address on file with the Registrar 4-6 weeks after the end of the semester their degree is officially granted.

For questions regarding diplomas, students should contact the Office of the Registrar at (505) 277-8900 or by email at degrees@unm.edu.