MS CMPE Admission and Application

Application Requirements

Academic Background

  • An applicant must have a degree or have a degree with supplemental post-baccalaureate coursework equivalent to a four-year U.S. undergraduate baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher (for consideration for admission, although a competitive system of admission is used whereby higher GPAs may be necessary, depending on the applicant pool) in the hardware-related fields of computer engineering or electrical engineering. In recent years, the GPA cutoff for admission has been 3.25 (B+).

Standard Test Scores

  • An applicant who does not have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university in the United States must meet SJSU’s minimum requirements on an English-Language Proficiency Exam (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE; please visit the website for more information). The GRE (standard test: verbal and quantitative plus writing) is required of all international applicants and of domestic applicants with a BS from an ABET-accredited program with bachelor’s GPAs beneath 3.0. Those with five or more years of direct experience in hardware development through employment may request a waiver of the GRE. The absolute cutoff for acceptance for the sum of the quantitative and verbal portions is 300, although higher scores may be required in some semesters, depending on the strength of the applicant pool. In recent years, the minimum has been 305. The minimum GRE writing score is 3.0 except where high English-language proficiency test scores have been obtained.

Application Procedure and Material Submission

All applications are online via Cal State Apply. The application process at SJSU is administered by the Graduate Admission and Program Evaluation (GAPE) Office. Please visit the GAPE website for general information and application instructions. When completing the online application pages, the applicant should (1) select Computer Engineering (MS) as the Major/Program Objective, and (2) route his or her TOEFL (or other English-language proficiency test) scores and GRE scores to San José State University, code=4687 (no department code is required). Official transcripts and other application materials should be mailed to SJSU’s GAPE office, not to the Computer Engineering Department. Letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose can be helpful in borderline cases but are not required. They can be sent directly to the Graduate Advisor in the department until the CSU is able to integrate direct uploading to the application. This feature is expected within the coming year. Note that because the CMPE Department conducts rolling admissions, late applications will not be reviewed after the program reaches its capacity.

Admission Conditions

Except for those who obtained their BS-CMPE degree at SJSU, all admitted MS-CMPE applicants are conditionally accepted. To become a classified MS-CMPE student, conditionally admitted students must either pass two or three waiver (challenge) tests or take and pass their corresponding conditional courses (there are also some additional requirements). There are no exceptions to this policy; those who feel they had similar coursework during their undergraduate education should be able to pass the challenge exam and avoid taking the class. Each test can be taken only once. Conditional courses are graded on a credit (CR) or no credit (NC) basis. A conditional course can be taken again to obtain a passing grade, but generally only two chances are given as conditions should be fulfilled within two semesters. The names of the three tests for the MS-CMPE program (not the MSSE program) and their corresponding conditional courses are listed below. For test schedules, scope, and preparation, please visit the website at

Tests Condition Courses
Digital and Microprocessor Test CMPE 180D
(can be substituted by passing CMPE 124 + CMPE 127
with B or better grades)
Object-oriented Programming and Data Structure Test CMPE 180A
(can be substituted by passing CMPE 50 + CMPE 126
with B or better grades)
Operating Systems Test CMPE 180C
(can be substituted by passing CMPE 142
with a B or better grade)

The tests are given in the first week of each Fall and Spring semester. Each can be taken only a single time, but tests untaken the first semester of matriculation can be taken in the second semester. Students must register 3 days in advance for each test in the department office. The department makes no exceptions, such as accepting transfer work for these courses, feeling that those whose background has provided the necessary knowledge to go forward into graduate-level courses should be able to pass the corresponding test.

Transfer Students

To transfer into the MS-CMPE program from another SJSU master’s program, an occurrence that is almost never permitted, students must submit a Change of Major Request Form to the GAPE office (original application materials, other than a new financial declaration, may not need to be resubmitted as GAPE keeps them on file for a year after entrance into the university); graduate students currently at other U.S. universities must apply via Cal State Apply, as described in Section 5.2: Application Procedure and Material Submission. Thus transfer from a program outside SJSU, including from other campuses of the CSU, is not permitted by CSU policy.

  1. All applicants, including transfer students, will be evaluated on the basis of the same requirements as for new applicants. In addition, a 3.0 or higher GPA in the current graduate program is required, and GRE minimum scores are as indicated for new applicants.
  2. For applicants newly admitted to a different graduate program at SJSU, the change-of-major request can be submitted during the first semester in their home program. However, the university will allow the actual transfer to occur only at the start of the following semester.
  3. Changes of major into the MS-CMPE program are granted only under extremely rare and unusual circumstances; one should not accept a place in another graduate program with the hope of transferring into MS-CMPE, as the chances of it being allowed are exceedingly low.

Transfer Credit

After being accepted by the MS-CMPE program, a student may submit a Transfer Course Credit Request Form to transfer courses taken before the student was enrolled in the MS-CMPE program at SJSU. The request will be evaluated by the MS-CMPE Graduate Advisor in consultation with the relevant faculty members with expertise in the particular area covered by the class. Up to two courses (6 units) can be transferred to the MS-CMPE program if the following conditions are met:

  1. The courses must be at the graduate level.
  2. The courses must be comparable (in level and contents) to MS-CMPE graduate courses.
  3. The courses must have been taken within the last 7 years.
  4. The courses must not be used to meet the requirements of another degree the applicant has obtained.
  5. The courses must have been taken from U.S.-accredited universities (including SJSU Open University) or at non-MS-CMPE programs at SJSU, together with their prerequisite courses specified in the course descriptions.

Transfer of units from non-U.S. institutions is not permitted.