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Electrical Engineering Major Guide for 2008-2009

What is Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering deals with the application of the physical laws governing charged particles.  From miniature integrated circuits that contain millions of microelectronic devices, to high-speed fiber-optic communication systems that span international boundaries, electrical engineering impacts every aspect of modern-day living.  Electrical engineering is unique among the engineering disciplines because of its wide range of applications.  Subject areas within electrical engineering are so diverse that it is not always apparent that here is an underlying connection.  The range of subjects is not only broad but is also expanding.
The program educational objectives of the electrical engineering program include:

  • Will apply the knowledge of the fundamentals of engineering, science and mathematics in the practice of electrical/computer engineering or in advanced professional studies; will identify, formulate and solve electrical/computer engineering problems.
  • Will analyze and design complex devices and systems containing hardware and software components with consideration of economic, ethical, safety, environmental, and social issues; will be able to use modern engineering techniques skills and tools.
  • Will communicate effectively, function on multi-disciplinary teams, and engage in lifelong learning.

    The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Electrical Engineering

The growth trends for employment of electrical engineering graduates are expected to increase through 2010.  Projected job growth stems largely from increased demand for electrical and electronic goods, including advanced communications equipment, computer communications, biomedical instrumentation, defense-related electronic equipment, and consumer electronics products.  The need for electronics manufacturers to invest heavily in research and development to remain competitive and gain a scientific edge will provide openings for graduates who have learned the latest technologies.

Salary Trends in Electrical Engineering

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual earnings of electrical engineers were $75, 930 in 2006.  The middle 50 percent earned between $60,640 and $95,050.  The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $115,240.  Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of electrical engineers in 2007 were:

  • Scientific research and development services-$91,680
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing-$89,010
  • Electric power generation, transmission and distribution-$81,280
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing-$84,040
  • Architectural engineering and related services-$82,830

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual earnings of electronics engineers, except computer, were $81,050 in 2006.  The middle 50 percent earned between $64,440 and $99,630.  The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,056, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $119,900.  Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of electronics engineers in 2007 were:

  • Federal government-$92,090
  • Architectural engineering, and related services-$83,650
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing-$83,050
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing-$86,800
  • Wired telecommunications carriers-$77,080

According to a 2007 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree candidates in electrical/electronics and communications engineering received starting offers averaging $55,292 a year; mater’s degree candidates averaged $66,309; and Ph.D. candidates averaged $75,982.

High School Preparation

Core academic subjects required for admission:

  • 4 units of English
  • 2 units of algebra
  • 1 unit of geometry, trigonometry, advanced math or calculus
  • 2 units of natural science, including at least 1 unit of biology, chemistry or physics
  • 1 unit of American history
  • 1 unit of European history, world history or world geography
  • 2 units of a single foreign language
  • 1 unit of visual or performing arts Computer courses prior to the freshman year in engineering are also highly recommended.

Prospective students who want to enter the engineering program are also required to meet the criteria of the “Success Prediction Index” (SPI).  The formula math ACT score.  The college is gradually increasing the required SPI score.  Check the UT Admissions or College of Engineering web sites to determine the current SPE required.  Students who are unable to meet this requirement may register as $university undecided” students and complete appropriate mathematics, science and other courses before applying for admission to the COE.

How to Major in Electrical Engineering

The electrical engineering degree program is administered by the UT Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).  Students applying to the university should specify electrical engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form.  Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other education institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses.  For more information on the admissions process, visit

Requirements for Electrical Engineering

The EECS department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the electrical or computer engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college.  College of Engineering students at the sophomore level and above are required to own laptop computers for class work.  For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities: 
The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (OPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience real-world engineering challenges through cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs.  Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals:
 In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects:

Highlights of Electrical Engineering

The EECS department is currently constructing a new 150,000 square foot facility, projected for completion in 2009, which will provide students and faculty with state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and research facilities.  The department also recently received a $5 million gift, which will be used to match additional donations to generate a $10 million endowment that will fund scholarships, named professorships and fellowships.  Dr. Min Kao, Chairman and CEO of Garmin International Inc. and an alumnus of the UT-ECE program, provided this transformational gift, and both the new building and the department will bear Dr. Kao, name in honor of his generosity. 
 EECS students also have valuable opportunities to participate in student chapters of many engineering professional societies, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student branch; the electrical and computer engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu; and Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.  These groups afford members the opportunity to gain valuable experience in time management, public speaking and team work.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The UT Center for International Education collaborates with the COE to create opportunities for engineering students to study and apply for internships in other countries:

Learn more about UT's Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today's world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English 101*, 102* 6
Chemistry 120* 4
Mathematics 141*, 142* 8
Engineering Fundamentals 151 or 1571, 152 or 1581, 105 9
ECE 206 4
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Mathematics 200, 231, 241 8
Physics 231*, 232* 7
ECE 255, 300, 313 12
Philosophy 241*, 243*, or 244* 3
Junior Year Credit Hours
ECE 315, 325, 335, 341 14
ECE 316, 336, 342, 355, 395 13
2 Social Sciences Electives* 6
Senior Year Credit Hours
ECE 400* 5
3 Electrical Engineering Senior Electives 12
4 Technical Electives 6
2 Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
2 Cultures and Civilizations Electives 6
1 Engineering Fundamentals 402 1

*Meets University General Education Requirement
1 Engineering Fundamentals 157 and 158 are Honors versions of Engineering Fundamentals and students in the Honors Program are not required to take Engineering Fundamentals 402
2 Can be taken at any time
3 Acceptable Senior Electrical and Computer Engineering Sequences: 415-416, 421-422, 431-432, 441-442, 443-446, 451-455, 471-472, 481-482
4 Engineering Technical Electives: Chemistry 130; Materials Science and Engineering 201, 410; Mechanical Engineering 231, 321, 331, 344; Nuclear Engineering 342; Industrial Engineering 405

For More Information

 Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
 414 Ferris Hall
 Knoxville, TN 37996-2100
 Phone: (865)974-3461
 Fax: (865)974-5483



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.