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10 Best Master’s Programs in Telecommunications

masters in telecommunications

With each generation, telecommunications tech takes a giant leap forward. That’s why the field needs graduates who are up-to-speed on modern topics. There’s no shortage of programs to qualify you for a lucrative career in the business, but before you dive into our list, let’s review some notable facts and historical information to get you in the mood.

1866 was the year the world’s first transatlantic telegraph cable was sent, thanks to the Great Eastern laying the underwater line which transmitted eight words per minute. The first telephone was patented ten years later, by Alexander Bell. The field of telecommunications turned a critical corner in 1909, when Guglielmo Marconi won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on radio communications…much of which was based on work from inventor Nikola Tesla

Research in the field of military telecom was expedited thanks to the launch of World War I and the urgent need to transmit messages rapidly and reliably in the field. Work was also undertaken to find ways to encrypt signals so that enemy forces could not intercept communications. After the war was over, the world was introduced to commercial radio as a means of mass entertainment and information sharing during the Golden Age of Radio. Advances in TV, radar, long-distance networks, and computer technology followed in rapid succession. 

The ARPANET project of the ‘70’s quickly transformed into the internet era of the ‘80’s, and revolutionized the world by the ‘90’s. The telecommunications market is expected to be valued at $1.46 trillion in 2020. The largest companies in the industry are AT&T, Verizon, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Group, Xfinity, Vodafone, Orange, China Telecom, and others. Per the National Center for Education Statistics, communication technologies have historically produced a very low number of Master’s degree graduates, with numbers rarely breaking over 570 degrees conferred. 

This suggests that although the need for such degree holders is rapidly growing, the number of students studying advanced telecom may not be enough to fill all the open positions. This, in turn, makes highly qualified grads hot commodities which eager recruiters are keen to snatch up. Data USA lists 13,684 total computer systems networking & telecommunications degrees (including bachelor’s) conferred in 2017, with an average income of $99,998 and average employee age of just over 40 years old. A few of the highest paying locations are listed as Texas, New Jersey, and New York. According to Chron, telecommunications engineers may need to obtain special industry certifications. A few are:

  • Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) certification
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

The world of telecom is so vast it impacts virtually every aspect of our lives. As technology evolves, this trend is only going to speed up. Deloitte predicts 370,000 new telecom job opportunities will open over the coming years, and there may not be enough qualified workers to fill them all. Long story short, the world needs telecommunications experts. 

See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering

Common Application and Admission Questions

Aspiring graduate students are often so eager to get started on their advanced degrees that they don’t take the time to properly prepare their applications. This leads to wasted effort and a lot of frustration. That’s why we recommend taking a look at a few of the common application and admissions questions before you get started. Keep these in the back of your mind as you review the different programs on our list below.

You may find the perfect program at your dream university, but to boost the odds of being accepted you have to pay attention to details. Dig deep into the application process and follow it step-by-step. Ensure that you meet at least all of the minimum listed requirements. Sometimes that takes a bit of research around the website or even on other websites. 

One of the biggest requirements is, of course, your undergraduate degree. A Master’s degree is usually designed to build upon the knowledge learned from bachelor’s degree courses. The more technical a Master’s degree is, the more critical it is for an applicant to prove that they’ve successfully completed enough background work to prepare them for the program. Closely review all requirements for undergraduate work and see if there’s an option to take prerequisite classes to cover any gaps. 

Along with the undergraduate degree comes your Grade Point Average (GPA). Every university is different in regard to which channel an applicant should apply through. Some require you to apply directly through their graduate school while others need you to apply through the program’s hosting department. This matters because the graduate school may have a general minimum GPA requirement (often 3.0), but the actual program’s admissions page might reveal that the average accepted applicant had a much higher GPA. 

Universities don’t simply look at grades, they look at your entire application. Some schools take a holistic approach as they try to determine how potentially successful an applicant will be and how well they’ll fit into the program. After all, graduate programs tend to be tightly knit, meaning you’ll be working more closely with faculty and peers. They don’t just want someone with great grades, but also someone who’s a great overall match that will contribute to making the entire experience better for everyone. 

How can you persuade them that you’re a great match? By using perhaps the most overlooked application materials–the statement of purpose and resume. These are your opportunities to showcase yourself, which is why these items (especially the statement of purpose) must be custom-tailored to the exact program you’re applying to. In other words, don’t reuse the same thing over and over. Every program offers a short paragraph or two telling you exactly what they want to see on the statement of purpose and resume, and they’ll be able to tell if you read it. 

Now that we’ve covered a few tips on applications, let’s learn about funding.

What About Financial Aid & Scholarships?

College isn’t getting cheaper and graduate school costs more than ever. It’s no surprise most students rely on financial aid, and there’s no shortage of funding out there. The hurdle, of course, is figuring out the right opportunities, then going through the hassle of applying. So let’s start with everyone’s favorite, federal aid.

If you’re a domestic student and hold a bachelor’s degree, chances are you already know about (and perhaps used) Federal Student Aid. If not, the good news is that Pell Grants haven’t gone away. The bad news is the Department of Education only gives them to undergraduates. Graduates often qualify for Fulbright Grants or TEACH Grants, but for a Master’s in telecommunications, these probably aren’t the grants you’re looking for.   

This brings us to federal loans. Yes, we know, loans aren’t as awesome as grants you don’t have to pay back, but the government offers some reasonable interest rates on their unsubsidized student loans. They don’t require a credit check, unlike a loan from a bank or other lender. It’s still a good idea to shop around and compare, but keep in mind that a federal loan has a fixed interest rate so you have consistency throughout the term of the loan. 

Grad students may borrow up to $20,500 a year and don’t have to prove financial need. The process for applying starts with filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This generates a Student Aid Report which is sent to the school. Your school will do the math and see how much of a loan amount you can get and let you know the results. 

If eligible you’ll receive an offer and instructions for completing a Master promissory note. That’s simply an agreement to the loan terms. There’ll also be a short counseling session, which borrowers can do online. The entire process is pretty straightforward, but the trick is to stay on top of payments because the loan (and the payment history) impacts your overall credit score

Now let’s get into scholarships. Most colleges offer their own scholarships, so review their individual financial aid pages. Look closely at the department pages, to see if there are specific opportunities listed there. Aside from scholarships, many graduate programs offer paid teaching assistantships or research jobs. 

As mentioned by student loan bank lender Sallie Mae, graduate students should search for scholarships that are specific to their field of study. Many professional organizations and alumni associations offer free money for students pursuing degrees related to telecommunications or STEM fields in general. Geographic location is another factor to consider, since many scholarships are state-specific. Finally, all students are wise to consider demographic-based scholarships, meaning funds set aside to enhance educational access for specific groups based on gender, race, ethnicity, or other factors. 

Military and veteran students should put their GI Bill to use. Universities hire veterans affairs specialists to help eligible students figure out the process. Many such students can complete their degrees with zero out-of-pocket expenses. 

How Much Can I Make With a Master’s in Telecommunications?

As businesses race to keep up with the pace of technological advances, STEM degree graduates are in ever-increasing demand. One of the biggest factors that can make or break a business is the speed and reliability of their information flow. That’s where telecommunications comes in, and that’s why the career field has such a promising outlook. Those with advanced degrees in telecommunications are in prime positions to compete for top jobs at some of the largest, fastest-growing companies on Earth.

Despite this demand for subject matter experts, the field evolves so rapidly that university programs must constantly revise their curriculum to stay relevant. That makes them more competitive to get into. Departments love to tout their successful student outcomes, and to do that they may accept only the best applicants. Once students graduate and move on to their careers, schools track their progress and advertise the results.

Take a look at each program’s site to see what salaries their alumni report back with. Meanwhile, we can get a general feel for income ranges based on sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks big data nationwide and condenses it into usable nuggets. Other handy information sources include PayScale and Glassdoor, which take inputs directly from workers in the field. These sites gather numbers and turn them into statistics based on job titles, geographic location, and other variables. 

Companies pay differently based on their size. Alaska Communications Systems Group probably can’t afford to hire someone at the same scale as Verizon. Other factors that affect pay include the workers’ years of experience, specialized or advanced training (such as a Master’s degree), and internal factors such as profit-sharing and incentives. Okay, with all those caveats in mind, let’s start looking at salaries. We’ll begin with BLS. 

Often BLS lists career-specific data in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. Information on the telecommunication subsector, however, is tagged on pages outside their handbook. BLS breaks the field down into the following groups: 

  • Cable and Other Program Distribution
  • Satellite Telecommunications
  • Telecommunications Resellers
  • Wired Telecommunications Carriers
  • Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite)

The median salary listed for “electronics engineers, except computer” in the telecommunication subsector is $95,250, with a mean salary of $99,230 (as of 2018). 

Glassdoor offers a wide range of salary data for telecom-related careers, such as:

  • Electronics engineer – $74K
  • Telecom engineer – $72K
  • Telecommunications manager – $67K
  • Network/telecommunications engineer – $67K

The highest telecom engineer salary the site reports is $110K, however when users filter results based on company size, industry, and years of experience, salaries as high as $123K are revealed. Glassdoor also shows ranges for specific companies, revealing the differences in pay based on employer. For instance, a telecom engineer at Qwest reported earns between $76K – $86K (but this is based on only two salaries), while Sandokan Solutions pays an average of $94,334 a year (based on three salaries). A little research on this site may help telecom majors decide which company they want to apply to after graduation. 

Now that you’ve seen stats on potential salaries, it’s time to check out our list of the 10 best Master’s programs in telecommunications below.

Our Ranking Criteria 

We have a time-tested four-part formula designed for ranking the best colleges in the nation that we’d love to share with you. We prioritize four major factors: earnings potential, affordability, student satisfaction, and selectivity. Reliable research and well-harvested data are the main ingredients in our recipe for success. We don’t make recommendations based on personal opinions, or financial incentives. Our revenue and content are completely separate, and sponsored schools have no impact on our rankings. The only way to make it onto one of our lists is to have an incredible academic program. 

What Are the Best Master’s Programs in Telecommunications?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:

40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni 

30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year 

30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. 

#1. The University of Texas at Dallas

Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering 

As the University of Texas at Dallas celebrates its 50th anniversary, it offers a fascinating history of its evolution into the modern, innovative institution that students from around the world aspire to attend. Of particular note are the breakthroughs made by the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, which now offers a Master of Science in telecommunications engineering (MS TE). This rigorous interdisciplinary program incorporates topics on electrical engineering, computer science, and even economics to train graduate students for positions of authority within a range of sectors. Due to the challenging curriculum, applicants are advised to possess a strong foundation in telecom software and hardware, as well as network theory. 

Coursework dives deep into subjects such as: 

  • Ad-hoc and PCS wireless networks
  • Digital signal processing
  • Electromagnetic-wave propagation
  • Fiber and integrated optics
  • High speed protocols.
  • Mobile IP
  • Network design and optimization
  • QoS assurance protocols

This program requires 33 semester credit hours, with both thesis and non-thesis options. Part-time students are enrolled in the non-thesis option to begin but can apply to do the thesis if desired. The thesis is mandatory for most full-time students. All students are required to work closely with an advisor to determine a suitable plan of study. 

The school features several state-of-the-art facilities, including the Engineering and Computer Science Building, TARGET Lab, and Wireless Information Systems Lab. There’s also the Antenna Measurement Laboratory which is used as a testbed area for research, the Optical Communications Lab, and a facility housing the server network and Sun Engineering Workstations. Additional facilities include UTD’s Center for Systems, Communications, and Signal Processing, the Photonic Technology and Engineering Center, and labs for Digital Systems, Nonlinear Optics, Broadband Communication, Advanced Communications Technologies, Plasma Applications, Electronic Materials Processing, Laser Electronics, and Nanoelectronics. UT Dallas students are also welcome to study at various partner facilities around the local area. 

Taught by renowned faculty from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the program ensures graduates have a comprehensive foundation in all aspects of today’s complex communications networks and systems. Post-graduation, many MS TE alumni have gone on to great jobs as telecom software or network engineers for a wide range of governmental and private industry organizations around the globe, with reported starting median salaries of $106,000. Others go on to pursue their Ph.D. in telecommunications engineering at UTD. The department features a sprawling alumni network for students to stay connected to, no matter what their goals are after finishing their Master’s degree. 

To apply, students must meet UTD’s graduate admissions standards, as well as specific requirements for the Master of Science in the telecommunications engineering program. MS TE applicants should hold a bachelor’s in electrical engineering or a related degree, due to the highly technical nature of the graduate coursework, with a minimum 3.0 GPA on upper-level quantitative classes. Suggested minimum GRE revised general test scores are as follows: Verbal – 154, Quantitative – 156, Analytical Writing – 4. Applicants will also need to provide three letters of recommendation and an essay. 

#2. University of Maryland

Master’s in Telecommunications

The University of Maryland in College Park has been in the higher education business since its humble beginnings in 1856 as a small agricultural college. After reinventing itself following the Great Fire of 1912, it has gone on to become a true powerhouse in countless areas of academia, including business and technology. Now, through the joint efforts of its Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the university offers a high-speed 30-credit Master’s in telecommunications which blends a technical curriculum with practical business coursework. Made for working students, the program can be taken full- or part-time, with many classes held at night. 

The program of study features a technical and business core, plus electives. Technical classes are based on the latest industry trends and cover areas related to wireless comm and networking, and topics like cybersecurity, Linux administration, machine learning, data mining, and more. University of Maryland’s program differs from other similar Master’s degrees due to the emphasis on the practical business core which dives into marketing, economics, and leadership topics one might find in an MBA program. Faculty and instructors have years of work experience in the telecom industry, allowing them to inject real-world insights into their lectures and assignments. 

Most students take two years to finish the program, if attending full-time (which equates to about three classes each semester). The program does not have a thesis option but does require a scholarly project to be completed. This paper requires considerable planning ahead for, but it is not tied to any particular course in the way a thesis would be. The final output must prove the student’s technical understanding and ability to write it in a format similar to publishable work. 

Graduates are qualified for great-paying positions such as solutions architect, product marketing engineer, software engineer, technical staff roles, network engineer, cloud engineer, RF analyst, software developer, system engineer, and many others. Employers of University of Maryland grads include TeleWorld Solutions, Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Amazon, Verizon, Qualcomm, Sprint, and other leading companies in the industry. 

There are two useful career resource centers that help enhance graduate employment outcomes–the University Career Center and the Engineering Career Services. These offer career advising and informational sessions, hold career fairs and workshops, and feature external job boards. They also provide help with resume writing, finding internships, and ways to link up with recruiters. Many students take advantage of the Graduate School Writing Center’s invaluable consultations to improve their critical communication skills.

Successful applicants to University of Maryland’s Master’s in telecommunications program must have sufficient related undergraduate work with a minimum suggested 3.0 GPA. Applicants should submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, an optional resume, and optional (but recommended) GRE scores. International students will send Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is able to assist with I-20 forms, if accepted. 

#3. Florida International University

Master of Science in Telecommunications and Networking

Florida International University is a public institution featuring two US campuses, four satellites, an off-site Engineering Center, and overseas locations in Italy and China. The university’s School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS) is located on the Modesto Maidique Campus, within the Engineering and Computer Science Building. Home to several graduate programs, SCIS’s Master of Science in Telecommunications and Networking is a popular option for students preparing for high-tech careers with great career outlooks. 

The program’s plan of study includes 15 hours of core credits, consisting of the following general classes: 

  • Computer Communications and Networking Technologies 
  • Networks Management and Control Standards
  • Mobile Computing
  • Secure Telecommunications Transactions 
  • Telecommunications Enterprise Planning and Strategy

Students must also select to complete either six credit hours in a focus area track or a thesis option. Tracks include business, communications, software, security, and wireless/sensor networks. The thesis option requires thesis proposal preapproval by committee prior to beginning work. In addition to the above, nine elective credits will round out degree requirements. Electives will be selected from an approval list, however Graduate Program Advisors have some flexibility to approve requests to take classes not on the list, such as independent study. 

The curriculum is informed by experts from the Industrial Advisory Board, which works hard to ensure courses relate the most up-to-date practical essentials needed for working individuals in the field. The board also assists in other aspects of training, research partnerships, and opportunities to enhance student outcomes through scholarships, internships, co-ops, and other means. FIU hosts many facilities on campus where SCIS classes are held, including the Tech Station, a nexus of cutting-edge research, innovative learning, and invaluable peer and external networking experiences. Tech Station also houses the Student Advising Center which offers graduate academic and career assistance. 

When students aren’t busy studying, many take part in the multitude of campus and school-specific organizations, such as the SCIS chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, Upsilon Pi Epsilon, Women in Computer Science, the Panther Linux User Group, and other STEM groups. FIU students are also keen on community service related to their fields of study or other relevant areas they can positively impact within the Miami and South Florida areas. There are a host of cultural events and happenings for theater, music, and art fans alike. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of physical activities for those seeking exercise, athletics, and sunny outdoor adventures.

Florida International University holds the esteemed Carnegie ranking of an R1 Highest Research Activity institution. Admissions to its rigorous Master of Science in telecommunications and networking require a relevant bachelor’s degree, which may be assessed by the graduate school. Applicant undergrad GPAs should be a 3.0 or higher. Students will also submit official transcripts, a recommended statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and a resume. International students will send TOEFL scores (showing a 550 or better score on the paper-based exam or 80 or more on the Internet-based exam) or a TOEFL score of 6.5 or higher. 

#4. Illinois Institute of Technology

Master of Telecommunications and Software Engineering

As Chicago’s only technical university, the Illinois Institute of Technology has had an amazing responsibility to serve the community since its inception in 1940 after the merger of its predecessors. So far Illinois Tech has met the challenge in highly innovative ways, one example of which is its 30-credit hour Master of Telecommunications and Software Engineering (MTSE). Created through a joint effort of its renowned College of Engineering and College of Science, the program combines coursework from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as the Department of Computer Science. Made to be finished in one year, this Master’s focuses in-depth on communications engineering, systems architectures, systems design, networks, software testing, and more. 

The 30-credit, no thesis curriculum includes required courses in: 

  • Communication Engineering Fundamentals
  • Software Systems Architecture
  • Software Project Management
  • Performance Evaluations on Computer Networks, or Design Optimization on Computer Networks

Students must also take one class each in the areas of software engineering, telecommunication systems, and communications, with electives rounding out final credit requirements. Due to the advanced nature of the coursework, all MTSE students must possess a solid undergraduate foundation in the necessary subjects, which may be satisfied by meeting prerequisites such as: 

  • Accelerated Introduction to Computer Science 
  • Circuit Analysis I & II
  • Introduction to Differential Equations
  • Multivariate and Vector Calculus
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Signals and Systems

Illinois Tech assists graduates of its MSTE program to go on to exciting high-speed careers in the diverse areas of the telecom engineering field. It does this through an array of career services dedicated to offering students all the tools needed to obtain their dream jobs. From coaching to networking with industry partners on the lookout for talented job seekers, the university’s professional team is adept at guiding graduates onto pathways of success. They also offer rewarding internships and co-op opportunities which are outstanding experiences to cite on a resume. 

Applicants to Illinois Tech’s Master of Telecommunications and Software Engineering should hold an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Transcripts, a professional statement of up to 2,000 words, and letters of recommendation are also required. GRE scores can be waived with the 3.0 undergraduate GPA. International applicants have several additional requirements, which may include proof of financial support, passport identity information, a school transfer form, and TOEFL or IELTS exam scores. 

Additional factors to consider: The school accepts up to nine transferred credit hours, so long as at least a letter grade of “B” was earned. Students who do not possess an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 can still apply as non-degree-seeking students, and then later apply as degree-seeking once sufficient coursework has been satisfactorily completed. U.S. News & World Report ranked Illinois Tech No. 82 in a tie for Best Engineering Schools and No. 36 in Best Value Schools in the country for 2020. Famous alumni include Marty Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, and Rohit Prasad, the head scientist for Amazon’s Alexa AI, among countless other world-changing STEM professionals. 

#5. George Washington University

Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering

Located in the nation’s capital, George Washington University’s impactful research and world-class education are wrapped up in a tightly knit community devoted to excellence in higher learning. Through its Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, the university offers a robust Master of Science in telecommunications engineering for graduate students looking for a comprehensive degree they can put to immediate use in their careers. The 30-credit hour curriculum consists of classes ranging from topics such as: 

  • Cloud Computing 
  • Computer Networking
  • Network Architecture
  • Optical Networking
  • Telecommunications Security Protocols
  • Transmissions Systems
  • Wireless Networking

The plan of study takes between two to three years, depending on course load. Requirements include a core of 21 credit hours and nine electives. Students opting to complete a thesis will take 24 credit hours of classes and will spend the final six credit hours for their thesis research, which will be spread out over two terms. Required classes are:

  • Introduction to Computer Networks
  • Network Architectures and Protocols
  • Optical Communication Networks
  • Telecommunications Security
  • Wireless Networks
  • additional two classes selected from a preapproved list.

The department is home to a plethora of diverse student and professional organizations, including Alpha Omega Epsilon, Engineers Without Borders, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, GW Optical Society, Tech Collective, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, Tau Beta Pi, and Theta Tau. Graduate students may apply for a range of scholarships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships, along with other financial aid and career-building opportunities. GW students learn from distinguished departmental faculty and, upon graduation, will join the ranks of accomplished alumni such as NASA astronaut Dr. Serena Aunon-Chancellor, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center director Christopher Scolese, and Pradman Kaul, the president and CEO of Hughes Network Systems, among many others. 

George Washington University is ranked No. 75 in Best Engineering Schools in a tie on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 grad school listings. It also comes in at No. 75 for computer science, which is closely related to the study of telecommunications. The department doesn’t report admittance numbers. However, it does offer a few insights via its graduate student profile. For the Fall 2018 class, the GW’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering cites 384 new students coming in from 41 different countries, a 75/25% mix of male-to-female enrollments, an average age of 25, average GPA of 3.23, and average GRE scores of Qualitative – 77 and Verbal – 47. 

Admissions requirements for George Washington University’s competitive Master of Science in telecommunications engineering degree program include holding a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as electrical or computer engineering (or computer science). Those without a degree in one of those majors can still enroll but may need to complete foundational prerequisite coursework. Applicants also need a minimum 3.0 GPA calculated on their final 60 undergrad credit hours. Lastly, students will submit GRE scores, a resume or CV, at least two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose not to exceed 500 words. 

#6. University of Oklahoma

Master of Science, Telecommunications Engineering

The University of Oklahoma’s Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering (MS TCOM) is part of the institution’s overarching Telecommunications Engineering program, which is overseen by the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Tulsa. The program is relatively compact, with a core of five devoted full-time faculty and a graduate student body of 40 enrollees, many of whom are pursuing doctoral degrees. Students have the flexibility to decide if they want to pursue a thesis option or instead focus on coursework and a professional project. MS TCOM classes are often offered at the UO’s Norman campus near Oklahoma City, as well as the Tulsa campus, enabling extra accessibility. 

The 32 hours of required coursework include the following classes:

  • Telecommunications Industry Overview
  • Network Design and Management
  • Telecommunications Laboratory
  • Telecommunications Technology

Remaining required coursework will depend on the student’s decision to complete a thesis or a professional project, both of which must be defended orally. Electives will round out credit hour requirements, with a minimum of 12 selected from technical areas such as telecommunications, computer science, math, or applicable engineering topics. The school takes care to ensure an up-to-date curriculum, with new courses such as Internet-of-Things: Principals, Stochastic Systems, Linear Systems Analysis, Deep Learning, Information Theory and Statistical Learning; Big Data Analytics; Optical Quantum Technologies; and many others. 

UO students benefit from learning experiences within four cutting-edge laboratories. These labs are: the Wireless and Electromagnetic Compliance and Design Center (WECAD), Quantum Optics lab, Photonics lab, and InterOp Lab, which features five unique “island” configurations related to researching internet protocol, asynchronous transfer mode, legacy, optical networking, and wireless capabilities. Every week students and faculty gather at meetings to review research findings on topics such as quantum optics, intelligent complex systems, internet of things, next generation networks, and other interest focuses. 

UO’s MS TCOM program places heavy emphasis on practical learning as much as possible. It also features exciting organizations students can get involved in, like the IEEE Communications Society, filled with professionals studying all types of communications technologies. The Tulsa chapter of the Society regularly holds insightful conferences, engages in activities, and gathers for committees that foster knowledge sharing and the advancement of the industry. The campus also hosts many centers such as the Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture, the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, and other institutes. 

To apply to University of Oklahoma’s Master of Science in telecommunications engineering program, students will need official GRE general scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Applicants also need to hold a bachelor’s with a major in either engineering, computer science, physics, or math. However, students outside of those majors can still apply but must either a) show proof of completion of relevant coursework such as Electromagnetic Fields, Signals and Systems, Introduction to Electronics, and related classes, b) be able to take those prerequisite classes, c) be able to test out by taking a final exam with a minimum grade of B.

#7. Southern Methodist University

Master of Science with Major in Telecommunications and Network Engineering

Southern Methodist University is a private university near Dallas, Texas, whose motto is “World Changers Shaped Here.” That’s no small boast, but with a $660 million operating budget (as of 2019), SMU clearly has the funding to back it up and to offer world-class education. Its Lyle School of Engineering features a convenient, straightforward 30-credit hour Master of Science in telecommunications and network engineering for students interested in corporate communications management and telecom network engineering. The curriculum prepares graduates for a wide array of employment opportunities, from working for major corporations and governmental agencies to academic research and consulting. 

Students can expect to spend some quality time on foundational core topics such as network protocols, switching and routing, and multiprotocol label switching before moving on to more modern advanced areas of study. The highly engaging program also thoroughly trains students on practical business matters including leadership, management, regulations, and relevant policies. Program elective classes are broken into two categories: advanced and additional electives. Advanced electives include classes such as: 

  • Cloud Computing for Network Engineers
  • Internet Telephony
  • Linux and Programming
  • Network Analysis, Architecture and Design
  • Software Defined Networks
  • Switching and QoS Management in IP Networks
  • Telecommunications Regulation
  • Wireless, Cellular and Personal Telecommunications

SMU’s degree is offered both on-campus and online, making it perfect for busy working students who desire the flexibility of a distance learning component. Courses in both formats are led by the same renowned faculty and feature the same academic challenges and time commitments. Students attending SMU in person will utilize sophisticated department labs such as the Wireless Systems Lab within the Jerry Junkins Building. All students will benefit from the courses utilizing advanced simulation software to design and troubleshoot networks. The program also offers incredible opportunities to learn directly from high-level industry guest lecturers who possess decades of real-world experience. 

SMU graduate students can use the school’s very handy degree plan to map out their classes. As with most of the degree program options on our list, this program requires sufficient technical background in order to apply. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s in one of the following:

  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electronics
  • Information Technology
  • Networking
  • Telecommunications

The department is also able to consider applications from students who hold other degrees if it is assessed that enough related coursework was done on the undergraduate degree. SMU also recommends students have some computer programming experience. Additional requirements to apply include a statement of purpose, statement of job responsibility, resume, transcripts, optional letters of recommendation, and potentially GRE scores. 

For those keen to include extra managerial coursework, the school has teamed up with SMU’s Cox School of Business to craft a dual degree ~68-credit hour MBA and Master of Science in telecommunications and network engineering. This two-year option adds the fast track MBA and allows for up to six MBA credit hours to be counted as electives on the telecommunications Master’s. This program would be beneficial for those seeking to land leadership roles. Interested students should review the additional application criteria. 

#8. University of Denver

Master of Science in Information and Communications Technology with a Concentration in Telecommunications Technology

The University of Denver is nearly as old as Denver itself. From scantily populated frontier territory they’ve grown together to become virtual magnets that people from around the world flock to. One high-tech draw in particular is the university’s Master of Science in information and communications technology, which features an in-depth concentration in telecommunications technology. This 48-credit hour degree can be finished in as quick as a year and a half, or part-time students can opt to take a more leisurely pace with up to five years to complete requirements. 

The program of study consists of 12 ten-week courses, plus a no-credit class on student success. Designed for working grad students, classes can be taken either on campus at nighttime or online through the University College. Classes cover the industry, starting with a historical perspective then rapidly moving toward technology of today with predictions for the future. Core classes include: Business Foundations, Technical Foundations, Enterprise Architecture, and either a capstone project or capstone seminar. 

The four specialization classes are: Network Communications and the Internet, Broadband Wireless Networks, Next Generation Wireless Networks and Services, and Network Security with Lab. Four electives are picked from a long list of options, usually from the information and communications technology program. However other electives are permitted with pre-approval. DU’s website has got a great interactive degree builder to assist students with plotting out multiple routes to finish their courses, if they want to compare options. 

A unique treat that DU extends to eager existing grad students is the chance to take a class before actually finishing the entire program application process. This option is only available for domestic graduate students, but it’s very useful for those wanting to get a jump start on things. The department lists a few of the many potential job titles that graduates can hold, such as chief technology officer, IT manager, telecommunications officer or director, and specialist or consultant. The career services section helps students prepare to land those killer jobs through career coaching, mock interviews, resume help, and much more.

The easy and flexibility of programs at DU’s University College makes this a top pick for military students and veterans, with ~10% of enrollees falling into those categories. DU has over 12,000 students, while the overall University College student body is 1,500-strong, making it the most popular graduate school at DU. Over half that student body resides outside of Colorado, who love the convenience of the online option which uses Canva as a delivery platform. 

The University of Denver also expands accessibility to graduate education programs by making the application process easier than average. It considers up to 12 transfer credits, doesn’t require GRE or GMAT scores, and will accept applications from students holding a minimum of 2.5 GPA on their undergraduate work. Students must submit a personal statement up to 500 words, a resume, official transcripts, and the contact information for two personal references. International applicants will need to provide proof of English proficiency. 

#9. Pace University

Master of Science in Telecommunications Systems and Networks

New York’s Pace University is on a mission to transform graduate students into skilled professionals ready to tackle the challenges of modern career fields. Its 36-credit hour, STEM-designated Master of Science in telecommunications systems and networks, offered at the New York City and Westchester campuses, equips students with the managerial and high-tech abilities that employers are in need of. Offered by the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, the two-year program features a rigorous curriculum which dives into coursework on wireless and optical communications, networks, security topics, management, and regulations. 

The 36-credits hour program of study consists of 27 core credits and nine elective credits. Sample core classes include:

  • Computer Networking and the Internet
  • Data Communications and Networks
  • Optical Communications and Networks
  • Security in Computer Networking
  • Simulation and Computer Network Analysis
  • Telecommunications Management
  • Wireless Communications

Electives are chosen from a list with graduate advisors able to assist in determining suitable paths and any needed prerequisites. Pace may require bridge classes for students without sufficient academic background in the field. Up to nine prerequisite bridge credits can be taken, but none count towards the degree credit requirements. Possible bridge topics include Fundamentals Computer Science I and II (using Java), and Computer Systems and Concepts. 

Graduates of Pace’s Master of Science in telecommunications systems and networks go on to rewarding careers in a wide range of areas, such as telecommunications systems management, computer programming, and software engineering. Eighty-nine percent of program alumni reported finding employment within six months of graduation. High-profile employers include Intel, Verizon, Novisync, and many more major players into the telecom industry. With job growth predictions as high as 22% within the coming years, it’s no wonder the program has gotten so popular.

Pace University students come from every state in the nation and around the world. The top countries represented in the overall student body are China, India, France, Brazil, and South Korea. With an average 14:1 student/faculty ratio, graduate students receive copious amounts of individualized attention. The Seidenberg School is devoted to providing practical, applicable real-world education to its diverse host of program enrollees, and it takes great strides to ensure use of effective teaching methodology. 

Students attending the NYC campus enjoy the close proximity to Wall Street, the South Street Seaport, and all the other vibrant activities just a short subway trip away. Being near the city also enhances networking opportunities for students planning ahead for their entry into the job market. Meanwhile, Westchester campus students can marvel at the blend of modern facilities and open spaces on the sprawling 200-acre nature setting. This campus features a tight-knit community with plenty of sports, clubs, and other student life activities to take part in. 

Applicants should submit transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining the reasons for pursuing the degree. Pace University ranks No. 34 in Top Performers on Social Mobility in a tie on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 rankings. 

#10. New Jersey Institute of Technology

MS in Telecommunications

Nestled on 45 acres of Newark’s beautiful historic University Heights, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is a public polytechnic institution dedicated to offering a stellar learning experience for all. Through its Helen and John C. Hartmann Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NJIT offers a MS in telecommunications with a unique option to specialize in a focus area of interest. The program combines relevant coursework from electrical, computer engineering, and computer science fields of study with an emphasis on learning about the latest developments in the industry. 

NJIT’s MS in telecommunications requires 30 credits, and offers three variations for students to select from—coursework only, Master’s project, or thesis. There are 12 credits of core courses and must maintain an overall grade of “B” for the core component. Core classes are: 

  • Communication Systems I
  • Wireless Communication
  • Computer Networks-Architectures, Protocols and Standards or Computer Network Design and Analysis
  • Random Signal Analysis I

Advanced students can request from their advisor to replace a core class with an elective. The total number of electives also depends on whether or not students decide to do only coursework, or if they complete a project or thesis. All students select an area of specialization from the following options: 

  • Communication systems
  • Information technologies 
  • Management and administration
  • Networking

Students without a suitable foundation in technology can take bridge classes to catch up, but those aren’t counted for the degree. Graduates of NJIT’s MS in telecommunications leave quipped with the technical expertise needed to fulfill critical roles in the industry. The program also grooms students to become adept at preparing high caliber written communications and giving professional presentations. Other educational outcomes include the ability to engage effectively in collaborative teams and to troubleshoot issues by bringing learned skills to bear on complex, real-world telecom issues. 

NJIT’s Division of Academic Support and Student Affairs provides a treasure of services for graduate students. Ranging from help with thesis preparation to career-building assistance to simply fun cultural activities, there are numerous offerings to take advantage of. The school is home to ~140 student organizations and Highlander sports. When students are ready for a break from campus, Newark (New Jersey’s most populated city) is there waiting with over a dozen parks, the riverfront “Orange Boardwalk”, and an array of cultural delights to suit all tastes. New York City is a mere 20-minute train ride away, making NJIT’s location perfect for those who love urban life. 

NJIT’s MS in telecommunications is accredited by ABET, which determines the program’s ability to meet very specific program educational objectives. These outcome goals relate to which practical skills graduates should expect to possess and how they’re able to apply those skills after graduation. Per the program’s webpage, applicants must send in GRE exam scores and should hold a related bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or better. The site doesn’t specify all application requirements without creating an account, but interested students can check out the graduate admissions page for details. 

Other Notable Programs

#11. University of Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Degree: Master of Science in Telecommunications

Average In-State Tuition: $23,696


#12. Ball State University

Location: Muncie, Indiana

Degree: Master’s Degree in Telecommunications

Average In-State Tuition: $9,392


#13. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Degree: MS in Telecommunications Engineering

Average In-State Tuition: $9,303


#14. Rochester Institute of Technology

Location: Henrietta, New York

Degree: MS in Telecommunications Engineering Technology

Average In-State Tuition: $11,862


#15. Northeastern University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Degree: Master of Science in Telecommunication Networks

Average In-State Tuition: $24,429


#16. Drexel University

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,

Degree: MS in Electrical and Telecommunications Engineering

Average In-State Tuition: $34,995


#17. Rochester Institute of Technology

Location: Henrietta, New York

Degree: MS in Telecommunications Engineering Technology

Average In-State Tuition: $11,862


#18. Boston University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Degree: Master of Science in Telecommunication

Average In-State Tuition: $53,572


#19. Stratford University

Location: Falls Church/Alexandria, Virginia

Degree: Master of Science in Networking and Telecommunications

Average In-State Tuition: $13,515



Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor