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University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 12, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Telecommunications and Networking, MST

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MST Admissions Requirements

The Department of Informatics and Networked Systems seeks students with diverse interests and abilities. The admission requirements for the Master of Science in Telecommunications and Networking degree (MST) reflect the interdisciplinary nature of our program and roughly correspond to an undergraduate degree in a technical discipline (e.g., math, physics, computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering, information science, etc.)

  • Computer programming skill in at least one scientific programming language
  • A 3-credit college level course in probability
  • A 3-credit college level course in calculus

Note, an introduction to telecommunications class is not a requirement for admission but the equivalent Pitt course (TELCOM 2000 ) will not count toward the MST degree.

MST Degree Requirements

Completion of the Master of Science in Telecommunications degree requires a minimum of 37 credits. Three credits may be in practicum (a structured supervised employment situation) or a thesis. Students should know that a thesis is not a requirement of the MST degree but for research-oriented students, the faculty strongly recommends a 3-credit thesis in lieu of course work.

The 37-credit minimum of course work should include the following:

  • 19 credits of required courses, including the one-credit telecommunications seminar course.
  • 3 credits selected from the management/policy group.
  • 15 credits of elective course work.

Students may choose to take more than the 37 credits required for the MST degree. However, the iSchool is not able to extend any financial aid beyond the required number of courses; any visa issues pursuant to extended study would have to be resolved by the student.

General Track Requirements

The general course of study allows you to sample courses from all the specializations in preparation for dealing with the constant changes in telecommunications technology. Since change is the only constant in the telecommunications industry, your versatility as a generalist will enable you to handle challenges as they arise in the industry. Employers such as carriers, manufacturers, consultants, and other organizations (especially smaller ones) are seeking those graduates with a broad set of skills for careers as system engineers, network designers or managers, and telecommunications managers.

A generalist can take courses from any of the areas of specialization in consultation with the faculty advisor.


Students may elect a specialization on their application for admission. The student then follows a more stringent distribution of credits depending on their specialization.  As well, some specializations have additional pre-requisites for admission and therefore students may need to complete courses above and beyond the standard 37 credit requirement.

The following sections describe the specializations; the specific distribution of credits for the individual specializations are outlined on the plans of study. Plan of study worksheets are available of the school’s Intranet. Students who elected a specialization are expected to review and follow the requirements of that area.

Students select their specialization on the application for admission and may change it until the end of the term in which they are to complete 18 credits. A form and instructions for changing specializations is available on the school’s Intranet.

Students who do not meet their chosen specialization’s requirements for graduation will automatically be changed to the general MST track.

Specializations for the MST are not noted on a student’s final transcripts or other official documents.

Telecommunications Systems

Telecommunications systems are built on an infrastructure, similar to that classically used for telephony. In this specialization, you will investigate the physical technologies (copper and fiber) used for information transmission, the enabling transmission processes (such as multiplexing, synchronization, and noise filtering), and the systems that provide telephony (classic circuit switched and VOIP). If you pursue this track, you would likely be hired by a carrier, equipment manufacturer, consultant, or business for a career as a system engineer, network designer or manager, switching system designer, or telecom manager.

Computer Networks

Computer networking enables efficient communication and information sharing to take place among widely dispersed participants. The recent emergence of the global Internet-and the availability of ever cheaper, more powerful computation and communication devices-is paving the way for a new generation of ubiquitous and pervasive networks.

In this specialization, you will explore a variety of problems encountered in designing computer networks and learn common techniques to solve these problems. Courses are designed to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills required to contribute to the field of data communication and networking. The focus is on network models and architectures, protocol design and implementation, resource management, quality of service support, and security. You will acquire a solid conceptual and practical understanding of how computer network technologies operate and the ability to analyze the benefits and limitations of current and future networking technologies. You will also gain valuable insights into the design, management, and security of computer networks, and have an opportunity to take additional electives from the Department of Computer Science, depending on your interests.

Policy and Management

Telecommunications systems exist in social and organizational contexts. In this specialization, you will explore the relationships among telecommunications technologies, service providers, end users, and governmental entities. In telecommunications, industry structure and government regulation is closely tied to the details of technology, so it is important that students forging a career in this area have a thorough understanding of not only the technology, but also the historical and existing economic and political structures. In this specialization you may take additional courses from the Katz Graduate School of Business or the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, depending on your interests. Upon graduation, you will be prepared for a career as a policy analyst or network manager.


Wireless systems have become a vital infrastructure in today’s society, and significant professional opportunities exist in this growing field. In this area, you will investigate the physical technology and enabling processes; the systems that provide cellular telephony, wireless LANs, and sensor networks; and mobile applications. You may select additional electives from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Graduates of this track have been hired by wireless carriers, manufacturers, and other organizations as system engineers and wireless network designers.


Just as we safeguard data within computers, we must also assure that the information flowing over networks is protected. In this specialization you will investigate firewalls, encryption, fault tolerant network design, and other procedures for information assurance. Additional electives may be taken from both the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics. If you follow this track, you will be prepared for a career as a network security specialist with carriers, manufacturers, consulting firms, the government, financial institutions, and other enterprises.

Internet of Things

Information regarding this new specialization is forthcoming.

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