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The Academic Credit System explained

Apart from IIT, BITS, NIT and a handful of other institutes, in India, the credits system is not in vogue. So you may not be particularly clear about these. The academic system in the U.S. is based on a system of credits, where each course is assigned a certain number of credits, typically between 1-4. Your program requirements are usually specified in terms of the number of these credits you need to complete. Hence, one person can take 8 courses and meet the degree requirements, while someone else may need to take 9 because of the differences in credits associated with each course.

To find out the exact number of credits you need to complete your degree, you should go to your department website and look up what is known as the Graduate Handbook. It has all the information you need. In addition, if you have any doubts, you can always schedule a meeting with the DGP (Director of Graduate Program) to discuss out your course structure.

Grading and GPA

Academic performance in all US Educational institutions is measured in terms of the GPA (Grade Point Average). A GPA is a single decimal number representing your performance over a semester or cumulatively over several semesters. It is calculated from the letter grades that you receive in each course.

Let's start with an understanding of a credit hour. Each course is assigned a credit hour rating depending on the difficulty level of the course and the hours spent in class with that subject. Usually, most courses are assigned a credit hour rating of 3. You know this because as international students you have to maintain a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester - which usually means a minimum of 3 courses at a time.

At the end of the semester, you will receive a letter grade (A,B,C,D or F) for that course based on your performance as evaluated by the terms laid out in the syllabus. Each letter may additionally have a + or - with it. Here's how it breaks up:

Grade and Grade Points Per Credit Hour

A+ 4.333**

A 4.000

A- 3.667*

B+ 3.333*

B 3.000

B- 2.667*

C+ 2.333*

C 2.000

C- 1.667*

D+ 1.333*

D 1.000

D- 0.667*

F 0.000

Now multiply the grade points for your letter grade by the credit hours for that course. For example if you get an A for a 3 credit hour course, you have now got a 4.0 x 3 = 12 grade points for that course. Do this for all your courses and add all the grade points up. So if you got an A, B and B+ in the three 3 credit hour courses you took over the semester, your total grade points for that semester are 4.0 x 3 + 3.0 x 3 + 3.333 x 3 = 30.999. Then divide this sum of grade points by the total number of credit hours attempted that semester to get your GPA. This is 30.999/(3 x 3) = 3.44 which is your GPA for the semester. As you progress through grad school, you also receive a cumulative GPA based on your performance to date (total grade points received / total credit hours attempted)

Estimating your undergraduate GPA

Most of you have done your undergraduate courses from India where we get numerical scores and a percentage. Depending on which university you attended, there is a wide variation in what a good percentage is. For example, in Mumbai university, the topper will usually have a percentage in the 70s. If you translate this directly to the American system, this person will score a paltry C - certainly not representative of the actual situation.

For this reason, you are allowed to estimate your undergraduate GPA. No method is ever prescribed by the universities and often they will ask you to refer to the services of a professional education services company which uses statistics from your university to estimate the GPA from your transcript. Most people do not do this however. One way a lot of people do this is divide your own percentage by the average of the top four people in your class in undergrad and multiply the fraction by 4. Again this is highly unscientific and says almost nothing but is often used. We recommend you verify if the person or agency requiring you to give your undergraduate GPA requires it to be calculated professionally.

Academic Code of Honor

A great place to start learning about the academic rules and regulations is the Student's Handbook. The first thing you'll learn here is that these rules regarding academic honesty and plagiarism (the act of claiming someone else's work as your own - think Anu Malik) are not "flexible" and subject to interpretation. Not knowing is not an excuse.


Textbooks are very very expensive here. The cost of textbooks varies from $50 - $100 for used versions; new versions can cost upwards of $80. You might want to find out the assigned textbooks and buy them from India. Its sometimes better to ask the professor teaching the course what textbook he/she is going to use, and perhaps the best time to do this is somewhere in the beginning of July when professors have thought over any changes to the course.

Some professors insist on a particular edition of the textbook to ensure that content of the course and the homework problems given are in sync with the textbook. It's true, problem numbering varies from edition to edition, but it does not always justify buying a new book.

If you must buy a book here, check out campusi, a price aggregator which searches all the bookseller websites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and eBay for the lowest possible prices including shipping.

View the information about books to bring, provided at the Maitri site : http://www.ncsu.edu/stud_orgs/maitri/books.htm

NOTE: You can now view which textbook to use via MyPack Portal. Here is a guide for you: http://ncsu.collegestoreonline.com/ePOS?this_category=269&store=432&form=shared3%2fgm%2fmain%2ehtml&design=432

The following lists books used for various courses the last time they were offered in NCSU. It is always advisable to check with the professor teaching the course the coming semester to make sure you get the right books.

# Courses in Computer Science

(For each course the course text(s) are mentioned)

Course Book(s)
  • CSC501
  • Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles, 5/E, Prentice Hall (Prof F. Mueller, Spring '06)
  • CSC505
  • Introduction to Algorithms, Second Edition Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest and Clifford Stein (Prof. R. Chirkova, Fall '05) (Prof C. Savage, Spring '06)
  • CSC506
  • Parallel Computer Architecture: A Hardware/Software Approach by David E. Culler, Jaswinder Pal Singh, with Anoop Gupta (Prof Y. Solihin, Fall '05, '06)
  • CSC512
  • Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools, 2/E, Addison-Wesley (Prof P. Iyer, Fall '06)
  • CSC540
  • Database management systems: Database Systems: The Complete Book, by Hector Garcia-Molina, Jeffrey D. Ullman, Jennifer D. Widom (Prof McMahan, Fall '06)
  • CSC541
  • File Organization and Processing, Alan L. Tharp, Wiley Pub. Co. (Prof A. Tharp, Fall '06)
  • CSC548
  • Designing and Building Parallel Programs, Ian Foster, Addison-Wesley, 1995. (Prof F. Mueller, Spr '06)
  • Parallel Computer Architecture: A Hardware/Software Approach, David Culler et al, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers (Recommended Reading) (Prof F. Mueller, Spr '06)
  • An Introduction to Parallel Computing: Design and Analysis of Algorithms (Ed. 2, Jan 2003), Ananth Grama et al, Pearson Addison Wesley (Recommended Reading) (Prof F. Mueller, Spr '06)
  • CSC574
  • Network Security: Private communication in a public world, 2/E, Prentice Hall (Prof Reeves, Spring '06)
  • CSC570
  • Computer Networks, Andrew.S.Tannenbaum, 4/E, Prentice Hall (Prof Nilsson, Spring '06)
  • CSC591B
  • Special topic course- Storage Systems (Prof. Vincent Freeh, Spring '07)
  • Book : Tom Clark, Designing Storage Area Networks: A Practical Reference for Implementing Fibre Channel and IP SANs, 2/e, Addison Wesley (2003).
  • Marc Farley, Storage Networking Fundamentals: An Introduction to Storage Devices, Subsystems, Applications, Management, and File Systems, Cisco Press (2005).
  • CSC714
  • Real-Time Systems, 1st edition, Jane W. S. W. Liu, Prentice Hall (Prof F. Mueller, Fall '05)

# Courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering

(For each course the course text(s) are mentioned, along with references, which are optional)

Course Book(s) Professor/Semester

  • ECE 506 - Architecture of Parallel Computers
  • Course Text: Parallel Computer Architecture: A Hardware/Software Approach by David E. Culler, Jaswinder Pal Singh, with Anoop Gupta

Prof. E. Gehringer, Spring 07

  • ECE 511 - Analog Electronics
  • Course Text: Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits (4th Edition) by Paul Gray, Paul Hurst, Stephen Lewis & Robert Meyer
  • Design of Analog CMOS Integrated Circuits by Behzad Razavi
  • CMOS Analog Circuit Design by Philip Allen

Prof. K. Gard, Fall 06

  • ECE 513 - Digital Signal Processing
  • Course Text: Digital Signal Processing: Principles, Algorithms and Applications (4th edition) by John G. Proakis and Dimitris G. Monolakis
  • Digital Signal Processing, A Computer Based Approach (3rd edition) by Sanjit K. Mitra

Prof. W. Alexander, Fall 06

  • ECE 520 - Digital ASIC Design
  • Course Text: Verilog Styles for Synthesis by D.R. Smith and P.D. Franzon
  • Course Text:' Advanced Digital Design with the Verilog HDL by M.D. Ciletti
  • The Verilog Hardware Description Language (3rd edition) by Thomas and Moorby

Prof. P. Franzon, Spring 07

  • ECE 521 - Computer Design and Technology
  • Course Text: Computer Architecture: a Quantitative Approach, Morgan Kaufmann, 4th edition by John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson

Prof. Y. Solihin, Spring 07

  • ECE 546 - VLSI Systems Design
  • Course Text: Digital Integrated Circuits: A Design Perspective (2nd Edition) by Rabaey, Chandrakasan, and Nikolic
  • CMOS VLSI Design: A Circuits and Systems Perspective (3rd Edition) by Weste and Harris

Prof. W. Rhett Davis, Fall 06

  • ECE 549 - RF Design for Wireless
  • Course Text: Instructor's own text

Prof. M. Steer, Fall 06

  • ECE 555 - Computer Control of Robots
  • Course Text: Introduction to Robotics: Mechanics and Control by J. J. Craig
  • Course Text: Robot Modeling and Control "by M. W. Spong, S. Hutchinson, and M. Vidyasagar"

Prof. E. Grant, Spring 07

  • ECE 561 - Embedded System Design
  • Course Text: None
  • The Art of Designing Embedded Systems by Jack Ganssle
  • Programming Embedded Systems in C and C++ by Michael Barr

Prof. A. Dean, Spring 07

  • ECE 566 - Code Generation and Optimization
  • Course Text: None

C. Rosier, Spring 07

  • ECE 575 - Introduction to Wireless Networking
  • Course Text: Mobile Communications (2nd edition) by Jochen Schiller

Prof. M. Sichitiu , Spring 07

  • ECE 592S - Soft Electronics: Organic Electronics and LCDs
  • Course Text: Organic Electronics edited by Hagen Klauk

Prof. M. Escuti , Spring 07

  • ECE 592B - Semiconductor Power Devices
  • Course Text: Power Semiconductor Devices by Jayant Baliga

Prof. J. Baliga , Spring 07

  • ECE 723 - Optical Properties Of Semiconductors
  • Course Text: To be updated

Prof. R. Kolbas , Spring 07

  • ECE 747 - DSP Architecture
  • Course Text: Instructor Notes

Prof. W. Rhett Davis & Prof. W. Alexander, Spring 07

  • ECE 752 - Information Theory
  • Course Text: Elements of Information Theory (2nd Edition) by T. Cover and J. Thomas

Prof. B. Hughes , Spring 07

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