MERIT is a multitrack master program that offers nine specialization tracks in three different AoK of ICT (see Study Programme). The programme is organized in four semesters during which the student must register a total of 120 ECTS including 30 ECTS, which correspond to the Master Thesis.
Students applying to the program must fill-out the on-line application form and propose one Aok, one specialization track and a compatible mobility plan (ASMP). After the application has been evaluated, the Merit Admission Committee (MAC) will notify the students of their decision regarding admission and ASMP. Upon enrolment, students are assigned an advisor at the initial institution, which defines the detailed study plan for the first year of studies. After one yearr, and only if a minimum of 48 ECTS have been passed, the student moves on to the second institution, where another advisor is assigned and this advisor determines the detailed study plan for the second year including the Master Thesis topic. No changes are allowed to the AoK or mobility plan at this point and only exceptionally is the student allowed to change the specialization track following a recommendation from the second advisor.
As mentioned under Study Programme, the courses offered within MERIT can be classified into three different categories: (i) Core Courses, (ii) Concentration Courses and (iii) Transversal courses. The distribution of the ECTS credits during the two years of the master's duration is given in the following table. However, the student is not allowed to choose all the subjects he or she will take. Depending on the AMSP, the student has a compulsory set of core courses and a set of concentration courses of the selected specialization.
|1st,2nd Semester (60 ECTS)||21 to 30 ECTS||18 to 33 ECTS||6 to 12 ECTS|
|3rd Semester (30 ECTS)||18 to 24 ECTS||6 to 12 ECTS|
|4th Semester||Master Thesis (30 ECTS)|
Each AoK has a list of compulsory core courses which guarantee that the student acquires the fundamental knowledge of that AoK to successfully follow his or her specialization track. The detail of the compulsory courses of an AoK varies from one institution to another, but these courses have been carefully selected to cover the fundamental syllabus of each AoK. Additionally, past MERIT experience (the program has been active since 2004) has shown that core courses prove to be extremely useful in levelling the different backgrounds of the first year students.
After completion of the compulsory core courses for the AoK, the student specializes through the knowledge and abilities gained from the concentration courses and the completion of the Master Thesis. The concentration courses, both general and advanced, focus on the specialization tracks in microwaves and RF circuits and systems, antennas and EM modelling, remote sensing and imaging, photonics, information transmission and wireless communication systems, wireless network management, optical communication systems and networks, image and video processing and finally speech and language technologies. The set of concentration courses is different for each specialization track, although there might be some courses belonging to more than one track. The concentration courses aim at providing a comprehensive knowledge of the specialization. The fundamental added value of the MERIT program is that, thanks to the mobility scheme and the critical mass of the combined concentration courses, specialization tracks in MERIT can benefit from the complementarity among different universities resulting in a much broader curriculum as compared to the one offered by each institution individually for each specialization track.
The MERIT program includes transversal courses with the aim of providing the students with skills and competences fundamental in research activities not linked to any particular specialization track and with a clear emphasis on critical and scientific reasoning. Under this category, MERIT also offers the language courses for foreign students. Each institution provides a local language course of 6 ECTS.
The Master Thesis is crucial to the student formative process in direct research engagement. It is important to remark that the specialization tracks in MERIT and selection of the partners involved in each track have been drafted taking into account the excellence in the research carried out by the faculty involved in MERIT. This allows appointing one advisor to each student, with deep knowledge and experience in his or her specialization track, so that the student will be given the chance to develop the Master Thesis within a consolidated research group.