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Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Graduate Program Overview


The objective of the PhD in ECE or MSE degree programs are to provide an educational environment that encourages students to develop the ability to contribute to the advancement of science, engineering and technology, through independent research. The PhD students of the 21st century may pursue academic, research, entrepreneurial, and/or industrial careers. We offer opportunities to develop individualized plans of study based on the students’ previous experience and desired research areas. The plan of study allows students to work on interdisciplinary research, while also satisfying the PhD in ECE or MSE degree requirements.

Admission to the PhD Program

Students with a MS in CpE, MS in MSE, MS in EE, MS in ME, or closely related areas may apply for admission to the PhD in ECE or PhD in MSE programs. Admission with only a BS in this field is also possible, but students with only a BS degree are strongly encouraged to enroll first in the MS (CpE, EE, MSE) programs. Admission to the PhD programs is based on review of the application and associated references. Normally, a GPA of at least 3.0 is required. All graduate engineering courses presuppose mastery of the subject matter of a modern ABET-accredited curriculum in engineering. Students with a BS in other engineering or related science fields and students with a BSCpE, BSEE, or BSME who have not taken graduate academic work for some time may be required to complete preparatory courses that are prerequisites for the core courses of the engineering concentrations on which the qualifying exams are based. These courses carry no credit toward the graduate degree.

Program Structure

Research requires an in-depth study of engineering problems with a broad knowledge base in science and engineering. Therefore, advanced courses are offered to strengthen the fundamentals and to broaden the engineering and science perspective. The minimum credit requirements are different for individuals entering a program with a closely related master’s degree and for those entering with a bachelor’s only. All requirements for the degree must be completed within seven years (eight years without a master’s degree) from admission to candidacy. A grade of C or better must be obtained in each course in order for that course to count toward the credit hour requirements. An overall minimum GPA of 3.0 is also required for graduation.

PhD in ECE

The PhD in ECE is appealing to students because it offers the much needed specialization component and the ‘degree identity’ required to be competitive in the job market. Graduates from this program will be well equipped to follow academic careers, or be hired in federal laboratories, industry and the private sector.

PhD in MSE

The PhD in MSE is at the forefront and intersection of the coupled disciplines of Electrical, Mechanical, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science. This unique degree is appealing to students because they will acquire the knowledge and ability to deal with and solve highly complex problems where integration is a key component. This degree provides a holistic approach to graduate education focusing on the ability to cover both breadth and depth of knowledge. Graduates of this program will lay the foundation for the modern engineering departments of the future, where ‘integration’ will be the key ingredient of studies.

Program Requirements

All PhD students who have been admitted to the PhD in ECE or PhD in MSE programs must successfully complete three milestones before the PhD degree can be conferred. These milestones refer to:

  • Demonstrating that the student is qualified to begin PhD studies
  • Demonstrating that the student may identify and formulate a research problem
  • Demonstrating that the student can defend her/his thesis

These three milestones are referred to as the “PhD Qualifying Exam”, the “Comprehensive Exam” (also known as the “PhD Proposal”), and the “Thesis Defense”.