Doctoral Degree Programs
- Doctoral Program Overview (PDF) from 8/2017
- Graduate Handbook (PDF)
- Finding an Advisor, Advising and Course Registration
- Plan of Study
- ECSE Graduate Programs Presentation
The doctoral program (PhD) is offered and may be pursued on either a full- or part-time basis. Students already holding a masters degree have a time limit of 5 years to complete all requirements, those holding only the bachelor’s have a 7 year time limit. The degree is awarded when the student successfully defends a thesis that is directed toward making a substantial contribution to fundamental knowledge in a particular field or interdisciplinary field.
Students may transfer up to 15 credits of relevant coursework that was not used previously to obtain another academic degree.
Students pursuing the PhD in ELEC or CSYS need to complete the following:
- Minimum of 48 credits beyond the masters or 72 credits beyond the bachelors
- Must pass the Doctoral Qualifying Exam
- Must pass the Doctoral Candidacy Exam
- Must complete a doctoral thesis and thesis defense
Students who are admitted into the doctoral program must take and pass the Doctoral Qualifying Exam (DQE) to be officially enrolled as doctoral students. For full-time students, the DQE is taken at the start of the second semester of study if the student already holds a master’s degree and at the start of the third semester of study if the student holds only a bachelor’s degree. Part-time students who hold a master’s should take the DQE prior to completing 15 credits towards their doctoral studies. The purpose of the DQE is to determine the potential or likelihood that the student will be able to satisfactorily complete the doctoral requirements, including the ability to produce a high quality piece of independent research. Consequently, the DQE involves an assessment of the student’s knowledge of basic concepts as well as the ability to conduct independent research. The DQE is made up of 4 one-hour oral exams and is given twice a year. All students have two opportunities to pass the DQE.
Students are also required to pass a Doctoral Candidacy Exam (DCE). The student will form a doctoral committee consisting of no less than 4 full-time faculty members and will submit to them a written Thesis Proposal. The doctoral committee must be approved by the department and the Graduate School and should be in place at least one full month prior to the DCE. The Thesis Proposal should be delivered to the members of the committee at least one week prior to the exam and should include a concise discussion of the proposed thesis effort, an in-depth review of the pertinent literature and a brief presentation of some preliminary results which suggest that the effort can be successfully undertaken. The exact content and nature of the DCE is determined by the doctoral committee, and the purpose of the DCE is determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress on the chosen thesis topic, as well as good academic progress, and whether he/she demonstrates the ability to pursue doctoral dissertation with distinction. The DCE should be completed by the time the student completes 45 of the required 60 credits.
The final step in the doctoral program is the thesis defense. The purpose is for the student to present and defend his/her doctoral thesis. The defense is conducted by the student’s doctoral committee and is typically open to the public however the ensuing committee deliberation is not.
All doctoral students must have an official ECSE faculty advisor. Students are welcome to have a faculty advisor from another department but must have an ECSE professor as a co-advisor.
Students who are admitted with RA funding are automatically assigned to an advisor. Students admitted with a TA or those who are admitted without funding are not assigned to a specific advisor and have the flexibility to choose an advisor from among the faculty. These students are encouraged to meet with the professors in their particular area of study as soon as possible after arriving to determine the best research fit. All students are required to submit an official advisor form (PDF) during their first semester of study. This form must be on file no later than October 1 for those who enter in the fall and March 1 for those who enter in the spring. If a student changes advisors during the course of study, a new form must be filled out and placed on file with the department.
Full-time students must be registered for 12-15 credits each semester until they graduate. The only exception is for those students awarded Teaching Assistantships. TA’s may register for a minimum of 9 credits, maximum of 15 credits in the semester(s) they are carrying TA assignments. Part-time students must be continuously registered each semester until they graduate to remain in good standing. Students who need to take a break during their studies for any reason should discuss the possibility of taking an official leave of absence with the department and the Graduate Education office prior to leaving.
It is the responsibility of the student to meet with his/her advisor and discuss appropriate courses. Those who are pursuing the MS with a thesis or the PhD are allowed to register for thesis credits as early as the first semester of study. Typically, students will register for a combination of course and thesis credits until all the necessary coursework is complete. Students will then register for thesis credits until completion of the thesis.
All students must file a Plan of Study outlining all course and (if applicable) thesis credits that will be counted for the degree.
Students should discuss the plan of study with their advisor early in the program and have an initial plan of study on file with the department by the end of the first semester. The plan of study must be signed by the student, the advisor and then submitted to the department for approval by either the Director of Masters Programs or Director of Doctoral Programs.
Masters degree students must also submit a plan of study worksheet along with the plan of study to the department. The plan of study may be updated as many times as necessary to reflect any changes in the program. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that an up to date plan of study is on file with the department.
- Ms. Priscilla Magilligan
- Professor Alhussein A. Abouzeid
If you have any questions, please send a message to: