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Ph.D. Program

Curricular Requirements

The doctoral program in the ECE Department encompasses completion of a minimum of 90 approved graduate quarter credit hours. Students who enter the doctoral program after completion of a Master's degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or a closely related field are considered to be post-Master's doctoral students. All other doctoral students will be considered post-Baccalaureate doctoral students. The experience gained from prior completion of a relevant Master's degree exempts post-Master's doctoral students from having to complete half of the total minimum number of credit hours required for completion of the doctoral degree, resulting in a degree program that encompasses completion of a minimum of 45 approved graduate quarter credit hours.

Due to the widely varied nature of research in the field of electrical and computer engineering, the ECE Department does not dictate completion of specific courses. Rather, doctoral students are expected to construct, with the assistance of their supervising professor(s) and the graduate advisors, a plan of study that outlines the coursework that the student intends to complete that will help support the research endeavors being undertaken towards degree completion.

Although not required, post-Baccalaureate doctoral students may choose to earn a master's degree in a one of the MS programs offered by the ECE Department during their tenure in the ECE Department. In order to do so, the student must devote 45 of the minimum credits required for completion of the doctoral degree to completion of the curricular requirements for the chosen MS degree. The following links can be used to access the curricular requirements for each of the MS degree programs that the ECE Department administers:

Completion of Master's degree programs in other closely related disciplines may be an option for post-Baccalaureate doctoral students; however, approval must be sought from both the offering department and the ECE Department.

Transfer Credits

For post-Baccalaureate doctoral students, all approved transfer credits may be counted towards the minimum of 90 approved credit hours required to complete the doctoral degree. More information about the transfer credit process can be found on the transfer credit information page.

Please note that because of the university policies governing graduate transfer credit, coursework will not be evaluated for transfer credits for students who are classified as post-Master's doctoral students.

Milestones

Students pursuing the doctoral degree must complete, in addition to meeting the curricular requirements outlined above, three milestones: candidacy examination, research proposal, and dissertation defense and submission. More information about the eligibility criteria, completion requirements, scheduling information, and reporting and documentation specifications for each of these milestones can be found using the following links:

Timeline

In addition to meeting curricular requirements and completing the three milestones discussed above, completion of the doctoral degree requires students to fulfill a variety of other important reporting requirements. Planning to meet all of these within the guidelines set out by both university and departmental policies can be daunting. In order to assist students in this planning process, the graduate advisors have compiled the following table to place these important steps for degree completion within the context of time, with special attention to deadlines that must be met for each of the three milestones. This table should serve as a general outline to help guide program planning and degree completion targets for student pursuing the doctoral degree in the ECE Department.

Timeframe Required Action(s)
By the end of third quarter in the doctoral program Student should complete, with the assistance of the supervising professor(s), the Form D-1: Ph.D. Plan of Study and Supervising Professor Appointment. The completed form, including the signatures of the student and supervising professor(s), should be submitted to the graduate advisors.
One month prior to candidacy examination Student should complete the Doctoral Candidacy Committee Appointment & Examination Schedule. The completed form, including the signatures of the student and supervising professor(s), should be submitted to the graduate advisors.
Within one business day of candidacy examination completion Candidacy Examination Chair should, with the assistance of the candidacy examination committee members, complete the Form D-2: Doctoral Candidacy Examination Report. The completed Form D-2, including indication of the examination results and the signatures of all committee members, should be submitted to the graduate advisors. The Form D-2 should be accompanied by a Form D-2A: Doctoral Candidacy Examination Member Report that has been completed by each committee member to provide qualitative feedback on student performance in the examination.
Within six months of successful completion of the candidacy examination Student should, with the assistance of the supervising professor(s) and dissertation advisory committee members, complete the Form D-3: Dissertation Advisory Committee Appointment. The completed form, including the signatures of the student, supervising professor(s), and all committee members, should be submitted to the graduate advisors.
Two weeks prior to research proposal Student should complete and submit the Doctoral Research Proposal Announcement Submission Form.
Within one business day of research proposal completion Dissertation Chair should, with the assistance of the research proposal committee members, complete the Form D-3A: Dissertation Proposal. The completed Form D-3A, including the signatures of all committee members, should be submitted to the graduate advisors.
Four weeks prior to dissertation defense Student should complete Form D-4: Ph.D. Final Oral Defense Committee Appointment and Schedule. The completed form, including the signatures of the student and supervising professor(s), should be submitted to the graduate advisors.

Please note that a student must successfully defend a dissertation prior to the last day of term in which the student has applied for graduation in order to be considered for graduation clearance; however, for Spring Quarter graduates, an earlier deadline may be set for dissertation defense for students wishing to have dissertation information printed in the formal commencement program.
Two weeks prior to dissertation defense Student should complete and submit the Doctoral Dissertation Defense Announcement Submission Form.

Student should submit a bound physical copy of the current draft of the dissertation for display in the ECE Department office to the graduate advisors.
Day of dissertation defense Student should bring a copy of the Form D-5: Report of Ph.D. Final Oral Defense Committee to the defense.

Student should bring a copy of the Dissertation/Thesis Approval Form to the defense.
Within one business day of dissertation defense completion Dissertation Chair should, with the assistance of the final oral defense committee members, complete the Form D-5: Report of Ph.D. Final Oral Defense Committee. The completed Form D-5, including indication of the defense results and the signatures of all committee members, should be submitted to the graduate advisors.
One week before dissertation submission Student should submit a PDF of the final draft of the dissertation to the graduate advisors.

Student should complete the Completion Form. The completed form, including the signatures of the student and supervising professor(s), should be submitted to the graduate advisors.

Student should submit the completed Dissertation/Thesis Approval Form, including the signatures of the Dissertation Chair and all dissertation defense committee members, to the graduate advisors.
By the end of exam week of the quarter of intended graduation Student should submit the final dissertation to the library, following the requirements and procedures available on the university library's Ph.D. Dissertation Submission page.

Once the Completion Form has been signed by the library representative, indicating successful submission of the dissertation, the form should be returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for final approval and processing.

Annual Review of Doctoral Candidates

Every Spring Quarter, the ECE Department reviews the progress of each doctoral candidate towards completion of the doctoral degree, with specific emphasis on the activities completed in the previous year. During any given Spring Quarter, a doctoral candidate is subject to the annual review process if:

  • the student attained candidacy status during or prior to the previous Spring Quarter and
  • the student is not planning on graduating in the current quarter.

During each Spring Quarter in which a doctoral candidate is subject to the annual review process according to the above criteria, the student must complete and submit the Annual Review of Doctoral Candidates Progress Report to the graduate advisors by the end of the sixth week of said quarter.

After the end of the sixth week but before the final exam period of the Spring Quarter, an annual review committee consisting of at least three tenure-track ECE Department faculty members chosen from the membership of the ECE Department Graduate Affairs Committee and including the Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs will review each doctoral candidate's progress towards degree completion. This review may take into consideration information gained from any of the following sources: the candidate's submitted Annual Review of Doctoral Candidates Progress Report; the candidate's official academic record; consultation with the candidate's supervising professor(s) and dissertation advisory committee members; and face-to-face meeting(s) with the candidate. The annual review committee will determine, based on consideration of this information, whether the candidate is making satisfactory progress towards degree completion.

If the candidate is found to be making unsatisfactory progress towards degree completion, the candidate and the candidate's supervising professor will meet with one or more of the annual review committee members to discuss the committee's decision and feedback. A candidate who is found to be making unsatisfactory progress towards degree completion will be required to undergo a progress review in the following Fall Quarter to assure implementation of committee recommendations for improvement. Sustained findings of unsatisfactory progress towards degree completion by the annual review committee may lead to a recommendation for termination of the candidate's continued participation in the doctoral program.

Regardless of outcome, the final results of the annual review process are communicated in writing to each candidate who has undergone review. Additionally, the results are also communicated to the Office of Graduate Studies via the Form D-3B: Annual Review of Doctoral Candidates, in accordance with university policy.

Internships for Doctoral Students

Some doctoral students may need practical experience in the form of an internship. The internship is not for credit but will be a required component of the student's academic program. The student's supervising professor(s) and the graduate advisors will determine whether the student must take an internship and the length of the internship.