University of Delaware - College of Engineering
ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Academics - Graduate Program

Ph.D. Degree

in Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Ph.D. degree program is designed for individuals interested in fundamental research and those planning to pursue academic research and/or industrial research and development careers.

Students may directly pursue the Ph.D. degree after completing the bachelor's or master's degree. Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree begin in pre-candidacy, with formal Ph.D. candidacy achieved after passing the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and having an approved Research and Study Program. Specific Ph.D. degree requirements are detailed in the Department Graduate Policy and summarized below.


Admission to Candidacy

To be formally admitted into Ph.D. candidacy, students must successfully complete the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and have an approved Research and Study Program.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is comprised of written and oral components, it is administered once a year, and it must be completed within two years of admission.

Written Component. The written component assesses comprehensive knowledge of the material covered in Foundation courses. Students must successfully answer questions in: (1) his/her area of concentration and (2) at least one area outside his/her concentration.

Oral Component. The oral component consists of a closed question and answer session. Questions may cover foundation course material and current research topics in the student's area of concentration.

Research and Study Program

Students must submit a Research and Study Program (RSP) prior to taking the Qualifying Examination. The RSP details: (1) all courses taken by the student, (2) all future courses planned to be taken in fulfillment of the degree requirements, (3) an abstract of the research to be undertaken in fulfillment of the degree requirements, and (4) a list of the individuals that have agreed to serve on the student's dissertation committee.

Ph.D. Committee

The Ph.D. committee must consist of at least four individuals. The committee is chaired by the student's faculty research advisor and must include at least two additional faculty members from the Department.


Research Program and Dissertation 

Following formal admission to candidacy, students must complete:

Pre-Dissertation Examination - Proposal

The pre-dissertation examination is an in-depth written document and presentation of the student's thesis proposal to members of his/her committee.

Ph.D. Dissertation

Candidates must carry out a program of substantial original research on a topic agreed upon by his/her committee and the Departmental Graduate Committee.

Final Oral Examination - Defense

In the final oral examination, the student presents the results of his/her dissertation research to members of the faculty.


General Requirements

In addition to the specific requirements noted above, the following General Requirements must be satisfied by all candidates:

  • Candidates are required to complete one continuous academic year of full-time study as a residency requirement.
  • Candidates must complete the course requirements for the thesis master's degree, or have been awarded a master's degree in electrical or computer engineering, or a closely related field.
  • Candidates must take at least two foundation courses outside their area of concentration.
  • Candidates must take at least 9 credits of Doctoral Dissertation (ELEG 969).

Click here for the Ph.D.Degree Requirement Check Sheet (For students without a Master's Degree)

Click here for the Ph.D. Degree Requirement Check Sheet (For Students with a Master's Degree)

Click here for the Steps to Complete the Ph.D. Degree

Exit Procedure Form for Graduate Students and Visiting Scholars


Ph.D. Program Milestones & Typical Timeline

  • Students enter PhD program with designation of pre-candidacy (G1)
  • First year study comprises coursework, foundation courses and preliminary research
  • At end of first year, students must take PhD Qualifying Exam and submit a Research and Course Plan – when these requirements are met, students are admitted to Candidacy (G2).
  • Students must complete Dissertation Proposal within 1.5 years of passing Qualifying Exam.
  • Once students have achieved Candidacy and completed all required courses and courses beneficial to their research, they may go on Sustaining Status (and focus purely on research).
  • At end of PhD, students must submit written dissertation and present major findings to their Dissertation Committee.

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