MS to PhD Admission Process and Instructions

Current ECE MS students interested in the ECE PhD program must apply by following the Rackham application process. Such students are strongly encouraged to get involved in research with an EECS faculty member prior to the application. Current MS students who apply to the PhD program without having first formed a research relationship with a potential PhD advisor are rarely admitted. If admitted, students will have the same opportunities and program requirements as any other student entering with a relevant master’s degree.

Few UM Master’s Program students are admitted to the PhD Program each year. Students who want to be strong applicants for the PhD Program should excel in their master’s coursework and complete the following steps:

  • Find one or more EECS faculty members willing to (co-)advise a directed research project for at least one semester or summer.
    • Students should establish a research relationship with a potential research advisor in EECS and perform one or more semesters of directed research (ECE 599) with that advisor. Students should recognize that such directed research projects are on a “trial basis” for both the student and the faculty member. Students who do not find a directed research mentor by their 14 month in the Master’s degree program should consider applying to other PhD programs if they wish to pursue doctoral research. 
  • Meet with an ECE Graduate Program Coordinator to pick up application instructions.
  • Apply to the PhD program.

The strongest applications for the PhD-ECE program will be those accompanied by a (confidential) letter of support from the student’s anticipated research advisor that endorses the application, describes the time frame of the student’s directed research activities, and expresses an intent to mentor and support financially the student if s/he is admitted to the PhD Program.

Based on the application materials, including the student’s resume and transcripts, the ECE Graduate Admissions Committee will decide whether to admit the applicant to the PhD Program. If admission is recommended, the financial aid offer will commit to 3-4 years of funding (pending satisfactory progress) depending on the anticipated PhD graduation date of the student. For example, a student who has been in the Master’s degree program for 2 years and working with a research advisor for multiple terms is likely to be given a 3-year financial aid offer, typically in the form of a GSRA from the advisor. Admitted students who transition from the master’s program will be subject to the same milestone timelines as students who arrive with relevant master’s degrees from elsewhere. However, UM master’s students who enter the PhD program often may reach those milestones sooner (e.g., taking the PhD Qualifying Exam before the suggested date of 13 months after PhD admission) because of the directed research performed during master’s studies.