Electrical and Computer Engineering
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About the Doctoral Program

The doctoral degree, i.e. the Ph.D., is primarily intended for students desiring a career in research and/or collegiate teaching.  The focus is on advanced ECE topics, on learning to perform research and to write research papers, and on making fundamental new contributions to an ECE topic. Students take advanced course work and write a doctoral dissertation, also called a thesis.

Ph.D. students pursue a degree in an area of emphasis created in collaboration with their advisor. In most cases it will fall into one of the following major specialties:

  • Applied Electromagnetics & RF Circuits
  • Computer Vision
  • Control Systems
  • Embedded Systems
  • Integrated Circuits & VLSI
  • MEMS & Microsystems
  • Network, Communication, and Information Systems
  • Optics & Photonics
  • Power/Energy
  • Robotics
  • Signal & Image Processing and Machine Learning
  • Solid State & Nanotechnology

Program Overview

Students newly admitted to a doctoral program are classified as precandidates. Upon entering a doctoral program, there is a Ph.D. qualifying process, normally completed during the first two years. After all requirements except the dissertation are completed, students become candidates. Students entering the ECE doctoral program with a bachelor’s degree typically become candidates in the third year and and are strongly encouraged to complete the degree within five years. Such students ordinarily complete the requirements for a master’s degree along the way and receive this degree in addition to the Ph.D. A masters thesis is optional.

Students who enter the ECE doctoral program with a master’s in the field of their program typically become candidates in their second year and are strongly encouraged to complete the degree within four years. Such students are not ordinarily eligible to receive an additional master’s degree.

The complete doctoral requirements can be found in the program guide.

Continuous Enrollment

In order to encourage timely completion of the degree, University policy requires doctoral students to register every Fall and Winter term until their degree is completed, with very few exceptions. That is, doctoral students cannot take time off from their studies, or pursue the later stages of their degree without registering, except in special circumstances.

For current master’s students

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.

Learn more about the MS to PhD Admission Process and Instructions