Doctor of Philosophy Degree
To qualify for a PhD degree, a student is expected either to complete at least 42 credits beyond the requirements for a BS degree; or to complete at least 18 credits beyond the requirements for an MS degree, plus complete enough credits of dissertation research to have a total of 72 credits beyond the BS degree or 42 credits beyond the MS degree. Completion of this course work generally requires three semesters of study beyond the MS degree, with up to 18 credits beyond the BS degree being taken in courses outside the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
After a student has completed at least 18 credits of coursework beyond the MS degree, he or she must pass a comprehensive examination based on graduate-level courses, as well as pass a dissertation research proposal defense. The comprehensive examination will be given only after a student has applied and received permission to take the exam. Near the end of the program, the results of the original (publishable) research work will be presented and publicly defended as a dissertation.
2. A PhD Student must form a Supervisory Committee within the first semester of beginning the ECE graduate program. This Committee shall consist of five members: a Chairman or Major Professor who is also an ECE Faculty member and four other members. One of the Committee members must be outside of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
3. A PhD Student is required to successfully maintain and complete with a GPA of 3.0 or higher a total of 72 semester credits beyond a Bachelor’s degree or 42 semester credits beyond a Master’s degree. Only courses completed with a “C” or better grade at or above the 5000 course numbering level can be counted towards the semester credit hour requirement.
4. A PhD Student is required to complete a minimum of 42 semester credits beyond a Bachelor’s degree or 18 semester credits beyond a Master’s degree of course work that are not dissertation research credits. The total number of course work credits is to be determined by the Student and the Supervisory Committee Chairman and approved by the Supervisory Committee.
5. A PhD Student is required to complete a minimum of 18 semester credits beyond a Bachelor’s degree or 12 semester credits beyond a Master’s degree of dissertation research. The total dissertation credits required must be consistent with the credits outlined in items #3 and #4 above.
6. A PhD Student may take up to 18 semester credits of course work beyond a Bachelor’s degree or 9 semester credits of course work beyond the Master’s degree outside of the ECE Department. An exception to this requirement must consist of a written justification by the Student’s Supervisory Committee Chairman that is approved by the Supervisory Committee and the ECE Graduate Committee Chairman.
7. A Program of Study describing how items #3, #4, #5, and #6 will be achieved, shall be created by the PhD Student and their Supervisory Committee Chairman and approved by the Supervisory Committee before the end of the first semester of study. The Program of Study shall detail course work that enables the Student to master at least ONE of the ECE Department graduate focus areas and shall detail the number of dissertation research credits to be taken. The Program of Study should include courses that enable the Student to master the research area of their dissertation topic. The Student and the Supervisory Committee must meet to review, discuss, and approve the Program of Study and potential dissertation topics before the end of the first semester of study.
8. A PhD Student must pass a Comprehensive Exam after completing a minimum of 42 semester credits of course work beyond a Bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 18 semester credits of course work beyond a Master’s degree. The Comprehensive Exam shall be taken within four years after beginning the BS to PhD program or three years after beginning the MS to PhD program or the PhD candidate will be terminated from the program. The Major Professor and Supervisory Committee, in consultation with the Student, must choose either a Program of Study Format or Research Format for the Comprehensive Exam. The Comprehensive Exam shall consist of both a written and an oral portion.
Particular Objectives and Requirements of the Comprehensive Exam:
8.1 The Program of Study Format Comprehensive Exam will focus on the courses taken in the Student’s PhD program and undergraduate area of expertise. The Student will be expected to know the material, as well as make a synthesis between course topics. The Research Format Comprehensive Exam will focus on selected scholarly papers related to the Student’s PhD research topic area. The Student will be expected to understand the scholarly papers, as well as make a synthesis between the various topics of the selected papers.
8.2 The Exam shall be a demonstration that Students have mastered technical knowledge at a level concordant with a graduate education, including preparatory undergraduate material as necessary, and can apply this knowledge. This requirement is relevant to both formats of the Comprehensive Exam. A Research Format Exam should require Students to demonstrate an understanding of the details of selected scholarly papers and require them to reproduce or explain any aspect of the papers in writing and orally.
8.3 The Exam shall provide a demonstration that Students can communicate effectively in writing, including organizing a response that it is coherent, legible, and correct.
8.4 The Exam shall be a demonstration that Students can communicate effectively orally, including understanding questions posed and drawing from their background knowledge to present an organized, coherent response. For a Research Format Exam, oral questions need not be limited to the scope of the assigned papers only, but may include the background and context in which the papers were written, including related theoretical background.
8.5 The Exam shall be a demonstration that Students have the ability to understand the logical soundness of their conclusions and can defend positions they have taken using methods appropriate to their sub-discipline. Students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the scientific methodology and have the ability to critically analyze their own and others’ scholarly works.
Procedures and Timeline for the Comprehensive Exam:
8.6 The written portion of the Comprehensive Exam for both formats will be held the 3rd week in January and on the same day.
8.7 The ECE Graduate Committee Chairman shall require the Supervisory Committee Chairman to discuss with the Student the objectives and expectations for the Comprehensive Exam and to select either a Program of Study Format or a Research Format Comprehensive Exam. The Supervisory Committee Chairman shall notify the ECE Graduate Committee Chairman of the Student’s intent to proceed or not proceed with the Exam and the selected format.
8.8 A PhD Student must formally apply to the ECE Graduate Committee Chairman after completing item 8.7 and four months (September 15th) prior to taking the Comprehensive Exam. Students should use these four months to prepare for the Exam.
8.9 The ECE Graduate Committee Chairman will meet and brief the PhD Students taking the Exam on the procedures and expectations for the written and oral portions of the Exam.
8.10 If the PhD Student is to take the Research Format Exam then a meeting of the Supervisory Committee must be convened by the Chairman to determine the quantity and selection of scholarly papers for the Exam and to develop a set of questions for the written portion of the Exam. The Supervisory Committee Chairman must present a copy of each scholarly paper selected and a set of written questions to the ECE Graduate Committee Chairman who will present the papers to the Student for study. A PhD Student must be allowed no less than one week per paper to prepare for the Exam.
8.11 The ECE Graduate Committee Chairman shall inform the PhD Student of the results of the written Exam before the oral Exam is taken.
8.12 The Supervisory Committee and any additional ECE Faculty members appointed by the ECE Graduate Committee Chairman will give the oral portion of the Exam. At least one member of the ECE Graduate Committee must be present at the oral portion of the Comprehensive Exam. The ECE Graduate Committee Chairman will assign a member of the ECE Graduate Committee to conduct the oral Exam.
8.13 A Student who successfully passes the written Exam must take the oral portion of the Exam within two weeks of the written Exam.
8.14 A PhD Student will have two chances to pass the Comprehensive Exam. If the Student fails the Comprehensive Exam twice then they will be terminated from the program.
9. A PhD Student is required to pass a Dissertation Research Proposal Defense after successfully passing the Comprehensive Exam. The Dissertation Research Proposal Defense shall consist of a written document and a presentation to the Student’s Supervisory Committee of its contents. The Dissertation Research Proposal Defense should be held within one year of passing the Comprehensive Exam and at least one year before the Dissertation Research Defense.
Dissertation Research Proposal and its Defense:
9.1 The Dissertation Research Proposal shall consist of a thesis topic, a description of the proposed research, a description of the methodology, and a discussion of the relevant scholarly literature.
9.2 The Dissertation Research Proposal must include a thorough literature search in bibliographic form that is relevant to the proposed research.
9.3 A maximum of 20 pages, excluding the bibliographic references, is allowed for the Dissertation Research Proposal. It is recommended that the ECE Department LaTeX style be used for the preparation of the Dissertation Research Proposal.
9.4 The Student must successfully answer questions from the Dissertation Research Proposal literature search at the Defense as well as questions on the proposed methodology and the relevance of the research.
9.5 The written Dissertation Research Proposal, including a title page signed by the Student’s Supervisory Committee, shall be submitted to the ECE Graduate Committee Chairman to indicate successfully passing of the Dissertation Research Proposal Defense.
10. A PhD Student will be required to complete an Application for Doctoral Candidacy form and have it signed by the Supervisory Committee after successfully completing a Dissertation Research Proposal Defense.
11. The PhD Candidate will be required to pass a Dissertation Research Defense of their original, publishable dissertation research.
12. PhD Students are required to produce publishable peer-reviewed papers as part of their PhD degree program. The Student’s Supervisory Committee will determine the number and suitability of such papers.