Ph.D. Degree Information
Ninety-six hours of credit and a Ph.D. thesis are required (with the exception of students entering with an approved M.S. degree). At least 64 hours must be earned in residence. In addition, the student must take the Departmental Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy, and must pass the Preliminary and Final Examinations for the Ph.D. degree.
There are three routes to the Ph.D. with each route having different credit requirements. The first route is the traditional M.S./Ph.D program. In this route an MS degree is first earned in ECE before entering the Ph.D program. The second route is for students entering directly into the Ph.D program having already been awarded an approved M.S. degree external to ECE. The third route is called the direct Ph.D. program and does not require an M.S. to enter the Ph.D. program.
For students first entering the M.S./Ph.D. program, the 96 hours of credit are divided into three stages, consisting of 32 hours generally represented by an M.S. degree or equivalent, 24 hours of coursework beyond the M.S. degree, and a minimum of 40 hours of thesis work for the doctoral thesis. The first stage of the Ph.D. degree program requires the completion of 32 hours of credit. The 32 hours are represented by an M.S. degree or equivalent. The 24 hours of credit required in the second stage may include credit in courses taken before admission to Ph.D. candidacy or in courses taken before completion of the M.S. thesis, provided that the credit in such courses has not been included in the 32 hours required in the first stage. All of the coursework hours required must be completed in residence. The 24 hours of coursework are chosen in consultation with the Ph.D. thesis adviser to provide additional background knowledge required for successful completion of the doctoral thesis. During this time, the candidate also pursues a program of background reading, literature search, and research on the Ph.D. thesis topic. The candidate also prepares for the Preliminary Examination for the Ph.D. degree by writing a thesis proposal. During the third stage, the candidate carries out the research program proposed in the thesis proposal and writes a doctoral thesis requiring a minimum of 40 hours of credit in ECE 599. General requirements for the thesis may be found in the section titled The Thesis. Continuous registration in ECE 599 (except possibly in summer sessions) is required until all the credit requirements for the Ph.D. degree have been met. Credit in ECE 599 earned before passing the Preliminary Examination may be included in the 40 hours required provided that the credit has not been included in the 32 hours required in the first stage.
Students admitted to the ECE Graduate Program with M.S. degrees from elsewhere are considered to have completed the first stage of the Ph.D. degree program (equivalent to 32 hours). For students entering the Ph.D program with an approved M.S. degree, 64 hours of credit are required and consists of a minimum of 32 hours of thesis research, and a minimum of 24 hours of coursework. The 24 hours of coursework are chosen in consultation with the Ph.D. thesis adviser to provide additional background knowledge required for successful completion of the doctoral thesis. The additional 8 hours required for the doctoral program may be completed as either thesis or coursework hours. All of the coursework hours required must be completed in residence.
For students entering the direct Ph.D program without an M.S., 96 hours of credit are required and consists of a minimum of 40 hours of thesis research, 12 hours of three permanent 500-level courses in three different Ph.D breadth requirement areas and a minimum of 36 credit hours in elective courses. The additional 8 hours required for the doctoral program may be completed as either thesis or coursework hours. All of the coursework hours required must be completed in residence.
For all doctoral students, regardless of path: optionally, up to 4-credit hours of ECE 590, Seminar, may count towards the elective coursework and up to 8-credit hours of ECE 597, Independent Study, may count towards the elective coursework.
There are additional specific requirements regarding coursework. One requirement is that the coursework must include three permanent 500 level courses in three different areas. See the section titled Ph.D. Breadth Requirement Courses for a list of the areas and admissible courses within each area. All Ph.D. breadth requirement courses must be taken at Illinois. Courses taken at Illinois during the first stage of the Ph.D. program, i.e., during the M.S work, may be used to fulfill this breadth requirement. Students are required to achieve a 3.5 GPA in these three courses before being allowed to take their Ph.D. Preliminary exam. Note that this requirement is independent of the 3.25 GPA rule which students must meet to be allowed to take the qualifying examination as part of the Admission to Ph.D. candidacy process.
English Proficiency and Teaching Assistantship Requirements
English proficiency and teaching assistantship requirements for students admitted to the ECE graduate program in Fall 2017 or later are as follows; these requirements are in addition to the other ECE Ph.D. program requirements.
- Departmental requirement for advancing to ECE Ph.D. Candidacy: Students must provide evidence of spoken English language proficiency, equivalent to that necessary for serving as a Teaching Assistant.
- Departmental requirement for ECE Ph.D.: Completing a Teaching Assistantship for a semester-long course at minimum 25% within 5 years in the ECE graduate program.
Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy
Students who seek admission to Ph.D. candidacy must take the Departmental Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. Details of the requirements for admission to Ph.D. candidacy and descriptions of the Qualifying Examination and the admission process may be found in the section titled The Oral Qualifying Examination and Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy. Students admitted to the ECE graduate program in Fall 2017 or later must also satisfy the English proficiency requirement for advancing to Ph.D. candidacy.
The Doctoral Committee
During the final stages of the development of the thesis proposal, the candidate consults with the Ph.D. thesis adviser regarding the proposed membership of the candidate's doctoral committee. The doctoral committee must satisfy the following conditions:
- The committee must include at least four members. At least three committee members must have an appointment or affiliate status in ECE (this includes Research faculty with 0% appointments in ECE). The sum of tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment percentages in ECE must be at least 200% (for example, two 100% time appointments, or one 100% time plus two 50% time appointments). At least three committee members must be members of the Graduate faculty. At least two of the committee members must be tenured.
- The committee chair must be an active Member of the ECE Graduate Faculty, or a member of the Graduate Faculty with Affiliate status in ECE.
- At least one member must have primary research interests in an area different from that of the candidate.
The Preliminary Examination
The Preliminary Examination for the Ph.D. degree is an oral examination administered by the candidate's doctoral committee. For students in the M.S./Ph.D. track or students entering with an approved M.S., the examination may be taken no earlier than the semester in which the candidate completes the 24 hours of coursework required in the second stage of the Ph.D. program. For students in the direct Ph.D., the examination may be taken no earlier than the semester in which the candidate completes the 48 hours of required coursework. Ph.D. students are required to take their Prelim Exam within 4 semesters after passing the Qualifying Exam.
The candidate contacts each potential committee member to request that they serve on the proposed doctoral committee and makes arrangements for a suitable time and place for the Preliminary Examination. The candidate must submit the proposed committee list and information regarding the time and place for the examination using the Prelim Exam Signup link on the My.ECE web portal at least three weeks prior to the date chosen for the examination. The Graduate College appoints the doctoral committee upon the recommendation of the Department Head.
The candidate must submit the thesis proposal to the doctoral committee at least one week prior to the Preliminary Examination. The proposal must outline the problem to be studied for the Ph.D. degree, the procedures and methods to be used in attacking the problem, work already completed on the chosen problem, and the additional work proposed to be completed. The proposal also must include a tentative title for the thesis.
The Preliminary Examination is intended to test the validity of the thesis proposal and the candidate's fitness to carry out the research work proposed. It begins with a short presentation by the candidate, outlining the problem chosen, the procedures and methods to be used, the work already completed, and a proposal for the additional work to be completed for the Ph.D. degree. The committee then questions the candidate regarding the problem, the preliminary results, and the proposed work. The candidate may be asked to clarify matters in the thesis proposal and to defend various aspects of the work already completed or the work being proposed. The committee may suggest alternative methods of attacking the problem or suggest different aspects of the problem as suitable areas for exploration. The committee also may ask questions of a more general nature in order to test the adequacy of the candidate's preparation for the proposed research.
At the conclusion of the examination, the chairman of the committee announces one of four decisions:
- The candidate passed the Preliminary Examination and may proceed to independent study and research for the doctoral degree.
- The Examination is temporarily adjourned. The candidate must revise the thesis proposal and be examined again within the next six months.
- The candidate failed, but may submit a new thesis proposal and take another Preliminary Examination after completing additional coursework, independent study, or research.
- The candidate failed and will not be admitted to another examination
The candidate may submit the thesis proposal to the ECE Editorial Services for a nonmandatory, informal editorial review. Because the purpose of the informal editorial review is to prepare for a smoother dissertation writing process, not to polish the proposal for the Preliminary Examination, the proposal may be submitted to the Publications Office any time, before or after the examination.
The Final Examination
The Final Examination for the Ph.D. degree is a public oral examination administered by the candidate's doctoral committee. It must take place at least six months (but no later than five years) after the Preliminary Examination.
The examination begins with a presentation by the candidate outlining the problem chosen, the procedures and methods used, and the results obtained. The committee then questions the candidate regarding the thesis work. The candidate may be asked to clarify matters in the thesis and to defend various aspects of the work. Errors and ambiguities in the thesis may be brought to the candidate's attention. At the conclusion of the examination, the chairman of the committee announces one of five decisions:
- The candidate passed the Final Examination and the thesis is accepted as submitted. The Thesis/Dissertation Approval form is signed by the director of research (adviser), all voting committee members who voted to pass the student at the final exam, and the department head.
- The candidate passed the Final Examination but the thesis will be accepted and signed by the committee after various specified corrections and revisions have been made. The candidate must make the necessary changes and submit the thesis to the committee members for their signatures.
- The Examination is temporarily adjourned. The candidate must revise the thesis and be examined again within the next six months.
- The candidate failed, but may rewrite the thesis and take another Final Examination after completing additional independent study and research.
- The candidate failed and will not be admitted to another examination.
Deposit of the Thesis in the Graduate College
When the dissertation is ready, the candidate submits it to ECE Editorial Services for format checking and copyediting. Ideally, this submission happens after the Thesis/Dissertation Approval form has been signed by the committee members. Following format approval, Editorial Services submits the Thesis/Dissertation Approval (RDA) form with adviser/committee member signatures to the Department Head for signature approval and then delivers the completed TDA form to the Graduate College. Allow up to 48 hours for obtaining Department Head approval. Details of various requirements to be satisfied are given in the section titled The Thesis. The Ph.D. dissertation must be deposited in the Graduate College no later than one year after passing the Final Examination.
A candidate for the Ph.D. degree must complete all requirements for that degree within seven calendar years after first registration in the Graduate College. However, students who received the M.S. degree from elsewhere must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within six calendar years after first registration in the Graduate College. Students who receive the M.S. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and whose studies are interrupted immediately thereafter for a substantial period of time also must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within six calendar years after they resume their studies.
Ph.D. Program Breadth Requirements Courses
|BIOMEDICAL IMAGING, BIOENGINEERING, AND ACOUSTICS
|Speech Processing Fundamentals
|Advanced Physical Acoustics
|Modern Light Microscopy
|Mathematical Models of Language
|Topics in Communications
|Detection and Estimation Theory
|Advanced Digital Communications
|Control System Theory & Design
|Nonlinear & Adaptive Control
|Analysis of Nonlinear Systems
|Optimum Control Systems
|Dynamic System Reliability
|Control of Stochastic Systems
|Topics in Decision and Control
|ELECTROMAGNETICS, OPTICS AND REMOTE SENSING
|Electromagnetic Waves and Radiating Systems
|Analytical Foundations of Electromagnetic Theory
|Theory of Guided Waves
|Inverse Problems in Optics
|Electromagnetic Waves in Inhomogeneous Media
|Advanced Antenna Theory
|Adv EM Diffraction & Radiation
|Statistical Learning Theory
|Optimization by Vector Space Methods
|All 500-level courses in Math/Physics/Chemistry/CS/MatSE, excluding 598, individual study, seminar courses and cross-listed courses that appear in other areas of this table.
|INTEGRATED CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS
|Advanced Signal Integrity
|Numerical Circuit Analysis
|VLSI in Signal Processing and Communications
|Advanced Analog IC Design
|Physical VLSI Design
|MOS Device Modeling & Design
|MICROELECTRONICS AND PHOTONICS
|Micro and Nanolithography
|Adv Semiconductor Nanotech
|Gaseous Electronics and Plasmas
|Compound Semiconductors and Diode Lasers
|Theory of Semiconductors and Semiconductor Devices
|Integrated Optics and Optoelectronics
|2D Material Electronics and Photonics
|Advanced Theory of Semiconductors & Devices
|Energy Dissipation Electronics
|Semiconductor Nanotech Lab
|NETWORKING AND DISTRIBUTED COMPUTING
|Advanced Distributed Systems
|Advanced Computer Networks
|Communication Network Analysis
|POWER AND ENERGY SYSTEMS
|Analysis Techniques for Large-Scale Electrical Systems
|Modeling and Control of Electromechanical Systems
|Power Systems Operations and Control
|Power System Dynamics and Stability
|Electricity Resource Planning
|RELIABLE AND SECURE COMPUTING SYSTEMS
|Advanced Computer Security
|Computer Systems Analysis
|Design of Fault-Tolerant Digital Systems
|ROBOTICS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
|Machine Learning in NLP
|Computer Models of Cognitive Processes
|Advanced Robotic Planning
|Topics in Automated Deduction
|Robot Control Theory
|Vector Space Signal Processing
|Topics in Signal Processing
|Topics in Image Processing
|Digital Signal Processing, II
|Advanced Data Management
|Data Mining Principles
|Programming Language Semantics
|Advanced Operating Systems
|Concurrent Programming Languages
|Advanced Compiler Construction
|Manycore Parallel Algorithms
|Embedded System Verification