The Qualifying Examination and Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy

The Graduate Faculty determines whether a student is admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. The following criteria are used in determining admissibility:

  1. Competence in research. The Graduate Faculty evaluates the candidate’s ability to do independent research work. The Department administers a research oriented examination of the student and also takes into account the Ph.D. adviser's comments in making this evaluation.

  2. Scholastic competence as determined by undergraduate and graduate academic records, including grades, class ranks, instructor evaluations and comments, and GRE scores.

  3. 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 rules specifying when students take the Qualifying Examination are slightly different for students entering with Bachelor’s degrees and students entering with Master’s degrees, and are as follows.

 

Rules for Students Entering with Bachelor's Degrees

Students entering with Bachelor’s degrees must take the Qualifying Examination no later than the fourth semester in residence. (Students are encouraged to take the examination by the third semester if possible so their research can proceed in a timely manner.) To be permitted to register to take the Qualifying Exam, a student must satisfy the following three requirements:

  • A Ph.D. Thesis Adviser Agreement must be on file with the ECE Graduate Advising Office.
  • Twenty hours of coursework other than seminar (ECE 590) and thesis research (ECE 599) hours must be completed. The twenty hours must include at least twelve 500-level hours other than reading or individual study courses (ECE 597), and at least four of these 500-level hours must be ECE courses.
  • A grade-point average of at least 3.25 is required on all graduate coursework completed and also on all 500-level Electrical and Computer Engineering coursework completed.

Students who fail to satisfy these requirements by the beginning of the fourth semester in residence are not eligible for admission to Ph.D. candidacy and may not take the Qualifying Examination.

Since the quality of M.S. thesis work is taken into account in determining admission to Ph.D. candidacy it is advisable to have made substantial progress on the M.S. thesis by the time the Qualifying Examination is taken. In addition, a student must have a Ph.D. Adviser Agreement on file with the ECE Graduate Advising Office prior to registering for the Qualifying Examination.

 

Rules for Students Entering with Master's Degrees

Students entering with a Master’s degree must take the Qualifying Examination no later than the third semester in residence. To be permitted to register for the Examination, a student must satisfy the following requirements:

  • A Ph.D. Thesis Adviser Agreement on file with the ECE Graduate Advising Office.
  • Eight hours of coursework other than seminar (ECE 590), individual study (ECE 597), or thesis courses (ECE 599) must be completed. The eight hours must include at least four hours of 500-level ECE coursework.
  • A grade point average of at least 3.25 on all graduate coursework completed and also on all 500-level Electrical and Computer Engineering coursework completed.

Students who fail to satisfy these requirements by the beginning of the third semester in residence are not eligible for admission to Ph.D. candidacy and may not take the Qualifying Examination.

 

Registering for the Qualifying Examination

Students seeking Ph.D. candidacy who satisfy the above requirements may register for the Qualifying Examination in the first two weeks of the semester. At this time, they declare their principal area of study from the following list:

  • Biomedical Imaging, Bioengineering, and Acoustics
  • Circuits
  • Communications
  • Control
  • Data Science
  • Electromagnetics and Optics
  • Electronic Design Automation
  • Hardware Systems and Computer Architecture
  • Microelectronics and Photonics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Networking and Distributed Computing
  • Power and Energy Systems
  • Reliable and Secure Systems
  • Remote Sensing
  • Robotics, Vision, and Artificial Intelligence
  • Signal Processing
  • Software systems

 

The Departmental Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

The Departmental Ph.D. Qualifying Examination is administered by a three faculty member committee that is assigned by the Department. The chairperson of the exam committee is selected from outside of the student's principal area of study and the other two committee members are faculty who are familiar with the student's research area. All exam committees will be assigned by the end of the third week of the semester.

 

Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy

Following the examination, the Graduate Faculty evaluates the student’s competence with respect to the admissibility criteria, and decides whether to grant or deny admission to Ph.D. candidacy.

Qualifying examination committees may impose a set of binding requirements that the student is required to satisfy before being admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. If the examination committee has imposed binding requirements and if the Graduate Faculty votes to grant admission to Ph.D. candidacy, such admission is contingent upon satisfactory completion of the binding requirements. All binding requirements must be completed by the end of the second semester (not counting summer semesters) following the examination. If the binding requirements include coursework, a grade of 'B' or better must be earned in each course.

A student who does not register for the Qualifying Examination at the required time, or who registers but does not appear for the examination, is denied admission to Ph.D. candidacy and may not take the Qualifying Examination in a subsequent semester unless the student obtains permission to do so by successfully petitioning the ECE Graduate Committee.

A student who takes the Qualifying Examination by the required time and is denied admission to Ph.D. candidacy may take the Qualifying Examination in the following semester, provided that a Ph.D. Adviser Agreement is still in in place and that the 3.25 GPA requirement is satisfied. A new exam committee will be assigned for a student's second attempt. The student’s entire record is re-evaluated at that time.

A student who has been denied admission to Ph.D. candidacy twice is no longer eligible for admission to Ph.D. candidacy.

Implementation of the departmental English language proficiency requirement for advancing to ECE Ph.D. Candidacy, for students admitted to the graduate program in Fall 2017 or later:

A student should meet the English language proficiency requirement (equivalent to that necessary for serving as a Teaching Assistant) by the time of registering for the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. In case the English proficiency requirement has not been met by the time of registering for the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, the student may still register for and take the Qualifying Exam, however, the English proficiency requirement will be imposed as a binding requirement. If the Graduate Faculty votes to grant admission to Ph.D. candidacy, such admission is contingent upon satisfactory completion of the binding requirements. All binding requirements must be completed by the end of the second semester (not counting summer semesters) following the Qualifying examination.

Fundamental Knowledge Requirements for the ECE PhD Qualifying Exam

To guide the assessment of the ECE PhD fundamental knowledge, following is a list of research areas in our department; each area has a list of core courses that a PhD student in that area should know and be tested by the time he/she takes the PhD Qualifying Exam.  When signing up for the PhD Qualifying, the student must specify a Primary area and a Secondary area, and three courses to define their fundamental knowledge, such that there is:

  • at least two from the primary area,
  • at least one from the secondary area,
  • at least one 500-level course. 

Biomedical Imaging, Bioengineering and Acoustics: two of with at least one 500-level course

  • ECE 414 Biomedical Instrumentation
  • ECE 416 Biosensors
  • ECE 460 Optical Imaging
  • ECE 467 Biophotonics
  • ECE 472 Biomedical Ultrasound Imaging
  • ECE 480 Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • ECE 520 Electromagnetic Waves and Radiating Systems
  • ECE 536 Integrated Optics and Optoelectronics
  • ECE 547 Topics in Image Processing
  • ECE 549 Computer Vision
  • ECE 551 Digital Signal Processing, II
  • ECE 558 Digital Imaging
  • ECE 564 Modern Light Microscopy
  • ECE 442 Silicon Photonics
  • ECE 421 Neural Interface Engineering
  • ECE 473 Fundamentals of Engineering Acoustics
  • ECE 402 Electronic Music Synthesis
  • ECE 403 Audio Engineering
  • ECE 537 Speech Processing Fundamentals
  • ECE 545 Advanced Physical Acoustics
  • ECE 493 Advanced Engineering Mathematics

(Faculty in this area: Jont Allen, Stephen Boppart, Yun-Sheng Chen, Brian Cunningham, Viktor Gruev, Aiguo Han, Kyekyoon Kim, Michael Oelze, Gabriel Popescu, Pengfei Song, Yurii Vlasov, Yang Zhao)

 Circuits:

one of 

  • ECE 482 Digital IC Design  
  • ECE 483 Analog IC Design 
  • ECE 425 Intro to VLSI System Design
  • ECE 498JZ RF IC Design
  • ECE 498CR Digitally Asst Circuit Design

and one of 

  • ECE 552 Numerical Circuit Analysis 
  • ECE 560 VLSI in Signal Processing and Communications 
  • ECE 581 Advanced Analog IC Design 
  • ECE 585 MOS Device Modeling & Design
  • ECE 598JZ RF IC & System Design

(Faculty in this area: Pavan Hanumolu, Chandrasekhar Radhakrishnan, Elyse Rosenbaum, Naresh Shanbhag, Jin Zhou)

 Communications:

For students who choose Communications as the Primary area:

  • ECE 534 Random Processes

and one of

  • ECE 562 Advanced Digital Communications
  • ECE 563 Information Theory

For students who choose Communications as the Secondary area:

  • One of ECE 562 or ECE 563

(Faculty in this area: Eric Chitambar, Bruce Hajek, Olgica Milenkovic, Pierre Moulin, Maxim Raginsky, Ilan Shomorony, Rayadurgam Srikant, Lav Varshney, Venugopal V. Veeravalli, Pramod Viswanath)

 Computer Architecture and Hardware Systems: two of

  • ECE 411 Computer Organization and Design
  • ECE 511 Computer Architecture
  • CS 533 Parallel Computer Architectures
  • ECE 598 Advanced Memory and Storage Systems / ECE522

(Faculty in this area: Deming Chen, Jian Huang, Wen-mei Hwu (emeritus), Nickvash Kani, Nam Sung Kim, Volodymyr Kindratenko, Rakesh Kumar, Steve Lumetta, Sanjay Patel)

Control:

  • ECE 486 Control Systems or ECE 515 Control Systems Theory and Design

and one of

  • ECE 517 Adaptive and Nonlinear Control
  • ECE 528 Analysis of Nonlinear Systems 
  • ECE 553 Optimum Control Systems
  • ECE 555 Control of Stochastic Systems
  • ECE 557 Geometric Control
  • ECE 580 Optimization by Vector Space Methods
  • ECE 586 (a section of Game Theory, Hybrid Systems, or other)

 (Faculty in this area: Yuliy Baryshnikov, Tamer Basar (emeritus), Mohamed Ali Belabbas, Roy Dong, Bin Hu, Joohyung Kim, Daniel Liberzon, Maxim Raginsky, Rayadurgam Srikant)

Data Science:

  • ECE 534 Random Processes

and one of

  • ECE 543 Statistical Learning Theory
  • ECE 544 Pattern Recognition
  • ECE 561 Detection and Estimation Theory
  • ECE 563 Information Theory
  • ECE 566 Computational Inference and Learning
  • ECE 598RKI Dependable AI Systems
  • ECE 498ICC IoT and Cognitive Computing / ECE 479
  • ECE 498DS Data Science and Analytics

(Faculty in this area: Bruce Hajek, Ravishankar Iyer, Dimitrios Katselis, Olgica Milenkovic, Alexander Schwing, Ilan Shomorony, Rayadurgam Srikant, Lav Varshney, Venugopal V. Veeravalli, Pramod Viswanath)

Electromagnetics and Optics: 

  • ECE 520 Electromagnetic Waves and Radiating Systems

and one of:

  • ECE 451 Advanced Microwave Measurements
  • ECE 452 Electromagnetic Fields
  • ECE 454 Antennas
  • ECE 455 Optical Electronics
  • ECE 457 Microwave Devices & Circuits
  • ECE 460 Optical Imaging
  • ECE 465 Optical Communication System
  • ECE 487 Introduction to Quantum Electronics
  • ECE 540 Computational Electromagnetics
  • ECE 546 Advanced Signal Integrity

 (Faculty in this area: Jont Allen, Jennifer Bernhard, Andreas Cangellaris, Xu Chen, Peter Dragic, Gary Eden, Songbin Gong, Jianming Jin, Kyekyoon Kim, Zhen Peng, Jose Schutt-Aine, Yang Zhao)

Electronic Design Automation: two of with at least one 500-level course

  • ECE 425 Intro to VLSI System Design
  • ECE 462 Logic Synthesis
  • ECE 519 Hardware Verification
  • ECE 527 System-On-Chip Design
  • ECE 552 Numerical Circuit Analysis
  • ECE 584 Embedded System Verification

(Faculty in this area: Anu Aggarwal, Deming Chen, Zuofu Cheng, Volodymyr Kindratenko, Rakesh Kumar, Elyse Rosenbaum, Shobha Vasudevan)

 Microelectronics and Photonics: 

one of 

  • ECE 441 Physics and Modeling of Semiconductor Devices
  • ECE 442 Silicon Photonics
  • ECE 443 LEDs and Solar Cells
  • ECE 444 IC Device Theory & Fabrication
  • ECE 455 Optical Electronics
  • ECE 465/466 Optical Communications
  • ECE 487 Introduction to Quantum Electronics
  • ECE 488 Compound Semiconductors and Devices
  • ECE 495 Photonic Device Lab

and one of

  • ECE 532 Compound Semiconductors and Diode Lasers
  • ECE 535 Theory of Semiconductors and Semiconductor Devices
  • ECE 536 Integrated Optics and Optoelectronics
  • ECE 572 Quantum Optoelectronics
  • ECE 585 MOS Device Modeling & Design

(Faculty in this area: Anu Aggarwal, Can Bayram, Kent Choquette, John Dallesasse, Peter Dragic, Gary Eden (emeritus), Kejie Fang, Milton Feng (emeritus), Lynford Goddard, Songbin Gong, Kyekyoon Kim, Jean-Pierre Leburton, Minjoo Lee, Shaloo Rakheja, Yurii Vlasov, Yang Zhao)

Nanotechnology: 

one of

  • ECE 444 IC Device Theory & Fabrication
  • ECE 481 Nanotechnology
  • ECE 487 Introduction to Quantum Electronics

and one of

  • ECE 510 Micro and Nanolithography
  • ECE 518 Adv Semiconductor Nanotech
  • ECE 574 Nanophotonics
  • ECE 585 MOS Device Modeling & Design

 (Faculty in this area: Simeon Bogdanov, Kent Choquette, Kejie Fang, Milton Feng (emeritus), Matthew Gilbert, Wei He, Kyekyoon Kim, Jean-Pierre Leburton, Xiuling Li, Joseph Lyding, Umberto Ravaioli, Wenjuan Zhu)

 Networking and Distributed Computing: two of with at least one 500-level course

  • ECE 428 Distributed Systems
  • ECE 438 Communication Networks
  • ECE 439 Wireless Networks
  • CS 525 Advanced Distributed Systems
  • CS 538 Advanced Computer Networks
  • ECE 598HH/RR Wireless Networks & Mobile Sys
  • ECE 598HPN High-speed / Programmable Networks

(Faculty in this area: Haitham Al-Hassanieh, Michael Bailey, Nikita Borisov, Romit Roy Choudhury, Yih-Chun Hu, Yi Lu, Radhika Mittal, David M. Nicol)

Power and Energy Systems: 

one of

  • ECE 431 Electric Machinery
  • ECE 464 Power Electronics
  • ECE 476 Power System Analysis

and one of

  • ECE 530 Analysis Techniques for Large-Scale Electrical Systems
  • ECE 568: Modeling and Control of Electromechanical Systems
  • ECE 598KSH Electrical Machine Design
  • ECE 598ARS Advanced Power Electronics

 (Faculty in this area: Arijit Banerjee, Subhonmesh Bose, Alejandro D. Dominguez-Garcia, George Gross, Kiruba Haran, Philip Krein (emeritus), Olga Mironenko, Peter Sauer (emeritus), Jonathon Schuh, Andrew Stillwell, Richard Zhang)

 Reliable and Secure Systems: two of with at least one 500-level course

  • ECE 407 Cryptography
  • ECE 422 Computer Security I
  • ECE 424 Computer Security II
  • ECE 524 Advanced Computer Security
  • ECE 542 Design of Fault-Tolerant Digital Systems
  • ECE 598AM Cryptocurrency Security

(Faculty in this area: Michael Bailey, Nikita Borisov, Yih-Chun Hu, Jian Huang, Ravishankar Iyer, Zbigniew T. Kalbarczyk, Kirill Levchenko, Andrew Miller, Sayan Mitra, David M. Nicol, Shobha Vasudevan)

Remote Sensing: 

  • ECE 520 Electromagnetic Waves and Radiating Systems

and one of:

  • ECE 453 Wireless Communication Systems
  • ECE 458 Applications of Radio Wave Propagation
  • ECE 468 Optical Remote Sensing

(Faculty in this area: Raluca Ilie, Farzad Kamalabadi, Erhan Kudeki, Jonathan Makela, Lara Waldrop)

Robotics, Vision, and Artificial Intelligence:  two of with at least one 500-level course

  • ECE 448 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • ECE 449 Machine Learning
  • ECE 470 Introduction to Robotics
  • ECE 484 Principles of Safe Autonomy
  • ECE 489 Robot Dynamics and Control
  • ECE 490 Optimization
  • ECE 537 Speech Processing Fundamentals
  • ECE 543 Statistical Learning Theory
  • ECE 544 Topics in Signal Processing (Pattern Recognition)
  • ECE 547 Topics in Image Processing
  • ECE 549 Computer Vision
  • ECE 550 Advanced Robotic Planning
  • ECE 561 Detection and Estimation Theory
  • ECE 594 Mathematical Models of Language

(Faculty in this area: Narendra Ahuja (emeritus), Suma Bhat, Subhonmesh Bose, Minh N Do, Katherine Driggs-Campbell, Saurabh Gupta, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, Bin Hu, Joohyung Kim, Sayan Mitra, Pierre Moulin, Maxim Raginsky, Alexander Schwing)

Signal Processing:

  • ECE 551 Digital Signal Processing II

and one of

  • ECE 417 Multimedia Signal Processing
  • ECE 418 Introduction to Image and Video Processing
  • ECE 513 Vector Space Signal Processing
  • ECE 543 Statistical Learning Theory
  • ECE 544 Topics in Signal Processing
  • ECE 547 Topics in Image Processing
  • ECE 558 Digital Imaging
  • ECE 561 Detection and Estimation Theory
  • ECE 566 Computational Inference
  • ECE 598ZZ High Dim Geo Data Analysis

 (Faculty in this area: Yoram Bresler, Minh Do, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, Douglas Jones (emeritus), Farzad Kamalabadi, Zhi-Pei Liang, Pierre Moulin, Andrew Singer, Paris Smaragdis, Zhizhen Jane Zhao)

 Software Systems:  two of with at least one 500-level course

  • ECE 408 Applied Parallel Programming
  • ECE 491 Introduction to Numerical Analysis
  • ECE 508 Parallel Algorithm Techniques
  • ECE 584 Embedded System Verification

(Faculty in this area: Ravishankar Iyer, Zbigniew T. Kalbarczyk, Yi Lu, Steve Lumetta, Sayan Mitra, Sanjay Patel)

Notes:

  • The 598 courses above are being prepared for permanent status.
  • The Graduate Committee is responsible to review and update the core-course lists yearly.