PhD in Electrical Engineering

Our PhD programs in electrical engineering provide both post-bachelor’s and post-master’s applicants the opportunity for study in a broad range of areas, many of which overlap with other disciplines within the college and the University.

As an electrical engineering PhD student, you will pursue theoretical and empirical studies in a topic area determined by your interests and those of your faculty research advisor. As a student in Boston, you will be in the midst of a vibrant high-tech research community where external collaborations with industry, government, and other universities are common. However, your experience will likely not be limited to Boston; PhD students are supported by the department to present their work at many key conferences around the world.

Completion of the PhD establishes a student’s ability to conduct independent basic or applied research, and prepares him or her for a career in academia, industry, or government. Students pursue theoretical and empirical studies in a topic area determined by their interests, faculty research areas, and departmental research facilities. External collaborations with industry and government laboratories are encouraged.

Doctoral program candidates should contact faculty members in the department to discuss their research plans (for contact information, email or visit the Electrical & Computer Engineering website).

Students admitted to the PhD program must first complete the department’s MS degree requirements.

In addition to fulfilling the MS degree program requirements, all PhD students must enroll for an additional 32 units (8 courses) at the graduate level (500 level or above). Post-master’s PhD students are required to complete 32 graduate units (eight courses) beyond their MS work. In addition to an oral prospectus defense and final dissertation defense, students must satisfy a Technical Preparation Criterion (TPC) and a Research Preparation Criterion (RPC), which together constitute the PhD Qualifying Process of the ECE Department.

The TPC requires a student to demonstrate excellent performance in certain graduate courses (four for post-bachelor’s, two for post-master’s), mostly related to the student’s area of specialization. Post-bachelor’s PhD students are required to satisfy the TPC by the end of their third semester in the PhD program. Post-master’s PhD students are required to satisfy the TPC by the end of their second semester in the PhD program. Students who are not able to satisfy the TPC within their allocated time are not allowed to remain in the PhD program. At least one of the courses used to satisfy TPC must require a significant component involving the formulation, analysis, and solution of mathematical models. This course also satisfies the College of Engineering’s math requirement.

The RPC requires a student to pass an oral examination related to a research article (chosen by the student and approved by the ECE Graduate Committee) and its background material. All PhD students are required to satisfy the RPC by the end of the summer that immediately follows the completion of two regular semesters (Fall/Spring) in the PhD program. If a student fails the oral examination on the first attempt, he/she is given a make-up oral examination several weeks later. Unless a student passes the oral examination on either the first or the second attempt, the student will not be allowed to stay in the PhD program.