PhD in Electrical Engineering

The PhD in Electrical Engineering program provides 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 of Engineering 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. External collaborations with industry and government laboratories are encouraged. 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. 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. Our graduates go on to conduct independent basic or applied research, with careers in academia, industry, and government.

Contact ECE faculty members directly to find out about ongoing work and discuss your research interests (for contact information, visit the Electrical & Computer Engineering website).

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstration of a strong foundation in electrical engineering as measured by the successful completion of coursework and the qualifying examination.
  2. Making an original and substantial contribution to the discipline of electrical engineering as measured by conference presentations, conference publications, or peer-reviewed journal articles, and the completion of a successful PhD thesis.
  3. Demonstrating the ability to effectively communicate original scientific research in electrical engineering as measured by the successful oral defense of a prospectus, PhD thesis, conference presentations, conference publications, or peer-reviewed journal articles.

PhD Program Requirements and Milestones

Course Requirements: In structured courses, only grades of B– or higher are accepted for fulfilling PhD unit requirements. In non-structured (P/F) courses, the P grade is acceptable for fulfilling PhD requirements. PhD students who receive grades of C+ or lower in 3 courses will be withdrawn from the program.

  • Post-BS PhD students (64 units): Minimum eight courses, of which four need to be ENG EC 500- and 700-level courses.
  • Post-MS PhD students (32 units): Minimum two ENG EC 500- and 700-level courses.
  • ENG EC 801 Teaching Practicum and EC 802 Teaching Practicum
  • Responsible Conduct of Research

PhD Candidacy: PhD students will have to show technical (TPC) and research (RPC) preparation in order to achieve PhD candidacy.

  • Technical Preparation Criterion (TPC): The technical preparation is measured by demonstrating strong academic performance in ECE courses related to the student’s research in selected courses.
    • Post-BS PhD students: GPA = 3.7 in four ECE courses within the first three academic terms.
    • Post-MS PhD students: GPA = 3.7 in two ECE courses within the first two academic terms.
  • Research Preparation Criterion (RPC): The research preparation 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. If a student fails the oral examination on the first attempt, they are given a makeup oral examination. All PhD students are required to satisfy the RPC by the end of the first year in the PhD program. 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.

Prospectus Defense: Students propose their dissertation research to a faculty committee within two years of achieving candidacy.

Dissertation Defense: The student defends their dissertation, which has to consist of novel work in the area of electrical engineering. The dissertation should be defended within five years of candidacy.