Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree Requirements
The purpose of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in electrical and computer engineering Is to produce graduates who think independently and solve engineering problems based on first principle scientific and mathematical concepts. The training involves the in-depth study of a challenging research problem that has not been previously solved to a desired level of effectiveness.
Many ECE professors are renowned worldwide as some of the top experts in their field. The programs of study they offer provide students with the chance to work on groundbreaking research, helping to advance society as a whole.
The ECE department offers two different tracks to pursue a PhD:
1. Course requirements include:
2. Transfer credit:
3. Dissertation research requirements:
MS degree counts for 30 credits.
Dissertation research requirements
Summary of Additional Requirements in the ECE PhD Program
Both Direct from BS and from MS
1. The PhD plan of Study must be submitted by the end of the first semester.
2. PhD students must have a permanent advisor by the end of the second semester.
3. PhD students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5.
4. Graduate seminar (ECE 8891): at least two credit hours is required. Credit for these seminars is in addition to the 80-credit degree requirement.
5. The PhD proposal is submitted at the time of the candidacy examination. Two attempts are allowed.
6. Submission of at least one substantial, original paper based on the dissertation research is required.
9. Successful completion of the dissertation (PhD thesis) and final oral examination complete the degree requirements.
- The doctoral student is expected to obtain a commitment from a faculty advisor and submit the PhD Plan of Study by the end of the first semester in the PhD program.
- The PhD Plan of Study will define an ECE primary research area of emphasis, an ECE secondary research area of emphasis and other graduate courses approved by the advisor and the ECE Graduate studies committee.
- By graduation, students must have completed at least two primary area courses and 6 credits in the secondary research area.
- If a student has earned a master’s degree from another institution, a transcript must accompany the Plan of Study form.
- Two faculty signatures are required to approve the plan prior to submission: the faculty advisor and a secondary area faculty.
The PhD Qualifying Examination (QE) serves as one of the key filters in allowing a student to pass from simple admission to the PhD program to regular doctoral student status.
The QE is designed in accordance with the following principles:
- The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to test the fundamental knowledge acquired by the student over prior coursework and assess the ability to apply this fundamental knowledge to approach research questions/problems.
- Both BS to PhD and MS to PhD students are required to take the QE in the first semester of their second year.
- Two (2) attempts are allowed. The second attempt must be during the time window in the semester following the semester of the failed attempt. If a student fails after two attempts, the student is no longer in the PhD program and can earn an MS degree after completing MS requirements. If the student does not take the QE during the semester, he/she is required to take it, this will be considered a failed attempt.
- Effective autumn 2019: Students starting the ECE PhD program in autumn 2019 and after must complete three graduate letters graded ECE courses by the scheduled exam term, including during the semester when the QE is administered. At least two of the three courses must be in the student's primary research area. ECE 5000 - level courses will meet the ECE QE course requirement.
- Failure to do so will be considered a failed attempt.
Both MS to PhD and BS to PhD students are required to schedule the ECE Qualifying Exam in the 1st semester of their 2nd year in the PhD program.
- Students who begin the PhD program in autumn semester are required to schedule the Qualifying Exam during the following autumn semester.
- Students who begin the PhD program in spring semester schedule the exam during the following spring semester.
- Students who begin the PhD program in summer term schedule the Qualifying Exam during the autumn semester of the following year.
- The Qualifying Exam must be scheduled during a one-month window in autumn and spring semesters. The autumn semester scheduling month is October and the spring semester scheduling month is March. The March time frame is extended to April 15 due to spring break.
- Failure to do will be considered a failed attempt.
Qualifying Exam Guidelines - Exams Scheduled Autumn 2022 & Spring 2023 Only
For students whose 1st term in the ECE PhD program was summer 2021, autumn 2021 or spring 2022.
Students scheduling the ECE PhD Qualifying Exam in autumn 2022 or spring 2023 must complete three graduate letters graded ECE courses by the scheduled exam term, including during the semester when the Qualifying Exam is administered. At least two of the three courses must be in the student's primary research area. ECE 5000-level courses will meet the ECE Qualifying Exam course requirement.
Qualifying Exam Committee
The Qualifying Exam committee consists of three P-status ECE faculty. One member is the faculty advisor. An additional member is selected by the student and the advisor. The 3rd member will be assigned by the ECE Graduate Studies committee and will be outside the student's primary research area. To allow sufficient time for the Graduate studies committee to add the 3rd member, the ECE Request for Approval of PhD Qualifying Examination Committee form must be submitted to the ECE graduate program coordinator at least one month prior to the anticipated Qualifying Exam date.
Revised Qualifying Exam Guidelines for Exams Scheduled Autumn 2023 and After
For students whose 1st term in the ECE PhD program is summer 2022 and after.
- Students will submit the ECE PhD Plan of study by the end of their first semester in the PhD program and indicate their primary and secondary research areas from the 6 ECE research areas:
Computer, Networks and Communication
Control, Signal Processing and Computer Vision
Power and Energy
Solid State Electronics and Photonics
- Students will be tested mainly from their primary research area material. Students should contact their primary research area chair for additional information on the exam guidelines for their research area. Students will not be required to take course(s) from the secondary area for the Qualifying Exam.
- Students must complete three ECE letter-graded graduate courses in their primary research area by the semester the Qualifying Exam is scheduled. One of the three required courses may be taken during the semester when the Qualifying Exam is administered.
- The Qualifying Exam committee will consist of 3 faculty members, 2 members are selected by the student.
- The committee can include the student’s advisor, but can also exclude the advisor. If the student has more than one advisor, at most one of the advisors can be included, i.e., at least one of the two members selected by the student must be a non-advisor.
- At least one of the two faculty members selected by the student must be from the primary research area and should be designated the chair of the committee.
- The 3rd Qualifying Exam committee member is assigned by the Graduate Studies Committee. The 3rd member is preferably selected from the student's primary research area, but may be a secondary area faculty member based on availability.
The Qualifying Exam will be 90 minutes long.
10 minutes: Student presentation including student's academic background, coursework, and a technical topic of interest within the allowed time.
80 minutes: Questions/answers from the committee.
0 – The student has difficulty recalling the basic concepts/results on the main topics.
1 – The student is aware of the basic concepts of the area topics, and can fully solve basic-level questions on these topics. However, the student has difficulty fully solving more advanced questions (e.g. questions posed in exams of the associated courses).
2 – The student can solve more advanced questions fully. In addition, the student can satisfactorily approach open-ended and research-oriented questions.
Specific requirements may differ by research area.
Exam Decision - Based on the sum of the 3 ratings
0 – 3 -> student fails
4 – 6 -> student passes
The Candidacy Examination is intended to establish the student’s preparation and readiness for independent doctoral level research by assessing the following:
- Intellectual independence of the candidate.
- Familiarity of the candidate with the literature relevant to her/his research area(s).
- The ability to formulate a meaningful research problem and a corresponding research plan.
The Candidacy Examination is comprised of a research proposal, a written exam and an oral exam. The candidacy exam is usually taken in the third year in the PhD program after all coursework is completed.
Candidacy Examination Committee
The first step in the process leading to the student's candidacy exam is the formation of the candidacy examination committee.
- This committee consists of at least four faculty members: the student’s advisor (who must have graduate faculty P-status in ECE) and at least three other faculty members chosen by the student and advisor together, subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies committee.
- One of the members of the exam committee must be an ECE faculty member from the student’s secondary research area.
- There must be at least three faculty members (including the advisor) with graduate faculty P-status in ECE. The fourth member can have graduate faculty P-status or M-status.
- To add external members without graduate faculty P-status in addition to the four regular members described above, requires permission from the Graduate Studies Chair.
Exam Schedule and Timeline
The candidacy exam is usually taken in the third year in the PhD program after all coursework is completed. The timeline of the exam is as follows:
- After the candidacy examination committee has been formed, the student submits the ECE form, Request for Approval of Candidacy Examination Committee, to the ECE graduate program office for Graduate Studies Chair approval.
- The student works with her/his advisor and the members of the exam committee to set a date for the oral portion of the exam that is agreeable to all parties.
- The student must be given at least 3 weeks to complete the written portion of the candidacy exam.
- The oral portion of the candidacy examination must be completed within one month of the written portion.
- At least two weeks prior to the scheduled date for the oral exam, the student submits the Application for Candidacy online at gradforms.osu.edu. The Application for Candidacy must be approved online by the faculty advisor and the ECE graduate program. This deadline is strict.
- A Committee Petition submitted through gradforms.osu.edu is required to add non-faculty external members to a graduate exam committee.
- The research proposal and the written exam must be submitted to the members of the exam committee at least one week before the scheduled date for the oral exam. This deadline is strict.
The research proposal forms a major part of the exam. The proposal must be a complete document with a thoughtful, in-depth treatment of the dissertation topic. It should be substantial enough to form the basis of a meaningful oral examination, establishing a worthy research problem and developing an effective research plan. It should only be written after the student has done enough work on the problem to speak meaningfully about it, including discussing her or his preliminary investigations. Above all, it should be a technically sound and scholarly document, not to exceed 15 pages (single spaced, one column, 11 point or larger font), excluding title page, abstract, table of contents, references cited and appendices.
The proposal should include:
- A cover sheet including title, a one-page abstract and a table of contents.
- A discussion of the problem and its significance.
- A history of the problem and previous relevant research.
- A summary of the student’s own preliminary work on the problem and results to date (details of the preliminary results can be placed in appendices).
- A research plan leading from the current status toward a clearly defined goal or goals. Listing multiple methods of attacking the problem, or other options, by priority is strongly advised. The research plan should typically be about 5 of the 15 pages.
- Anticipated results and expected contributions to the state-of-the-art in the relevant field of study.
- A list of references compiled in IEEE Transactions format.
The written portion of the examination is formulated by the student's advisor with input from the entire Candidacy Examination Committee. The written part of the exam consists of:
- At least one significant, open-ended problem (to assess intellectual independence).
- A critique, simulation or analysis of one or two key papers written in the student’s area of study (to assess familiarity with the relevant literature).
Attendance to the oral exam is limited to the student and members of the Candidacy Examination Committee. Except when video conferencing is involved, all members of the Candidacy Examination Committee must be present during the entire oral examination. The oral portion of the candidacy examination lasts approximately two hours. Questioning of the student should occupy the entire period of the examination. All committee members are expected to participate fully in the questioning during the course of the examination and in the discussion and decision on the result of the candidacy examination.
The vote must be unanimous in order for the student to pass the exam. Results of the candidacy exam are submitted by each committee member online at gradforms.osu.edu.
Outcome from the Candidacy Examination
For the direct BS to PhD program, three outcomes are possible:
- The student passes and is awarded the MS degree.
- The student fails; however, the student is awarded the MS degree.
- The student fails and is not awarded the MS degree.
For the MS to PhD program, two outcomes are possible:
- The student passes.
- The student fails.
Please refer to the Graduate School Handbook for a complete list of rules and regulations. http://www.gradsch.ohio-state.edu/Depo/PDF/Handbook.pdf
Research conducted by students in the PhD program culminates in a dissertation that must be defended orally before the advisor and two other Dissertation Reading Committee members.
Submission of at least one substantial, original paper based on the dissertation research to a refereed, archival journal is required before approval of the final defense of the dissertation is granted. A signed Submission of Paper form by the faculty advisor must be provided with the Application to Graduate at the beginning of the semester of graduation. If the paper has not yet been published, the student must provide a copy of the email acknowledging the acceptance or submission of the paper to the journal. Typically, advisors expect two or more journal papers from their PhD students.
The Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Studies Committee forms a liaison between the faculty and graduate students in ECE and the Graduate School. It is responsible for setting and upholding rules specific to this department (and summarized in this handbook) over and above the minimum, general requirements set by the Graduate School in its handbook. The Graduate Studies Committee is composed of ECE faculty members appointed annually by the ECE Department Chair. The Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee represents the committee members to the faculty, the students, and the Graduate School and administers the day-to-day operation of the program. The Graduate Program Coordinator assists the Graduate Studies Chair in most procedural and routine matters and is a valuable source of information on most topics.
There are a number of subcommittees of the Graduate Studies Committee responsible for particular aspects of the graduate program administration and reporting to the Graduate Studies Committee Chair. These include the Graduate Admissions Committee and the Recruitment and Financial Aids Committee. The student typically has little direct interaction with these committees.
The most important resource person available to the graduate student is the faculty advisor. If particularly difficult questions or problems arise that the advisor cannot properly address, the Graduate Studies Committee Chair should be able to address them.
Answers to procedural questions can be found in this handbook. If further clarification is required, the Graduate Program Coordinator is a good resource. The coordinator can be reached by email at ENG ECE Grad <email@example.com>, or during walk-in office hours. For more substantive matters, the Graduate Studies Committee Chair is available by appointment. Email to the Graduate Studies Chair is the most efficient way to schedule an appointment.
Both the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Graduate Studies Chair request that you consult the handbook before scheduling an appointment.
Communications between the Graduate Program and the Student
Most routine correspondence between the Graduate Studies Committee (via the Graduate Program Coordinator or the Graduate Studies Chair) is handled by email. here are occasions when physical documents must be sent to the student from the graduate program. There are two mechanisms for this: US mail to the student’s local address, and a mailbox for each graduate student located in the ECE main office, 205 Dreese Lab. Students should therefore keep the Graduate Program Coordinator and the University Registrar apprised of their current address at all times and should check their mailboxes regularly.
New students are walked through the registration procedure during their orientation period After the first semester, registration is online. Before your registration window opens, you should consult your advisor for approval of the courses you intend to take.
There are different course registration requirements for precandidacy MS students and post candidacy students.
Pre-candidacy: MS students and PhD students who have not taken the candidacy exam
- Students with GA and Fellowship appointments: If a student holds a GRA, GAA or GTA appointment, GAs should register for at least 8 graduate credits in Autumn and Spring semester, 4 graduate credits in Summer term.
- Students with Fellowship appointments must register for at least 12 credits in Autumn and Spring semester, and 6 credits in Summer term. If students do not register for the minimum credit requirements established by the Graduate School, the Graduate School will revoke the tuition waiver.
- International students NOT holding a GRA or GTA appointment must register for at least 8 credits Autumn and Spring semester (including any required undergraduate hours) to maintain their visa status.
- Registration for at least 3 graduate credits during the graduation term is required for all graduate students.
Post Candidacy PhD students
- All doctoral students who have passed the Candidacy Examination must register for 3 graduate credits per term, which is considered fulltime enrollment. Special permission is required to register for more than 3 credits.
- Continuous Enrollment policy: All students who successfully complete the doctoral candidacy examination are required to be enrolled in every semester (summer session is excluded) until graduation. These students must be enrolled for at least 3 graduate credits per semester. This policy is effective for all students who were admitted to the Graduate School Autumn Quarter 2008 and after (Section VII.8 of the Graduate Handbook).
- Completion of Ph.D. degree requirements is required within 5 years after being admitted to candidacy.
Most courses can be scheduled online from BuckeyeLink. For courses requiring instructor permission, email permission from the instructor or the course enrollment form is submitted to Registration Services at the Graduate School.
Additional course registration requirements can be found in the Graduate School Handbook.
Each graduate student must have a faculty advisor whose responsibility is to help form an academic program, monitor progress through the agreed-upon program, implement necessary procedures that require signatures at various steps along the way, and guide the thesis (if any) or dissertation research that forms part of the student’s course of study.
Faculty members within ECE and outside of ECE can hold graduate faculty status within ECE. These graduate faculty members are either Category M or Category P. Category P faculty members can advise Ph.D. and M.S. students and serve on all student committees within the department. Category M faculty members can advise M.S. students and serve on M.S. exam committees. In addition, M status faculty members can serve on the committee for Ph.D. candidacy and final exams with the approval of the Graduate Studies Chair.
Currently, all tenure-track faculty members within ECE hold Category P. There are also a few emeritus faculty members within ECE and faculty members from other departments with P status in our department. There are a number of non-ECE faculty with M status as well.
If a new graduate student has accepted a GRA offer, the advisor is the faculty member who offered the GRA. A self-funded new graduate student is usually assigned a temporary advisor for the first semester. If this relationship is satisfactory to both the student and the advisor, the relationship becomes permanent. However, another faculty member may be a more appropriate advisor. In that case, after discussing the change with both the current and new advisors, the student should use the change of advisor form, have both advisors sign it, and submit the form to the Graduate Program Coordinator, who will record the change.
For BS/MS students, the students should fill out a change of advisor form to switch from their undergraduate advisor to a faculty advisor once they have finished the BS degree.
Departmental Colloquia and Seminars
During the academic year, the ECE Department and other departments host many colloquia given by visiting scholars from industry and academia as well as by our own faculty and students. Each graduate student is urged to attend as many of these colloquia as possible, certainly in his or her area of interest but also those in other research areas. All such events are posted in advance in our department’s web page and other locations around the department.
Office Assignments and Keys
The department would like to provide office space for all graduate students. However, in recent years this has been impossible due to the limited space available. The following priority will be used to allocate the available offices:
- Graduate Teaching Associates,
- Graduate Research Associates,
- University, U.S. corporate and government fellowship students,
- Other graduate students and visiting scholars.
At times it may be necessary to ask students to change offices but every attempt will be made to keep such disruptions to a minimum. Office assignments are handled by Prof. George Valco.
Graduate students with offices may obtain keys to their offices. Graduate students without offices may obtain keys to their research laboratory rooms upon the recommendation of their advisor when there is a need. All students use their OSU BuckID cards at the keycard readers to access the building. Keys are obtained by faculty emailing a request to Mr. William Thalgott.
Change of Address
It is very important that any change of address be reported immediately to the Registrar’s office. As a safety measure, report any change of address to the Graduate Program Coordinators.