Doctor of Philosophy programs

Two degrees offered

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers two doctoral degrees:

  1. Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Engineering 
  2. Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering

Degree requirements and policies

A minimum of 90 graduate credits beyond the baccalaureate degree is required for the completion of the Ph.D. program. Including the following:

  1. At least 12 credits of coursework at 7000-level (not including directed studies or research credits) in the area of expected PhD degree – Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering.
  2. Two credits of Doctoral Seminar (ECE 9997).
  3. Additional graduate coursework, pre-dissertation research (ECE 7996), and directed study (ECE 7990). Total, including courses in items 1 and 2 above must be 60 cr. h
  4. Thirty credits earned in four consecutive Candidate Status semesters (courses 9991 through 9994) after candidacy has been approved.

The total Ph.D. program must include 30 credits, excluding Candidate Status semesters, in courses open only to graduate students (i.e. 7000 level or above). At least 30 hours must be elected at Wayne State University. Only courses with grades of B- or higher can be counted toward the degree. At the discretion of the advisor, up to 30 credit hours of graduate courses may be transferred from the master's program. A student wishing to transfer graduate credit toward a Ph.D. degree should file a Transfer of Credit form along with the doctoral Plan of Work. A minimum grade of B is necessary to transfer credits; B- credits and credits graded "P" or "S" (Pass or Satisfactory) are not transferable. Transfer credit must be appropriate to the student's degree program and may not be used to reduce the minimum requirement of thirty credits, which must be carried at WSU.

Directed study

Up to 12 credits of ECE 7990 are allowed in the Ph.D. program. The student must have the Directed Study Authorization form (7990) signed before registering for directed study. Before a student can register in directed study, he/she must prepare an outline of the study and obtain the approval of the advisor and the graduate director.

Research course

Up to 8 credits of ECE 7996 are allowed in the Ph.D. program. The student must have the Directed Study Authorization form (7996) signed before registering for the course. Before a student can register in the course, he/she must prepare an outline of the study and obtain the approval of the advisor and the graduate director.

Dissertation research and direction

To register in ECE 999X courses, the student must send an email to, including his/her student number (PID) and semester of the course.

Plan of work

The Doctor of Philosophy Plan of Work approved by the advisor and the departmental graduate committee chairperson should be submitted to the Graduate School for approval before the student has completed 40 graduate credits (this includes the master's degree work). Any subsequent changes in the Plan of Work must be approved by the advisor and submitted to the Graduate School for approval.

Course overrides

To obtain overrides for registering graduate courses that you have not taken their listed prerequisite courses, contact the course instructor and provide evidence that you have necessary background to take the course.

Ph.D. examinations

There are two electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. examinations.

A. The Ph.D. Written Qualifying Examination

The purpose of the Ph.D. Written Qualifying Examination is to determine if the student has necessary background knowledge in basic areas of electrical and computer engineering and is prepared for pursuing Ph.D. studies in the Department. The examination consists of two areas chosen from the approved list. One of the two area exams should be in the area in which the student plans to do a dissertation. A student should attempt the written preliminary examination within the first two semesters (not including the Spring/Summer semester) enrolled as a Ph.D. student. An extension may be arranged in exceptional circumstances during the first year of residence in the Ph.D. program. Each student is encouraged to consult his/her PhD advisor or the Graduate Committee Chair regarding the preliminary exam. Please review the departmental policy on the Ph.D. Written Qualifying Examination.

B. The Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Examination

The purpose of the Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Examination is to test the student's comprehensive background in the chosen dissertation area. The exam is administered by the student's dissertation committee. On discretion of the dissertation committee, the Ph.D. qualifying examination may be combined with the dissertation prospectus approval.  

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination must be conducted after the student completes 50 cr. h. of studies and before finishing first Dissertation Research course ECE 9991. Student will not be able to register for ECE 9992 if he/she has not passed the Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Examination and the dissertation prospectus has not been approved.

Upon successfully passing oral examination the student will become Ph.D. Candidate by completing the Ph.D. Candidacy form and submitting to graduate school.

Information on the oral and written required examinations, as well as other requirements, are outlined on the Graduate School website

Brief Summary of the Ph.D. Process

  • A minimum of 90 graduate credits beyond the baccalaureate degree is required for the completion of the Ph.D. program. 
  • Students must take the Ph.D. written qualifying exam during the first two semesters (excluding Spring/Summer session) of doctoral study. Failure to take the exam in the second semester constitutes a failed attempt. Failure to take the exam in the third semester constitutes a failed second attempt and will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.
  • A student on a Ph.D. program must have an advisor throughout entire duration of the program. Applicants to PhD program  are encouraged to engage in communication with faculty to ensure they will have Ph.D. advisor at the time of admission. The advisor provides guidance and evaluates student's progress towards the Ph.D. degree by submitting annual reviews to Graduate School. Missing or negative review will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.
  • Complete a Ph.D. Plan of Work form and present to dissertation advisor and departmental graduate officer for approval. The plan must be submitted to the Graduate School before completion of 40 graduate credits which includes the approved transfer of a maximum of thirty credits from other universities.
  • Form a doctoral dissertation committee with the membership specified in "The Graduate School Handbook for Doctoral Students and Advisors" (available on the Graduate School website).
  • Advance to the rank of Ph.D. Candidate upon completing the Ph.D. Candidacy Status form, obtaining the recommendation of the department and the approval of the Graduate School.
  • Take Ph.D. oral qualifying exam administered by the dissertation committee and complete the doctoral dissertation prospectus.
  • Register for Doctoral Dissertation and Direction I, II, III and IV (ECE 9991, 9992, 9993 and 9994) for a total of thirty credits.
  • Submit Final Report Dissertation and Public Lecture – Defense form to the Graduate School, present the public lecture and pass the defense.
  • Receive approval of the dissertation manuscript from the Graduate School.

Ph.D. forms
Policies and Procedures