The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the terminal degree for those seeking a technical or research career in electrical engineering.
Students typically complete their PhD within 4 to 6 years, depending on whether they enter the program with a master's degree. It is possible for highly qualified students to enter the PhD program directly without a master's degree.
The primary focus of a PhD student is to perform novel research and support their faculty advisor. At the time of admission, PhD students must have a faculty advisor who agrees to accept the student into their research program and mentor their academic progress. Most of our PhD students are supported through research and teaching assistantships, and are also encouraged to apply for their own source of funding. Others are self-funded.
For more information, visit the department's Prospective Students webpage.
- A minimum of 30 credit hours of engineering, math and science courses numbered 5000 or above (at least 18 of these must be in sufficiently technical ECEN; none of these can be TLEN or EMEN) with a minimum of 3.00 GPA (with no lower than a B- in any single course).
- 30 credit hours of dissertation credit are required for the degree.
- A maximum of 21 credit hours may be transferred from another accredited institution and applied toward a PhD degree if approved by the graduate committee of the department and the Graduate School.
- All courses taken for the master's degree at the 5000 level or above at the University of Colorado may be applied toward the doctoral degree at the university.
- The formal coursework must include a minimum of 18 credit hours of courses or their equivalent in electrical, computer and energy engineering.
PhD students must take a preliminary examination by the first spring semester after they enroll. They are given two consecutive spring semesters to pass. If a student takes an exam in one research area on their first attempt and a different area on their second attempt, those comprise their two maximum attempts.
These prelim exams are given by faculty in respective research groups. Depending on the research area, there could be oral and written parts, or a literature search and an oral report, or some other type of exam. If a student passes one part on the first attempt, then they need only take and pass the remaining part during their subsequent attempt. Those who do not pass after two attempts can earn a master's pending fulfilling the requirements for that master's degree.
By no later than the fifth semester, students must pass an oral comprehensive examination before the student's doctoral committee of five or more graduate faculty members chosen by the student and approved by the department and the Graduate School. The oral examination before the committee is based primarily on a written proposal for the thesis research provided by the student to committee members in advance.
Students must write a dissertation based on original research conducted under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. The dissertation must fulfill all Graduate School requirements. After the dissertation is completed, an oral final examination on the dissertation and related topics is conducted by the student's doctoral committee.
All degree requirements must be completed within six years of the date of commencing coursework.