The Graduate Computer Engineering Program


Computer Engineering Ph.D. Requirements

Course requirements

A Ph.D. student must either already have an M.S. degree or complete all of the requirements for a course, project, or thesis-based M.S. degree in CE. The supervisory committees may require additional coursework hours above that required for the M.S. degree. All students must complete at least 7 hours of coursework at the University of Utah and complete at least 14 hours of dissertation research (CS or ECE 7970). At least one year (i.e. two consecutive semesters) of the doctoral program must be spent in full-time academic work at the University of Utah. A student must be registered for at least 3 hours of credit in the semester that they defend their dissertation. All Ph.D. students must also take at least 2 credit hours of the ECE 7951 Teaching Mentorship course. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program prior to Fall 2022 are not required to enroll in this course, although it is strongly encouraged. It is suggested that the course be completed during the 2nd year of studies after the graduate seminar courses have been completed.

Supervisory Committee

Each CE graduate student must form a supervisory committee whose members approve the student’s program of study and guides the student’s research program. A Ph.D. committee consists of five members. The majority of the committee must consist of CE faculty from either ECE or SoC. Ph.D. students are strongly encouraged to have a member of the committee who is outside the University of Utah whenever it is feasible. The committee should be formed by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program, although a committee may be revised later by petition to the CE committee.

Any ECE or SoC regular faculty member may serve as a supervisory committee chair. Auxiliary faculty may chair supervisory committees if accorded that privilege by the regular faculty and the Dean of the Graduate School. Individuals who are not faculty members may serve on supervisory committees if nominated by the regular faculty on the committee and endorsed by the CE Committee. The Dean of the Graduate School must grant final approval of all supervisory committees.

The supervisory committee is required to monitor the student’s progress. The student is subject to removal from the program if a student’s supervisory committee finds that the student is not making satisfactory progress.

Program of Study

After consulting with the approved supervisory committee chair, the student must complete a Program of Study that satisfies all the course requirements for the degree being pursued. Approval signatures of the supervisory committee members are to be obtained by the student. Completed and signed forms must be submitted to the CE advisor by the end of the second semester of study. After approval of the CE committee, the program of study is submitted to the Graduate School for their approval. The program of study must be filed prior to taking a qualifying or comprehensive examination (dissertation proposal).

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

Before taking their comprehensive examination, all Ph.D. students must pass a Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, as specified by the Graduate School. Before the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, the student’s supervisory committee will meet (whenever possible) to discuss the Ph.D. candidate, and their area of research, and to set the exam questions. The exam should consist of 3 to 5 questions that test the candidate’s breadth of CE knowledge as it pertains to the candidate’s likely area of research. Questions may require the candidate to review a paper, but they are not restricted to this form. The Qualifying Exam should consist of a written part and an oral part. Students must take the written part of the Qualifying Examination no later than their third semester of study while the oral part may at the discretion of the supervisory committee be delayed to be part of the dissertation proposal defense.

Research Comprehensive Examination

Ph.D. students must take a Research Comprehensive Examination (dissertation proposal) to be administered by their supervisory committee at a time determined by that committee, but no later than the fifth semester of study (not counting summers). The examination should serve as the defense of the student’s dissertation proposal as well as establish competence in their proposed area of research. The dissertation proposal must be approved at least one semester prior to the semester of the dissertation defense.

The written proposal should be no more than 15 pages. The choice of which format to use is up to the student after consultation with the chair of the supervisory committee. Students interested in academic research in the future are encouraged to consider using the NSF or NIH format for their proposal (including only the technical proposal and the vita sections). This proposal should be submitted to the members of the candidate’s supervisory committee at least two weeks before the comprehensive exam. Students must notify the CE advisor at least one week before they are going to take the Comprehensive Examination.

Dissertation Defense

For degrees that require a dissertation, the Final Oral Examination (oral dissertation defense) is conducted by the supervisory committee according to Graduate School regulations. A student will be passed only if the committee is satisfied that the dissertation research and documentation are unquestionable of the quality that will bring distinction to the candidate and the CE program. The committee may request further work of the candidate before a final decision is made.

All students must understand that they are responsible for ensuring that the submitted dissertation meets the requirements of the Graduate School for proper format. Ample help is available from the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Editor in the form of a Style and Format Guide as well as seminars. Dissertations with the improper format will be rejected.

The student must provide the CE advisor with the following information at least one week before the date of the dissertation defense: the defense date and time, room, a vita or resume, and an electronic copy of the thesis/dissertation. A “Report of the Final Oral Examination” form will be completed by the CE advisor for approval signatures during the defense, and the CE advisor will submit the form to the Graduate School.

Dissertation Requirements

The supervisory committee must give preliminary approval of the dissertation one week prior to the defense. The defense can be scheduled after this approval. The student must provide one copy of the dissertation to the chair of the supervisory committee at least three weeks before the defense, and one copy to each of the other committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense.

After successfully defending the dissertation, the student must obtain approval by having their committee members sign the Supervisory Committee Approval and Final Reading Approval forms. The student should prepare at least three copies of each form on thesis approved paper. The forms are submitted to the CE advisor for the CE Director’s signature. The student must then submit the forms to the University Thesis Editor with a draft of the final dissertation. Detailed policies and procedures concerning the theses and dissertations are contained in A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations published by the Graduate School.

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You may also call the ECE department at 801-581-6941 if you need help or have questions.

Updated 4/5/2022