Ph.D. Electrical Engineering Handbook

 

Contents

  • Safety and Wellness
  • Ph.D. Program Requirements
  • Supervisory Committee
  • Program of Study
  • Amendment to Planned Program of Study
  • Coursework Guideline Criteria
  • Examinations
  • Ph.D. Qualifying Examination
  • Ph.D. Research Comprehensive Exam (Dissertation Proposal)
  • Dissertation Defense
  • Dissertation Requirements
  • Summary of PhD Requirments
  • Ph.D. Forms

Safety and Wellness

Your safety is our top priority. In an emergency, dial 911 or seek a nearby emergency phone (throughout campus). Report any crimes or suspicious people to 801-585-COPS; this number will get you to a dispatch officer at the University of Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS; dps.utah.edu). If at any time, you would like to be escorted by a security officer to or from areas on campus, DPS will help — just give a call.

The University of Utah seeks to provide a safe and healthy experience for students, employees, and others who make use of campus facilities. In support of this goal, the University has established confidential resources and support services to assist students who may have been affected by harassment, abusive relationships, or sexual misconduct. A detailed listing of University Resources for campus safety can be found at https://registrar.utah.edu/handbook/campussafety.php

Your well-being is key to your personal safety. If you are in crisis, call 801-587-3000; help is close.  The university has additional excellent resources to promote emotional and physical wellness, including the following:

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

Ph.D. Program Requirements

  1. All coursework is to be completed within seven consecutive calendar years.
  2. Coursework listed on the program of study must consist of:
    1. All students must complete at least 12 hours of coursework at the University of Utah. Students with an Engineering Master’s degree from the University of Utah (30 credit hours) will not be required to complete 12 hours of additional coursework.
    2. A minimum of 30 hours of graduate courses (5000 level or above) beyond the B.S. degree, in engineering and allied fields. (Included in this total can be a transferred MS degree from another University)
    3. 2 semesters of Graduate Seminar (7900, and 7910). For students with a MS degree from the University of Utah ECE 6900 and 6910 is acceptable.  New PhD students are required to enroll in ECE 7900 during the first semester.
    4. At least 14 semester hours of thesis research (ECE 7970).
    5. Allied courses from Math, Science, or Engineering Departments may be approved on a program of study.
  3. The 12 hours of required coursework may not include faculty consultation or thesis research (7980 and 7970).
  4. Ph.D. students may take up to three semester hours of ECE 7950 (Special Studies) which will count toward the required 12 coursework hours. If a student has taken three hours of Special Studies for their Master’s degree, they may not take more hours of Special Studies for their Ph.D. degree. Students cannot register for Special Studies without prior permission from the Graduate Committee. Permission is obtained by completing and filing the Special Studies Request form with the Graduate Coordinator. The general guidelines state that for every hour of credit, a course generally requires two hours of study per week outside of class. Therefore, it will be understood that for every credit hour of Special Studies, the student will be expected to spend three hours per week on the activity. Special studies courses from other departments cannot be used for the program of study. Special Studies may not include the material of any class taught by the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department.

All students who are on visas must be registered for at least nine credit hours of coursework in every semester (excluding summer) unless they receive permission from the Department Graduate Committee prior to the beginning of the semester.

 

Supervisory Committee

The Ph.D. supervisory committee consists of five faculty members. At least three of the committee members must be regular ECE faculty members, and at least one must be from outside the ECE Department. The committee conducts the student’s written and oral Qualifying Examinations, the Research Comprehensive Examination, and the dissertation defense.

Each student forms a supervisory committee whose members guide the student’s graduate program. Students must form this committee by the beginning of the second semester of study.

Any regular Electrical & Computer Engineering faculty member may serve as a supervisory committee chair. After the faculty members have agreed to serve on a supervisory committee, the student should file a completed Request for Supervisory Committee form with the Graduate Coordinator in the ECE Office. A committee may be revised, if necessary, by submitting a Request to Change Supervisory Committee Personnel form. The Graduate Committee approves all supervisory committee forms; final approval is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Faculty outside of the ECE Department may supervise a student, but the student must have a regular ECE faculty member serve as co-chair. Individuals who are not faculty members may serve on a supervisory committee if approved by the supervisory committee chair and the Graduate Committee. A current vita for any non-university member must be submitted with the Supervisory Committee form.  The Supervisory form is required to be completed by the beginning of the 3rd Semester.

PhD Supervisory Committee form

Program of Study

After consulting with the approved supervisory committee chair, the student must complete and submit the Program of Study for the Ph.D. Degree form before the beginning of the 3rd semester.  Approval signatures of the supervisory committee members are to be obtained by the student.

PhD Program of Study form

Completed and signed forms must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator in the ECE Office.  After approval of the Department Graduate Director, the program of study is submitted to the Graduate School for their approval.  The program of study must be filed prior to taking the Qualifying Exam and the Comprehensive Exam (dissertation proposal) in the 3rd Semester.

Amendment to Planned Program of Study

Modifications to the Program of Study may be made by filing an Amendment to Planned Program of Study form with the supervisory committee and obtaining required approval before enrollment in any added courses. Completed courses cannot be deleted from the program of study. Credit towards obtaining a degree will not be granted for classes taken prior to approval of the form, unless the student is changing degree status.

Amendment to the Program of Study

Coursework Guideline Criteria

A minimum GPA of 3.0 on coursework listed on the program of study with no grade lower than C- is required for graduation. A student who receives a grade lower than C- in a course listed on the program of study must repeat that same course and receive a higher grade. Courses cannot be deleted from the program of study after they are taken.

  1. The coursework to be taken for the Ph.D. degree is decided and must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee. The 12 hours of required courses are not to include faculty consultation (ECE 7980) or thesis hours (ECE 7970).
  2. Coursework cannot be used for more than one degree on the same level.
  3. A course taken for 5000-level credit cannot be taken again for 6000-level credit.
  4. Cross-listed courses must be registered through the ECE course numbers.
  5. Where a course has both a 5000- and 6000-level number, the 5000-level version is intended for undergraduates and the 6000-level version for honors and graduate students. The two versions of the class will meet together, but extra work will be expected of honors and graduate students.
  6. Allied courses from the Math, Science, or Engineering Departments may be approved on a program of study.
  7. Students may only register for thesis research after they have set up a supervisory committee.
  8. No Graduate Seminar course (ECE 6900, 6910, 7900, 7910) may be taken more than once to satisfy the requirement. Each seminar course has different requirements and may not be substituted for each other.
  9. Students who receive an “Incomplete” grade in a class must complete the class by the following semester, even if the semester is the summer semester.

Examinations

Students must be registered for at least three credit hours in the semester in which they take an exam. The Research Comprehensive Exam and Final Oral Exam (oral dissertation defense) may not be done during the same semester. The defense must be done at least two semesters after the comprehensive exam.

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

All Ph.D. students must pass a Qualifying Examination, as specified by the Graduate School. The Qualifying Exam consists of a written part and a possible oral part. Students must take the Qualifying Examination during the second semester of study.

The ECE graduate committee has recently approved a new procedure in administering the ECE PhD qualifying exam. Please read the new instructions below.  Students who plan to complete Qual. exam in the Fall 2021 semester will have a choice to follow the previous version of the EE track procedure or this new procedure described below:

Before the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, the student’s supervisory committee will meet (whenever possible) to discuss the Ph.D. candidate, 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 ECE 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 may 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.

Students who want to complete the Qualifying exam should complete the following steps. 

  1.   1. Organize your 5 member PhD Supervisory Committee (4 ECE Tenure Line Faculty, 1 Outside Dept. members).
  2.       Contact the Graduate Coordinator to inform him that you would like to start the Qualifying exam process by the 3rd week of the semester.
  3.       The Graduate Coordinator will email the committee requesting to select the 3 to 5 questions appropriate for a PhD Qualifying Exam.
  4.       The chair of the PhD Supervisory Committee may organize a meeting in person or via zoom with the committee member to select the exam questions.  It is acceptable that questions may be submitted by email to the committee chair for review.
  5.       The chair of the PhD Committee forwards the exam questions to the student and sets a 5-week deadline, the student is expected to email the entire committee their qualifying exam answers to the questions by the 5-week deadline.  Request for an extension is discouraged because it demonstrates a lack of planning and judgment that is essential for success in a PhD program.  Exceptions are rare, however, they may be approved by the PhD Committee supervisory on a case by case basis.
  6.       Once the student submits the exam, please allow up to 2 weeks for the committee to evaluate the Qualifying Exam.  The Chair notifies the student of the recommendation of the committee, to pass, fail or retry.  Students may be allowed one chance to revised their original submission. The oral part of the exam is at the discretion of the supervisory committee and be delayed to be part of the dissertation proposal defense.
  7.       The Committee chair notifies the Graduate Coordinator when the qualifying exam is passed and the committee is emailed the approval paperwork and which is processed in the Graduate Records system immediately.  

It is the student’s responsibility to follow up with the committee and the PhD Supervisor to ensure that the steps described above are followed according to the timeline described above before the last day of the semester.   

Research Comprehensive Examination (Dissertation Proposal)

Ph.D. candidates 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.

The candidate writes a proposal on their research in the NSF or NIH format which would include only the technical proposal and the vita sections. The page limit for the proposal should be 15 pages for Ph.D. students.

The choice of which format to use would be based on the area of research. The faculty advisor would help the student choose. The following are the links to the NSF and NIH websites for their format information.

NSF Grant Proposal Guide

NIH Grants

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 ECE Graduate Coordinator at least one week before they are going to take the Research Comprehensive Examination.  Based upon the written report and oral discussion, the committee will recommend Pass, Fail, or Retry. In the event of a Retry, the candidate must repeat the process the following semester, even if that semester is summer. Only one Retry will be allowed. No retries will be allowed if a candidate fails the Research Comprehensive Exam.

Dissertation Defense

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 unquestionably of the quality that will bring distinction to the candidate and the department. 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 improper format will be rejected.

The student mus
t provide the ECE Graduate Coordinator with the following information at least one week before the date of the dissertation defense: the defense date and time, room, and a copy of the abstract and title of the dissertation. A “Report of the Final Oral Examination for the Ph.D. Degree” form will be completed by the ECE Graduate Coordinator for approval signatures during the defense, and the Graduate Coordinator will submit the form to the Graduate School.

Dissertation Requirements

The supervisory committee must give preliminary approval of the dissertation 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. The forms are submitted to the Graduate Coordinator for the Department Chair’s signature. The student must then submit the forms to the Thesis Editor with a draft of the final dissertation. The due date of the final dissertation to the Thesis Editor may be found at http://gradschool.utah.edu/thesis/.

Detailed policies and procedures concerning the dissertation are contained in A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations published by the Graduate School.

 Summary of  PhD Requirements.

This schedule summarizes the requirements and due dates for the Ph.D. degree. Students who have not completed requirements or submitted required forms to the Graduate Coordinator by the due dates may be dropped from the program. All students who are on visas must be registered for at least nine credit hours of coursework in every semester (excluding summer), including their final semester, unless they receive permission from the Department Graduate Committee prior to the beginning of the semester.

Requirement Process Due Date
Supervisory Committee 5 members

The chair of the committee must be a regular ECE faculty member; the majority of the members must be ECE faculty; at least one member must be from outside the department.

If a student has not identified a prospective research adviser a temporary adviser will be assigned who will act as interim committee chair.   They should meet to discuss their background and program of study. The adviser should be assigned by the sub-area chair according to students’ research interest.

Submit a Request for Supervisory Committee form to the ECE Office

PhD Supervisory Committee

A permanent supervisor should be established by the beginning of the 3rd  semester.
Program of Study At least 30 semester hours of coursework beyond B.S. degree, 4 hours of graduate seminar, and 30 hours of research

All students must complete at least 12 hours of coursework at the University of Utah.

Submit a form Program of Study for the Ph.D. Degree to the ECE Office

PhD Program of Study form

A program of study must be established by the beginning of the 3rd semester. Failure to comply to this deadline may result in being dismissed from the program.
Amendment to Program of Study Submit an Amendment to Planned Program of Study form to the ECE Office for approval prior to registering for added courses.

Amendment to the Program of Study

Changes must be made before an added class is taken; classes cannot be dropped after they have been completed
Proficiency Requirement Yes

Must satisfy the ECE proficiency requirement to graduate

Submit a form Fulfillment of Proficiency Requirements to the ECE Office

Proficiency Requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

Residency Requirement At least one year (two consecutive semesters) of full-time academic work; a full load is 9 credit hours
Qualifying Exam Make arrangements with Graduate Coordinator during first week of semester 3rd semester. Must be taken in the 3rd semester and must be passed by the before the end the 4th  semester.  Failure to timely complete this lead to dismissal from the program.
Research Comprehensive Exam

(Dissertation Proposal)

 

Pass a Research Comprehensive Exam administered by the supervisory committee (including defense of a written formal dissertation proposal)

Notify the Graduate Coordinator in the ECE Office at least one week prior to the date of the exam Needs to be passes by the end of the fifth semester of study (may not be taken in the same semester as the dissertation defense)
Dissertation Final Exam At least 14 hours of Thesis Research Notify the Graduate Coordinator in the ECE Office at least one week prior to the date of the exam Defend the dissertation at the end of coursework requirements; the defense must be done at least two semesters after the comprehensive exam

*Please note that international students must be full-time students.

 

Ph.D. Forms

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