About the Program

University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) is a leader in providing quality graduate programs in an environment integrated with research, engineering practice and continuing professional education. The EECE Ph.D. program addresses the critical need for engineers who are proficient in emerging technologies, knowledgeable in the latest advancements in science and engineering and research that combines deep knowledge in both electrical and computer-related areas. The Ph.D. degree is aimed primarily at those who wish to have academic as well as research and development careers.  

This Ph.D. program of the Rackham Graduate School of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is located, administered, and offered by UM-Dearborn. The program observes the standards for admissions, registration, degree requirements, awarding of degrees, and other administrative policies and regulations established by the Executive Board of the Rackham Graduate School. 

Program Overview

The program is a full-time, research-based degree designed to train students to conduct high quality original translational research and develop innovative technologies in the fields of electrical, electronics and computer engineering.

Students are admitted for full-time study and all admission offers are for the Fall term only. 

Program Description

The Ph.D. in Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Engineering (EECE) is a research-based degree designed to prepare students to conduct high-quality original translational research in areas of Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Engineering and to prepare students for careers in academia or research and development.

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 36 credits of coursework and 24 credit hours of dissertation coursework for Ph.D. students entering the program without a prior M.S. degree. Students without a master's degree may work toward an M.S. in Electrical Engineering or M.S. in Computer Engineering as part of the candidacy requirements. Both M.S. EE and M.S. CE require 30 credits of graded coursework.  To complete the Ph.D. program, students will typically complete a minimum of 6 additional credits hours in coursework in order to satisfy the specific course requirements.

Students with a prior M.S. degree must satisfy the same course requirements or the equivalent from other institutions, as approved by the ECE Graduate Committee. In addition, they must complete 18 credit hours of graded coursework or directed study and a minimum of 24 credit hours of dissertation coursework at the University of Michigan-Dearborn to satisfy the Rackham residency requirement. Waiver of this requirement will be considered for students who obtained their master’s degree from a University of Michigan program in a similar area and whose coursework meets the Ph.D. program requirements.

The targeted time for completion is five years.


Program Goals

The Ph.D. in EECE has the following program goals and learning outcomes:
To train talented students who will conduct original and innovative research in the engineering field, educate future generations, and play leading roles in developing cutting-edge technologies while working in academia, industry, and government.
A. A strong foundation in the theoretical principles and techniques from science, engineering, and mathematics needed for advanced engineering design and development. (Tag: Theory)
B. An ability to use modern engineering software, processes, devices, and diagnostic tools for advanced engineering design and development. (Tag: Tools)
C. An ability to read, understand, and critically evaluate the research literature in their chosen domain and contribute original scholarship in the form of peer-reviewed publications and technical presentations. (Tag: Scholarship)
D. An ability to conduct original research in the field of electrical and/or computer engineering. Students will be able to design and conduct experiments, collect meaningful data, use appropriate analysis tools and techniques to understand the data, evaluate system performance, and critically evaluate performance in comparison to other state-of-the-art approaches. (Tag: Research)

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the EECE program are expected to have strong mathematical and technical skills, therefore the typical student should have a B.S. or M.S. in electrical, electronics, and/or computer engineering or in computer science. Students with a B.S. in other engineering fields or in physical or mathematical sciences can be considered, but some preparation courses may be required.

A successful applicant will have demonstrated mastery in his or her undergraduate or graduate discipline. The expected mathematics background of a successful applicant includes ordinary differential equations, linear algebra, and probability and statistics. In computing, a successful applicant is expected to have computer programming facility and knowledge of data structures and algorithms. No particular language or programming methodology is required.

Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.2 in their previous coursework to be admitted to the EECE Ph.D. program. In addition to coursework, the Ph.D. program committee will examine several aspects of a prospective student’s record, these include:

  • GRE scores,
  • English language proficiency exam,
  • 3 letters of recommendation,
  • a statement of purpose indicating the intended field or fields of research and prior R&D experience, and
  • a personal statement that describes the background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges that motivate the decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.


Funding Support

We understand the financial commitment of continuing your education.  Our Ph.D. program adheres to the CECS full-funding model for Ph.D. students. All Ph.D. students receive full-funding in the form of an appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Research Assistant (GSRA), or a combination of both which covers: a monthly stipend, health insurance, and tuition waiver.

Students admitted to the program are fully funded for up to five years. Funding is guaranteed based on continued good academic standing and adequate progress towards the Ph.D. degree.

Program Policies

In addition to the Rackham Graduate School policies for doctoral students, as a doctoral student in ECE, you need to know the requirements, timeline, and processes for Pre-candidacy years 1 and 2, the Qualifying Exam at the end of year 2, Proposal Exam, and eventually your Dissertation Defense.  See the Path to Degree section below.

Also, an Annual Progress Report completed by you and your faculty advisor must be submitted for review to the ECE Ph.D. Committee in May of each year. 

The ECE Ph.D. Committee and your Faculty Advisor are the main resources for information and guidance throughout your program. The ECE Committee is chaired by Dr. Ya Sha Yi, and includes Drs. Taehyung Kim and Weidong Xiang. 

Registration and Enrollment Requirements

Registration Policy

Students must register before the first day of classes.  A student who registers on or after the first day of classes (not including course adds, drops, or changes to initial registration) will be charged a late registration fee. 


Ph.D. Continuous Enrollment Requirement

Students in Ph.D. programs must register for each fall and winter term until final completion of degree requirements unless they have received an authorized leave of absence or have been approved for extramural study. 

Required Registration to Complete Milestones

  • A student who takes candidacy or preliminary exams in a spring or summer half term must register in that half term.
  • A student who defends the dissertation and/or finalizes degree requirements in a spring or summer half term must register for the full spring/summer term and submit the final dissertation and all materials by the published deadline to avoid registering for another term.
  • Pre-candidates preparing for qualifying exams may be enrolled in 980, “Dissertation/pre-candidate,” for the number of credit hours that reflect their effort and as required by outside agencies such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Candidacy Registration and Enrollment Requirement

  • Ph.D. candidates will be registered for 990, “Dissertation/candidate,” which consists of 6 credit hours for a full term.
  • Ph.D. candidates register in the fall and winter terms for six credit hours of 990/Dissertation Candidate. Part-time enrollment is not permitted.
  • A student who defends in either the spring or summer half term must register for 6 credit hours of 990 for the spring/summer full term, or for both 3 credits in the spring half-term and 3 credits in the summer half-term.
  • A candidate who registers for a course (other than the 990) must seek prior approval from the faculty advisor and also register for 990.
  • When a candidate registers for a course during the fall, winter, or spring and summer half-terms but does not register for 990, the Registrar’s Office will add the 990 to the term and assess any required tuition.
Path to Degree

Please refer to the Path to Degree page for the procedures and forms for the following:

  • date/deadlines
  • milestone exams
  • candidacy
  • dissertation committee
  • dissertation proposal
  • dissertation
  • final oral defense


At the beginning of enrollment in the EECE Ph.D. program, students will typically take a series of courses to satisfy the depth, breadth, and advanced mathematics requirements.  Each student in consultation with the Faculty Advisor creates a Plan of Study which will outline the courses and research activities for meeting the milestones of the EECE Ph.D. program. The Plan of Study is to be approved by the EECE Ph.D. committee and any change to the Plan of Study must be approved by the EECE Ph.D. committee.

Satisfactory Progress Requirements

Only letter-graded courses at the 500+ level count toward the degree. Courses completed with a grade lower than B+ or a "U" grade are not accepted. The only exception is the Cognate course which requires a minimum B grade and the Depth area courses which requires a minimum A- grade. 

To advance to candidacy, the cumulative coursework GPA (Grade Point Average) must be 3.4 or above on the 4.0-scale.

Course Requirements

Breadth Requirement (3 courses):

Students must select three courses from three different core areas. Equivalency is possible. Courses selected to fulfill the EECE Ph.D. breadth requirement may not also be used to fulfill the EECE Ph.D. depth requirement. All Ph.D. breadth courses must be completed with a grade of B+ or better within 3 full terms (1 1/2 years) for a student with a relevant master's degree and 4 full terms (2 years) for all other students. Courses taken at another university that are equivalent in level and content may fulfill one or more of these requirements.

Depth Requirement (2 courses):

The depth coursework requirement is designed to ensure that students complete graduate-level coursework relevant to their chosen area of specialization and acquire the core research skills and knowledge of the current research and technologies relevant to this specialization. Here, students must select two courses from one core area (see course list below), including at least one advanced course (indicated with an asterisk). The Depth courses must be completed with a grade of A- or better. These courses may not be completed via equivalency. These courses must be completed within 3 full terms (1 1/2 years) for a student with a relevant master’s degree and 4 full terms (2 years) for all other students.

Advanced Mathematics (1 course):

Students must take at least one advanced mathematics course. A list of approved advanced mathematics courses is presented below. It is acceptable to use advanced mathematics courses to meet the cognate course requirement. Students must achieve a minimum grade of B+. See the course list below.

Cognate Requirement (1-2 courses):

At least 4 credit hours of coursework must be outside the electrical and computer engineering area.  See the Cognate section below for ways to satisfy this requirement. A list of cognate course is provided in the approved program courses section.

Technical Electives (1 course):

Students can take any courses in the four core areas listed below as technical electives. Students must achieve a minimum grade of B

Research Requirement (1-2 courses):

To meet this requirement students are required to take (ECE 591 or 691) Directed Study for 3-6 credits before the Qualifying Exam.

During their first year in the Ph.D. program, students are required to perform independent research in collaboration with an ECE faculty member.  (See policy below)

The selected courses must be approved by the student’s faculty/research advisor and the Ph.D. program committee, and a signed depth course approval form must be submitted when signing up for the qualifying examination.

Required Seminar Courses

All students are required to take ENGR 700 Research Methodology Seminar, Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship training, and ECE 798 Seminar.

ENGR 700 Ph.D. Research Methodology Seminar:

This course provides doctoral students with the fundamental training for conducting high-level scholarly research used in the various fields of engineering. Topics include evaluation of information resources, intellectual property, writing for journals and dissertation, effective work with scientific literature, literature review, plagiarism, publication, bibliographic management, and library resources. Students also complete the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) and Scholarship Training workshops. Additionally, students appointed as GSIs are required to attend the approved GSI training workshop.

The course is required for all doctoral students in the first year of enrollment and prior to taking the qualifying exam. Passing is based on participation and attendance and passing the RCR exam. The seminars will carry no credit hours.

ECE 798 Ph.D. Research Seminar:

After attaining candidacy, every Ph.D. student is required to attend and actively participate in research seminars given by CECS dean’s office or individual departments in CECS. A student gets a satisfactory grade if he/she attends at least three (3) research seminars during the course period. The seminars will carry no credit hours.

Core Areas and Approved Program Courses

Advanced Mathematics Courses

  • Math 504 Dynamical Systems
  • Math 5055 Integral Equations
  • Math 512 First Course in Modern Algebra
  • Math 514 Numerical Solutions of Partial Differential Equations
  • Math 515 B-Splines and Their Applications
  • Math 516 Partial Differential Equations
  • Math 520 Stochastic Processes
  • Math 525 Mathematical Statistics II
  • Math 551 Advanced Calculus I
  • Math 552 Advanced Calculus II
  • Math 554 Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems
  • Math 555 Functions of a Complex Variable with Applications
  • Math 558 Introduction to Wavelets
  • Math 562 Mathematical Modeling
  • Math 583 Discrete Optimization
  • Math 584 Applied and Algorithmic Graph Theory
  • Math 592 Introduction to Topology

Four Core Areas Courses

Computer Systems and Networks Core Area

  • ECE 514 VLSI Design
  • ECE 528 Cloud Computing
  • ECE 535 Mobile Computing
  • ECE 550 Communication Systems
  • ECE 554 Embedded Systems
  • ECE 570 Computer Networks
  • ECE 5701 Wireless Communications*
  • ECE 5702 High Speed and Advanced Networks
  • ECE 575 Computer Architecture
  • ECE 5752 Reconfigurable Computing*
  • ECE 578 Advanced Operating Systems
  • ECE 5781  Real-Time Operating Systems†*
  • ECE 5542 Embedded Signal Processing†*
  • ECE 612 Wireless Sensor Networks*
  • ECE 614 Control Networks for Embedded System*
  • ECE 670 Advanced Computer Networks and Wireless Comm.*
  • ECE 675 Advanced Computer Architecture*
  • ECE 678 Dependable Computing†*

Control Systems and Signal Processing Core Area

  • ECE 512 Active Filter Design
  • ECE 550 Communication Systems
  • ECE 555 Stochastic Processes*
  • ECE 560 Modern Control Theory
  • ECE 565 Digital Control Systems*
  • ECE 567 Nonlinear Control Systems*
  • ECE 580 Digital Signal Processing
  • ECE 5802 Multirate Signal Processing with Applications*
  • ECE 581 Architecture for DSP*
  • ECE 582 Statistical Signal Processing*
  • ECE 584 Speech processes*
  • ECE 589 Multidimensional Signal Processing*
  • ECE 661 System Identification and Adaptive Control*
  • ECE 645 Stochastic Control Systems†*
  • ECE 665 Optimal Control*
  • ECE 681 Advanced DSP*

Electronics, Optoelectronics, Power Electronics and Energy Systems

  • ECE 519 Advanced Topics in EMC
  • ECE 515 Vehicle Electronics II
  • ECE 517 Advanced Power Electronics and Motor Drives*
  • ECE 530 Energy Storage Systems
  • ECE 532 Auto Sensors and Actuators*
  • ECE 533 Active Auto Safety Systems*
  • ECE 539 Production of Electronic Products
  • ECE 541 Introduction to Electric Energy Systems
  • ECE 542 Intro. to Power Management and Reliability
  • ECE 5462 Hybrid Electrical Vehicles
  • ECE 556 Fundamentals of Optoelectronic devices†*
  • ECE 557 Nano Electronics Processing and Technology†*
  • ECE 558 Fundamentals of Integrated Photonics†*
  • ECE 559 Integrated Biophotonics†*
  • ECE 566 Mechatronics*
  • ECE 615 Advanced Power Electronics*
  • ECE 616 Advanced Topics in Power Systems
  • ECE 646 Advanced Electric Drive Transportation*
  • ECE 657 Integrated Solid State Nano Electronic Devices*†
  • ECE 658 Quantum Electronics for Electrical Engineers†*

Intelligent Systems and Robotics Core Area

  • ECE 527 Multimedia Security and Forensics
  • ECE 531 Intelligent Vehicle Systems
  • ECE 532 Auto Sensors and Actuators
  • ECE 535 Mobile Devices
  • ECE 536 All Weather Auto Vision
  • ECE 537 Data Mining*
  • ECE 542 Introduction to Robotic Systems†*
  • ECE 543 Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control of Robots†*
  • ECE 544 Mobile Robots†*
  • ECE 552 Fuzzy systems
  • ECE 555 Stochastic Processes*
  • ECE 576 Information Engineering
  • ECE 579 Intelligent Systems*
  • ECE 5792 Unsupervised Machine Learning†*
  • ECE 5831 Pattern Recognition and Neural Networks*
  • ECE 587 Selected Topics in Computer Vision*
  • ECE 588 Robot Vision*
  • ECE 643 Humanoid Robots†*
  • ECE 644 Advanced Robotics†*
  • ECE 679 Advanced Intelligent Systems*

Cognate Courses


  • Math 504: Dynamical Systems
  • Math 5055: Integral Equations
  • Math 512: First Course in Modern Algebra Math
  • 514: Numerical Solutions of Partial Differential Equations
  • Math 515: B-Splines and Their Applications
  • Math 516: Partial Differential Equations
  • Math 520: Stochastic Processes
  • Math 525: Mathematical Statistics II
  • Math 551: Advanced Calculus I
  • Math 552: Advanced Calculus II
  • Math 554: Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems
  • Math 555: Functions of a Complex Variable with Applications
  • Math 558: Introduction to Wavelets
  • Math 562: Mathematical Modeling Math 583: Discrete Optimization
  • Math 584: Applied and Algorithmic Graph Theory
  • Math 592: Introduction to Topology

Mechanical Engineering

  • ME 510: Finite Element Methods
  • ME 580: Advanced Engineering Materials
  • ME 610: Finite Element Methods--Nonlinear
  • ME 515: Advanced Mechanics of Solids
  • ME 519: Basic Computational Methods in Engineering
  • ME 540: Mechanical Vibrations
  • ME 542: Advanced Dynamics
  • ME 560: Experimental Methods in Design
  • ME 531: Statistical Thermodynamics
  • ME 535: Advanced Thermodynamics

Industrial, Manufacturing Systems Engineering

  • IMSE 548 Human Factors
  • IMSE 514 Multivariate Statistics
  • IMSE 5205 Engineering Risk-Benefit Analysis
  • IMSE 5215 Program Budget, Cost Estimation & Control
  • IMSE 559 System Simulation
  • IMSE 605 Advanced Optimization
  • IMSE 606 Advanced Stochastic Processes
  • IMSE 519 Quantitative Methods in Quality Engineering
  • IMSE 561 Total Quality Management
  • IMSE 567 Reliability Analysis

Computer and Information Science

  • CIS 505 - Algorithm Design and Analysis
  • CIS 534 - The Semantic Web
  • CIS 536 - Information Retrieval
  • CIS 552 - Information Visualization and Multimedia Gaming
  • CIS 556 - Database Systems
  • CIS 571 - Web Services
  • CIS 579 - Artificial Intelligence
  • CIS 587 - Computer Game Design and Implementation I
  • CIS 652 - Information Visualization and Computer Animation
Cognate Requirement Policy

The cognate requirement is intended to foster intellectual breadth in graduate studies. Students must undertake at least 4 credit hours of coursework in an area outside of their chosen field of specialization. Following the Rackham requirements, the cognate requirement should be approved by the Ph.D. program committee and will generally be satisfied in one of the following ways:

  1. Completion of at least 4 hours of approved cognate credits, which must be from outside the EECE department. The minimum acceptable grade for a cognate course is a B. The list of approved cognate courses can be found below.
  2. Completion of a University of Michigan master’s degree, which includes a cognate component. This coursework must have been completed no more than 5 years before admission to the Ph.D. EECE program.
  3. Completion of a relevant master’s degree from another university that had coursework that meets the expectation of the program cognate requirement, without transferring the credit to the transcript. This coursework must have been completed no more than 5 years before admission to the Ph.D. EECE program. These courses do not apply toward the minimum 18 (or 36) credit hours in residence at UM-Dearborn required for the degree and do not appear on the university transcript
First-Year Research Requirement

The intent of this research requirement is to provide adequate opportunity for students to work closely with a research advisor to prepare to take the qualifying exam before their qualification deadline.

The first-year research requirement is a condition of continued departmental financial-support guarantees and can be waived only by petition to the Ph.D. program committee with an explanation of special circumstances (e.g., a research-oriented internship directly relevant to the student’s qualifying exam preparation) endorsed by the student’s academic or research advisor.

This requirement does not apply to students who transfer from a terminal MS to the Ph.D. program, who will be given more than one calendar year after entering the MS program.

Exams, Milestones, and Timeline


  • Coursework
    • Breadth coursework
    • Depth coursework
    • Advanced Math course
    • Directed Study Research course
    • Required Seminar courses
    • Completion of a 4-credit cognate course with a minimum B grade.

Qualification exams:  

  • Students must complete at least one directed study course of ECE 691 prior to the qualifying exam.  A Ph.D. student must have:
    • Completed related coursework 
    • A 3.5/4.0 GPA overall,
    • A 3.7/4.0 GPA for all qualifying exam courses and
    • An ECE faculty/research advisor to sign up for these exams.

A student will be given two chances to take the qualifying examination within the first three years.

Candidacy: Achieving candidacy for the Ph.D. EECE requires:

  • Completion of the required coursework
  • A 3.4/4.0 GPA overall
  • Passing the Qualifying Exam
  • Completion of the RCR training workshops provided by the UM-Dearborn campus
  • Dissertation Chair or Co-Chairs
  • Submitting of the candidacy application form

Students with a relevant master’s degree must achieve candidacy in four terms (2 years). Students that have only a bachelor’s degree will be allowed six terms (3 years) to achieve candidacy.

Candidates must register for the ECE 990 Dissertation course each fall and winter until completion of all degree requirements

Dissertation Proposal Examination: The dissertation proposal examination requires:

  • Achieving candidacy
  • Identifying a research advisor and agree on an appropriate topic
  • Submitting and defending a proposal for the doctoral research content

A student entering with a bachelor’s degree must successfully complete a dissertation proposal within 3.5 (4) years from the start of the graduate study to maintain satisfactory progress. A student with a relevant master’s degree must complete the dissertation proposal examination within 2.5 (3) years.

Dissertation and Defense: The Dissertation and Oral Defense requires:

  • Passing the dissertation proposal examination
  • Completing the required dissertation research credit hours
  • Conducting an original research
  • Submission of a written dissertation
  • Pre-Defense meeting
  • An Oral Defense of an approved written dissertation

The dissertation defense may not be scheduled in the same academic term as the dissertation proposal examination.

The Ph.D. EECE program has a limit of 7 years. Students are expected to complete the degree within five years of achieving candidacy, but no more than seven years from the date of the first enrollment in the Ph.D. EECE program.

Qualifying Exam

A Ph.D. student must complete at least one Directed Study course of ECE 591/691 prior to the qualifying exam. The directed study course must be taken as a Rackham student at the ECE department at UM-Dearborn. During their first year in the Ph.D. program, students are required to perform independent research in collaboration with an ECE faculty member. The intent of this research requirement is to provide adequate opportunity for students to work closely with a research advisor to prepare to take the qualifying exam before their qualification deadline.  This requirement does not apply to students who transfer from a terminal MS to the Ph.D. program, who will be given more than one calendar year after entering the MS program.

The student’s qualification is evaluated through a written report of a project done in the research-oriented Directed Study course, followed by a 1–2 hour oral exam by a Ph.D. qualifying examination committee, which consists of three faculty members not including the research advisor, two of which are ECE faculty and one of which is an affiliate faculty. The three faculty members on the Ph.D. qualifying examination committee are selected by the EECE Ph.D. program committee. The oral examination will cover the student’s directed study project and knowledge directly related to the student’s research area. This examination will be administered during the qualification examination period in every fall and winter semester.

The director of the student’s directed study project may not serve as one of the examiners. The student must submit four copies of the Directed Study written report to the EECE Ph.D. program director at least two weeks before the qualifying examination. The examiners will be given the written report at least one week before the examination. The examination committee consists of three graduate faculty members appointed by the program committee. Neither of them should be the student’s research advisor.

The qualifying examination consists of two parts:
Part 1: Curriculum Examination

Part 2: Research Fundamentals Examination
A student must be in good standing (GPA of at least 3.5) and is given two attempts to pass the exam. A student who fails to pass the examination in two attempts is asked to leave the program.

Curriculum Examination:

The goal of this examination is to ensure that students have a good understanding of the fundamentals of electrical and computer engineering in the broad area of their research. The examination has two components:

  1. Good performance in three courses selected during the first semester of enrollment in the program and approved by the program committee. The courses must be passed with grades not lower than 3.7 on the 4-point scale (A-).
  2. An examination of the material of these courses.

For students admitted to the program on the basis of a master’s degree, the courses already completed during the master’s study and applied to satisfy the coursework requirements can be selected as a part of the curriculum examination.

Research Fundamentals Examination:

This examination’s objective is to ensure that a student has the necessary educational background and skills to conduct independent research in the selected area. Specifically, the examiners test such aspects of the student’s preparedness as:

  • Depth and clarity of understanding in the selected area,
  • Ability to make independent logical conclusions,
  • Problem-solving skills and creativity,
  • Communication skills.

The examination consists of a presentation by the student on the topic of intended dissertation research followed by questions from the examiners.

Forming the Dissertation Committee

Dissertation Committee

  • The dissertation committee will consist of four members, including at least three tenure-track members (appointment as Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor) of the instructional faculty affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program.
  • The student’s dissertation advisor, who must be a member of the graduate faculty of the department, will serve as chair or co-chair.
  • Of the additional members, two must hold at least 50% appointment as tenured or tenure-track faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with at least one being a member of the ECE graduate faculty.
  • The third committee member (cognate member) must be from outside the department: a faculty member with at least 50% appointment from a Rackham Doctoral program other than Ph.D. in EECE.
  • The composition of the dissertation committee must be approved by the Ph.D. program committee and requires Rackham approval. 
  • A committee may have a sole chair or two co-chairs. By special arrangement, retired faculty members who were affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program or research professors may serve as sole chairs. Persons who may serve as co-chair, but not the sole chair, include:
    • tenure or tenure-track members of the University’s instructional faculty who are not affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program;
    • research faculty;
    • instructors and lecturers;
    • similarly qualified University faculty or staff, or person from outside the University; and
    • former University faculty members who have moved to a faculty position at another university.

In the cases when it is justified by the nature of the student’s research and by approval of the program committee, the dissertation work can be co-supervised by two co-chairs. Both co-chairs must hold at least 50 percent appointments as tenured or tenure-track faculty. One of them must be a member of the graduate faculty of the ECE department. The other can be from the ECE department or a department other than ECE.

Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation Research

Please refer to the Path to Degree for the procedures and forms for the dissertation committee, dissertation proposal, dissertation, and final oral defense. 

Dissertation Proposal Exam

The main objective of the dissertation proposal examination is to ensure sufficient strength and feasibility of the proposed research topic, as well as the suitability of the student’s background and skills regarding the topic. The examination must be completed within a year of passing the qualifying examination.

The examination consists of a written dissertation proposal and its open-to-the-public presentation by the student. The examination is conducted by the dissertation committee. As a rule, the dissertation committee continues overseeing the student’s work to the stage of the final dissertation defense.


After passing the dissertation proposal examination, the student may proceed with the dissertation research and the writing of the dissertation. The dissertation should document the original contributions made by the candidate as a result of independent research. This research work should be of archival quality. In advance of graduation, all members of the student's dissertation committee must approve the dissertation. To obtain this approval a student must submit a written copy of the dissertation to the dissertation committee and defend the research work at a final oral examination open to other faculty, students, and the interested public. Students must be registered for ECE 990 the full spring/summer term if defending the dissertation after May during the spring/summer term.

The dissertation must strictly follow the Rackham Graduate School Dissertation guidelines as described in the Dissertation Handbook Guidelines for copyrighting, publishing and distributing, dissertation embargo and distribution limitations.

Students are expected to complete the degree within two years of passing the dissertation proposal exam, but no more than seven years from the date of the first enrollment in the Ph.D. EECE program. The Ph.D. EECE committee conducts annual reviews to evaluate progress toward degree completion. Students defending the dissertation must be registered in the 990 Dissertation Research course.

Dissertation Research Requirement

  • At least 24 credit hours of doctoral research credit must be completed before graduation.
    • Students who have completed the coursework requirements but have not reached the candidacy status should register for ECE 980 (Pre-Candidacy Dissertation Research). A maximum of 12 credits may be completed in ECE 980 Pre-Candidacy course. 
    • Students who have achieved candidacy should register for 6 credits in ECE 990 (Doctoral Dissertation Research).

Note that the actual completion of the dissertation project is likely to take several years at full-time enrollment thus, requiring more than the minimum number of credit hours.

Final Oral Defense

Upon completion of the dissertation work, the student initiates the last step toward the degree—the dissertation defense process. The process follows the official guidelines and consists of the following main stages:

  1. Preparation of a written dissertation formatted in accordance with the guidelines,
  2. Pre-Defense meetings with the members of the program committee,
  3. Written evaluations of the dissertation by the dissertation committee members presented to the Ph.D. program committee,
  4. The Oral Defense of the dissertation consisting of two parts:
    • Public seminar and open question session held by the student
    • Private deliberations by the committee,
  5. Final oral examination report and certificate of approval prepared by the dissertation committee and submitted to the Ph.D. program committee.
  6. Post-Defense meeting with the CECS Graduate Education Office

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems (IAVS)
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