Electrical and Computer Engineering

The ECE Ph.D. program is a research-oriented degree designed to address the growing needs of industry for engineering professionals with advanced knowledge, technical skills and the ability to conduct high quality applied research in electrical and computer engineering.  It is an interdisciplinary effort to bring together the two broad disciplines of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  The program is designed to train students to conduct research and develop innovative technologies in the fields of electrical and computer engineering. The primary objective of the program is to prepare future research & development leaders of industry.  The program offers a curriculum consisting of advanced ECE courses covering four core areas, Computer Systems and Networks, Control Systems and Signal Processing, Electronics, Optoelectronics, Power and Energy Systems, and Intelligent Systems and Robotics.  

The Ph.D. degree will be offered to quality students who have completed, with distinction, either a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in electrical or computer engineering or a closely related field.

All students admitted for full-time study will receive a competitive financial aid package in the form of an appointment as a graduate student instructor (GSI) or research assistant (GSRA). 

All admissions are for the Fall term only.

The ECE Ph.D. degree requirements include a minimum of 36 credits of course work and 24 credit hours of dissertation for Ph.D. students entering the program without a prior M.S. degree. These students will work toward an M.S. in Electrical Engineering or M.S. in Computer Engineering as part of the candidacy requirements. Both the M.S. EE and M.S. CE are Rackham degree programs and require 30 credits of letter-graded coursework.

Students with a prior M.S. degree will follow a different route. They must satisfy the same course requirements described below, or their equivalent from other institutions, as approved by the ECE Graduate Committee. In addition, they must satisfy the requirement of coursework in residence, 18 credit hours of coursework in the form of letter-graded coursework or directed study other than doctoral dissertation, all taken at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Waiver of this requirement may be considered for students who obtained their Master’s degree from a Rackham program in a similar area, and whose coursework meets the requirements of the ECE Ph.D. program.

The Doctoral Program proceeds in three stages:

1. Pre-Candidacy

  • Coursework providing breadth in ECE
  • Coursework providing depth in the chosen area
  • Research based directed study

2. Candidacy

  • Successful completion of the qualifying examinations
  • Completion of all requirements for Candidacy, including the 4-hour cognate requirement.

3. Dissertation

  • Successful dissertation proposal examination
  • Successful completion of written Dissertation and public defense presentation 

Step 1. Pre-Candidacy

At the beginning of their enrollment in the ECE Ph.D. Program, students will typically take a series of courses to satisfy the depth, breadth, and advanced mathematics requirements. A study plan should be made by every student under consultation with the student’s advisor, which will outline the courses and research activities for meeting the milestones of the ECE Ph.D. program. The student’s study plan needs to be approved by the ECE Ph.D. Committee, and a copy of the study plan will be included in the student’s file. Any change of the study plan must be approved by the ECE Ph.D. Committee.

Breadth Requirement

Students must select three courses from three different core areas. Equivalency is possible. Courses selected to fulfill the ECE Ph.D. Breadth requirement may not also be used to fulfill the ECE 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 with appropriate approval.

Depth Requirement

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, 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.

Technical Electives

Students can take any courses in the four core areas listed below.  The selected courses must be approved by the student’s 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.

Computer Systems and Networks
VLSI Design
Cloud Computing
Mob Dev & Ubiqys Comp Sys
Communication Theory
Embedded Systems
Computer Networks
Intro to Wireless Comm
High-Speed and Adv Networks
Computer Architecture
Reconfigurable Computing
Advanced Operating Systems
Embedded Sig Proc and Control
Wireless Sensor Networks
Ctrl Networks for Embedded Sys
Adv Comp Netwk&WL Comm
Computer Architecture II
Control Systems and Signal Processing
Analog Filter Design
Communication Theory
Stochastic Processes
Modern Control Theory
Digital Control Systems
Nonlinear Control Systems
Digital Signal Processing
Multirate Sig Proc w/Appl
Arch for Digital Signal Proc
Intro to Statistical DSP
Speech Processes
Multidimen Digital Signal Proc
Sys Ident and Adaptive Control
Optimal Control Systems
Adv Digital Sig Processing
Electronics, Optoelectronics, Power and Energy Systems
Adv Topics in EMC
Vehicle Electronics II
Adv Pwr Electrncs&Motor Drvs
Auto Sensors and Actuators
Active Automotive Safety Sys
Production of Elec Prods
Intro to Electrical Energy Sys
Intr to Pwr Mgmt & Reliability
Elec Aspects of Hybrid Vehicle
Advanced Power Electronics
Adv Elec Drive Transportation
Intelligent Systems and Robotics
Multimedia Secur & Forensics
Intelligent Vehicle Systems
Auto Sensors and Actuators
Mob Dev & Ubiqys Comp Sys
All Weather Automotive Vision
Data Mining
Data Mining
Intr to Pwr Mgmt & Reliability
Kinem, Dynam Control Robots
Mobile Robots
Fuzzy Systems
Stochastic Processes
Information Engineering
Intelligent Systems
Pat Rec & Neural Netwks
Sel Top:Image Proc/Mach Vision
Robot Vision
Advanced Robotics
Adv Intelligent Sys

Advanced Mathematics

Student 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.

MATH 504Dynamical Systems3
MATH 5055Integral Equations3
MATH 512First Course in Modern Algebra3
MATH 514Fin Diff Meth for Diff Equat3
MATH 515B-Splines & Their Applications3
MATH 516Fin Elemnt Meth for Diff Equat3
MATH 520Stochastic Processes3
MATH 525Mathematical Statistics II3
MATH 551Advanced Calculus I3
MATH 552Advanced Calculus II3
MATH 554Fourier and Boundary3
MATH 555Func of a Complex Var with App3
MATH 558Introduction to Wavelets3
MATH 562Mathematical Modeling3
MATH 583Discrete Optimization3
MATH 584Applied&Algorithmic Graph Thy3
MATH 592Introduction to Topology3

Directed Study

All students who aspire to receive a Ph.D. must demonstrate potential for conducting original research. This is accomplished by completing either three or six credit hours of a research-oriented directed study prior to the Preliminary Exam. These must be taken while in residence on the UMD campus.  Ph.D. students must complete all credits of ECE 691 within their first two semesters.  At least 3 credit of ECE 691 must be completed in the concentration area of the degree and prior to taking the Qualifying Exam. 

PhD Research Seminar

All Ph.D. students will participate in ECE research seminars and colloquia, which will expose them to eminent researchers and current research topics in the broad areas of ECE.

PhD Research Methodology Seminar

The seminar will include the required training in responsible conduct of research and scholarship. This seminar will carry no credit hours. Passing is based on participation and attendance with the exception of the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship Training module of the Methodology seminar, for which a test will be required.

Cognate Credits

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. 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 credit hours of cognate coursework in one or more approved graduate-level courses listed with a grade of B or better. No more than 6 credit hours of cognate courses can be counted towards the degree requirement.
  2. Completion of graduate coursework at another institution that meets the expectation of the cognate requirement. This coursework must be completed no more than 5 years before admission to the ECE Ph.D. program.

Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. qualifying examination is intended to allow a Ph.D. student to demonstrate her/his potential for conducting original research.

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. 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.

The student’s qualification is evaluated through a written report of a project done in a research-oriented directed study, 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 is an affiliate faculty. The three faculty members on the Ph.D. qualifying committee are selected by the ECE 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 students’ 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 ECE Ph.D. Program Coordinator at least two weeks before the qualifying examination. The examiners will be given the written report at least one week before the examination.

The faculty in the qualifying examination committee will grade students on a scale of 1-4, representing Poor, Fair, Good and Excellent, respectively. An average score across all faculty members on the examination committee will be at least 3.0 in order to pass the qualifying examination. A student is given two chances to take the qualifying examination within the first three years.

Step 2. Candidacy

Students are initially admitted to the program as pre-candidates. Candidacy will normally be achieved in the second or third year of study after completion of the Qualifying Examination and completion of at least three semesters of courses with a grade-point-average of at least 3.4 over a scale of 1-4. A student will be admitted to Ph.D. Candidacy only if she/he satisfies every requirement below.

Candidacy Requirements

  1. Successful completion of the ECE Qualifying Examination, which is described below.
  2. Fulfillment of all course requirement and all other candidacy requirements such as cognate course work with a grade-point-average of at least 3.4 over a scale of 1 ~ 4. A student may satisfy the Ph.D. cognate requirement—four to six hours of graduate-level course work — by taking graduate course(s) associated with CECS programs (not his/her own), by taking graduate course(s) outside the department, or by a mixture thereof. Courses taken from other programs cannot overlap in content with any ECE course related material. Any course in question must have prior approval of the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee.
  3. Soon after passing the Qualifying Examination, the candidate and the advisor will form a Dissertation Committee, which should be submitted to the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee for preliminary approval. Normally the advisor serves as chair or co-chair of this committee. It is the responsibility of the student and the advisor to find eligible faculty members willing to serve. A typical Ph.D. Dissertation Committee will consist of three regular ECE faculty, one industrial expert with a Ph.D. degree, and one faculty member outside of the ECE department. The Dissertation Committee is responsible for reviewing the student’s progress, including the dissertation proposal and the final dissertation. The dissertation committee must be approved by the ECE. Ph.D. Program Committee at least one month before the dissertation proposal examination date.
  4. A student must apply for candidacy by submitting the appropriate forms to the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. These forms must be submitted before the student plans to become a candidate. Candidacy is not awarded automatically; it must be applied for.

The achievement of candidacy is considered an important milestone in a Ph.D. student’s progress, and all students are expected to apply for candidacy as soon as they are eligible. Full-time 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. Part-time students with a relevant Master’s degree must achieve candidacy in six terms (2.5 years). Part-time students that have only a Bachelor’s degree will be allowed eight terms (4 years) to achieve candidacy.

Step 3. Dissertation

Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee will consist of the chair and at least three other members. The student’s dissertation advisor will serve as chair. Of the additional members, two must hold at least 50% appointment as tenured or tenure-track faculty of the Computer and Information Science Department, with at least one being a member of the graduate faculty. The third committee member must be from outside the department: a faculty from another department or another university or an expert from industry.

The composition of the Dissertation Committee has to be approved by the Ph.D. Program Committee.

Dissertation Proposal

A full-time (part-time) student entering with a Bachelor degree must successfully complete a dissertation proposal within 3.5 (4) years from the start of graduate study to maintain satisfactory progress. A student full-time (part-time) with a relevant Master’s degree must complete the dissertation proposal examination within 2.5 (3) years. The dissertation proposal examination will be administered by the Dissertation Committee (see above). The student will submit a dissertation research proposal to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks in advance of the date of an oral examination. In the written proposal, the student must precisely identify the intellectual area in which he or she intends to pursue research and must demonstrate an in-depth understanding of that area. The student must give a general description of the research problem to be addressed and an outline of the approach that will be taken. It is desirable that the research problem be specified in considerable detail and that some initial results be presented. During the oral presentation, the student will present the proposed dissertation research, including relevant background material and preliminary research results. During and after the presentation, the Dissertation Committee will explore the research area with the student to determine whether the student has completed this phase successfully. The Dissertation Committee will prepare a written evaluation report on the outcome of the proposal presentation, and a copy of the written proposal will be placed in the student’s file. Students may receive one of the two possible outcomes, (1) the Dissertation Committee has approved the dissertation proposal, or (2) the student needs to revise the dissertation proposal and take the proposal examination one more time.

Dissertation and Final Defense

After the dissertation proposal has been approved, the candidate may proceed with the dissertation research and the writing of the dissertation. Upon completion of the dissertation, the student must receive a written evaluation of her/his dissertation from each member of the Dissertation Committee, and must defend her/his dissertation orally in an open examination (the Final Defense) before the Dissertation Committee, in accordance with Rackham rules. The dissertation defense may not be scheduled in the same academic term as the dissertation proposal examination.

Dissertation Proposal Examination and the dissertation oral defense should be at least 14 weeks.