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Ph.D. in Computer Engineering

The PhD in Computer Engineering (CPE) is offered in the College of Engineering jointly by the departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

The doctoral program in computer engineering is a research degree granted primarily on the presentation of substantial research achievement. To be admitted to candidacy for this degree, candidates must satisfy the requirements of The Graduate School and pass the qualifying examination. This examination consists of written and oral sections covering breadth in computer science as well as depth in a specific area.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

  • Breadth requirement. Students fulfill the breadth requirement by taking at least three courses from the following list and receiving at least a B in all of them, and an A in at least two of them.
    • CS570 Operating Systems
    • EE685 Digital Computer Structure
    • CS541 Compiler Design
    • EE580 Embedded Systems


  • Focus requirement. Of the 36 course credits, at least 24 credits must be courses in CS, EE, or CPE. The remaining courses must be approved by the DGS. At least 18 credits of the total coursework, including 12 credits of the CS/EE/CPE coursework, must be taken at the 600 or 700 level.


  • Depth requirement. The Depth process is individualized to the research focus of the student. The
    student’s committee decides on the appropriate form of this process. It can be a written exam, an oral
    exam, a literature review, a published paper, some other requirement, or a combination of these.


  • Qualifying exam (QE). After two years of residency, the completion of the requirements above, and
    any other requirements (such as courses and research papers) imposed by the student’s advisory committee,
    the student becomes eligible for a QE. The QE is typically a thesis proposal examination, although
    the committee can decide otherwise.


  • PhD Oral examination. The student prepares a thesis and schedules an exam with his committee
    for the thesis defense.


  • Time limits. All degree requirements for the doctorate must be completed within five years following the semester or summer session in which the student completes the QE, but extensions up to an additional 5 years may be requested for a total of 10 years.