Electrical and Computer Engineering Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

Ph.D.s in electrical and computer engineering are explorers of the information age who transform the world by leading trailblazing research that expands and create knowledge.


Overview

  • Knowledge and Skills to Form Successful Researchers: A plan of study that consists of course work and research. Do research under the guidance of the world-class researchers that comprise our faculty.
  • Forming Independent Researchers to Transform the World: World-class research in: (1) architectures and devices for computing; (2) communications, networking, and security; (3) machine learning and artificial intelligence; and (4) cyber-physical and embedded systems.

This is an exciting time in electrical and computer engineering. Harnessing electricity not only provides humanity with a transformative form of energy, but it also leads to the development of digital technologies, which have forged our Information Age as a time of revolutionary advances developed at an unprecedented pace.

The 21st century has witnessed such advances as the Smart Grid, ubiquitous fast internet access through wireless networks, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that rival humans in performance, the Internet-of-Things, cloud computing, fiber-optic networks capable of transmitting trillions of bits per second, new computing paradigms such as quantum or neuromorphic computing, and many more. None of these advances would have happened without the dedication of researchers in electrical and computer engineering.

Offered jointly by the department of electrical and microelectronic engineering and the department of computer engineering, students in RIT’s Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering learn to become independent researchers by conducting research under the guidance of the world-class researchers that comprise our faculty. This research is often associated with some of the many centers and laboratories across RIT, including the Center for Human-aware AI (CHAI) and the Global Cybersecurity Institute.

The curriculum for the Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering provides the knowledge and skills to form successful independent researchers by providing disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses, research mentorship, and seminars.

Research

Advancement of world-class impactful research is the ethos of the Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering. The program forms a dynamic and collaborative environment where our students and faculty are developing the next wave of transformational technologies for our society by conducting research in the following areas:

Featured Profiles

Latest News

Curriculum for Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D.

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ENGR-701
Inter-disciplinary Research Methods
This course emphasizes collaboration in modern research environment and consists of five modules. Students will introduced to the concepts of inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research conducted from both a scientific and an engineering perspective. Students will learn how to write a dissertation proposal, statement of work, timeline for their program of study and the elements of an effective literature review. Students will develop skills related to reviewing and annotating technical papers, conducting a literature search and proper citation. Students will demonstrate an understanding of (a) ethics as it relates to the responsible conduct of research, (b) ethical responsibility in the context of the engineering professions, (c) ethics as it relates to authorship and plagiarism, (d) basic criteria for ethical decision making and (e) identify professional standards and code of ethics relevant to their discipline. Students demonstrate an ability to identify and explain the potential benefits of their research discoveries to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers and the general public. Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
ENGR-702
Translating Discovery into Practice
This course provides graduate students with the professional skills needed by PhD graduates within their major research focus area to move the results of their research from the lab into practice. Students will demonstrate a strong contextual understanding for their research efforts. Students will learn professional skills related to Teamwork; Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization; Research Management; Policy and Societal Context; and Technical Writing. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
ENGR-795
Doctoral Seminar
This seminar course presents topics of contemporary interest to graduate students enrolled in the program. Presentations include off campus speakers, and assistance with progressing on your research. Selected students and faculty may make presentations on current research under way in the department. All doctoral engineering students enrolled full time are required to attend each semester they are on campus. (Graduate standing in a technical discipline) (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
2
ENGR-892
Graduate Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students may count a maximum of 9 credits of ENGR-892 towards degree requirements. If the student enrolls cumulatively in more than 9 credits of ENGR-892, the additional credits above 9 will not be counted towards the degree. Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
Engineering Foundation 1, 2*
6
 
Discipline Concentration 1, 2†
6
Second Year
ENGR-795
Doctoral Seminar
This seminar course presents topics of contemporary interest to graduate students enrolled in the program. Presentations include off campus speakers, and assistance with progressing on your research. Selected students and faculty may make presentations on current research under way in the department. All doctoral engineering students enrolled full time are required to attend each semester they are on campus. (Graduate standing in a technical discipline) (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
1
ENGR-892
Graduate Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students may count a maximum of 9 credits of ENGR-892 towards degree requirements. If the student enrolls cumulatively in more than 9 credits of ENGR-892, the additional credits above 9 will not be counted towards the degree. Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
6
 
Discipline Concentration 3†
3
 
Focus Area Elective 1, 2, 3, 4‡
12
Third Year
ENGR-890
Dissertation and Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students must successfully pass the PhD Candidacy examination prior to enrolling in this course Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
21
Total Semester Credit Hours
66

 

*Engineering Foundation Electives:

EEEE-707/ENGR-707
Engineering Analysis
EEEE-709/ENGR-709
Advanced Engineering Mathematics
CMPE-610
Analytical Topics in Computer Engineering
This course begins by reviewing signal and system analysis techniques for analyzing linear systems. It includes Fourier techniques and moves on to present fundamental computational techniques appropriate for a number of applications areas of computer engineering. Other topics include symbolic logic and optimization techniques. (Prerequisites: CMPE-480 and (MATH-251 or 1016-345) or graduate standing in the CMPE-MS program.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).

 

† Discipline Concentration: Any graduate level course offered by the departments of Electrical and Microelectronic Engineering of Computer Engineering, exclusive of capstones.

‡ Focus Area Elective: Any graduate level course offered by the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, exclusive of capstones.


Info graphic showing the process for earning a Ph.D., as described in the curriculum table above.

The curriculum for the Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering provides the knowledge and skills to form successful independent researchers by providing disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses, research mentorship, and seminars. Courses are organized into three categories: core, discipline concentration elective, and focus area elective courses. In addition, the plan of study includes three major research-based milestones: the doctoral qualifying exam, the doctoral candidacy exam, and the doctoral dissertation defense.

Core Courses
Core courses are usually completed during the first two semesters of the program since they serve as foundational preparation for other elective courses. Core courses develop core competency skills for research, introducing the research landscape in electrical and computer engineering, and helping to prepare students for the qualifying exam.

Discipline Concentration Elective Courses
The discipline concentration elective courses provide rigorous education in a student’s specific field of research in electrical and computer engineering. Students choose courses in consultation with the dissertation and research advisor. Graduate courses offered by the department of electrical and microelectronic engineering (courses code EEEE-6/7/8xx) or the department of computer engineering (courses code CMPE-6/7/8xx).

Focus Area Elective Courses
Focus area elective courses provide the curriculum flexibility for students to engage in trans-disciplinary learning. In consultation with the dissertation and research advisor, students choose graduate courses offered by any department in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. In addition, and subject to the approval of the Ph.D. program director, students may choose graduate courses offered by any of RIT’s colleges.

Qualifying Exam
Students complete a qualifying exam at the end of their first year of study. The exam evaluates the student's aptitude, potential, and competency in conducting Ph.D.-level research.

Dissertation Proposal and Candidacy Exam
Students must present a dissertation proposal to their dissertation committee no sooner than six months after the qualifying exam and at least twelve months prior to the dissertation defense exam. The proposal provides the opportunity for students to elaborate on their research plans and to obtain feedback on the direction and approach to their research from their dissertation committee.

Dissertation Presentation and Defense
Each doctoral candidate prepares an original, technically rigorous, and well-written dissertation that describes the candidate’s research body of work and novel contributions to the discipline of electrical and computer engineering that have resulted from the doctoral studies. In this culminating milestone, each doctoral candidate presents and defends their dissertation and its accompanying research to their dissertation committee.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the doctorate program in electrical and computer engineering, applicants must complete a graduate application and fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college in electrical or computer engineering or in related field in science, engineering, or computing.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) for all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Not all programs require the submission of scores from entrance exams (GMAT or GRE). Please refer to the Graduate Admission Deadlines and Requirements page for more information.
  • Submit a Statement of Purpose for Research. The Statement of Purpose for Research is an important document because is from where we learn the most about you as a prospective researcher. In the statement we look for
    • your ability to present your thoughts in a clear, concise way,
    • evidence of your maturity and commitment to conduct research (you will be making contributions of worldwide impact in projects at the cutting edge of technology)
    • your understanding of what studying for a Ph.D. means,
    • your awareness of technological advancement in the field of electrical and computer engineering, and
    • your vision for specific areas where you would like to do research
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae highlighting educational background and experiences.
  • Submit at least two letters of academic and/or professional recommendation. Letters for doctoral candidates must be confidential and must be submitted directly from the referee to RIT.
  • Participate in an on-campus or teleconference interview (when applicable).
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 94 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is required.

Learn more about graduate admissions