Rules and Guidelines for Doctoral Students

Composition of the doctoral committees:

  • After passing the preliminary exam, in consultation with the research advisor (also called dissertation director), and with the approval of the Department Chair, a student’s Doctoral Qualifying Examination committee is formed.  The committee must consist of at least 3 ECE full-time regular status faculty members including the student’s research advisor.  This step is completed using a signed form and must take place prior to administering the exam.
  • In consultation with the research advisor, and with the approval of the Department Chair, a Doctoral Defense Committee that consists of at least 5 members, out of whom at least 3 are ECE full-time regular status faculty members (including the student’s research advisor) and at least 3 were members of the Doctoral Qualifying Exam committee, shall be formed prior to the dissertation defense.  Members external to the ECE department must have a Ph.D. (or equivalent) in ECE or a closely related field or in an field needed by the dissertation research topic. 
  • The Chair of the Doctoral Defense Committee should be different from the research advisor who is considered the advocate. 
  • Once formed, changes to the Doctoral Defense Committee are allowed, only if necessary, with the endorsement of the research advisor and the approval of the Department Chair.

Publications and Presentations Requirements and Guidelines: 

  • Each doctoral student is required to have a paper published or received final acceptance in a scientific journal before his/her defense.
  • By the time of the Doctoral Qualifying Exam, the student is expected to have published at least one paper in a refereed conference (two are recommended) and have submitted one journal paper.  
  • A proposal document for the Doctoral Qualifying Exam should be provided to the committee 10 days prior to the exam and a presentation with viewgraphs during the exam is expected.
  • The proposal document and presentation are expected to cover: background; motivations; problem statement; related work; approach; preliminary results; an overall plan of completion, with milestones highlighting what was done and what needs to be completed before the defense.   A list of publications produced from the research so far should be attached. 
  • The proposal document should not be less than 20 pages and should not exceed 50 pages using double space and 12 points font (or equivalent).  The presentation should be 45-60 minutes with 30-50 viewgraphs. 
  • The doctoral dissertation is typically 100-120 pages.  A presentation of 45-60 minutes with 35-50 viewgraphs is expected.  The doctoral dissertation must be provided to the committee members at least three weeks prior to the date of the defense. 

Important Timelines:

  • The student must select his/her research advisor by the end of the semester following the one in which the student passes the Preliminary Exam. The process is officially completed with a special form signed by the student, his/her research advisor, and academic advisor, and submitted to the department.
  • Doctoral students who received their M.S. prior to admission to the doctoral program and direct entry Ph.D. students should take the Preliminary Exam before the completion of 18 and 27 credit hours, respectively.
  • Students who miss the Preliminary Exam deadline by more than one semester may be suspended. 
  • The Dissertation Defense and the Doctoral Qualifying Exam cannot be taken by a student in the same semester.
  • The Doctoral Qualifying Exam should be taken as soon as possible, but advisably no later than 3 years from the start of the doctoral program.
  • Monitoring the adherence to all policies is consolidated via a standard annual progress form that needs to be signed by the student, advisor and chair.  Students should ensure that an up to date progress form is approved and included in their file by April 15 of each year.