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Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering Overview

The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering offers a program of graduate study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy Degree. The program has three basic components:

Each student's plan of study is individually formulated around these components through consultation with an Advisory Committee.

Funded research opportunities exist for doctoral students in the following multidisciplinary centers, laboratories, and industry−sponsored programs. For more information on these opportunities, please visit ECE Research Labs.

Our requirements for the PhD degree are given on the following pages. Some of these requirements are university-wide and can also be found in the Texas Tech University Catalog under Graduate school.


Admission to doctoral study is restricted to applicants whose backgrounds show great promise of success on this, the highest level of academic endeavor. The formal requirements for admission to the doctoral program are a distinguished record in previous work (undergraduate and graduate) as evidenced by university transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a competitive score on the Graduate Record Examination.

Typically, students enter our doctoral program with master’s degrees in electrical engineering. Students with graduate degrees in other branches of engineering or in the sciences may be accepted subject to completing specified preparatory (leveling) courses in electrical engineering.

Although nearly all students who seek the doctoral degree will complete a master’s degree first, exceptionally well qualified students may, upon the recommendation of their Advisory Committee, proceed to doctoral study without obtaining the master’s. For new graduate students who as yet have no Advisory Committee, permission of the Graduate Studies Committee is required in order to forego the master’s degree.

Leveling Requirements

Students who do not hold a bachelor's or master's degree in electrical engineering or a related field may be required to complete undergraduate leveling work. Required leveling courses generally follow the requirements for a minor in electrical engineering. A list of required courses is available on the electrical engineering minor web page.

Major & Minor

The doctorate degree demands substantial depth and breadth of study in the major subject, electrical engineering; at least 60 hours of graduate coursework exclusive of the dissertation must be taken. Not more than 18 of these hours may be taken as individual study courses. Such courses involve a special arrangement between a student and a faculty member in which the student carries out assignments in a subject not available in a regular course. Students are not required to take a formal minor subject; however if a minor is declared, it must include at least 15 credit hours outside the ECE Department. The minor must be represented by a faculty member for the minor department on the student's Advisory Committee.

Courses included under the major subject will be primarily taught in the ECE Department, but courses from other departments may be included (other than courses in the minor if one is declared) if they provide coherent support for the major.

The department believe that the fundamentals of engineering examination as administered by NCEES is a comprehensive and fair indication of the mastery of basics for our students and require a passing score for the MSEE and Ph. D. degree programs. Due to scheduling issues we will continue to accept online versions of this exam administered by department faculty as a substitute. This examination is not suitable as a qualifying examination for the doctoral program.

The department strongly encourages the publication of student research and takes such as evidence of the student's intellectual maturity, ability to think critically, and written communication skills. Following approval of the student's program for the doctoral degree and completion of all courses with a minimum graduate GPA of 3.5 the student may present evidence of 1 peer-reviewed conference or journal publication, which will suffice as the qualifying examination for admission to candidacy in the doctoral program.

Degree Plan

Early in a student’s doctoral studies an evaluation will be made of his or her background preparation by the student’s dissertation advisor and the Graduate Advisor. On the basis of this evaluation the student’s course of study will be projected. The student will complete the form entitled "Program for the Doctoral Degree" (Degree Plan). The form lists all of the courses that a student plans to take for the doctoral degree together with his or her dissertation title and the names of the Advisory Committee members. The form must be signed by the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Graduate Advisor and by the Graduate Advisor of the minor department, if any. The student should follow the plan in subsequent course enrollments and dissertation work. Revisions of the plan are permitted as needed.

There is no automatic transfer of credit from another institution toward a Ph.D. degree. However upon the recommendation of the Graduate Advisor at most 30 credit hours of an earned master’s degree from another institution may be transferred.


Preliminary Examination

The Preliminary Examination for doctoral students is the nationally administered Fundamentals of Engineering Examination, also called the Engineer−in−Training (EIT) Examination, with the discipline−specific Electrical Engineering option. This written examination must be taken in the first year of doctoral study. A student who fails the examination may repeat it once. Students are required to provide evidence of the results of the examination to the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination consists of a written dissertation proposal and an oral presentation of the proposal. The student’s Advisory Committee, chaired by the student’s dissertation advisor, conducts the examination. Notification of the subject of the examination and its time and place must be provided in advance to the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, so that any interested faculty members can attend. When a student passes the examination and has met the requirements in the tool subject, the dissertation advisor will send the Texas Tech University Graduate School a recommendation that the student be "admitted to candidacy" for the Ph.D. degree. This is a formal step that must be completed at least four months prior to the proposed graduation date. A student who does not pass the examination may be permitted to repeat it once, after a period of at least four months but not more than twelve months. Failure to pass the examination within the specified time will result in dismissal from the program irrespective of performance in other aspects of doctoral study.

Final Examination

A final public oral examination is required for the doctorate. It may be scheduled after the dissertation (not necessarily the final copy) has been read by the members of the Advisory Committee. Notification of the examination must be submitted to the Graduate School, using the Defense Notification Form, three weeks before the examination is held. At least four months must elapse between the Qualifying Examination and the Final Examination. The examination is conducted by the committee and a faculty member representing the Dean of the Graduate School. Committee members vote to determine the outcome of the exam. Faculty members other than the members of the committee, including the Graduate Dean’s representative, may participate in the examination but have no vote. At the conclusion of the examination the chair of the committee will send written notice to the Graduate School giving the result of the examination.

Proposal and Defense

At the proposal defense, the Ph.D. candidate will present evidence of a minimum of 1 peer-reviewed journal publication/acceptance and 1 peer-reviewed conference publication/acceptance and one more journal publication submitted. This requirement will be introduced by 1 September, 2012, and apply to all new Ph.D. students. We will track the percentage of our graduates following academic careers on a yearly basis and evaluate the effectiveness of this change over the next 5 years. The graduate studies committee will determine reasonable percentages by examining aspirational peer institutions.

At the dissertation defense the candidate is expected to have 3 peer-reviewed journal publications/acceptances, subject to review by the graduate studies committee.

Advisory Committee & Dissertation

An Advisory Committee consisting of the dissertation advisor, who will act as chair of the committee, and at least three other members of the graduate faculty (including the minor subject if a minor is declared) will be appointed by the Graduate Dean on the recommendation of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. At least two members of the committee must be in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. The PhD student and the dissertation advisor will propose members for the committee. The student’s doctoral work will be directed by this committee.

A dissertation is the signal accomplishment of doctoral study in electrical engineering. The subject of the dissertation must be approved by the Advisory Committee and the Graduate Dean at least four months before the student’s proposed date of graduation. The dissertation must demonstrate a mastery of the techniques of research, a thorough understanding of the subject, and skill in organizing and presenting material. It must be a scholarly treatise representing a significant contribution to, or a substantial re−evaluation of, existing knowledge. Work on the dissertation progresses under the supervision of the advisory committee and any other specialists the committee may consider necessary. The dissertation manuscript must conform to the published policy found at the Graduate School Website. The final copy of the dissertation must be submitted electronically to the Texas Tech University library.

Grade Point Average

Although the Graduate School requires a 3.0 grade-point average each semester, the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering expects all doctoral students to maintain a 3.5.

Years of Study

A minimum of three years of graduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the doctorate. Work completed for the master’s degree may be considered as part of this period if it forms a logical sequence in the entire program of study. Credit ordinarily will not be given for work completed more than seven years prior to admission to the doctoral program at Texas Tech University.


Regardless of the amount of graduate work that may have been completed elsewhere, every doctoral student is required to complete at least one year of graduate study in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering beyond the master’s degree (or beyond the first 30 credit hours if proceeding directly to the doctorate from the bachelor’s degree). This requirement is intended to ensure the intellectual immersion of the student in a research and learning environment with faculty, peers, and staff.

Time Limit

All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within a period of eight consecutive calendar years or four years from admission to candidacy, whichever comes first. Graduate credit for coursework taken at Texas Tech University that is more than eight calendar years old at the time of the final examination may not be used to satisfy degree requirements.

Final corrected copies of the dissertation must be received in the Graduate School no later than one year after the final examination or within the eight−year or four−year time limit, whichever occurs first.