ECE Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to most frequently asked questions are found on the website http://www.ece.gatech.edu/academics/graduate/index.html. Below, we give brief answers to these questions and direct people to the appropriate section of the website for more details.
- Financial Assistance
- Academic Advisement
- Degree Requirements
- International Students
- Other Georgia Tech Resources
What are the admissions requirements?
We require that students complete an online application. For admissions requirements and procedures, see http://www.ece.gatech.edu/academics/graduate/apply.html
Do you require all letters of recommendation to be submitted
Yes. Given the large number of applications that we receive, the online letters are much easier to track and to disseminate to the faculty who make the admissions and financial aid decisions.
Are the admission deadline dates firm?
The deadlines for students pursuing their degrees via distance learning are May 1 for fall semester, September 1 for spring semester, and February 1 for summer semester. All other students should adhere to the admission deadlines posted.
What if my GRE or TOEFL score is below your minimum allowable
Our admission requirements are posted at http://www.ece.gatech.edu/academics/graduate/apply.html. You may retake the GRE or TOEFL to improve your score as many times as you wish. We will accept the highest score attained in each category.
Is there a strategy for whether to check the box indicating that I
require financial aid?
Many students check the "require financial aid" box thinking that we will not consider them for financial aid if they do not check it. Our assistantship positions are based solely on qualifications not on financial need, hence, your response on this question has no bearing on the decision for financial aid. However, we ask that you are honest in checking the box. The estimated cost of attending Georgia Tech is discussed below. Foreign students who require financial aid and do not receive an assistantship offer are not admissible since they would not be able to secure a student visa to come to the United States. The visa procedures for our campuses in France and in China are different, so students who may not be admissible to our campuses in the USA may be admissible to GT-Lorraine or GT-Shanghai.
How can I check the status of my application or check if my
application materials (transcripts, test scores, etc.) have been
received by Georgia Tech?
Applications, transcripts, test scores and other application materials sent to Georgia Tech are received and processed by Graduate Admissions. Graduate Admissions must certify these materials, scan transcripts, etc. before forwarding them to ECE. To check your application status and/or what materials have been received by Georgia Tech go to:
On this page there is a link for:
Graduate Application Status Check
where you can check the most current information regarding the status of your application including received materials.
My supporting documents such as my transcript (or GRE or TOEFL
scores) have been sent to Georgia Tech, but my application status
is still showing incomplete due to missing documents. Should I resend
No. The application status site shows what has been received and processed. Transcripts must be scanned in order to be added to the database, and some of the data from other documents must be entered manually into the database. This takes time, especially near the application deadlines since Georgia Tech receives thousands of applications each year, many of them arriving right before the application deadlines. Documents arriving during school holidays and school breaks will not be posted during that time (see a list of upcoming school holidays and breaks). A minimum of 10 working days is typically required to process received documents.
Be sure you have allowed sufficient time for the materials to be sent and processed. If any of the materials you sent or arranged to be sent to Georgia Tech are not acknowledged as received you should contact Graduate Admissions.
Do not contact ECE inquiring about the status of these materials as they are received and processed by Graduate Admissions.
How can I check if my letters of recommendation have been
received by Georgia Tech?
Your recommenders submit your letters of recommendation directly to College Net which then forwards them to Georgia Tech Graduate Admissions. To check the status of these letters go to:
On this page there is a link for:
Reference Letter Status Check
where you can check the most current information regarding the status of your letters of recommendation. Do not contact ECE regarding the status or your letters of recommendation as they are received and processed by College Net and forwarded to Graduate Admissions.
When and how will I be informed if I have been admitted?
We will send out decisions as they are made, starting in late January for U.S. citizens with the vast majority completed by late March for fall semester. Spring admissions should be completed by late October.
As admission decisions are made, some admission decision letters will be available for direct download in Adobe pdf format. If your decision letter is available for download you will be informed via email and there will be a link provided on the ECE Application Decision Status site to download your letter. If you do not receive an email that your admission decision letter can be downloaded and no link for downloading a letter appears on the ECE Application Decision Status web site your letter will be mailed to you.
I am completing my M.S. requirements at Georgia Tech and will
graduate this term, but I recently decided that I’d like to
get the Ph.D. here in ECE. How can I get admitted as a Ph.D. student?
Once a person is admitted into a graduate program at Tech, they do not apply for admission again. In order for an ECE M.S. student to be reclassified as a Ph.D., the Ph.D. preliminary examination must be passed. M.S. students are allowed two semesters beyond the completion of the 30 hours needed for the M.S. degree to pass the preliminary exam and be reclassified as Ph.D.s. Students on visas are reclassified as “Special Non-Degree” during the interim period and will be issued a new I20 or DS2019 for the interim period. U.S. students and permanent residents remain classified as M.S.
I was not accepted into Georgia Tech, yet someone that I know whose
qualifications seem worse than mine was accepted. Why is that?
First of all, students do not know all of the details on their own application (specifically, their letters of recommendation) and certainly not the details of another person’s application. When students have contacted us in the past with this question, we find that they are usually mistaken about other student’s records. Even so, we understand that we do deny admission to many students who are extremely qualified, and this should not be a reflection on their qualifications. If a group of students all have equivalent grades and test scores, then other factors will influence the decision: letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose including prior experience, the degree sought, the technical interest areas within ECE, and the need for financial aid. Our admission standards for students interested in a Ph.D. are higher than for students who are only interested in an M.S. degree. Does this mean that you should not apply for the Ph.D. program or not mark that you are interested in a Ph.D.? Not if it is your plan. Faculty are interested in offering a GRA primarily to students who want to pursue a Ph.D. The technical area of interest may affect your chances of admission. For example, a particular technical interest area may have a large number of applicants compared to other areas and we may need to balance the number of students across the different areas considering also the number of courses and faculty in that area. The need for financial aid and its role in the decision process is discussed above. A student may have acquired work experience that exactly matches the need of a particular faculty member who has an open research assistantship position. That student may be admitted with lower GPA and test scores than someone else since the experience is weighted more heavily in that case.
How can I apply for a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or
Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) position?
Current (enrolled) students, can file a “Position Request” for either a GTA or GRA through the secure ECE website where coursework plans are filed. When applying for a GTA, please enter in the comments section the course numbers of courses for which you feel qualified to be a GTA. The list of projected courses is at http://www.ece.gatech.edu/academics/internal/index.html. Those seeking GRAs should be sure to indicate their TIA preference(s) and are encouraged to make direct contact with faculty researching in their interest area as well as filing a “Position Request.”
Incoming students are considered for GTA and GRA positions based on the information provided in the application for admission to graduate school, including their financial need. Incoming students should note that financial aid is very difficult to receive. An incoming international student will not be considered for a GTA position unless he/she is a permanent resident or was admitted through the B.S./M.S. program at Georgia Tech. An international student may be hired as a research assistant by an individual faculty member. Faculty usually do not hire students until they have been here for at least one semester, and they generally only hire Ph.D. students. Most international students are admitted without financial aid.
I have a teaching (or research) assistantship, but my fee
assessment is much higher than I thought it would be. What’s
In order to be eligible for reduced tuition as a GRA or GTA, the following must occur:
- Student registration must meet full-time requirements.
- Student must be hired at a minimum of 1/3 time (13-15 hours per week) and a maximum of 1/2 time (20 hours per week).
- A residency specific waiver must be recorded by the student’s major school.
- Having corrected one or more of the above, it may take 24 hours
for any fee assessments to be corrected and posted in all Georgia
Tech information systems.
The ECE Graduate Affairs Office watches for errors in the enrollment of students who have assistantships. We also strive to be sure that correct waivers are recorded. If you find an error, you should see someone in our office for assistance. You should also watch for email messages indicating that corrections to your schedule, etc. are needed in order to receive the tuition waiver.
Is there a program for internships or coop positions?
Some students work in industry during summer terms or for one semester during their studies in order develop professional expertise and to help pay their educational expenses. You can contact the Division of Professional Practice for more information: http://www.profpractice.gatech.edu/
Are there any scholarships or fellowships available for graduate
Yes, we strongly encourage students to seek out these opportunities. Under the http://www.grad.gatech.edu/fellowships is a list of national fellowships (for U.S. citizens/permanent residents) many of which are available for current graduate students who are at the beginnings of their studies. Information on other opportunities (such as funding for doctoral students) is also be available on that site.
How can I learn more about job opportunities, fellowships,
or other non-academic news items directed to ECE students?
All announcements that we receive regarding job opportunities and fellowships, as well as non-academic news items will be forwarded to a news group. In order to receive these messages, you will need to join the "news_grads @ ece.gatech.edu" mailing list. Go to https://www.ece.gatech.edu/mailman/listinfo/news_grads and enter your email information. Please use a Georgia Tech email address so that we can be certain that only current students are joining this list.
I’m talking to a faculty member about working on an
hourly basis. Can this be done?
Faculty are expected to hire GRAs on a 1/3 or 1/2 time basis as GRAs. This is a monthly paid position. In rare instances, it is possible to hire students on an hourly basis, but this must be approved by the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs before the student is hired. Hourly appointments are usually only approved in cases where a Ph.D. (possibly M.S. thesis) student will be wrapping up his/her degree requirements early in the term and leaving Tech, or the student will be absent for a large portion of the summer term (in this case, the hourly appointment is limited to a maximum of 5 weeks with a maximum of 20 hours per week). These students may be able to work on an hourly basis. Faculty members should contact the Associate Chair to make arrangements for hourly hires with justification as to why the student could not be hired as a GRA. Students should not attempt to make these arrangements.
Is the fee mentioned on my VISA the complete fee for the entire
course or is the amount to be paid again in the next year?
The amount noted on your VISA is the amount for the first year at Georgia Tech. You will be required to pay tuition and fees for each year and can refer to the bursar’s website for information on tuition and fees at: Tuition and Fees
What is the fee payment procedure? Do I pay per semester or
does the entire payment have to be made initially?
Please refer to the bursar’s website at: Understanding Your Account
What is the mode of payment to be followed (drafts/on-line
Please refer to the bursar’s website for payment information at: Payment Options
What courses do you offer?
ECE at Georgia Tech offers courses in 11 different specializations, called "Technical Interest Groups". These are described at http://www.ece.gatech.edu/research/tigs/overview.php Courses are described at http://www.ece.gatech.edu/academics/courses/course_menu.php Not every course is offered every year. Consult http://www.ece.gatech.edu/academics/graduate/course_schedule.pdf for the list of projected courses.
Who is my advisor?
The ECE Graduate Affairs Office provides academic advisement. Students pursuing the M.S. thesis option or the Ph.D. degree will seek research advisors from ECE faculty (see “How do I find a research advisor?" below).
Prior to the start of each academic term, an academic advisement is held for new students. All Atlanta-based students are required to attend the advisement program.
The main academic advising regarding the meeting of academic requirements including degree requirements is done by the Graduate Admissions Office in Atlanta. Additional advising is available on all satellite campuses.
How can I meet with an academic advisor?
Advising hours for the ECE Graduate Affairs Office are from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Students seeking advisement may “walk in” during those hours. Specific appointments can also be made via email request. Please note that not everyone in the office is always available during office hours, but that every effort will be made to assist students who come to the office.
If you want to meet with the ECE Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, you should make an appointment. In addition to providing faculty supervision to the Graduate Affairs Office, the Associate Chair is frequently on many ECE and Georgia Tech committees, in addition to advising students conducting research under his/her supervision, and other responsibilities.
ECE also holds advisement sessions for continuing students prior to each registration period. Announcements for these sessions are sent to the student body by email.
When should I submit my course plan?
You should submit it by drop day of your first semester at Georgia Tech. This would preempt you from taking a course that would not be counted toward your degree. It is important to click on the “campus” when submitting a coursework plan. The system will not update the plan unless a campus is selected.
Changes can be made to a coursework plan. When changes other than adding grades earned or term/year of completion of a class (or classes) are made, the plan should be submitted for review again. Please be sure to click “revised” when changing classes on the coursework plan.
Do you allow transfer credit from other schools?
Up to 6 hours of graduate work taken at an ABET-approved college may be transferred toward an M.S. degree. M.S. students who wish to transfer classes must provide a transcript showing completion of the classes to be transferred, a letter from the registrar at the school where the classes were taken which certifies that the classes were not used toward a degree at that school, and a course outline for each course to be transferred. A completed “Request for Transfer Credit” form should also accompany the materials submitted.
I entered the Ph.D. program with an M.S. from another school.
Can I use any of the M.S. classes toward the Ph.D. coursework requirement?
Students seeking the Ph.D. degree may use classes from their M.S. degree programs toward the Ph.D. This is done by listing the M.S. courses on the Ph.D. coursework plan. M.S. courses are listed with the name, number (if one was used), letter grade, semester hours, term, and year of completion for each class. Classes to be completed at Georgia Tech are also listed on the coursework plan. The ECE Graduate Affairs Office will review the Ph.D. coursework plan and determine whether the M.S. classes can be used toward the Ph.D. coursework requirement. Once the Ph.D. coursework plan is approved, it serves as an agreement between ECE and the student to use the M.S. classes toward the Ph.D. coursework requirement. The M.S. classes applied toward the Ph.D. coursework requirement are not transferred and will never show on the Georgia Tech transcript. It may be necessary to provide additional information before we make a final approval decision. It is very helpful to provide the ECE Graduaate Affairs Office with an original, official copy of the final transcript from the M.S. school.
I completed a thesis at the school where I earned the M.S.
degree. Can I count M.S. research hours toward the ECE Ph.D. coursework
In order to count M.S. thesis hours toward the Ph.D. coursework requirement, we must have a transcript that lists the M.S. thesis research hours on it. We will also want to see an English version of the M.S. thesis. Up to 12 hours of M.S. thesis research could be applied to the Ph.D. coursework plan under Group IV (Electives).
How do I find a research
We do not assign research advisors to students; we allow students to select their own advisors. Some faculty members contact students prior to arrival on campus and agree to support the student as a Graduate Research Assistant. In most cases, students arrive on campus without an advisor and select their advisors by taking courses from different faculty members or by doing a Special Problem course with a specific faculty member (this is an independent study course). Many faculty do not agree to support students until after they pass the preliminary exam.
What is the procedure to switch research advisors?
When an entering student is hired by a faculty member, the commitment is three semesters with that faculty member. The faculty member has invested time and money in the student, so we strongly discourage students from switching advisors. If there is a definite problem between the advisor and student, then a candid talk with the advisor is necessary. The ECE Graduate Affairs Office is willing to assist in the discussions between the student and advisor to see if an agreement can be made or to assist in switching advisors if an agreement cannot be made.
Additional information relating to advisement may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook
Additional information about policies, as well as forms and other resources, can be found at the Student Resources web page.
How does one decide whether to pursue the M.S. thesis or non-thesis
ECE does not stipulate which M.S. option students should pursue. Some faculty may require the thesis M.S. of students researching under their direction. Occasionally, a student sponsored by an outside entity may be required by the sponsor to do an M.S. thesis. Students who want to document research abilities may opt to undertake the M.S. thesis option.
When do I have to pass the Ph.D. preliminary examination?
The ECE Graduate Student Handbook contains detailed information regarding the requirements for the Ph.D. preliminary examination.
I believe I am ready to begin the Ph.D. proposal process.
What should I do?
A document entitled “Proposal Guidelines” is in the “Graduate Forms & Files” area of the ECE Academics website. Follow the directions and be sure to update the Ph.D. coursework plan along with preparing the proposal and related forms for submission.
I have completed my proposal and been admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.
Can I make changes to my committee or my dissertation topic?
Yes, by submitting a revised "Admission to PhD Candidacy form," you can change the title, abstract, and/or committee. Just mark the “revised” spot and follow the directions.
Additional information relating to degree requirements may be found in the ECE Graduate Student Handbook.
Additional information about policies as well as forms (such as the Course Work Planning form) and other resources can be found in the “Graduate Forms & Files” area of the ECE Academics website.
When is the latest that I can add classes to my schedule?
No classes can be added to a student’s schedule after the close of registration for a term. This also applies to increasing hours of variable hour classes or changing the grade basis (letter, pass/fail, audit) of a class. See the appropriate Registration Calendar on the Georgia Tech Official School Calendar for specific dates.
When is the latest that I can drop classes from my schedule?
Classes removed from the schedule during the registration period will not show on the Georgia Tech transcript. Classes dropped after the close of registration will show on the transcript with a “W” grade. In fall and spring semesters, “drop day” (the last day to drop a class) is the seventh (7th) Friday of the term. In summer, drop day is the fifth (5th) Friday of the term. See the appropriate Registration Calendar on the Georgia Tech Official School Calendar for specific dates.
What if I need to leave school during a term?
The Georgia Tech Registrar’s Office sets a deadline by which students who must leave school have to withdraw. This deadline is recorded on the Georgia Tech Official School Calendar. If extenuating circumstances develop after the withdrawal deadline, one may be able to petition to withdraw late. Full-time students who withdraw from school are expected to remain out of school in the following term as well.
When can I register?
New students register during the week before each term starts and during the first week of classes. Continuing students are able to register for the next term near the midpoint of the current term. Continuing students may also register (or make schedule changes) during the late registration period, but it is best to register during the early period. See the appropriate Registration Calendar on the Georgia Tech Official School Calendar for specific dates.
For which courses should I register to show that I am performing
Three marker courses are used to document student research efforts:
ECE 8900 is used by students who have GRAs (occasionally GTAs) and fellowships who haven’t passed the Ph.D. preliminary exam yet but want to document research activity.
ECE 7000 is used by students who have selected an M.S. thesis advisor and are undertaking research toward an M.S. thesis.
ECE 9000 is used by students who have passed the Ph.D. preliminary exam and have selected a Ph.D. research advisor.
All of these classes are “variable hour” ones. When first adding one of the markers to the schedule for a term, it will be listed as 1 (one) hour. Students must go back to the registration menu and select “Change Course Option” and increase the hours there.
This set of questions contains information pertinent only to international students.
Should I mail my financial documents along with my admissions
You can. Submitting bank statements to Georgia Tech’s Graduate Admissions Office soon after you have been admitted oftentimes speeds up F1 and J1 VISA requests.
I am disappointed that I was not accepted into your program. I feel
that my record is very good. Can I find out what was wrong with my
We receive between 2000 and 3000 applications each year and, due to space and financial limitations, we must decline many qualified applicants. The decision to accept is based on many factors including the GPA, the letters of recommendation, the GRE, the area of interest of the student, the TOEFL, available funding for students who want to pursue a Ph.D., specific faculty interest in the student, and available space. Many of these factors are not visible to students. With so many applicants, we cannot give specific feedback for any one student. Please read carefully the questions in the Admissions section above for more information on acceptance decisions.
What financial documents do I need to submit?
You will need to provide original bank statements in English indicating the type of account. We accept checking and/or savings accounts only that are liquid assets. We do not accept stocks, bonds, money market funds, real estate, or the like. The funds MUST be liquid, meaning that they are quickly converted to cash and easily withdrawn. The statements cannot be older than 9 (nine) months and if the account is a checking account, you must provide 6 (six) months of original bank statements. Also acceptable is a letter printed on bank letterhead, signed and dated by an officer of the bank, certifying that the person (name) maintains a savings account at that institution; the letter must state the account number and the total cash balance. Financial documents can be from different banks. An affidavit is needed if the account is in a different person’s name.
When can I expect my I-20 (F1) / DS2019 (J-1)?
VISA requests are not made until after you have accepted ECE’s offer for admission. Acceptance of our offer can be made via email, fax, or regular mail. It takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks for the processing and receipt of VISAs, depending upon the workload. They are then sent directly to you at the address provided on your admissions application.
What do I do if I want my VISA sent to a different address
from what I provided in my application?
Fill out the ECE Graduate Affairs Office Contact Form for Application Questions and Prospective Students to request that your VISA be sent to another address, giving us the complete address.
What is an affidavit and when is an affidavit needed?
An affidavit is a dated and signed statement from your sponsor(s) that he/she is willing to support your education at the Georgia Institute of Technology. An affidavit is needed to accompany financial documents for your VISA request if you are not paying for your own education.
This total dollar amount listed for all of the sponsors must be at least the cost of a full year’s education at Georgia Tech, which can be found at the Bursar’s Office Tuition and Fees web page. The amount varies if you have been offered an assistantship by ECE.
What other resources are available for international students?
The Office of International Education serves various needs of international students
Please consult the following other websites for information not related to ECE academics.
- Graduate Admissions
- Georgia Tech Graduate Studies Office
- Georgia Tech Housing
- Georgia Tech Health services
If your question still has not been answered, please fill out the appropriate form:
- ECE Graduate Affairs Office Contact Form for Application Questions and Prospective Students
- Contact the ECE Graduate Affairs Office - Current Students
Last revised on July 30, 2013.