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Ph.D. Degrees

Current Students Ph.D. Degrees

The following requirements include the course hours normally accumulated during the student's master's degree. 



Group I: ECE 6000 level classes in one or two TIAs:


Three classes in a combination of one or two technical interest areas of the student's choosing (All for letter grade credit).
Group II: ECE 6000-level classes


Nine hours of classes, all of which must be outside of and not cross-listed with the TIA(s) above. All for letter grade credit.
Group III: Minor in an area outside ECE


Nine hours of classes in a single discipline outside of ECE. All for letter grade credit.
Group IV: Electives


(Up to 12 M.S. thesis hours, recorded as such on an official transcript, may be used in this area)
ECE 8022 Professional Communications Seminar


Pass/fail. Permit required. Pass the Coursework Qualifier to receive a permit.
PHIL6000 Responsible Conduct of Research


Pass/fail. Students entering the Ph.D. program in Fall 2011 or later and M.S. students who were admitted for Fall 2011 or later and then transition to Ph.D. must take an RCR course to fulfill this requirement.
Total hours required



In addition, there are a number of requirements imposed by the Institute. These include:

  • Student must pass a Comprehensive Examination. In ECE, this is the combination of the Ph.D. Coursework Qualifier and the dissertation proposal.
  • Student must have at least two semesters of full-time, on-campus enrollment.
  • A minimum of 9 hours for letter grade must be taken at Georgia Tech.
  • The training in the Responsible Conduct of Research consists of two parts: an online training (to be completed in the first 90 days of the program) and a class (PHIL 6000).
  • The student must complete and defend a dissertation, for which prior approval of the topic is necessary.
  • Once admitted to candidacy, the student must complete all degree requirements within 7 years. 
  • Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA. 

Minor Field of Study: The minor is most often in mathematics or in computer science; a list of Math courses and a list of Computer Science courses acceptable for a Ph.D. minor can be found on the "Minors" tab in the Courses and Coursework Planning section. Minor courses in another area will be considered; however, minor courses in non-technical areas (for example, management) will not be approved.

Details of the degree requirements are in the ECE Graduate Student Handbook. To assist with planning when to take courses, visit the projected schedule of graduate classes page on the ECE website and search for details about ECE classes on the ECE Course Information page.

All Ph.D. students must complete the Institute's Responsible Conduct of Research requirements.

A Scientific Writing for International Students class is offered to our international Ph.D. students twice a semester during the spring and the fall terms. It is a non-credit course and cannot be found on OSCAR. The class is advertised every semester by the Graduate Office and participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis. See a brief description of the class. For more information, please contact Dr. Daniela Staiculescu in the Graduate Office.

The Ph.D. Coursework Completion form must be completed on the ECE secure website, prior to the submission of the Ph.D. Proposal.

Students who wish to count course credit earned at other universities toward their Ph.D. degree requirements should complete this form during their second term. The classes have to be graduate or senior undergraduate level. No classes that were used to satisfy an undergraduate degree can be used toward the Ph.D. degree. Up to 30 hours of credits earned toward a graduate degree with a grade of C and above at a different institution can be used towards the Ph.D. degree. M.S. Thesis can be used in Group IV (electives) for a maximum of 12 credit hours. The approved classes will only count toward the Ph.D. degree course requirements and will not be transferred on the Georgia Tech transcript.

The following package needs to be submitted to the Academic Office for evaluation and approval:

Copy of the Coursework Completion form, filled out entirely. The classes have to show the institution name, number, and title. If the coursework is not completed at the time of the submission, future classes need to be included for a total of 43 hours. The future classes can be later changed to other eligible classes. Please use the classes taken at Georgia Tech in Groups I, II, and III as much as you can.

Non-official transcript from the institution where the classes have been taken. The transcript needs to show that the classes have been used toward a graduate degree and whether the institution has semester or quarter system.

Syllabi/course descriptions for all the classes to be used in Groups I, II, and III.

A soft copy of the M.S. thesis (if used in the coursework plan).

As of Fall 2018, ECE has eliminated the Ph.D. Preliminary Exam. It will not be offered again. In its place is the Coursework Qualifier. The Coursework Qualifier requirement is to obtain a 3.5 GPA in four courses that the student selects from lists prepared by the ECE Technical Interest Groups (TIGs). Further details are available in the ECE Graduate Student Handbook. These changes go into effect immediately for new ECE graduate students who are matriculating in Fall 2018. For current students, the new requirements will be phased in as described below. 

Coursework Qualifier Completion Form

Coursework Qualifier TIG Course Lists

Coursework Qualifier requirement transition plan

For ECE Ph.D. students matriculating into an ECE graduate program in Fall 2018 or after, the Coursework Qualifier requirement must be completed by the end of their second year. Any ECE Ph.D. student who has already passed the ECE Preliminary Exam is exempted from the Coursework Qualifier requirement. ECE Ph.D. students who are already enrolled but who have not passed the ECE Preliminary Exam will receive a one-year ‘grace period’ before the Coursework Qualifier time limit is enforced. The table below shows the deadline for ECE Ph.D. students to complete their Coursework Qualifier requirement:

Matriculation term:

Coursework Qualifier requirement must be completed by end of:

Fall 2018

Spring 2020

Fall 2017

Spring 2020

Fall 2016 or before

Spring 2019

If you believe you have special circumstances that warrant an exception to this policy, please meet with ECE’s Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.

ECE Ph.D. students matriculating into an ECE graduate program in Fall 2018 or after must complete their Proposal Exam by the end of their 7th term, not including summers. ECE Ph.D. students who matriculated prior to 2018 will receive a one-year ‘grace period’ before the Proposal Exam time limit is enforced. Below is a table that shows the deadline for ECE Ph.D. students to complete their Proposal Exam:

Matriculation term:

Proposal exam must be completed by end of:

Fall 2018

Fall 2021

Fall 2017

Fall 2021

Fall 2016

Fall 2020

Fall 2015 or before

Fall 2019

If you believe you have special circumstances that warrant an exception to this policy, please meet with the ECE Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.

The expectations for the Proposal Exam have changed as of Fall 2018. The student is expected to demonstrate background knowledge of their dissertation topic, as well as broader understanding of the discipline. The Proposal must contain a detailed plan for the completion of Ph.D.-level research on the dissertation topic, and preferably some results. However, it is understood that any results will be early and possibly inconclusive; and the dissertation topic, methods, and results may evolve considerably in-between the Proposal and the Ph.D. defense. Students are advised to seek the input of the committee on the research direction, and inform their committee members of significant changes. 

Proposal Guidelines 

ECE Ph.D. Proposal Committee Form – online form to be initiated by the student.

Ph.D. Admission to Candidacy Form – soft unsigned copy to be submitted to the Academic Office; to be signed by student, advisor, and reading committee members after successful completion of the oral examination.

Disclaimer Statement – hard copy to be submitted to the Academic Office

Ph.D. Proposal Evaluation Forms – to be completed and signed at the time of the oral presentation. The Committee Chair has to provide these forms together with the Admission to Candidacy form at the time of the examination. Students are strongly encouraged to bring a backup copy.

Full Committee Evaluation Form

Individual Evaluation

Documents needed to schedule the Ph.D. defense:

Reading Committee Form (Requires original signature by Ph.D. thesis advisor and reading committee members) – needs to be submitted to the Academic Office no later than two weeks before defense date

Schedule Defense Form – needs to be submitted to the Academic Office no later than two weeks before defense date

Documents needed to be signed at the time of the Ph.D. defense:

The Certificate of Thesis Approval needs to be typed and signed by ALL of the committee members at the time of the Dissertation Defense.

Ph.D. dissertation evaluation form – to be filled out by EACH member of the Ph.D. defense committee at the time of the Dissertation Defense.

All Institute resources for the Ph.D. defense:

Thesis manual, Certificate of Thesis Approval form, enrollment waiver, and all other documents and manuals can be found on the Graduate Studies’ website.

Thesis Deadlines 

Ph.D. students are required to submit an Online Application for Graduation (OAG)

Students who have completed all degree requirements prior to the graduation term (including distance learning students) and wish to use the enrollment waiver in the graduation term should complete and submit the enrollment waiver request form.

All of the documents that need to be submitted to the Graduate Studies office before the Thesis Submission Deadline are found at the graduate forms page

The procedures below are to be followed for M.S.E.C.E. students who wish to change their major from M.S.E.C.E. to Ph.D. in ECE:

Must pass Coursework Qualifier – Graduate Office will verify.

Minimum GPA of 3.5 – Graduate Office will verify.

Find a Ph.D. research advisor - submit Ph.D. advisor selection form and proof of funding.

Statement of Purpose (must be typed):  To be considered for the Ph.D. program in ECE, you must submit the internal application with a new statement of purpose, indicating the reasons for changing degree status from M.S. to Ph.D. 

Recommendation Letter:  The student's advisor must provide a letter recommending the student for the Ph.D. program in ECE. Additional recommendations in support of the student's plans are encouraged. The letter can be submitted in person to the Academic Office in Van Leer W208 or online at Contact the Graduate Affairs Office.

When the items above are received, the ECE Graduate Committee will review the student's request.  If your request is approved, you will be required to submit a change of major form to change your status from M.S.E.C.E. to Ph.D. in ECE.

For International Students, if your request is approved, you will be required to change your I-20 or DS 2019 to reflect your current program of study as Ph.D.

Proof of funding will be required to process your new I-20 or DS 2019.

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering participates in the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program, which is housed in the College of Engineering. The program offers advanced courses in bioengineering, engineering specialties, and life sciences combined with research and development of new or improved physical and mathematical concepts and techniques, which may be applied to problems in medicine and biology.

The bioengineering program offers master's and doctoral degrees through participating schools in the College of Engineering and the College of Computing. Interested applicants with an electrical and/or computer engineering background apply for admission in the bioengineering program through ECE. Once admitted, students follow the bioengineering program degree requirements and curriculum.

Additional information on the bioengineering program, including how to apply and a comparison between the bioengineering program and traditional engineering programs, can be found on the Georgia Tech Bioengineering Interdisciplinary Program website.

This interdisciplinary Ph.D. program offers coursework covering mechanics, controls, perception, artificial intelligence, and autonomy. The program also features a strong multidisciplinary research component. Learn more about the Ph.D. Program in Robotics.

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering participates in the interdisciplinary Machine Learning Ph.D. Program. The Machine Learning (ML) Ph.D. program is a collaborative venture between Georgia Tech's colleges of Computing, Engineering, and Sciences.

The program seeks to create students who are able to integrate and apply principles from computing, statistics, optimization, and engineering in order to create machine learning models, and apply them to solve important, real-world, data-intensive problems.

Additional information on the Machine Learning Ph.D. Program including how to apply, can be found on the Machine Learning Ph.D. website.

Last revised May 28, 2020