The doctoral degree, i.e. the Ph.D., is primarily intended for students desiring a career in research and/or collegiate teaching. The focus is on advanced EECS topics, on learning to perform research and to write research papers, and on making fundamental new contributions to an EECS topic. Students take advanced course work and write a doctoral dissertation, also called a thesis.
With three doctoral programs offered within one department (CSE, EE and EE:S), students enroll in a degree program tailored to their interests, while having access to, and the benefits of, the full breadth of the EECS Department. For example, all EECS classes and faculty research advisors are equally available to students in all three graduate programs, while the degree requirements and qualifying examinations are tailored to the specific program.
The faculty of the EECS Department are organized in two divisions: Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). The CSE faculty have the primary responsibility for the CSE Graduate Program; the ECE faculty have the primary responsibility for the EE and EE:S Graduate Programs.
Students newly admitted to a doctoral program are classified as precandidates. Upon entering a doctoral program, there is a Ph.D. qualifying process, normally completed during the first two years. After all requirements except the dissertation are completed, students become candidates. Students entering an EECS doctoral program with a bachelor's degree typically become candidates in the third year and and are strongly encouraged to complete the degree within five years. Such students ordinarily complete the requirements for a master's degree along the way and receive this degree in addition to the Ph.D. A masters thesis is optional. Students who enter an EECS doctoral program with a master's in the field of their program typically become candidates in their second year and are strongly encouraged to complete the degree within four years. Such students are not ordinarily eligible to receive an EECS master's degree.
In order to encourage timely completion of the degree, University policy requires doctoral students to register every Fall and Winter term until their degree is completed, with very few exceptions. That is, doctoral students cannot take time off from their studies, or pursue the later stages of their degree without registering, except in special circumstances.
A limited number of graduate credits earned elsewhere can be transferred to meet the coursework requirements for the doctoral degree. In addition, a course taken elsewhere that is equivalent to a course satisfying a degree requirement here can be used to satisfy the requirement, even if course credits are not transferred. However, such equivalancy does not not reduce the total number of credit hours required, unless the course is transferred.
The EECS doctoral programs admit only those students for whom financial aid can be guaranteed for the anticipated duration of studies (five years for students entering with a BS, four years for students entering with an MS), assuming satisfactory progress is made.
Most commonly, this financial aid consists of a fellowship, a research assistantship, or a teaching assistantship offered by the program, or a fellowship from outside the university, or a combination of these.