Jul 24, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Bulletin 
2018-2019 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Computer Engineering, Ph.D.

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The doctoral program in computer engineering has a set of six core courses (total of 18 hours) that cover the basic concepts each graduate of this program is expected to know.  Upon completion of these core courses, students can pursue research and coursework that will emphasize either the computer science or electrical engineering aspect of this joint degree.


Applicants for the doctoral program in computer engineering must hold a baccalaureate degree or a master’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States or from a recognized institution in another country. A doctoral applicant who has earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering or a closely related discipline must have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0/4.0 GPA. An applicant who does not have a master’s degree must have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.5/4.0 with a baccalaureate degree in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering or a closely related discipline. Each application must include a letter of intent describing the applicant’s interests and career objectives, plus a list of three references that can be contacted or three letters of reference. All applicants must also submit GRE scores. International applicants whose native language is not English must submit, in addition to the above, a minimum TOEFL score of 80 on the internet-based exam or 550 on the paper exam, with a program preference for TOEFL scores of 90 and 575 or higher. Non-native English speakers may substitute a minimum score of 6.0 on the IELTS examination for the TOEFL, with a program preference for an IELTS score of 6.5.

Applicants with more than 12 hours (four courses) of deficiency will not be eligible for admission. Applicants who lack only fewer than 12 hours (4 courses) of the computer science or electrical engineering undergraduate proficiency courses may be admitted conditionally to the doctoral program, but they will be required to remove those deficiencies by taking prescribed undergraduate courses and obtaining a grade of B or better in each deficiency course as soon as possible and within the first year. A complete list of the computer science or electrical engineering undergraduate deficiency courses is available from the respective departments.

Curriculum Requirements

A minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree is required for the Ph.D.

Minimum credit hours of research and dissertation (not including master’s degree thesis) 18
Minimum credit hours in computer engineering 18
Minimum credit hours in mathematics 6
Minimum credit hours in computer science or electrical engineering 27
Maximum credit hours of 6000-level courses 18
Maximum credit hours of independent study 12

An important feature of the joint Ph.D. program in computer engineering is the articulation of four core areas: theory, architecture, hardware, and systems. Students complete 18 hours of courses in these four areas, with at least one course in theory, one course in architecture, two courses in hardware, and two courses in systems.

A minimum of 48 credit hours can be earned in coursework and independent study. With the approval of the committee, these hours may include a maximum of 30 graduate credit hours with grade of B or better applied from the master’s degree.

All courses outside of computer science and electrical engineering must have the approval of the student’s doctoral committee and must be taken for a letter grade.

Doctoral Matriculation Requirements

Students entering the doctoral program with a baccalaureate degree will file a report with the graduate coordinator stating their intention to remain in the Ph.D. program and indicating their area of research. This report must be filed during the second semester of their studies and shall be supported by a graduate faculty member who becomes their designated research advisor. Failure to secure a designated research advisor will prompt a recommendation to the Graduate School that the student be removed from the Ph.D. program and entered into the Master’s program.

Residency Requirements

Because research is a full-time activity and technology changes very rapidly in this field, part-time study for the Ph.D. is not encouraged. Every doctoral student is required to satisfy a one-year, full-time residency (9 hours per semester) in work towards the doctorate.

Core Requirements

Every computer engineering doctoral student is required to satisfy competency requirements in four topic areas with at least one course in theory, one course in architecture, two courses in hardware, and two courses in systems. The list of topic areas is maintained and reviewed regularly by the program faculty and may be modified.

Students must file a plan of study after completion of 9 hours of graduate credit toward the Ph.D. degree. This plan will be developed with their designated research advisor and the graduate coordinator to establish the courses that student plans to complete. The plan should also indicate how requirements for the four core areas are satisfied. These core requirements must be completed within the first 36 hours of graduate credit earned toward the Ph.D. degree. A student may only change the courses they have chosen in their plan with the approval of their designated research advisor.

Preliminary Examination

Within one semester (not including summer session) after completion of the core competency course requirements, each student is to request a date be established for their preliminary examination. Students will be asked to pass a set of preliminary exams that will cover architecture, hardware, and systems (one for each topic). The student will be allowed to pick a fourth area for their exam based on their area of research. Each student will be required to pass each of the four exams in no more than two attempts. Failure to do so will result in the student having to withdraw from the program.

Advisory Committee

No later than eight weeks after successful completion of the preliminary examination, the student shall secure the agreement of a graduate faculty member to serve as the candidate’s dissertation advisor, which may or may not be the same as the designated research advisor, and shall request an advisory committee. The program will recommend to the Graduate School dismissal from the program of students who fail to secure a dissertation advisor. The members of the advisory committee are selected with the assistance of the candidate’s dissertation advisor, the computer science or electrical engineering graduate program advisor, and the respective department chair. When appropriate, the advisory committee may suggest alternate graduate faculty members for the committee. The advisory committee must consist of at least five graduate faculty members, including at least one member from outside the Tandy School of Computer Science  and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering . The advisory committee must include at least one electrical engineering and one computer science faculty member. The candidate’s dissertation advisor chairs the advisory committee. The purpose of the advisory committee is to assist the doctoral student in identifying any deficiencies in the student’s graduate record to date, scheduling a research internship (if desired by student), scheduling the proposal defense, and evaluating the dissertation research.

Proposal Defense

Within one year of passing the preliminary examination, the student must attempt the proposal defense, which is administered by the student’s advisory committee. The student must apply for the examination at least two weeks before it is to be held. The dissertation proposal should 1) identify the research topic in an area of scientific or technological importance and should relate any progress to date, and 2) outline the scholarly research proposed that demonstrates the student’s ability to explore the topic in depth. The proposal should be of at least master’s level quality and may be undertaken as a research course of three credits. An extended master’s thesis, a properly documented computer project, or the report from a research internship may also be acceptable. The examiners may also ask questions covering the student’s major, minor, and related topics. The proposal must be accepted by the committee.

Following successful completion of the proposal defense, the chair of the advisory committee submits a report to the Dean of the Graduate School, signed by all the members of the student’s committee, indicating whether the student has passed or failed. If the student fails, he or she may, at the discretion of the doctoral committee, repeat the examination within three months. One dissenting vote is permitted to grant a pass to the student on the first attempt at the proposal defense, but a unanimous vote of approval is required to pass the second attempt.

Admission to Candidacy

Students who are in good standing, who have passed the four areas of the computer engineering preliminary examination, who have successfully completed a minimum of 45 acceptable coursework credits and who have passed the proposal defense will be recommended by the department for admission to candidacy.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is the final and the most important component of the series of academic goals which culminate in the awarding of the doctoral degree. The dissertation is to be a work of original research scholarship which represents a patentable invention and/or material publishable in an archival publication. It should demonstrate the student’s ability to address a significant intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion.

As mentioned above, each student will be required to successfully defend a Ph.D. research proposal before his/her advisory committee prior to being admitted to Ph.D. candidacy; generally the same committee will preside over the student’s final Ph.D. dissertation defense.

Final Oral Examination

The final oral examination is a defense of the dissertation and is open to the public. The candidate will prepare and distribute reading copies of the dissertation to each doctoral committee member two weeks prior to the oral examination. Dissertation can only be accepted by the unanimous approval of the committee.

Computer Engineering (CE) and Related Courses

Core Areas: Theory (T), Architecture (A), Hardware (H), Systems (S)

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