PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering

A PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering provides a rigorous foundation for innovation across cross-cutting fields such as signal processing, machine learning, computer systems, communications and networking, cybersecurity, robotics and control systems, nanoelectronics, and cyber-physical systems. Our PhD students have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research with top researchers and educators in our department.

The PhD program in electrical and computer engineering prepares students to conduct original research in electrical and computer engineering and to impact society as innovative technical leaders in their respective fields. Students who graduate from the program enjoy a broad range of opportunities from the academic track, involving teaching and research, to research and development in the industrial and government sectors. Some achieve success as entrepreneurs, capitalizing on the background acquired through their innovative research and some become leaders in the industry, shaping the future of technology.

Our faculty work closely with students to help them acquire deep knowledge in their chosen fields, develop their research skills, and to foster creativity. Our students have access to a rich array of research experiences including seminars, collaborations with other researchers both within and outside Mason, presenting research findings in national and international conferences, publishing conference and journal articles, and authoring book chapters.

A number of local, national, and international entities from the industry and government sectors sponsor our research activities. Students also have the opportunity to participate in these activities through our research labs overseen by our faculty.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD is open to full-time and part-time students. Our full-time PhD students are usually supported through graduate research assistantships (GRA) or graduate teaching assistantships (GTA).

The ECE PhD program requires coursework, a qualifying exam, a teaching assignment, a dissertation proposal and research competency exam, a research seminar, dissertation research, and a dissertation defense.

For more information on the program, visit the catalog, email the department's PhD program, or call 703-993-1569.

Milestones and Program Requirements for ECE PhD students

Qualifying Exam

The ECE PhD Qualifying Exam tests students' knowledge of fundamental concepts and assesses their basic research skills. The exam consists of two parts: an in-class written technical qualifying exam (TQE), and a research qualifying exam (RQE). Students must pass the Technical Qualifying Exam (TQE) and the Research Qualifying Exam (RQE). After a student has passed the TQE, and has taken the RQE, the ECE PhD Committee reviews the exam results, the student's transcript, and a letter of recommendation from the student's advisor. Based on this information, the PhD Committee determines whether the student is qualified for the PhD program. A qualified student will proceed to choose a thesis advisor.

Plan of Study

PhD students have the opportunity to choose from a rich variety of coursework both from within the department and from other departments in consultation with the advisor. Advisors work together with their PhD advisees to provide direction to the research as well as coursework selection. Course requirements are listed in the catalog and a plan of study that fits the students' research aspirations is submitted in the form of a plan of study.

Research Competency Exam/Dissertation Proposal Defense

After completing coursework requirements students take an oral research competency exam to demonstrate their preparation for dissertation research. The exam consists of a presentation of the dissertation proposal followed by an oral exam. The exam is administered by the student's dissertation committee.

Teaching Requirement

To acquire teaching experience, each PhD student is required to participate in the department's teaching activity. The requirement is typically satisfied by working as a recitation instructor for one semester, presenting several lectures within a course, or performing other teaching work approved by the department.

Seminar Requirement

The student must present at least one ECE departmental seminar on the topic of their dissertation research.

Dissertation Defense

The PhD dissertation must represent a significant contribution to its field and must be deemed publishable in refereed journals or at highly-selective conferences. On completion of the dissertation the student defends the research at a presentation attended by the dissertation committee and open to the public

PhD in Information Technology

Our PhD in Information Technology is a multidisciplinary program that spans all research areas within Mason Engineering, as well as collaboration with faculty across campus. This broad program can be customized to support individual research interests. Students are encouraged to enter into an established concentration to provide focus to their program.

For more information, email Mason Engineering or call 703-993-1504.