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Ph.D. Program: Electrical Engineering


The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the Naval Postgraduate School offers a program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The goal of the Ph.D. program is to provide the scholastic background and training necessary to do original research in the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

All students of the Naval Postgraduate School are required to be military officers or government employees sponsored by an agency of the U.S. government. Employees of the Naval Postgraduate School are also eligible to pursue degrees on a part-time basis with the approval of their supervisor and the department chairman.

Interested students may apply to the program through the NPS Admissions office.

The program is managed by the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee which has jurisdiction over all individual programs. Rules for the program are based on Section 5.4 of the Academic Council Policy Manual and are intended to be consistent with that document. Questions not addressed in these pages or in the Academic Council Policy Manual can be forwarded to Chairman, ECE Ph.D. Program Committee.

UP on enrolling in the ECE Ph.D. Program and starting the studies, the student is requested to prepare a plan for his Ph.D. studies in consultation with the chair of the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. This plan will be a living document and is required to be updated periodically.

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1.  Prospective Ph.D. degree students will take the written screening exam administered by the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. The student will choose three of the seven technical areas from the list below to be tested. A list of topics for each area can be obtained by clicking on the area. Suggested graduate level courses corresponding to each area are listed in bold-face with prerequisites indicated in parentheses. A student need not take these courses at NPS to appear for the screening exam; he/she may have already had equivalent courses from another institution. It is, however, assumed that the student has familiarity with the course contents and that of the prerequisites.

2.  The student must pass all three areas of the exam in one attempt to be successful.

3.  If unsuccessful in the written screening exam, the student may request an oral exam to be taken before the end of the following quarter in the same three areas as his/her written exam. The oral exam will be conducted by the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. The student must pass all three areas of the exam in one attempt in order to be successful. Otherwise the student does not qualify for the Ph.D. program.

4.  Upon passing the written or oral screening exam, the Ph.D. student enters into the ECE Ph.D. program. A Dissertation Committee for the student is selected in consultation with the Chairman of theECE Ph.D. Program Committee and/or the ECE Department Chair.

The dissertation committee is composed of at least five members. At least three members are to be chosen from the ECE Department, one member is to be chosen from another academic department at NPS, and the other member may be chosen from the ECE Department, any other academic department at NPS, or from another university or appropriate institution. Only one member may be from another university or appropriate institution. The dissertation advisor may also serve as the chairman of the dissertation committee and is considered to be one of the members of the committee. The roles of advisor and committee chair can be served by two different members of the committee.

Once a dissertation advisor and dissertation committee have been chosen, the chairman of the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee sends a memo to the Academic Council officially nominating the dissertation advisor and dissertation committee for the student. The Academic Council must approve the dissertation advisor and the dissertation committee before a student can be officially admitted into the ECE Ph.D. program.

Breadth requirements are satisfied by taking at least three graded graduate-level courses in a focused area outside of the intended dissertation research area, approved by the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee, from one or a mix of these departments (academic group):
  1. Computer Science
  2. Electrical and Computer Engineering
  3. Mathematics
  4. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  5. Meteorology
  6. Oceanography
  7. Operations Research
  8. Physics
  9. Space Systems (academic group)

Requirements for satisfying breadth in a focused area must be first approved by the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. At least two courses must be at the 4000 level. A  minimum grade of B+ is required in all breadth courses. All breadth courses must be taken while enrolled in the ECE Ph.D. program.

The ECE PhD Program Committee will prepare, administer, and grade the written and oral sections of the qualifying exam for each PhD student.  The committee may delegate this task, in whole or in part, to the student’s Dissertation Committee, or to a separate Qualifying Exam Committee (referred to as “the exam committee” here) appointed by the ECE PhD Program committee.  Delegation shall be accomplished by written memo from the ECE PhD Program Committee to all members of the Dissertation Committee, or to all members of the separate Qualifying Exam Committee appointed by the ECE PhD Program Committee, as well as to the department chair.

Written Qualifying Exam

A written qualifying exam shall be administered by the exam committee. The written qualifying exam typically covers three major topics of study related to the research area of the student. These topics are typically supported by the graduate level (EC3xxx and EC4xxx) courses taken by the students. The student and the exam committee must mutually agree upon a list of topics and/or a list of courses to be tested.

In order to pass the written exam all members of the exam committee must unanimously agree that the student has passed.

If a student fails the written qualifying exam, he/she may be re-examined only once, and only if the exam committee so recommends. (See the section on Retaking of Failed Exams below.)

Oral Qualifying Exam

An oral qualifying exam shall be administered by the exam committee after a student passes the written qualifying exam and satisfies all the requirements for his/her minor. The oral qualifying exam covers the same major areas of study covered by the written qualifying exam, the minor area, and any other topics of scholarly endeavor that the committee may deem relevant.

The Academic Council must be invited to send an observer to the oral qualifying exam.

A student is not allowed to present his/her research topic, plans, and results (if any) during the oral qualifying exam. The exam committee will decide how a student should convey this information separately. (Committee chairs should see Requirements for ECE Dissertation Committees.)

The results of the oral qualifying exam (whether pass or fail) must be reported by written memo addressed to  the Academic Council via the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee chairman. This memo must be signed by allmembers of the exam committee. Unanimous agreement among members of the exam committee is required for passage of this exam.

If a student fails the oral qualifying exam, he/she may be re-examined only once, and only if the exam committee so recommends. (See the section on Retaking of Failed Exams below.) The role of the exam committee ends once the qualifying exam process is completed.

Advancement to Candidacy marks the beginning of the main research phase. The student will not normally be taking any courses during this phase. In order to advance to candidacy the student must have completed the breadth requirement, passed both qualifying exams, and have submitted an acceptable dissertation research proposal. The student will prepare the proposal in consultation with the dissertation advisor and members of the dissertation committee. Basic requirements however are specified in the page on requirements for dissertation committees. When the dissertation proposal has been accepted by the dissertation committee, the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee, upon receipt of the proposal, will recommend to the Academic Council that the student be advanced to candidacy for the doctorate.

The student must defend his/her research by giving an oral presentation which is meant to summarize the significance, originality, and validity of the results of his/her research and how it advances the state-of-the-art in his/her field. The student must also successfully answer any questions that may arise during the oral presentation concerning the research accomplished and about the written dissertation itself.

The defense cannot be scheduled to occur earlier than six months from the date of "advancement to candidacy."

A draft copy of the student's dissertation must be given to each member of his/her dissertation committee at least two weeks before the scheduled oral defense.

The Academic Council must be invited to send an observer to the oral defense of the dissertation.

The results of the oral defense (whether pass or fail) must be reported to the Academic Council via the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee Chair by a memo signed by all members of the dissertation committee. If all members of the dissertation committee unanimously agree that the student has passed the oral defense of dissertation, then the memo sent to the Academic Council will indicate that the student has passed the oral defense of dissertation, and is nominated to receive the Ph.D. degree.

If a student fails the oral defense of dissertation, he/she may be re-examined only once, and only if his/her dissertation committee so recommends. (See the section on Retaking of Failed Exams below.)

Upon final acceptance of the dissertation, the dissertation release form shall be signed by each member of the dissertation committee, the department chairman, and the associate provost for academic affairs.

In cases of failure, the written qualifying exam, the oral qualifying exam, and the thesis defense may be taken a second time on recommendation of the dissertation committee and the approval of the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. Re-examination is a privilege, however, that may or may not be granted by the ECE Ph.D. Program Committee. In any case no student may take any of these exams more than two times.

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Ph.D. Minor in Electrical Engineering


Purpose: The Naval Postgraduate School requires a Ph.D. candidate to minor in an area outside of the department of the candidate's specialization. The following requirements are expected of candidates minoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Eligibility: All Ph.D. candidates who have been successfully screened for entry into the Ph.D. program by their departments and have had a Ph.D. committee appointed. (The ECE Department must have one representative on the committee.)

Course Requirements: In order to fulfill the requirements of the Minor in ECE, a student must: 

Take the courses (and prerequisites, if necessary) required by one of the options offered by the Department (see checklist (.doc .pdf) for Ph.D. Minor in EE), and receive an average QPR of 3.00 or better in these courses (not counting the prerequisite courses).
Substitution of two or fewer courses in an option will be allowed only by written petition approved by the Ph.D. committee member from the ECE Department and the ECE Department Chairman

Program Approval: For help in setting up a minor or in answering any questions, see the ECE representative on your Ph.D. committee or the Department Chairman.

Certification of Meeting Minor Requirements: A student receives certification of meeting all of the minor requirements by preparing a copy of the attached checklist and submitting it to the ECE Ph.D. committee member with a transcript showing the grades received in the courses. The committee member will check the list to ensure that the requirements are met, will sign the checklist in the appropriate place, and forward the checklist to the Chairman of the ECE Department. The Chairman will review the checklist, sign the checklist, forward a memo to the candidate's Ph.D. committee certifying the completion of the minor requirements, and file the checklist in the ECE Department.

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Doctoral Programs  Important Documents

Screening Exam Notes and Guidelines

Requirements for ECE Dissertation Committees

Screening Exam Topics:

Ph.D Minor Checklists

.doc      .pdf