The department offers a program leading to the PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), as well as joint PhD's in Materials Science and Engineering and Human-Robot Interaction. Students in the program must already have a Master of Science (MS) degree, or equivalent, in ECE or a related field. Applicants to the PhD program who do not have an MS degree can be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program, wherein, they will automatically be promoted to the PhD program upon successful completion of their MS degree without the need to reapply. The department differentiates between admission to the PhD program and PhD candidacy. No students are accepted as formal doctoral candidates until they have:

  1. identified a faculty member who has agreed to be their dissertation supervisor;
  2. exhibited merit through a qualifying examination process; and
  3. successfully defended a PhD proposal. The qualifying examination must be taken within one academic year of admission to the PhD program (within two academic years for part-time students), unless delayed with the advisor's permission.

Doctoral candidates are expected to plan a program of research under the direction of their advisor and with the guidance of a Research Committee (RC).

Typical areas available for dissertations include solid-state materials with an emphasis on optoelectronic and solar energy applications, microwave devices and systems, microwave thermography, electromagnetics, antennas, plasma physics, small computers, microprocessor applications, computer architecture, multiprocessing, VLSI design, VLSI CAD, microelectronics, communications systems, information theory, signal processing, digital electronics, Fourier optics, coherence theory, image analysis, nonlinear optics, and circuit theory.


Coursework: PhD students in ECE must earn a minimum of 54 credits beyond the MS degree. The additional credits earned must include a minimum of 6 lecture-based classes, four ECE Seminars, and a dissertation. The dissertation effort is usually assigned ten credits/ 30 credits. At least one class-based course should be taken outside of the department.

Advisor: Each PhD student should start under the guidance of an advisor approved by the ECE department. The student will do research under the direction of the advisor, write a dissertation about that work, have it read by a dissertation committee (see below) and defend the work in an oral presentation to the committee and all who are interested.

Qualifying Examination:

Research Committee: By the end of their second semester at Tufts, all graduate students planning on completing a PhD in the ECE department (whether they started with a BS, MS, or equivalent) and with consultation of their advisor must assemble a Research Committee (RC) that consists of three people:

  1. the advisor
  2. another ECE faculty member in the same, or a similar, area of study
  3. a third unrestricted member (faculty or equivalent), inside/outside ECE or outside Tufts, who is chosen by the advisor and student

Dissertation Committee: The student will coordinate with their advisor to form a Dissertation Committee (DC) that will be proposed to the ECE Graduate Committee for approval. The dissertation committee composition follows the SOE guidelines: chaired by the advisor, the committee must include at least two ECE faculty members (including the advisor, if applicable), one member from outside the department but inside Tufts, and one additional person from outside of Tufts and is expected to be a recognized authority on the subject of the dissertation.

Annual PhD Progress Report: Each PhD candidate will be annually reviewed by the advisor, Research Committee, and the ECE department. This process requires the submission of the Annual Progress Report, available in the Graduate Student Handbook.

PhD Proposal: The purpose of the proposal is to verify that the students have a comprehensive understanding of the background material needed to perform their research project.

Pre-Defense: This extended RC meeting takes place 6-12 months before an intended defense date. The purpose is to finalize the department's expectations about the graduate student's research prior to defending their dissertation.

PhD dissertation: As a general rule, PhD dissertations should be extended studies that go well beyond the scope of individual scholarly articles. They are expected to present a broad review of relevant literature and theory, to study extensively the problem posed and to place the results in a larger intellectual context.

Detailed descriptions of these processes can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.