Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy
Graduate students who have exhibited a high degree of scholastic proficiency and have given evidence of ability for conducting independent research may consider extending their goals toward the doctorate. The Ph.D. degree is awarded after completing the program of study and research described below, and upon preparation and defense of a dissertation representing an original and significant contribution deemed worthy of publication in a recognized scientific or engineering journal.
Admission to Program
Students entering the doctoral program with a Bachelor’s degree must meet the entrance requirements for the Master’s program in the appropriate area of concentration. Students entering at the Master’s level for the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering program are normally expected to have a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. Generally, admission to these Ph.D. programs is conditional on a student achieving a 3.5 grade point average in prior B.S. and M.S. programs. GRE is required for all applicants.
Thesis Advisor and Academic Advisor
Many factors enter into a student’s choice of an advisor for his/her research. In addition to the scientific, intellectual and personality factors which influence the pairing of student and professor, financial aspects must also be considered. For most full-time students, the ideal situation is to find an advisor who has a research topic of mutual interest, as well as funds available from research grants and contracts which can support the student as a Research Assistant (RA). A prospective student is encouraged to contact faculty members in his/her research area regarding the possibility of advising before applying to the Ph.D. program. A student who joins the Ph.D. program without securing a thesis advisor will be assigned an academic advisor, who will guide the student in terms of course selection and research activities before the qualifying exam. A Ph.D. student candidate must obtain the commitment of a faculty member in the student’s chosen area of major research interest to be the student’s thesis advisor before taking the qualifying exam.
Usually, the thesis advisor is a full-time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and as such is considered chair of the student’s Guidance Committee. If a student wishes to have someone outside the ECE department to serve as his/her advisor, the student should submit the CV of the person and a letter of commitment from the person to serve as the advisor to the Ph.D. EE Program Director for approval. The thesis advisor must have a Ph.D. degree in the student’s proposed area of research.
A Ph.D. student (referred to as the student below) must pass the Ph.D. qualifying examination before the deadline to continue in the Ph.D. program and register for Ph.D. Dissertation Credits (ECE-GY 999X). The exam is an oral exam with content described below, but the student must have completed certain course and project requirements before taking the oral exam. Results of the exam will be recorded in the student’s transcript as RE-GY 9990.Detailed information about the requirements to be satisfied before taking the qualifying exam including both course requirement, project scope and application process can be found in ECE graduate student manual, available under the ECE department webpage. Results of the exam will be recorded in the student’s transcript as RE-GY 9990 Ph.D. Qualifying Exam.
A. Requirements to be satisfied before taking the oral exam
1) The student must have registered at NYU-Tandon for at least one semester and taken at least 3 graduate-level courses and the student’s cumulative GPA from formal courses (not including M.S. Thesis, independent projects and readings) should be 3.5 or above.
2) The student must have completed at least 2 core courses (See Section on Course Requirement), with GPA over the core courses being 3.5 or above, and each core course earning a grade of B or above.
3) The student must have completed a research project under the supervision of a project advisor. The advisor can be any faculty member associated with ECE department. Notice that an external researcher may serve in this role, subject to approval by the chair of the ECE Graduate Curriculum and Standards Committee (to be referred to as the Graduate Committee subsequently). Examples of the project include, but are not limited to, an in-depth literature review of a certain topic, demonstrating solid understanding of a certain set of papers, or implementation and validation of some algorithms in past literature, or a study based on ideas initiated by the advisor or the student. Publication is not a requirement, but is encouraged if the student and the advisor find the contributions by the student worthy of publication. The project advisor should ensure that the project topic is appropriate for evaluating the student’s potential for Ph.D. research. It is the student’s responsibility to identify and secure a project advisor.
4) The student should have secured an ECE faculty member (or an external member approved by the Chair of the Graduate Committee) prior to taking the qualify exam, who will serve as the student’s Ph.D. advisor if the student passes the oral exam. The project advisor does not have to be the Ph.D. advisor. The prospective Ph.D. advisor is not obligated to provide financial support for the candidate. The advisor’s letter of support must state a commitment of advising should the student pass the exam. It may also contain a narrative summarizing student’s progress in the program.
B. Oral exam
1) The oral exam committee should include the prospective Ph.D. advisor, and three other faculty members chosen by the student in consultation with the Ph.D. advisor. The committee should have at least three Tandon ECE tenure or tenure track (T/TT) faculty (including advisor), the fourth one can be a faculty member or an industry/research professor (with Ph.D. in ECE. or a related area) from NYUAD, NYUSH, or any other NYU department. At most one member can attend the exam remotely if the member is at NYUAD or NYUSH. The student is responsible to secure the committee members to attend the oral exam and identify a time at which all committee members can attend. The exam should be scheduled for 1.5 hours to allow sufficient time for questions and answers and final discussion among the committee members. Once the schedule is fixed, the advisor should announce the exam to all ECE faculty and invite them to attend the exam.
2) A student must send in an official application, along with other required material, for taking the oral exam to the Ph.D. EE qualifying exam coordinator, at least two weeks before the target date of the oral exam. The application form can be downloaded from: http://engineering.nyu.edu/academics/departments/electrical/students/student-resources. The student must be registered for RE-GY 9990 at the time of the application. This zero-credit course is used for recording the exam results and follows the standard add/drop deadlines. A permission code for RE-GY should be requested from Prof. XK Chen with a copy to the student’s advisor.
3) The student must submit a written project report to the exam committee at least one week before the exam date. The written report should be self-contained, and follows the standard format of a conference paper. It is recommended that the report size is between 4 - 6 pages in double column, font size 11.
4) During the exam, the student should give a 30-minute project presentation, followed by questions from the committee members, which should cover both the topic areas of the project and the foundational knowledge in the student’s chosen research area. Each committee member (excluding the advisor) is expected to engage in about 15 minutes of questions and answers with the student, with a total of 45 minutes for questions and answers. The student may ask each committee member about from which area will the faculty member ask fundamental questions, although the faculty member is not obliged to provide a detailed answer.
5) The committee will provide a written evaluation of the student’s potential for Ph.D. research to the department. The committee members can seek input from the prospective Ph.D. advisor when making such evaluation, but the advisor is excluded from participating in voting and writing the evaluation report. The evaluation criteria can be found from the evaluation form posted here: http://engineering.nyu.edu/academics/departments/electrical/student-resources
6) The ECE department will make the final decision of pass or fail based on the exam committee’s recommendation. If the student and advisor intent is to take the dissertation credits ECE-GY 999X during the same term as the RE-GY 9990 qualifying exam, the exam committee’s recommendation must reach the Ph.D. qualifying exam coordinator at least a week in advance of the add/drop deadline for that term.
7) Result (Pass or fail) of the qualifying exam (RE-GY 9990) will be recorded in the student’s transcript.
8) The student should prepare the report and the presentation independently, without the help from his/her advisor.
9) If a student wants to present a work described in a published, accepted or submitted paper of which the student is not the sole author, the student should submit a short report (2 pages) that is an extensive summary of the work, or a literature survey of the area, and his/her future work, written by the student only, to be submitted along with the paper.
10) The student can present a work that has been presented at a conference, but the presentation should be modified as necessary to fit the qualifying exam oral presentation time limit and provide sufficient background material. The modification should be done by the student independently, without the help of the advisor.
C. Time Limit and Timelines of the First and Repeat Oral Exams
1) Qualifying Exam Limit: It is important to note that students must pass the qualifying exam within 2 years of starting the Ph.D. program or they can be dismissed from the Ph.D. program. The 2 years is “academic years,” i.e., fall/spring, fall/spring. In other words, the summer after the 2nd year is not included.
2) First Exam: For students (both full-time and part-time) who started the Ph.D. program with prior M.S. degree in electrical engineering or a related area, the first oral exam should be taken no later than one year after starting in the Ph.D. program. For students (both full-time and part-time) who started the Ph.D. program without a prior M.S. degree, the first oral exam can be taken either in the first year or the second year but the max of 2 years to pass the qualify still applies. If a student does not meet the requirement for taking the exam by this deadline, the student might be disqualified from the program.
3) Repeat Oral Exam and Disqualification: Students who failed the first oral exam but otherwise successfully meet the requirement for taking the oral exam can repeat the exam at most once, which should be completed within one year after the first exam. Students who fail to pass the repeat exam will be disqualified from the program.
4) Scheduling of First Exam and Repeat Exam: The first or repeat oral exam should be scheduled before a semester starts so that the student will be informed of the exam result on time for his or her course planning. A student who needs to repeat the qualify exam cannot repeat the exam in the same semester and must wait at least three months from the time when the first exam was taken.
5) More on the Repeat Exam: When a student is found to be deficient only in one part of the exam (e.g. written report, presentation of the project, answering fundamental questions), the student may be asked to repeat just that part of the exam. The repeat of a portion of the exam is treated the same as the repeat of the qualifying exam and is subject to the same deadline.
1) Core Courses: A student, in consultation with and upon approval by the Ph.D. advisor, should choose at least 4 ECE-GY courses (12 credits) among courses with numbers ECE-GY 6xxx, ECE-GY 7xxx, ECE-GY 8xxx, as their core courses. Transferred courses cannot be used to satisfy the core course requirement. To graduate, each course must have a grade of B or above and the average grade of the four courses must be 3.5 or above. The student must have completed at least 2 such courses with the average grade of taken courses being 3.5 or above, before taking the oral qualifying exam. The remaining core courses must be completed before graduation. The list of core courses a student (with a prior M.S. degree) will register for must be approved by his or her Ph.D. advisor.
2) ECE-GY courses: A student must choose at least 24 credits of ECE-GY courses, including the core courses. The robotics courses (ROB-GY) listed below may count as ECE-GY courses. This requirement can be satisfied by the 30 credits transferred from a prior M.S. degree in electrical engineering or computer engineering.
The following robotics courses count as ECE-GY prefixed courses:
3) Non-ECE Courses: A student must choose at least 2 non-ECE graduate-level courses (6 credits or more) that are in either Science or Engineering discipline. These courses should be chosen from areas that are distinct and yet consonant with the student’s research area. Please note the courses in management cannot be counted towards this requirement. Courses taken at other schools of NYU will be counted towards this requirement provided that the Ph.D. advisor approves them. Transferred courses taken at other accredited graduate programs are subject to approval by the Ph.D. EE program director.
4) Other courses: The degree requires a total of 75 credits with at least 21 Ph.D. dissertation credits taken at Tandon. A student must take a minimum of 42 credits in formal courses (as distinct from “independent study” credits such as reading, project or thesis), with a minimum of 24 course credits in ECE-GY courses. The student has freedom in choosing courses, provided that he or she satisfies the requirements specified in 1), 2) and 3). The student should consult with his/her Ph.D. advisor or academic advisor in devising a course plan as early as possible so that the course work covers sufficient depth for the student’s chosen area of research and related field, as well as sufficient breadth. Note that credits from CS-GY 5000-level courses cannot be counted towards Ph.D. EE degree.
5) GPA requirement: As with all the graduate programs at NYU-Tandon, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above among all courses taken at NYU. A student with GPA below 3.0 has up to two semesters on probation. If at the end of the second semester on probation, the GPA is still below 3.0, the student will be disqualified from the program. The Ph.D. EE program further requires that a student must have a GPA of 3.5 or above among all formal courses (not including dissertation or other independent studies) taken at NYU to graduate, in addition to the GPA requirement for the core courses as specified in Item 1).
6) Internships: International students must register for an internship course to do an internship. Up to 6 credits of approved internships for Ph.D. (CP-GY 9941, CP-GY 9951, CP-GY 9961, CP-GY 9971, 1.5 credits each) can be applied towards the 75 credits Ph.D. degree requirement, and in particular, the ECE-GY course requirement as specified in Item 2) above. These credits can be part of the 45 credits beyond the 30 credits of a prior M.S. degree, which may include up to 3 credits of approved internships for M.S. (CP-GY 9911, CP-GY 9921). For an internship to be approved for credits, the internship must provide training relevant to the student’s research area. All internship must be approved and supervised by the student’s Ph.D. advisor. The internship supervisor should submit a midterm and a final term evaluation report to the Ph.D. advisor. The student must submit a project report to the advisor upon completion of the internship for the evaluation and grading of the internship course.
For Ph.D. students with a prior M.S. degree, they are allowed to transfer up to 36 credits, of which 30 credits must be from their prior M.S. degree in ECE or a closely related field. For Ph.D. students admitted without a prior M.S. degree, they can transfer at most 6 credits. For the blanket transfer of 30 credits from a prior M.S. degree in ECE or a closely related field toward the Ph.D. degree in EE, the student must provide a copy of his or her prior M.S. degree and the official academic transcripts. For individual course transfer, the student must provide an official transcript in a sealed envelope as well as catalog descriptions of the courses to be transferred, for evaluation and approval by the department graduate advisor. The official transcript and/or diploma submitted during the student’s admission process can be used in place of new submission. Graduate courses taken at other schools of NYU or taken as an undergraduate student at NYU Tandon School of Engineering are exempt from this policy, but are subject to the general polity of the Tandon School of Engineering regarding such courses. This policy is effective for students entering in Spring 2018 and later.
On passing the qualifying examination, the student should consult with his or her thesis advisor to identify additional members and form a guidance committee. The committee should be composed of at least three members with the thesis advisor usually acting as Chairperson. If the dissertation advisor is not a tenured or tenure track (T/TT) Tandon faculty member of the Department, then a T/TT Tandon faculty member of the Department in the student’s research area must be invited to serve as the Committee Chair. The committee should include at least two ECE T/TT faculty (including the advisor, and the NYUAD and NYUSH T/TT faculty), and may include at most two external members from outside the Department who are in the student’s area of major research interest. The student must submit the names of the members of his or her Guidance Committee to the Office of Graduate Studies with a copy to the ECE Graduate Office within 6 months of passing the qualifying exam. The Guidance Committee conducts the area examination and thesis defense, and approves the final thesis. The Guidance Committee appointment form can be obtained from the Office of Graduate Studies.
In the area exam, the student reviews the prior research in the student’s chosen dissertation topic and presents preliminary research results and additional research plan. The area exam is conducted by the Guidance Committee, but may be open to other interested faculty and students. The Guidance Committee attends and evaluates the student’s performance and determines whether the student demonstrates the depth of knowledge and understanding necessary to carry out research in the chosen area. Results of the exam will be recorded in the student’s transcript as ECE-GY 9980.
The student must submit a written report that summarizes prior research and the future plan at least one week before the scheduled exam time. The report should follow the Ph.D. dissertation template and be at least 25 pages long. The student must take and pass the area exam within 2 years after passing the Ph.D. qualifying exam. Students who fail to pass the exam by the deadline will be disqualified from the program.
The area exam evaluation form provides further details on the evaluation criterion for passing, and can be downloaded from: http://engineering.nyu.edu/academics/departments/electrical/student-resources
Registration for Ph.D. Dissertation Credits
After passing the qualifying exams, and with the agreement of the Thesis Advisor, the Ph.D. candidate may begin registration for dissertation credits ECE-GY 999X. (The student’s failure to abide by this rule may result in loss of credit for the dissertation registration.) A student must register at least 3 credits for ECE-GY 999X each semester. A minimum of 21 credits is required for the Ph.D. degree. The student must register for thesis continuously, every Fall and Spring semester, unless a Leave of Absence has been granted by the Office of Graduate Studies.
Submission of the Thesis and Thesis Defense
Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate undergoes an oral thesis defense. The defense is conducted by the Guidance Committee, but is open to all members of the ECE faculty and other invited people. The student must submit a complete draft of the dissertation to the Guidance Committee members at least one week before the scheduled defense. The student should consult the Office of Graduate Studies regarding how to submit, reproduce and bind the final manuscript.
Seminar Attendance Requirement
Ph.D. students are required to register for a 0-credit Research Seminar course (ECE-GY 9900) for at least 4 semesters. Satisfactory grade is given only if the student attends more than 2/3 of the seminars offered in a semester. Part-time students who have difficulty attending the seminar because of work conflict may be exempted from this requirement upon approval of the Ph.D. EE program director. The student should submit the approval note when applying for graduation.
To be granted the Ph.D. degree, a Ph.D. candidate must either have a peer-reviewed journal paper (accepted or published), or have at least one paper under review by a peer-reviewed journal on the thesis research subject.
For the journal paper(s), a letter of acceptance by a journal, or a letter of submission to a peer-reviewed journal along with acknowledgment of its receipt by the journal, will constitute the required evidence. If there is no accepted/published journal paper, the student should have at least one accepted conference paper that appeared in the proceedings of a peer-reviewed conference.
Requirements for Students Entered Before Fall 2014
Students who entered before Fall 2014 can either follow the requirements described above, or the requirement effective at the time of matriculation. The requirements posted in the NYU-Tandon catalog as of Sept. 2013 differ from the new requirements in the following aspects. For a complete description, please consult the ECE Graduate Student Manual published in Spring 2013.
Course and Thesis Requirements: A minimum of 75 credits of academic work beyond the bachelor’s degree, including a minimum of 21 credits of NYU-Tandon dissertation research, is required. A minimum of 42 credits in formal courses (as distinct from independent study credits such as reading, project or thesis) are required. A student entering with a M.S. from a reputable graduate program may transfer 30 credits. Ph.D. students are required to take a minimum of 9 credits of courses in a minor area outside of electrical engineering. The minor must be taken in an area that is both distinct from and yet consonant with the student’s major study area. Students work with thesis advisers to develop their major study program. The major program should constitute a coherent, in-depth study of the most advanced knowledge in the student’s area of concentration.
Publication Requirement: To be granted the Ph.D. degree, a Ph.D. candidate must have at least one accepted or submitted journal paper on the thesis-research subject.
Transfer credits: For Ph.D. students entered before Spring 2015, the following policy as stated in the NYU-Tandon catalog as of Sept. 2013 are applicable: Doctoral candidates may transfer a maximum of 48 credits, including a 30-credit blanket transfer from a prior M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering or a closely related field, and additional courses in Science and Engineering not included in the prior MS that are individually transferred. For the blanket 30-credit transfer, the prior M.S. need not be a 30-credit M.S., so long as an M.S. degree (or equivalent) was granted, and a copy of the degree and detailed transcripts are presented. Additional courses individually transferred cannot include project, thesis, dissertation, guided studies or readings, or special topics credits. Applications for transfer credits must be submitted for consideration before the end of the first semester of matriculation. The student’s major academic department evaluates graduate transfer credits, but no courses with grades less than B will be considered.
Ph.D. Time Limits: The Ph.D. time clock begins at the time of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Full-time Ph.D. students who have completed an M.S. degree or who transfer 24 or more graduate credits towards their Ph.D. degree must complete their Ph.D. degree requirements within six years from the beginning of their Ph.D. studies. Full-time Ph.D. students who transfer in or have completed fewer than 24 credits when they begin their Ph.D. studies have a maximum of seven years to complete their Ph.D. Part-time Ph.D. students must complete their Ph.D. degree requirements within nine years from the beginning of their Ph.D. studies. Approved leave of absence will stop the time clock.
For further information, please refer to the graduate manual, which can be found on the student resources page: https://engineering.nyu.edu/academics/departments/electrical-and-computer-engineering/student-resources