Electrical Engineering, PhD

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Field of Study: Electrical Engineering


Requirements for admission include a strong record of scholarship in a completed bachelor's degree program in a field of engineering, mathematical or physical sciences, and fluency in written and spoken English. The University requires all foreign applicants to show English proficiency by achieving a TOEFL score of at least 577 on the paper-based exam or 90 on the internet-based exam. Submission of GRE scores for graduate applications is NOT required. Applications from students with a bachelor's degree in fields other than those listed above may be granted admission on a provisional basis. Such provisional students may be advanced to full standing upon completion of prerequisite conditions stipulated in the letter of admission.


Course registration is performed through the Student Information System (SIS). Each semester before registration, students should update any personal information that may have changed by logging into SIS and editing the appropriate information. All registration holds must be lifted in order to successfully complete the registration process.


Upon admission to the graduate program, each graduate student is assigned an academic advisor to assist in registration as well as planning a program of study (Academic Program). This is a temporary assignment made by the Department Chairperson based on the student's academic and research interests as identified at the time of application. 

During the first two semesters in the program, it is strongly suggested that each student meet with various members of faculty to discuss academic objectives/goals and research opportunities. In order to complete the research component of their respective degree program, each student must identify a faculty member who is willing to serve as the student's research advisor. The research advisor will also serve as the student’s permanent academic advisor if they are a primary member of the department faculty. If, however, the research advisor is not a primary member of the department faculty, the student is required to find a permanent academic advisor from the department faculty. For students enrolled in the PhD program, the research advisor is commonly known as the “dissertation” advisor.

Each student is required to file an Academic Program, which must be approved by the student's advisor and the Department Chairperson, and submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Full-time PhD students should choose a research advisor and file an Academic Program before taking the qualifier but no later than the beginning of the third semester. Upon passing the qualifier, full-time PhD students will be required to assemble the dissertation guidance committee, prepare a dissertation proposal, and present this proposal to the committee for their approval. This process should be completed within one semester of passing the PhD qualifier.

The student shall be responsible for forming a dissertation guidance committee of at least four members, which shall consist of the student's academic advisor and additional faculty members recommended by the advisor. For the PhD program, the minimum number of additional faculty members on the dissertation guidance committee is three, and at least two of the committee members must be within the ECSE program areas (Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Systems and Control Engineering). The chairperson of the dissertation guidance committee is normally the candidate's research advisor. 

Students may change advisors for a variety of reasons of which one of the most common is a change of the student's field of interest.  It should be noted that a change in research advisor may require that the student start a new research project, which could result in delaying graduation.  It is the responsibility of the student to inform the ECSE Office of Student Affairs in the event of a change in advisor.


Any decision by an academic advisor, dissertation guidance committee or Department Associate Chairperson may be appealed, in writing, to the Department Associate Chairperson who shall present the appeal, with their recommendations, to the faculty at its next regular faculty meeting. The faculty's decision shall be final.

PhD Degree Program Requirements

In order to successfully complete the PhD Degree Program, a student must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Fulfill all PhD course requirements in the chosen major area (see individual degree requirements below)
  • Have an approved Program of Study and complete the CWRU courses in the approved Program of Study with a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or greater
  • Successfully complete the PhD Qualifying Examination
  • Successfully complete the PhD Proposal Defense
  • Successfully complete and defend the PhD Dissertation
  • Fulfill the PhD residency requirement

PhD Candidacy

The final consideration of whether to admit the student to PhD candidacy will be taken by the PhD Qualifying Committee after the student has passed the PhD Qualifier. A written report on the results of the qualifier and PhD candidacy will be prepared by the committee and submitted to the Department Chairperson, who, in turn, will notify the School of Graduate Studies of the results.

PhD Proposal

After passing the Qualifier and being admitted to PhD candidacy, the PhD candidate is required to pass a Dissertation Proposal Exam on a timely basis, generally within one semester after being admitted to candidacy. This exam shall be administered by the student's dissertation guidance committee and consists of a written dissertation proposal and an oral presentation of the proposed dissertation research. As part of the oral presentation, the student will be expected to answer questions covering the proposed research as well as questions on related topics as deemed appropriate by the student's dissertation guidance committee. The written dissertation proposal must be received by the committee members at least ten days before the date scheduled for the oral exam and presentation. The Dissertation Proposal Exam, the PhD research, the final oral dissertation defense, and all other requirements in the student's PhD program of study must be completed within five years after the student is admitted to PhD candidacy.

The PhD Oral Defense

The student shall provide an announcement containing a title, abstract, date, time and location of the defense to the ECSE Office of Student Affairs for general distribution at least 10 days in advance of the thesis defense.

The PhD Residency Requirements

All PhD students shall fulfill the PhD residency requirements set forth by the Case School of Engineering and the School of Graduate Studies. Specifically, the PhD student is required either to register for at least 9 credit hours during each of two consecutive semesters or to engage in academic work (taking courses, assisting in course development and/or teaching, fully engaging in research, or some other scholarly activities) in at least six consecutive terms (fall, spring, or summer) between matriculation and a period not exceeding five years after the first credited hour of ECSE 701. The period during a leave of absence cannot be counted to fulfill the residency requirement.

PhD Policies

For PhD policies and procedures, please review the School of Graduate Studies section of the General Bulletin.