Ph.D. Degrees

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The following requirements include the course hours normally accumulated during the student's master's degree. 



Group I: ECE 6000 level classes in one or two TIAs:


Three classes in a combination of one or two technical interest areas of the student's choosing (All for letter grade credit).
Group II: ECE 6000-level classes


Nine hours of classes, all of which must be outside of and not cross-listed with the TIA(s) above. All for letter grade credit.
Group III: Minor in an area outside ECE


Nine hours of classes in a single discipline outside of ECE. All for letter grade credit.
Group IV: Electives


(Up to 12 M.S. thesis hours, recorded as such on an official transcript, may be used in this area)
ECE 8022 Professional Communications Seminar


Pass/fail. Permit required. Pass the Coursework Qualifier to receive a permit.
PHIL6000 Responsible Conduct of Research


Pass/fail. Students entering the Ph.D. program in Fall 2011 or later and M.S. students who were admitted for Fall 2011 or later and then transition to Ph.D. must take an RCR course to fulfill this requirement.
Total hours required



In addition, there are a number of requirements imposed by the Institute. These include:

  • Student must pass a Comprehensive Examination. In ECE, this is the combination of the Ph.D. Coursework Qualifier and the dissertation proposal.
  • Student must have at least two semesters of full-time, on-campus enrollment.
  • A minimum of 9 hours for letter grade must be taken at Georgia Tech.
  • The training in the Responsible Conduct of Research consists of two parts: an online training (to be completed in the first 90 days of the program) and a class (PHIL 6000).
  • The student must complete and defend a dissertation, for which prior approval of the topic is necessary.
  • Once admitted to candidacy, the student must complete all degree requirements within 7 years. 
  • Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA. 

Minor Field of Study: The minor is most often in mathematics or in computer science; a list of Math courses and a list of Computer Science courses acceptable for a Ph.D. minor can be found on the "Minors" tab in the Courses and Coursework Planning section. Minor courses in another area will be considered; however, minor courses in non-technical areas (for example, management) will not be approved.

Details of the degree requirements are in the ECE Graduate Student Handbook. To assist with planning when to take courses, visit the projected schedule of graduate classes page on the ECE website and search for details about ECE classes on the ECE Course Information page.


All Ph.D. students must complete the Institute's Responsible Conduct of Research requirements.

The Ph.D. Coursework Completion form must be completed on the ECE secure website, prior to the submission of the Ph.D. Proposal.

Students who wish to count course credit earned at other universities toward their Ph.D. degree requirements should complete this form no earlier than their second term. The classes have to be graduate or senior undergraduate level. No classes that were used to satisfy an undergraduate degree can be used toward the Ph.D. degree. Up to 30 hours of credits earned toward a graduate degree with a grade of C and above at a different institution can be used towards the Ph.D. degree. M.S. Thesis can be used in Group IV (electives) for a maximum of 12 credit hours. The approved classes will only count toward the Ph.D. degree course requirements and will not be transferred on the Georgia Tech transcript.

The following package needs to be submitted to the Academic Office for evaluation and approval:

Copy of the Coursework Completion form, filled out entirely and saved. The classes have to show the institution name, number, and title. If the coursework is not completed at the time of the submission, future classes need to be included for a total of 43 hours. The future classes can be later changed to other eligible classes. Please use the classes taken at Georgia Tech in Groups I, II, and III as much as you can.

Non-official transcript from the institution where the classes have been taken. The transcript needs to show that the classes have been used toward a graduate degree and whether the institution has a semester or quarter system.

Syllabi/course descriptions for all the classes to be used in Groups I, II, and III.

A soft copy of the M.S. thesis (if used in the coursework plan).


The Coursework Qualifier requirement is to obtain a 3.5 GPA in four courses that the student selects from lists prepared by the ECE Technical Interest Groups (TIGs). Further details are available in the ECE Graduate Student Handbook.

Coursework Qualifier Completion Form

Coursework Qualifier TIG Course Lists

Coursework Qualifier Timing

For ECE Ph.D. students matriculating into an ECE graduate program in Fall 2018 or after, the Coursework Qualifier requirement must be completed by the end of their second year. Any ECE Ph.D. student who has already passed the ECE Preliminary Exam is exempted from the Coursework Qualifier requirement.

If you believe you have special circumstances that warrant an exception to this policy, please meet with ECE’s Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.



ECE Ph.D. students matriculating into an ECE graduate program in Fall 2018 or after must complete their Proposal Exam by the end of their 7th term, not including summers. The expectations for the Proposal Exam have changed as of Fall 2018. The student is expected to demonstrate background knowledge of their dissertation topic, as well as broader understanding of the discipline. The Proposal must contain a detailed plan for the completion of Ph.D.-level research on the dissertation topic, and preferably some results. However, it is understood that any results will be early and possibly inconclusive; and the dissertation topic, methods, and results may evolve considerably in-between the Proposal and the Ph.D. defense. Students are advised to seek the input of the committee on the research direction, and inform their committee members of significant changes. 

Proposal Guidelines 

Proposal Forms

As of Fall 2020, all ECE Ph.D. students will submit a progress report to the proposal committee on June 1st of every year, starting two years after the proposal exam (Example: if a student proposes in 2020, their first report would be due on June 1, 2022). The proposal committee evaluates the degree progress and makes the recommendation of satisfactory or non-satisfactory degree progress. For more details on this policy, please consult the Graduate Handbook.



Deadlines and forms


Students who have completed all degree requirements prior to the graduation term and wish to use the enrollment waiver in the graduation term should complete and submit the enrollment waiver request form.



The procedures below are to be followed for M.S.E.C.E. students who wish to change their major from M.S.E.C.E. to Ph.D. in ECE:

Must pass Coursework Qualifier – Please submit the Coursework Qualifier Completion Form if you haven't already

Minimum GPA of 3.5 – Graduate Office will verify.

Find a Ph.D. research advisor - submit Ph.D. advisor selection form and proof of funding.

Statement of Purpose (must be typed):  To be considered for the Ph.D. program in ECE, you must submit the internal application with a new statement of purpose, indicating the reasons for changing degree status from M.S. to Ph.D. 

Recommendation Letter:  The student's advisor must provide a letter recommending the student for the Ph.D. program in ECE. Additional recommendations in support of the student's plans are encouraged. The letter can be submitted in person to the Academic Office in Van Leer W208 or online at Contact the Graduate Affairs Office.

When the items above are received, the ECE Graduate Committee will review the student's request.  If your request is approved, you will be required to submit a change of major form to change your status from M.S.E.C.E. to Ph.D. in ECE.

For International Students, if your request is approved, you will be required to change your I-20 or DS 2019 to reflect your current program of study as Ph.D.

Proof of funding will be required to process your new I-20 or DS 2019.


The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering participates in the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program, which is housed in the College of Engineering. The program offers advanced courses in bioengineering, engineering specialties, and life sciences combined with research and development of new or improved physical and mathematical concepts and techniques, which may be applied to problems in medicine and biology.

The bioengineering program offers master's and doctoral degrees through participating schools in the College of Engineering and the College of Computing. Interested applicants with an electrical and/or computer engineering background apply for admission in the bioengineering program through ECE. Once admitted, students follow the bioengineering program degree requirements and curriculum.

Additional information on the bioengineering program, including how to apply and a comparison between the bioengineering program and traditional engineering programs, can be found on the Georgia Tech Bioengineering Interdisciplinary Program website.


This interdisciplinary Ph.D. program offers coursework covering mechanics, controls, perception, artificial intelligence, and autonomy. The program also features a strong multidisciplinary research component. Learn more about the Ph.D. Program in Robotics.

Machine Learning

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering participates in the interdisciplinary Machine Learning Ph.D. Program. The Machine Learning (ML) Ph.D. program is a collaborative venture between Georgia Tech's colleges of Computing, Engineering, and Sciences.

The program seeks to create students who are able to integrate and apply principles from computing, statistics, optimization, and engineering in order to create machine learning models, and apply them to solve important, real-world, data-intensive problems.

Additional information on the Machine Learning Ph.D. Program including how to apply, can be found on the Machine Learning Ph.D. website.