Jul 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
446 Engineering Center   (map)
(248) 370-2177 • Fax (248) 370-4633

Qian Zou
301D Engineering Center
(248) 370-2233

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Graduate Catalog Addendum  

Program description

The Doctor of Philosophy in electrical and computer engineering degree is for students who plan careers in industrial or governmental research and development laboratories or problem-oriented agencies, as well as in the academic fields related to electrical and computer engineering.

The field of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is very broad, including areas as diverse as applied electromagnetics, autonomous navigation, bioengineering, communications, computer architecture and hardware design, control systems, digital signal processing, digital image processing, electronic materials and devices, micro- and nano-electronics, pattern recognition, power systems and robotics. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is concentrating its efforts in these and other related areas at the Ph.D. level.

Program delivery

Students can begin doctoral study on a part-time basis, availing themselves of late afternoon or evening courses while working full time in local industry. However, later phases of study and research will require full-time devotion to the program. Students must also fulfill a residency requirement.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Oakland University Graduate School by the semester deadlines listed below. Incomplete applications will not be sent to departments for admission review.

  • February 15 (early) April 15 (regular) and July 15 (late) for fall semester
  • October 1 (early) and November 15 (regular) for winter semester
  • March 1 (regular) for summer semester
  • International applicants  

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all Graduate Application Requirements and additional department requirements by the published application deadlines:

  2. Additional department application requirements
  • Additional Recommendation for Graduate Admission form
    In addition to the two recommendations listed above, a third recommendation is required by the program.

    Recommendation requirements
    The recommendations must be from faculty members or professionals in the field who can evaluate the scholarly achievement and potential of the applicant. These recommendations form an important part of the admission credentials.
  • Statement of research objectives and goals. Students must make an initial selection for a research area: communications, computer engineering, controls, electromagnetics, electronics, energy, mechatronics and robotics, signal processing, or other.
  • Applicants must submit official scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) if they graduated from an institution not accredited by a regional accrediting agency of the USA. The department may choose to waive the GRE requirement if at least one of the following special circumstances is met:
    • Applicant’s overall GPA from last degree is at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Applicant has worked in the USA for at least two years in the engineering profession.
    • To request a waiver, applicants must submit a    form to the Graduate School as part of the application packet. The request for waiver is subject to the approval of the Graduate Admissions Committee
  • Admission to Ph.D. program is selective; applicants should have an M.S. degree GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale or better for regular admission.
  • If the applicant’s M.S. GPA is between 3.0 and 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and the percentile score of the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section is 70% or better, admission with limited standing may be offered.
  • Applicants from institutions with which Oakland University has an articulation agreement containing alternative admission criteria will be admitted according to the criteria in that agreement.
  • Normally a master’s degree from an accredited institution is required for admission; however, students with outstanding undergraduate records may apply directly for admission to the doctoral program.
  • The Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering degree program is primarily designed for students with academic backgrounds in either electrical engineering or computer engineering. Students with backgrounds in other engineering disciplines, computer science, mathematics or the physical sciences may also be admitted to the program, but they will be required to augment their basic electrical and computer engineering knowledge through relevant coursework.
  • Special consideration may be given if a student does not meet the admission criteria listed above but demonstrates potential for academic excellence through research publications, patents, and awards, etc. In addition, the student must be recommended by a SECS faculty member.

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate school at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Oakland University Graduate School, each department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and any other admission requirements established by the academic department.

Normally a master’s degree from an accredited institution is required for admission; however, students with outstanding undergraduate records may apply directly for admission to the doctoral program.

The Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering degree program is primarily designed for students with academic backgrounds in either electrical engineering or computer engineering. Students with backgrounds in other engineering disciplines, computer science, mathematics or the physical sciences may also be admitted to the program, but they will be required to augment their basic electrical and computer engineering knowledge through relevant coursework. 

Degree requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in electrical and computer engineering degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 80 credits in an approved program of study. In addition to 56 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree, students must also complete a minimum of 24 credits of dissertation research.

At least 56 credits must be earned for coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree (exclusive of dissertation). A full-time load is 8 to 12 credits per semester.

Students who have previously earned a master’s degree from Oakland University or another regionally-accredited institution may reduce the 56 credits of coursework required for the doctoral degree by up to 32 credits. To be considered for a reduction in required doctoral credits, students must submit a Petition of Credit from Earned Master’s Degree. The advisory committee will evaluate the student’s prior master’s degree work and may reduce the required Ph.D. credits based on the master’s coursework. The decision of the advisory committee is final, but the approved petition and approved Plan of Study must be on file in Oakland University Graduate School by the end of the first year of doctoral study. All candidates must complete at least 24 credits of additional coursework exclusively at Oakland University.

Course requirements (minimum of 56 credits)

a. Mathematics courses (minimum of 8 credits)

At least 8 credits must be earned in mathematics courses. Of these 8 credits, at least 4 must be taken from the following course group. With approval of the student’s advisory committee, the other 4 credits can also be taken from graduate level mathematics courses not listed in the following group:

b. Electives (minimum of 16 credits)

  • Electives

The remaining coursework related to a student’s research area or other areas of interest should be completed according to the Plan of Study, approved by the student’s Advisory Committee.

c. Previous master’s coursework (maximum of 32 credits)

  • Previous master’s coursework

Dissertation (minimum of 24 credits)

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Department requirements:  In the Ph.D. program, credit will not be awarded for courses in which a grade less than 3.0 is earned. All numerical grades earned are used in computing a student’s grade-point average.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program information

Initial advising

After admission to the Ph.D. program, a student should consult with the Program Coordinator for any advice until formulation of an Advisory Committee.

Plan of study

Master’s and graduate certificate students must submit a department-approved plan of study by the end of their first semester of graduate coursework. Upon admission, doctoral students must develop a plan of study in consultation with the department chair. As soon as the student forms an advisory committee, the committee reviews and updates the plan of study then forwards it to the dean’s office. The original plan of study must be submitted to the dean’s office, and when approved, it will be forwarded to the Oakland University Graduate School office.

Note:  Credit granted for successful completion of a course toward an undergraduate degree program may not be repeated for a graduate degree. If a substitution is approved, the minimum number of program-approved graduate credits will be required. A Petition of Exception - OU Course Waiver/ Substitution requesting the substitution must be approved.

Advisory committee

As soon as possible after admission, but prior to earning 16 credits of coursework, students must form an advisory committee, which will direct and guide the progress of their program. Such a committee is composed of four faculty members, specified as follows:

  • Two tenure track faculty members from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department nominated by the student, one designated as the committee chair
  • One faculty member who is from any department within the School of Engineering and Computer Science, or an expert from outside of Oakland University (who must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree)
  • One Oakland University faculty member outside of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Upon recommendation of the advisory committee, following successful completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination, one member from within or outside the university community may be added to the committee for the dissertation proposal review.

Exceptions can be petitioned to both the Associate Dean and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for approval.

The composition of the entire advisory committee must be approved by the Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Oakland University Graduate School.

Comprehensive examination

Doctoral students in Electrical and Computer Engineering are required to take a comprehensive examination preferably within the first two years of their doctoral studies but no later than four years after their admission to the Ph.D. program. The exact timing will be determined by their Ph.D. advisor. The students must schedule the exam at least two weeks in advance using the “Ph.D. Pass Form” that is available on the SECS website.

The comprehensive examination is designed to assess the student’s analytical reasoning, theoretical understanding, and preparedness to do independent research. The comprehensive examination is composed of a written component and an oral component. The written component includes three parts. Two are discipline-specific selected by the student’s advisory committee based on the individual student’s coursework and research. A committee member can only write one exam. The third examination area is in mathematics.

The students are encouraged to take the comprehensive examinations during the SECS centralized exam schedule which will be given twice per year, usually on the first, second and third Friday of October in fall semester, and the first, second and third Friday after the spring break in winter semester. The student must complete all three written examinations within three weeks. Upon passing the written exams, the student should complete the oral examination within two weeks after the last written examination. The oral portion of the exam will be given by the student’s advisory committee plus any other faculty who have written a portion of the exams.

The student must obtain passing grades on both the written and oral portions to pass the comprehensive exam. To pass the written exam, the student must obtain an average grade of 70% among the three written exams and must have no more than one individual exam grade below 70% but not lower than 60%. A student who fails to pass the comprehensive examination may repeat it once during the next available exam date. If a student scores above 80% in any of the three subject exams, the committee may decide not to retest the student on that subject area. Students who pass the comprehensive exam but exhibit weakness in a specific area may be required by their advisory committee to complete additional coursework to address the deficiency. All comprehensive exams must be monitored in person by a doctoral advisory committee member or a representative of the committee and exams are to be taken on campus.

Dissertation proposal

As soon as a candidate and the advisory committee chair agree on a specific research topic, the candidate must write a dissertation proposal. This document contains a formulation of the problem, the background work leading to the formulation and a plan for the subsequent research. Candidates must orally present the proposal to their advisory committees and any other interested faculty, at which time the committee may question the preparedness of the student to carry out the research.

Research credits

Students who have advisory committee approval of their dissertation proposals and are conducting research should register for ECE 8999  . At least 24 research credits are required of all doctoral candidates. However, merely amassing credits does not indicate satisfactory progress toward or completion of the dissertation. These judgments are made by the advisory committee. The dissertation is judged completed upon successful completion of the final examination and acceptance of the dissertation by Oakland University Graduate School.


Each candidate will submit a dissertation to the advisory committee. The dissertation must be the candidate’s own work and must constitute a contribution to knowledge in his/her field of endeavor. The completed dissertation must conform to university standards (see Thesis and Dissertation ).


Writing a doctoral dissertation requires a full commitment to research. Such research cannot be effectively pursued in an environment which places research in a secondary role. Doctoral students are required to be full-time students for at least one year of their active dissertation research. The doctoral student should arrange such a period of residency by 1) registering for at least 8 credits of doctoral dissertation research for two consecutive semesters and 2) making a commitment, in a statement addressed to his/her advisory committee, to a program of full-time research (at least 20 hours per week).

The above represents the normal residency requirement. However, if the present occupation of the candidate (e.g., industrial research or teaching) is conducive to the intended research, there is an alternative method to fulfill the residency requirement. To arrange for the alternative residency, the candidate must apply in writing to his/her advisory committee at the time of the dissertation proposal review. The committee must be furnished with a written statement by the candidate’s employer confirming that the dissertation research constitutes a major portion of the job assignment. If the advisory committee grants permission to pursue this option, the student must enroll in doctoral dissertation research (8 credits maximum) for at least two consecutive semesters.

Final examination

Each Ph.D. candidate must satisfactorily defend the dissertation in a final oral examination administered by the advisory committee. The examination is taken after the advisory committee certifies that the dissertation is ready for final review. At the committee’s option, one reexamination may be permitted if a candidate fails to pass the final examination.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive, preliminary or qualifying examination is taken, defense, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Oakland University Graduate School.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course-load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time limits

The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than ten years from the time of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program.

The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within six years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within four years (including the dissertation defense).

If a student is deemed inactive, he or she may be dropped out of the program despite the petition for extension.