student working with computer and wires

PhD in Computer Engineering

Overview

The PhD in Computer Engineering is completely research based with minimal and flexible course requirements which can be pursued as full-time or part-time.

Innovative Curriculum

Applicants can enter the PhD program with either a BS or an MS degree in Electrical Engineering or a closely related field. The PhD applicants select the PhD in Computer Engineering program at the time of applying to Northeastern.

  • Qualifying exam: Students who already hold an MS degree and matriculate in the fall semester must take the qualifying exam in the spring semester of their first year. Students matriculating in spring semester, or students who hold a BS degree and matriculate in the fall semester , can postpone the exam to the second spring semester. Those who fail the exam the first time, have one more chance to take the exam. These students must take the exam the next spring after their first attempt.
  • Research Advisor: Students should have a research advisor one year after their matriculation.
  • Thesis Committee: The Dissertation Committee must be formed not later than six months after passing the qualifying exam.
  • Comprehensive exam: The deadline for comprehensive exam is two years after passing the qualifying exam.
  • Dissertation Defense: The dissertation defense should be scheduled at least one year after taking the comprehensive exam.

Dissertation/Thesis Instructions

The Electrical and Computer Engineering department offers a variety of graduate courses giving students flexibility of planning their course requirements according to their research requirements and personal interests. Many of graduate courses are offered in two sections; in-class and streaming video. Part-time students and full-time students who have schedule conflicts can register in the streaming video sections.

The PhD programs’ student learning outcomes are:

  • The ability to use basic engineering concepts flexibly in a variety of contexts.
  • Ability to formulate a research plan.
  • Ability to communicate orally a research plan.
  • Ability to conduct independent research.

Experiential Learning

Northeastern combines rigorous academics with experiential learning and research to prepare students for real world engineering challenges. With the large number of high-tech firms in and around Boston, both start-ups and large multinational corporations, many PhD students do an internship during their program while remaining right here in Boston. Often their advisor is instrumental in identifying the internship position, with a funding sponsor or research collaborator, be they in Boston or elsewhere in the United States. Internships can be informally arranged for several months at any time during the calendar year.

PhD students can also take advantage of the more formally arranged co-op program which entails up to 8 months of work experience preceded by several professional development courses to prepare students. The Cooperative Education Program, also known as a “co-op,” is one of the largest and most innovative in the world, and Northeastern is one of only a few that offers a Co-op Program for Graduate Students. Through this program students gain industry experience in a wide variety of organizations, from large companies to entrepreneurial start-ups, while helping to finance their education. Another option for PhD students is the university’s Experiential PhD program.

man at computer area with double monitors showing columns of coding

Academic Advising

The Academic Advisors in the Graduate Student Services office can help answer many of your questions and assist with various concerns regarding your program and student record. Use the link below to also determine which questions can be answered by your Faculty Program Advisors and OGS Advisors.

Admissions & Aid

Ready to take the next step? Review degree requirements to see courses needed to complete this degree. Then, explore ways to fund your education. Finally, review admissions information to see our deadlines and gather the materials you need to Apply.

Recent News

Robinson Receives His 3rd Outstanding Reviewer Award

Computer Engineering graduate student Joseph Robinson, PhD’20, received the Outstanding Reviewer Award at the 15th IEEE International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition.

ECE PhD Students Win 3rd Place at Embedded Security Challenge (ECS) at the CSAW 2020 Conference

ECE PhD students Wenhao Wang, Shijin Duan, and Yukui Luo, advised by Professor Xiaolin Xu, recently participated in the Embedded Security Challenge (ECS) at the CSAW 2020 conference, placing 3rd in the US-Canada region.

Best Paper Award at IEEE HPEC 2020

Computer engineering PhD student Mahsa Bayati (PhD’20), ECE Professor Miriam Leeser, Associate Professor Ningfang Mi were awarded the Outstanding Student Paper Award for their paper “Exploiting GPU Direct Access to Non-Volatile Memory to Accelerate Big Data Processing” at the 2020 IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conference (HPEC).

Using Drones to Monitor Penguin Populations

Computer Engineering PhD students Yang Liu and Vikrant Shah traveled to Antarctica to count the dwindling population of chinstrap penguins with drones.