The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Electrical Engineering that is completely research based with minimal and flexible course requirements which can be pursued as full-time or part-time.
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 Electrical Engineering program at the time of applying to Northeastern. Applicants also select their concentration.
- 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.
The ECE 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 Ph.D. 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.
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. Additionally, students can participate in the university’s Experiential PhD program.
For support with academic questions, contact the student services representative assigned to this program.
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.
ECE Assistant Professors Yanzhi Wang and Xue Lin and their graduate students were part of a collaborative Northeastern University and College of William and Mary team that won first place at the design contest at ISLPED 2020 for their demonstration titled, “CoCoPIE: A Framework of Compression-Compilation Co-design Towards Ultra-High Energy Efficiency and Real Time DNN Inference on Mobile Devices.”
Electrical engineering PhD student Jared Miller, PhD’23, was awarded a 2020-2021 Chateaubriand Fellowship.
Assistant Professor Sarah Ostadabbas is creating a database of sleeping positions to learn how it affects a person’s health.
ECE PhD students Mo Han, PhD’22, Yagmur Gunay, PhD’21, and Ilkay Yildiz, PhD’22, received the best student paper award at PETRA 2019, which took place in Rhodes, Greece, for their paper “From Hand-perspective Visual Information to Grasp Type Probabilities: Deep Learning via Ranking Labels”.