Ph.D. Program Requirements

All Ph.D. requirements should be completed within five (5) academic years. Students who have not yet completed their M.S. will also have two (2) additional academic years to complete their M.S. degree requirements. Ph.D. students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 through all stages of their graduate program.

M.S./Ph.D. Students

Ph.D. students admitted without an M.S. degree must complete their M.S. degree before beginning their Ph.D. program requirements. The only exception to this rule is the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination, which may be taken while a Ph.D. student is completing M.S. degree requirements.

Ph.D. Course Requirements

Ph.D. course requirements must be completed before a student takes their Oral Qualifying Examination. It is by this point that Ph.D. students are expected to complete a Ph.D. Program of Study that has been approved by their advisor. The Ph.D. course requirements are as follows:

  1. Four (4) formal graduate courses chosen in consultation with a student’s faculty advisor.
  2. At least two (2) of the four formal graduate must be from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
  3. The EC ENGR seminar series course EC ENGR 297. (The course must be taken once per degree level, even if it was previously taken to satisfy M.S. degree requirements.)
  4. The EC ENGR 295 Technical Writing Course

A formal graduate course is defined as any 200-level lecture course taken for a letter grade. Formal graduate courses taken by the student to meet the M.S. degree requirements cannot be applied toward the Ph.D. course requirements. Additionally, Ph.D. students may not apply 500-level courses, 400-level courses, 300-level courses, undergraduate courses, or other seminar courses toward their course requirements.

Ph.D. Preliminary Examination

Beginning in 2021, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department will change the structure and the offering of the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination.

  • Timing of the Preliminary Exam
    • The earliest time to schedule the exam is after taking (2) two graduate courses for students with an MS degree or (3) three graduate courses for students without an MS degree while maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
    • The students should pass the exam within 18 months from completing MS course requirements.
    • The students should wait at least (6) six months before retaking the exam following a fail, should a second opportunity be granted by the examiner committee (see below).
    • The application deadline is one week before the beginning of each quarter. A Prelim Administration Committee (see below) will meet once a quarter, at the beginning of the quarter, to assign the examiner committees for the Prelim exams taking place during that quarter.
    • Prelim exams can be scheduled at any time during the fall, winter, and spring quarters.
  • Forming the Preliminary Examiner Committee
    • A Prelim Administration Committee is formed with two representatives from each area and the graduate vice-chair to meet once every quarter and decide on the examiner committee for each student applicant.
    • The student’s advisor is excluded from the examiner committee.
    • The Prelim Administration Committee assigns the Prelim examiner committee of (3) three for each student based on the inputs provided by the student and student’s advisor through an online application form.
    • In the online application form, the student specifies (3) three courses that he/she feels most competent about and would like to be tested on. The student also suggests 5 papers to present at the exam. The student cannot be an author of any of the suggested papers. The students are also given the opportunity to mention any conflict of interest they might have with a potential examiner in the application form.
    • In the online application form, the student’s advisor has the option to provide a letter of support. Through this letter, advisors have the opportunity to provide comments that they would like to share with the Prelim Administration Committee and examiner committees. If the advisor strongly feels that a faculty from another department would be a more appropriate examiner, they can include this appeal in the latter.
    • The exact time of the Prelim exam will be set by the student in coordination with the examiner committee.
  • Exam Content
    • The student and the examiner committee should be all present at the same time during the Prelim exam, either in-person or through a video conference. The student’s faculty advisor can attend the examination as a silent observer.
    • Once the examiner committee is formed, they will assign a paper within 2 weeks from the formation of the committee. There is no guarantee that this paper would be selected from the student’s suggested list. The student should read the paper and present it in a presentation of at most 20 minutes during the Prelim exam.
    • The committee will ask questions about the fundamentals on the topics related to the student’s research area, the presented paper, and the (3) three courses determined by the student.
    • The entire duration of the Prelim exam is at most 1 hour.
  • Pass-Fail Decision
    • Pass-Fail decisions are made by the examiner committee with a majority vote. The deliberation by the examiner committee is closed to all, including the student’s faculty advisor.
    • Pass-fail decisions will be made upon the collective basis of the performance on the exam, and input from the faculty advisor.
    • There are (3) three possible outcomes for the Prelim exam: (1) pass, (2) fail with the chance to retake the exam, or (3) fail with no chance to retake the exam.

More implementation details are forthcoming and will be provided in an FAQ page soon.

Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Examination

Students must pass the Oral Qualifying Examination either within their first three academic years in the Ph.D. program or within one year of passing the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination (whichever comes first).

To take the Oral Qualifying Examination, a student must have passed the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination, completed all Ph.D. course requirements, and nominate a doctoral committee. As doctoral committees require the approval of the Graduate Division, our department requires that students notify our office of their committee members at least three weeks prior to the proposed that of their Oral Qualifying Examination. Doctoral committees must abide by the following guidelines:

  • Two of the three doctoral committee members from UCLA must hold the rank of professor or associate professor (regular or in-residence series).
  • The Chair always must hold a current UCLA Academic Senate faculty appointment per #1 above in the same department or IDP as the graduate student. If a committee has co-chairs, at least one must be from the student’s major department or IDP at UCLA
  • It is not required that doctoral committees consist of at least one outside member. It is possible for the four committee members on a standard doctoral committee to be from the ECE Department

A full list of policies regarding doctoral committees may be found the Graduate Division’s website.

The student’s doctoral committee evaluates their performance in the Oral Qualifying Examination. A successful result on the examination confers upon the student the title of doctoral candidate.

Ph.D. Final Oral Examination

After passing their Oral Qualifying Examination, Ph.D. students are expected to defend their dissertation in a Final Oral Examination. If their doctoral committee has changed since their Oral Qualifying Examination, the student must follow the appropriate procedures for reconstituting their committee and must notify the ECE Office of Graduate Student affairs at least three weeks prior to the anticipated date of their Final Oral Examination.

After passing the Final Oral Examination, Ph.D. students must file their dissertation by the filing deadline of the given quarter. The filing deadline is the final day of the quarter at 5:00 p.m. For their dissertation to be considered filed, students must submit their dissertation through the Graduate Division’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) portal and receive approval from all committee members.