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Degree Requirements

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Course / Credit Hour Requirements for ECE Ph.D. Students

Beginning with the incoming Ph.D. Class for the 2017-18 Academic Year, each ECE Ph.D. Student will be required to enroll in at least Eight (8) Credit Hours of ECE courses, earning a Letter Grade of a "B" or better. 

  1. Each of these Courses should be at the 4000 Level or Above
  2. At least Three (3) Credit Hours should be at the 5000 Level or Above
  3. Courses being used to satisfy a Minor Requirement (whether for ECE or for another graduate field) will not be allowed to satisfy the Course Requirements here. 
  4. Students must complete the Eight (8) Credit Hour Course Requirement prior to the completion of their Admission to Candidacy Examination (A Exam). 
Advisor / Committee Chair Selection and Membership of the Special Committee

Advisor / Committee Chair Selection

  1. All ECE Ph.D. Students are required to select an Advisor / Committee Chair prior to the completion of their first year in their graduate program. The Advisor / Committee Chair must be an ECE Graduate Field Faculty Member. Failure to successfully select and officially nominate an Advisor / Committee Chair before the end of the first year will be considered failure to make satisfactory academic progress, and may have an impact on the decision of the Field of ECE regarding the student's future in the Ph.D Program. 
  2. All ECE Ph.D. Students will be required to officially nominate their Advisor / Committee Chair via the Student Center
Committee Membership Selection

All ECE Ph.D. Students are required to have a total of Three (3) Faculty Members as part of their Special Committee in order for it to be considered complete. The First Member will be your Advisor / Committee Chair. The remaining two will be considered Minor Members of the Committee. 

Deadline for selection of the Special Committee Membership

You should have the membership of their Special Committee completed prior to the end of your third semester in your graduate program. All Committee Members should be selected via the Student Center

Choosing a Minor and selecting Minor Committee Members

All Ph.D. students at Cornell are required to have two minors for their Ph.D. 

In ECE, most Ph.D. students pick ECE as one of these minors, with another minor in a different graduate field. (Note, it is not required to have one of your Minor Members be from ECE.) 

The two Minor Members on your Committee will represent these fields. 

Satisfying the minor

1. What do I need to do to satisfy the requirements for my minor?

The faculty members that the student selects as their Minor Committee Members will determine the coursework necessary in order to fulfill the requirements needed to complete the minor. Generally, this amounts to several courses from the Minor Committee Member's area.

2. If one of my minors is ECE, what are the minor requirements? 

The ECE field does not impose any requirements for completion of an ECE minor. Any requirements will be determined by your Minor Committee Member.

  1. List of the Concentrations and Fields of my Advisor and Minor Committee Members
    The Graduate School lists ECE faculty under some fairly broad terms in regard to the Concentrations that can be represented on Special Committees. When you complete your Special Committee nomination process via the Student Center, you will need to select the "Special Committee Chair Concentration" for your Advisor (Chair), and there are only four Concentrations to choose from. They are as follows:
    • Computer Engineering
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Electrophysics
    • Electrical Systems

    If you have opted to have one of your Minor Committee Members also represent ECE on your Special Committee, you will also need to select one of the four options listed above for the "Minor Member Concentration." The Graduate School has put together a complete listing of all ECE Faculty along with their complete listings of approved Concentrations as well as their Research Interests:

    Listing of ECE Faculty - Approved Concentrations and Research Interests

    When in doubt, the best option to select should be the default choice of "Electrical Engineering." If one or more of your Minor Committee Members represent a graduate field other than ECE, you will also need to correctly list the "Minor Member Concentration" for each of them as well from the appropriate field. Minor Members must be approved to represent a specific concentration on your Special Committee. In order to find the correct info for your Minor Committee Members, you will need to do the following:

    1. Go to the Listing of all Cornell Graduate Fields of Study
    2. Select the Field of Study of your Minor Committee Member from the list and click on the link
    3. There will be menu bar at the top of the page. Click on the link labeled 'Faculty' and you will then be directed to the page that lists all of the Approved Concentrations and Research Interests for the graduate field of your Minor Committee Member.
    4. Please review them before completing your Special Committee selection and changes via the Student Center to be certain they are correct.
  2. How many minors are required?
    Most students pick ECE as one of their minors by having an ECE field member (in addition to their advisor) on their special committee. In this case, you have to pick only one additional minor. You can also complete two minors where both are from non-ECE fields.
If one of my minors is ECE, what are the minor requirements?

The ECE field does not impose any requirements for completion of an ECE minor. Any requirements will be determined by your Minor Committee Member.

Q Exam

The Qualifying Examination is an assessment of the qualification of incoming graduate students for a program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The outcome of the Qualification Examination is determined during a Graduate Annual Review by the entire ECE Field and will holistically consider the following components to award one of two possible outcomes. 

  • Results for a set of Subject Examinations
  • Grades for all graduate-level coursework
  • Letter from the student's Special Committee describing the student's research progress

There two possible outcomes for the Qualifying Examination: PASS and FAIL.

See the Examinations page for more information.

A Exam

You will prepare to take your Admission to Candidacy, or A Exam once you have reached the point in your graduate program when you have completed all of their required coursework as determined by your Advisor / Committee chair and Special Committee members, and have chosen a topic for your dissertation. The format of the A Exam is up to the discretion of your Advisor / Committee Chair and Special Committee. Generally, it is an oral exam.

You are eligible to take your A Exam as soon as they have earned a total of two (2) Registration Units in your graduate program. All Cornell University Ph.D. students are required to take their A Exam prior to the completion of their seventh semester in their graduate program, unless special permission is obtained from the Graduate School.

See the Examinations page for more information.

B Exam

You will prepare to take your B Exam (or Thesis Defense) once you have completed all of the necessary requirements in order to complete your graduate program. Your Advisor / Committee Chair and Special Committee will have the final determination of when you have successfully reached this point. The format of the B Exam is up to the discretion of your Advisor / Committee Chair and Special Committee. Generally, it is an oral exam.

You are eligible to take your B Exam as soon as you have earned a total of six (6) Registration Units in your graduate program. Please note that you must earn a total of two (2) Registration Units between your A and B Exams.

See the Examinations page for more information.