Doctoral Program

Electrical Engineering Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Program Description

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred in recognition of a candidate's highest level of scholarly competence and demonstrated capability to independently conduct and report significant research in electrical engineering. This achievement requires more than an accumulation of course credits over a stated period of residence. Scholarly competence is achieved through systematic study and investigation in the chosen discipline at an advanced level. The major professor must be from electrical engineering. If students have co-major professors, at least one must be from electrical engineering. Research capability is developed during the course of study and is achieved through the completion of significant and independent research. The results of this research must be formally presented in a written dissertation and successfully defended before an examining committee. The dissertation must demonstrate the significance of the research as well as the candidate's ability to organize and present her/his results in a professional manner.

Ph.D. Program Requirements

I. Credit Hours: The student's supervisory committee is responsible for evaluating the student's overall transcript to ensure that the following distributional requirements are met:
(i) A minimum of 30 hours formal regularly scheduled graduate course work beyond the bachelor's degree
(ii) A minimum additional 8 hours in mathematics or statistics courses beyond the bachelor's degree
(iii) A minimum of 20 hours dissertation (EEL 7980).
(iv) A minimum of 72 graduate hours beyond the bachelor's degree.
(v) Students entering the doctoral program with an earned master's degree from another institution other than USF must take at least nine (9) credit hours of 6000 level EE courses at USF, including 2 hours of the EE Graduate Seminar course to be taken once before candidacy and the second time before graduation

Students with an MSEE from USF typically begin the Ph.D. program with 18-24 credits in category (i), and 6 credits in category (ii). A typical Ph.D. program would meet the remaining requirements with: 3 hours math, 6 hours regularly scheduled courses in area of concentration, 10-13 hours directed research, directed study, seminar, or course work, and 20 hours dissertation research.

Master's degree credit from another university: Students entering the EE doctoral program with a master's degree from another program/university are usually awarded up to 30 credit hours for that degree. The graduate program director shall determine which of the distribution requirements and the number of credit hours that are satisfied by these courses.

*NOTE: The Registrar's Office will automatically credit these 30 hours toward your doctorate, but your committee may elect not to accept all of them and a doctoral student may have to complete more EE courses to qualify for a doctorate.

Ph.D. Examinations
Doctoral Qualifying Exam (DQE)

Passing a DQE is required of all doctoral students by USF. The purpose of the DQE is to measure the aptitude and capability of the student for productive independent research in electrical engineering, as well as to demonstrate the student's in-depth knowledge of their chosen research domain. 
The DQE consists of a written research paper comprising an annotated literature survey in the student's chosen research area, a discussion and comparison of the prior art in this field, and identification of a promising research area and problem domain(s) of interest to the student and advisor. The research paper is presented in a meeting to a DQE examining committee that is selected by the Graduate Program Coordinator in consultation with the major professor.


All course work must be completed by the semester before a student is admitted to candidacy. Prior to being admitted to candidacy, the student must meet with their committee and submit a Candidacy Packet that contains the following documents:

*Doctoral students are not allowed to register for dissertation hours until the semester AFTER they have been admitted to candidacy.

Directed research hours cannot be exchanged for dissertation hours. After students are admitted to candidacy, they do not register for directed research hours again. Doctoral students must be registered the semester they apply for candidacy. No incomplete or missing grades are allowed. See the graduate school website for deadlines and forms.

Dissertation Defense

The final oral defense of the dissertation is the final exam for the Ph.D. degree. The student's major professor is the best guide to the preparation for the defense and in preparing the student to tackle the final defense of the dissertation. The student should be aware that the defense will be graded according to the doctoral rubric and that the committee decision is to either pass or fail the dissertation defense.

Full information regarding the content of the doctoral program and policies/procedures can be found in the Electrical Engineering Graduate Program Handbook or on the Graduate Studies website.