Electrical and Computer Engineering Doctoral Degree Program

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is the creative application of engineering principles and methods to the design and development of hardware and software systems. The Ph.D. ECE program encompasses the design, development, testing, and evaluation of hardware and software components, as well as integrated systems and networks. Research in Electrical and Computer Engineering strives to achieve innovative functionality and higher performance in computing systems and components. The research portion of the Ph.D.. ECE program, is focused in three concentration areas: 1) Signal Processing and Communications, 2) Electronic Circuits and Systems, and 3) Control and Computer Systems.

Requirements for Admission

Students are expected to have an appropriate undergraduate degree such as a B.S., B.Tech, B.E., M.S., M.Tech, or M.E. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science or related fields. Students with other backgrounds may be admitted on a conditional basis and need to take additional courses to build up their background before starting their program.

Program of Study

(75 credits, minimum)

  • Depth – Courses in a selected Concentration Area (15 credits)
  • Breadth – Courses outside the selected Concentration Area (6 credits)
  • Math/Physics (6 credits)
  • Technical Electives (6 credits)
  • Electives (6 credits)
  • Doctoral Research (36 credits minimum)

The course categories are:

  • Depth: 15 credit hours (5 courses) selected from a single concentration area. Courses are chosen from the list of concentration areas and their associated core courses that is maintained by the department. 
  • Breadth: 6 credit hours (2 courses) from the list of concentration areas but chosen from outside the student’s depth concentration area. The two courses must be chosen from different concentration areas. If a course is listed in the student’s depth concentration area as well as another area, it can only be used to satisfy the depth concentration course requirement.
  • Math/Physics: 6 credit hours (2 courses) of courses in mathematics (Mat) or physics (Phy).
  • Technical Electives: 6 credit hours (2 courses) of courses within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), mathematics (Mat) or physics (Phy). These credit hours can be used to gain additional breadth outside of ECE or for additional ECE courses.
  • Electives: 6 credit hours (2 courses) taken in any college. Prior approval by the student’s advisor and the Graduate Program Coordinator are required for these courses. These credit hours can be used to gain additional breadth outside of engineering and the sciences or for additional technical courses. It is expected that the courses will be relevant to or complement the student’s area of study.
  • Doctoral Research: 36 credit hours (minimum) of doctoral research

The course requirements for the Ph.D. degree shown above will be adjusted for those who enter the program with a Master’s degree. For students with a Master's degree in ECE from UAlbany, the courses taken as part of the MS program will be directly applied to the course requirements for the Ph.D. MS thesis credits will not be counted. Note that additional credit hours may be required for students who change concentration area between their Master’s and doctoral programs.

Research Tool Requirement

The student must demonstrate proficiency in a research skill appropriate to the student's field of research.

Qualifying Exam

Students will be required to pass a qualifying exam to continue in the PhD program. The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to assess the student’s ability to identify, critically evaluate, and utilize background material related to a research topic, conduct independent research, and present early research results. Students will be allowed to take the exam a maximum of two times.

Candidacy Exam

Students will take this exam after passing their Qualifying Exam and having defined and made progress on their dissertation research. The purpose of the Doctoral Candidacy Examination is to determine whether the student has made significant progress in their research, attained preliminary results showing the promise of their research topic, and developed a research plan leading to the completion of their thesis work. If a student fails the Candidacy Exam, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee may elect to re-examine the student at a later date or recommend to the Department Chair that the student should not be allowed to continue in the doctoral program.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Achievement of a satisfactory record in course study, 66 credits minimum;
  2. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  3. Satisfactory completion of the candidacy examination;
  4. Completion of the University residency requirements;
  5. Satisfactory completion of the qualifying examination.


The student must submit an acceptable dissertation which represents a significant and original research contribution to electrical and computer engineering. The final dissertation with oral presentation examination will be the culminating evaluation of the PhD student, where they present their research contributions to the Doctoral Dissertation Committee and the public.