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Degree Overviews

Programs of Study

The Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame offers programs of study and research leading to the degrees of Master of Science (M.S.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical Engineering. The programs are designed to prepare students for careers in university teaching and research as well as industrial or governmental research and advanced development. Areas of specialization include systems theory, electromagnetics, digital signal and image processing, communication systems, high-speed circuits, microwave and millimeter wave components, and solid-state materials and devices.

First Semester

During the first semester, all new graduate students are required to prepare a course plan for their entire program. With advice from the director of graduate studies or a faculty advisor, this plan maps the courses to be taken and the expected dates of completion for the different elements comprising the program.

M.S. Program

The research M.S. program requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of credit, of which a minimum of 18 hours are course credits and a minimum of six hours may be awarded for research towards an M.S. thesis. All courses may be in electrical¬†engineering, but up to nine semester hours of course credit may be taken from other departments. The course work should be designed to prepare the student adequately for work in the major area of specialization. Advanced undergraduate courses, numbered 400 to 497, may be taken for up to six credit hours. The student must, upon acceptance of the thesis, successfully pass an oral thesis defense examination. These requirements ordinarily are completed by a full-time student in three to four regular academic semesters. The non-research master of science degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of course credit. A Master’s comprehensive exam is also required.

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. degree requirements include two years in resident study, successful completion of the Ph.D. qualifying and candidacy examinations, a dissertation, and the dissertation defense. A minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate course work is required. A master’s degree earned elsewhere may count up to a maximum of 24 credit hours towards course work requirements.

Each Ph.D. student must pass three examinations to fulfill the departmental requirements for graduation: the qualifying examination, the Ph.D. candidacy examination, and the dissertation defense. The qualifying examination is intended to determine if the student is prepared for Ph.D. studies in electrical engineering; it is normally taken before the student’s third semester of graduate study. The Ph.D. candidacy examination is administered to determine if the student has depth in his or her research area and has identified a viable dissertation topic. After passing the Ph.D. candidacy examination, which usually takes place after the completion of all formal course work, the student devotes essentially full-time effort to completing the dissertation research. Following acceptance of the written dissertation by a board of readers, the student defends the dissertation before an oral examination board. In recent years, students have typically completed Ph.D. degree requirements in about five years past the B.S. degree.