The Doctor of Philosophy, the highest degree offered by the University, is conferred in recognition of marked scholarship in a broad field of knowledge as well as distinguished critical or creative achievement within a special area of the general field (the special area being the subject of the doctoral dissertation). The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Electrical Engineering provides a program of coursework and in-depth scholarly research in an area of Electrical Engineering.

The PhD degree requires a minimum of 54 credits beyond the baccalaureate, including a dissertation. The student must also satisfy a residence requirement.

Many of the courses leading toward graduate degrees in CEAS are offered in the late afternoon or evening. So, students can complete much of their coursework on a part-time basis.

Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


The program follows the College’s existing Ph.D. admission requirements, which are:

  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in electrical engineering.
  • If you have BS or MS degrees outside of electrical engineering, you may be admitted with no more than two course deficiencies.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in the highest degree granted based on a 4.0 scale.
  • A brief statement describing your professional goals (i.e., Statement of Purpose, SoP) and two letters of reference.
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all international and domestic applicants.
  • International students require proof of English language proficiency.

Credits and Courses

The electrical engineering doctoral program will be comprised of 54 graduate credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree with minimum credit distribution as follows:

Electrical Engineering Topics21
Approved Minor Area (within or outside of Electrical Engineering)6
Approved Electives9
CEAS Graduate Seminars
EAS 701Effective Academic Writing1
EAS 702Preparing Future Engineering Faculty & Professionals2
Doctoral Thesis15
Doctoral Thesis
Total Credits54

A minimum of 27 credits (including thesis) must be completed in the Ph.D. program at UWM, and a minimum of 21 credits, excluding dissertation, must be at the 700 level or higher.

Courses are chosen by the student in consultation with her/his advisors.

The minor must be taken using courses outside of Electrical Engineering (and excluding cross-listed courses) in other CEAS programs, or in the physical sciences, management sciences, or mathematics. However, in some cases there may be a subdomain of Electrical Engineering that is clearly separate yet necessary and complementary to their major area courses. In this case, the student may create a Program of Study that specifies a set of minor courses taken from within Electrical Engineering. These minor courses must be approved by the advisor *prior* to taking any of them.

A maximum of 24 credits may be considered for transfer from prior graduate work, including a Master’s degree earned at UWM or elsewhere provided the course work taken falls within the appropriate areas and has earned a grade of “B” or better. Students entering the program without an applicable Master’s degree are limited to a maximum transfer of 9 credits for courses taken elsewhere.

Independent study courses (699 and 999) may be included in the minimum course credit requirements provided approval by the CEAS Graduate Studies Office has been obtained prior to registration in such courses. Typically no more than six credits of independent study are allowed in the PhD program. Guidelines on acceptable independent study courses are available in the CEAS Graduate Studies Office.

Graduate Course List
ELECENG 410GDigital Signal Processing3
ELECENG 420GRandom Signals and Systems3
ELECENG 421GCommunication Systems3
ELECENG 430GEnergy Modeling3
ELECENG 436GIntroduction to Medical Instrumentation3
ELECENG 437GIntroduction to Biomedical Imaging3
ELECENG 439GIntroduction to Biomedical Optics3
ELECENG 451GIntroduction to VLSI Design3
ELECENG 457GDigital Logic Laboratory3
ELECENG 458GComputer Architecture3
ELECENG 461GMicrowave Engineering3
ELECENG 462GAntenna Theory3
ELECENG 464GFundamentals of Photonics3
ELECENG 465GBroadband Optical Networks3
ELECENG 471GElectric Power Systems3
ELECENG 472GIntroduction to Wind Energy3
ELECENG 474GIntroduction to Control Systems4
ELECENG 481GElectronic Materials3
ELECENG 482GIntroduction to Nanoelectronics3
ELECENG 490GTopics in Electrical Engineering:1-3
ELECENG 541GIntegrated Circuits and Systems3
ELECENG 545GFPGA Embedded CPUs & Firmware Development3
ELECENG 562GTelecommunication Circuits3
ELECENG 565GOptical Communication3
ELECENG 568GApplications of Digital Signal Processing3
ELECENG 572GPower Electronics3
ELECENG 574GIntermediate Control Systems3
ELECENG 575GAnalysis of Electric Machines and Motor Drives3
ELECENG 588GFundamentals of Nanotechnology3
ELECENG 699GIndependent Study1-3
ELECENG 700CEAS Graduate Seminar1-3
ELECENG 701Advanced Linear System Analysis3
ELECENG 710Artificial Intelligence3
ELECENG 711Introduction to Machine Learning3
ELECENG 712Image Processing3
ELECENG 716Tomography: Imaging and Image Reconstruction3
ELECENG 717Tomography: Image Quality and Artifact Correction3
ELECENG 718Nonlinear Control Systems3
ELECENG 721Digital Communications3
ELECENG 733Sensors and Systems3
ELECENG 737Medical Imaging Signals and Systems3
ELECENG 741Electromagnetic Fields and Waves3
ELECENG 742Electromagnetic Wave Theory3
ELECENG 755Information and Coding Theory3
ELECENG 758Advanced Computer Architecture3
ELECENG 760Computer Systems Performance Evaluation3
ELECENG 762Fault-Tolerant Computing3
ELECENG 765Introduction to Fourier Optics and Optical Signal Processing3
ELECENG 766Introduction to Nonlinear Optics3
ELECENG 781Advanced Synchronous Machinery3
ELECENG 810Foundations for Advanced Machine Learning and Signal Processing3
ELECENG 816Optimal Control Theory3
ELECENG 819Adaptive Control Theory3
ELECENG 872Computer Analysis of Electric Power Systems3
ELECENG 880Bioengineering Seminar1
ELECENG 888Candidate for Degree0
ELECENG 890Special Topics:3
ELECENG 990Masters Thesis1-9
ELECENG 998Doctoral Thesis1-12
ELECENG 999Advanced Independent Study1-3

Additional Requirements 

Major Professor as Advisor

The Graduate School requires that the student must have a major professor to advise, supervise, and approve the program of study before registering for courses. The department will assign the incoming student to an initial Program Advisor at the time of admission. Prior to the completion of 12 credits (9 credits for part-time students), the student must select a major professor who will be the student’s thesis advisor. The student, in consultation with the major professor, develops a proposed program of studies which is submitted to the Graduate Program Representative for approval. For subsequent changes, the student must file a revised program of study for approval.

Foreign Language

There is no foreign language requirement for the degree.


The program residence requirement is satisfied either by completing 8 or more graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, inclusive of summer sessions, or by completing 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions.

Qualifying Examination

Each student in the program must take and pass a Qualifying Examination to demonstrate that the student is qualified for doctoral-level work. The Qualifying Examination is a written exam and is structured in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. The examination is offered twice a year during the regular academic year. The content of the examination reflects the major areas of Electrical Engineering.

Students entering with only a bachelor’s degree or with a master’s degree in an area unrelated to their major area may take the Qualifying Examination for the first time after earning 12 credits of graduate work at UWM and must successfully pass the exam before earning 30 credits of graduate work at UWM.

Students admitted after completing an appropriate master’s degree must take this examination no later than the semester immediately after 18 credits of graduate work have been earned at UWM.

A student may take the Qualifying Examination twice. On the first attempt, the student must attempt both Part 1 and Part 2 of the examination.

  • If the student passes both parts, then the student has passed the entire examination and will be permitted to proceed toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree.
  • If the student fails both parts, then the student must take the entire exam again at its next offering.
  • If a student passes only one of the two parts, then the student must take the examination again at its next offering, but may choose to take only the part of the examination that was not passed on the first attempt.
  • If a passing grade is not obtained on the second attempt of the Qualifying Examination, the student will not be permitted to proceed toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

A student who fails the qualifying exam twice is subject to dismissal from the PhD in Electrical Engineering program. A student may appeal the failure and dismissal within 30 days of being notified of the failure. If the student does not appeal or the appeal is not granted, the College will recommend to the Graduate School that the student be dismissed. A student who is dismissed from the PhD in Electrical Engineering program because of failing the qualifying exam may not be enrolled in the PhD in Electrical Engineering program for a complete calendar year. This does not preclude the student from being enrolled in any other degree program offered by the University. A student who wishes to re-enroll in the program after a calendar year has passed must apply as any other student would, including payment of fees. A student readmitted after having failed the qualifying exam twice must take the qualifying exam in the first semester of matriculation and this will count as the student’s first attempt at the exam. The student may appeal this requirement prior to the first scheduled day of classes. If the student fails the qualifying exam on this first attempt, the student is permitted the customary second attempt as described above. All appeals must be in writing and directed to the CEAS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Doctoral Program Committee

The Doctoral Program Committee is proposed by the major professor in consultation with the student and the department. The Committee must include at least five graduate faculty (three from major area, one from minor area, and one from any area, including the major and minor areas). The last member may be a person from outside the University (such as another university, a research laboratory, or a 7 relevant industrial partner), provided that person meets Graduate School requirements. The Committee may have more than five members, provided that the majority of the Committee members are from the student’s major field. The Major Professor is generally a faculty member from the EECS Department who has Graduate Faculty status.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

A student is admitted to candidacy only after successful completion of the doctoral preliminary examination conducted by the Doctoral Program Committee. This examination, which normally is oral, must be taken before the completion of 48 credits of graduate work toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Electrical Engineering and should be taken within the first five years in the program. Prior to the examination, the student must present a proposal for a doctoral dissertation project. The examination may cover both graduate course material and items related to the proposed dissertation project.

Dissertation and Dissertator Status

The student must carry out a creative effort in the major area under the supervision of the major professor and report the results in an acceptable dissertation. The effort of the student and the major professor to produce the dissertation is reflected in the PhD in Electrical Engineering program requirement that the student complete at least 18 credits of doctoral thesis. After the student has successfully completed all degree requirements except the dissertation, the student may apply for Dissertator Status.

Achieving Dissertator Status requires successful completion of the Doctoral Preliminary Examination and prior approval of the student’s advisor and the Doctoral Program Committee of a dissertation proposal that outlines the scope of the project, the research method, and the goals to be achieved. Any proposal that may involve a financial commitment by the University also must be approved by the Office of the Dean. After having achieved Dissertator Status, the student must continue to register for 3 credits of doctoral thesis per semester during the academic year until the dissertation is completed.

Dissertation Defense

The final examination, which is oral, consists of a defense of the dissertation project. The doctoral defense examination may only be taken after all coursework and other requirements have been completed. The student must have Dissertator Status at the time of the defense. 

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.