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PhD (EE)

Ph.D. Screening Exam and Entrance into the Program

  1. Prospective Ph.D. degree students will take the written screening exam administered by the ECE Departmental Ph.D. Committee. The student will choose three of the six technical areas to be tested. The graduate level courses corresponding to each area are listed below in bold-face (clicking on the course will take you to it's description). Prerequisites are indicated in parentheses. A student need not take these courses at NPS to appear for the screening exams; he/she may have already had equivalent courses from some other institution. It is assumed however, that the student has familiarity with the course contents and that of the prerequisites.

* A pdf file of typical examination topics is available by clicking on the area.

  1. The student must pass all three areas of the exam in one attempt to be successful.
  2. If unsuccessful in the written screening exam, the student may request an oral exam to be taken before the end of the following quarter in the same three areas as his/her written exam. The oral exam will be conducted by ECE Departmental Ph.D. Committee. The student must pass all three areas of the exam in one attempt in order to be successful. Otherwise the student does not qualify for the Ph.D. program.
  3. Upon passing the written or oral screening exam, the Ph.D. student enters into the Ph.D. program. A Dissertation Committee for the student is selected in consultation with the Chairman of the ECE Departmental Ph.D. Committee and/or the ECE Department Chair.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee is composed of at least five members. At least three members are to be chosen from the ECE Department, one member is to be chosen from the student's minor department, and the other member may be chosen from the ECE Department, any other academic department at the Naval Postgraduate School, or from another university or appropriate institution. Only one member may be from another university or appropriate institution. The dissertation advisor serves as the chairman of the dissertation committee and is considered to be one of the five members of the committee.

Once a dissertation advisor and dissertation committee have been chosen, the chairman of the ECE Departmental Ph.D. Committee sends a memo to the Academic Council officially nominating the dissertation advisor and dissertation committee for the student. The Academic Council must approve the dissertation advisor and dissertation committee before a student can be officially admitted into the ECE Ph.D. program.

Minor Requirements

An appropriate minor is required and can be arranged in conjunction with one of the following academic departments or group:

1. Aeronautics and Astronautics
2. Computer Science
3. Mathematics
4. Mechanical Engineering
5. Meteorology
6. Oceanography
7. Operations Research
8. Physics
9. Systems Management

10. Space Systems (academic group)

Requirements for obtaining a minor in a particular field are set by the selected department or academic group. ECE and EO courses are not allowed as part of the minor.

Written Qualifying Exam

A written qualifying exam shall be administered by the dissertation committee. The written qualifying exam typically covers three major areas of study (e.g., communication systems, control systems, and digital signal processing) related to the research area of the student.

In order to pass the written exam all members of the dissertation committee must unanimously agree that the student has passed.

If a student fails the written qualifying exam, he/she may be re-examined only once, and only if the dissertation committee so recommends. (See section on Retaking of Failed Exams below.)

Oral Qualifying Exam

An oral qualifying exam shall be administered by the dissertation committee after a student passes the written qualifying exam and satisfies all the requirements for his/her minor. The oral qualifying exam covers the same major areas of study covered by the written qualifying exam, the minor area, and any other topics of scholarly endeavor that the committee may deem relevant.

The Academic Council must be invited to send an observer to the oral qualifying exam.

A student is not allowed to present his/her research topic, plans, and results (if any) during the oral qualifying exam. The dissertation committee will decide how a student should convey this information separately. (Advisors should see Requirements for ECE Dissertation Committees.)

The results of the oral qualifying exam (whether pass or fail) must be reported by written memo addressed to (1) the cognizant curriculum Program Officer, (2) the Associate Provost for Instruction, and (3) the Academic Council via the ECE Departmental PhD Committee chairman. This memo must be signed by all members of the dissertation committee. Unanimous agreement among members of the dissertation committee is required for passage of this exam.

If all members of the dissertation committee unanimously agree that the student has passed the oral qualifying exam, and have previously approved the student's research topic and written proposal, then this report can be combined with the memo requesting advancement to candidacy (see below).

If a student fails the oral qualifying exam, he/she may be re-examined only once, and only if the dissertation committee so recommends. (See section on Retaking of Failed Exams below.)

Advancement to Candidacy

Advancement to Candidacy marks the beginning of the main research phase. The student will not normally be taking any courses during this phase. In order to advance to candidacy the student must have completed the minor requirement, passed both qualifying exams, and have submitted an acceptable dissertation proposal. The student will prepare the proposal in consultation with the dissertation advisor and members of the dissertation committee. Basic requirements however are specified in the page on requirements for dissertation committees. When the dissertation proposal has been accepted by the dissertation committee, the ECE Departmental Ph.D. Committee, upon receipt of the proposal, will recommend to the Academic Council that the student be advanced to candidacy for the doctorate.

Oral Defense of Dissertation

The student must defend his/her research by giving an oral presentation which is meant to summarize, the significance, originality, and validity of the results of his/her research and how it advances the state-of-the-art in his/her field. The student must also successfully answer any questions that may arise during the oral presentation concerning the research accomplished and about the written dissertation itself.

The defense cannot be scheduled to occur earlier than six months from the date of "advancement to candidacy."

A draft copy of the student's dissertation must be given to each member of his/her dissertation committee at least two weeks before the scheduled oral defense.

The Academic Council must be invited to send an observer to the oral defense of the dissertation.

The results of the oral defense (whether pass or fail) must be reported to the Academic Council via the Department Chairman by a memo signed by all members of the dissertation committee. If all members of the dissertation committee unanimously agree that the student has passed the oral defense of dissertation, then the memo sent to the Academic Council will indicate that the student has passed the oral defense of dissertation, and is nominated to receive the Ph.D. degree.

If a student fails the oral defense of dissertation, he/she may be re-examined only once, and only if his/her dissertation committee so recommends. (See section on Retaking of Failed Exams below.)

Final Acceptance of Dissertation

Upon final acceptance of the dissertation, the title page shall be signed by each member of the dissertation committee, the major department chairman, and the cognizant division dean.

Retaking of Failed Exams

In cases of failure, the written qualifying exam, the oral qualifying exam, and the thesis defense may be taken a second time on recommendation of the dissertation committee. Re-examination is a privilege, however, that may or may not be granted by the dissertation committee. In any case no student may take any of these exams more than two times.

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