Information for Ph.D. Students

Coursework Prelim Reqs Qual Exam Teaching Reqs Dissertation/Tech Report Exit/Graduation

The following may be used as a guideline for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in EECS. For complete details on requirements and procedures, see the EECS Graduate Handbook. The PhD Flowchart below provides an overview of the necessary steps you will need to take before getting your Ph.D. Please contact the Staff Graduate Advisors (EE: Shirley Salanio, shirley@eecs, 217 Cory Hall / CS: Audrey Sillers, araya@eecs, 367 Soda Hall) to obtain any forms not linked from below or if you have any questions.

Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.)









  • MAJOR: At least 12 units (200-level courses) with a GPA of 3.5+
  • INSIDE MINOR: At least 6 units (at least one 200-level grad course) with a GPA of 3.0+. One or more of these courses may be outside EECS
  • OUTSIDE MINOR: At least six units (at least one 200-level grad course) with a GPA of 3.0+. Courses must be outside EECS, with at most one cross-listed with EECS


  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Courses in 298, 299, 375, and 602 do not count.
  • Students can petition to transfer at most 12 units from another institution.

The preliminary requirements include an oral exam and breadth courses.

Students must demonstrate to a committee of faculty members an integrated grasp of the area's body of knowledge in an unstructured framework. All students must take the exam at the start of their 3rd semester.


  • be at a graduate or an advanced undergraduate level
  • be at least three units
  • be for a letter grade

EE students must take two courses in areas different from the oral exam (with A- or better).

CS students must take a course in each of the three subject areas, passing each with at least a B+.

Upon completion of the prelim requirements, students should submit a "Blue Card" to their Staff Graduate Advisor. The blue card is a non-binding document that the staff reviews to ensure your courses satisfy requirements.

The Qualifying Exam is a University requirement. Students must demonstrate an expertise in the areas of the discipline that have been specified for the exam and be able to produce an acceptable plan for their dissertation.

The Qualifying Exam should be taken by the end of a student's third year AND only after the preliminary requirements are fulfilled.

At least four weeks prior to the exam, students should plan to organize their committee and submit the following forms to their Staff Graduate Advisor:

Advancing to candidacy lets the university know that a student is almost ready to graduate. Doctoral students are eligible to advance after successfully passing the Qualifying Exam.

To advance to candidacy, students must organize their dissertation committee and submit the Application for Candidacy to their Staff Graduate Advisor. A $90 check* made payable to "Regents of the University of California" must also be included

*NSF students are eligible to waive the fee.

All EECS doctoral students must serve as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI).


  • Students must complete a total of 30 hours minimum prior to graduation. (Twenty hours of work per week is equivalent to a 50% GSI appointment for a semester. Ten hours of work per week is equivalent to a 25% GSI appointment for a semester.)
  • At least 20 hours must be for an EE or CS undergraduate course.
  • First time GSIs must take a 375 Pedagogy course and attend a teaching conference.

Students are expected to give a talk before their final submission on the principal results of their research (this is a departmental graduation requirement). The Dissertation talk must be

Students must file the thesis by the last day of the semester in which they plan to graduate.

The most important part of filing is submitting the dissertation to the Grad Division and providing the following documents to the Staff Graduate Advisor:

  • Copy of the signed signature page
  • Copy/printout of the title page
  • Copy/printout of the abstract

Students must also upload a copy of the dissertation to the EECS database.

When you have found a Research Advisor and no longer have a temporary one, you must notify the Staff Graduate Advisor to update the database. No forms or paperwork required.

( I ) Coursework

( II ) Preliminary Examination Requirements

The EECS Preliminary Requirement consists of two components: the oral examination and breadth courses. You will have fulfilled the Prelim Requirement only after you pass the oral exam and meet the breadth course requirement.


Oral Exam

Breadth Requirement

  • This requirement is satisfied when you have completed, with a grade of A- or better, a graduate or advanced undergraduate course of at least 3 units in two different areas in the EECS Department outside of the area of the oral exam.
  • See the EECS Graduate Handbook for a current list of courses you MAY NOT USE to fulfill your breadth requirements. Courses vary depending on your oral exam area.

Preliminary Breadth Courses: Students must complete courses from 3 of the following areas, passing each with at least a B+:
  • Theory: 270, 271, 273, 274, 276, 278
  • AI: 280, 281A, 281B, 287, 288, 289A
  • Graphics/HCI: 260B, 283

  • Programming: 263, 264, 265, 267; EE219C
  • Systems: 261, 261N, 262A, 262B, 268, 286B
  • Architecture/VLSI: 250, 252, 258

The courses must include at least one from the group of three above the line and one from the group of three below the line. CS260B, CS263, and EE219C cannot be used for this constraint, though they can be used as providing 1 of the 3 areas. (For students who took the old CS260 course, that is equivalent to the current CS260B.)

Students must complete the requirement by the end of their 6th semester.

CS breadth courses can count towards a major or minor, but classes in different areas cannot be used together for the major or in the same minor.

Although CS PhD students are expected to take at least one course from each grouped areas (Group 1 : THY, AI, GR; Group 2:Programming, Systems, and Architecture), students can petition to have an EE class satisfy one of their CS breadth requirements.

Blue Card

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( III ) Qualifying (Qual) Examination


Applications for the Qualifying Exam

White Card

Advancement to Candidacy

Thesis Proposal Defense and Application

Any student not presenting a satisfactory thesis proposal defense at the Qual Exam must write up and present to the dissertation committee a thesis proposal which should include a summary of research to date and plans for future work.

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( IV ) Teaching Requirement

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( V ) Dissertation Talk and Filing

You must refer to Graduate Division's guidelines on Submitting a Doctoral Dissertation (any deviated version will not be accepted).


Filing Fee

To submit your dissertation, you must either be registered or on Filing Fee. Most students are registered.

Dissertation Talk

Give a talk on the principal results of your research (this is a departmental graduation requirement). Advertise your talk at least one week in advance on the EECS Department Calendar (click the left-column link called Submit or edit an event). All students must also complete and submit the Thesis Seminar Form. Please note that the dissertation talk must be given in either the spring or fall semesters. Dissertation talks during the summer sessions are not allowed.


Technical Report

Effective Spring 2006, every Ph.D. dissertation must be submitted to the EECS Technical Memorandum Series. Please fill out the online submission form. Your manuscript will need to be in pdf format. Please do not include a copy of the signed signature page with the faculty committee members' signatures.
Once submitted, the report will be assigned a number, given an HTML coversheet, assigned a URL, and added the EECS Technical Reports database. You will be sent its number and URL via email. If you need to delay the submission of your Tech Report, there is an option via your My EECS Info page that will allow you to specify a "delayed publication date".

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( VI ) Exit Surveys & Graduation


Graduate Division Surveys

All doctoral candidates must submit the following:


If you wish to participate in the spring commencement ceremony, you must fill out the College of Engineering's Commencement Participation Form. Throughout the spring, details about the ceremony will be updated on the commencement website. If you have any other questions about commencement, please call the COE Student Affairs Office, 642-7594.

Diploma and Transcript

Approximately four months after your degree is conferred, you may pick up your diploma in person at the Office of the Registrar, 120 Sproul Hall, or request to have it sent to you. For more information, please see Transcripts and Diplomas.

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Updated by SAS, January 2016.

EECS Graduate Student Affairs