Ph.D. Milestones and Procedures

Diagram of steps towards Doctor of Philosophy Degree Courses Screening Exam Qualifying Exam Defense Exam & Dissertation Graduation


Computer Engineering: All students with M.S. degrees entering the ECE Ph.D. program during Fall 2010 or later, 24-units of graduate engineering or science courses taken at UCSB are required as part of the 72-unit Ph.D. graduation requirement for a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering. To count towards the requirement, a grade of B or better must be attained.

Communications, Control, and Signal Processing (CCSP) or Electronics and Photonics (EP): there are no coursework requirements per se for those who enter the ECE Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree already. However, to establish a G.P.A., a student must take at least a course for a letter grade. Faculty advisors may require a student to take more courses for breadth and depth. Additionally, it might be helpful to take more courses in preparation for the Ph.D. Screening Exam.

Screening Exam

The purpose of the Ph.D. Screening Examination is to screen candidates for continuation in the doctoral program. This exam is not required for admission to the Ph.D. program; however, to remain in the Ph.D. program, all students are required to pass the exam, which is normally given twice a year at the beginning of Fall and Spring quarters.

Dates to Remember

  • Fall Exam: 1st Friday of the first full week of instruction
  • Spring Exam: 1st Friday of the first full week of instruction

To Do

  • Apply for the exam: Applications due around a month or so before the exam date

Forms and Guides

Qualifying Exam & Advancing to Candidacy

The Exam is oral with the focus on the dissertation problem and is administered by the student's Doctoral Committee. It will include considerable depth in the student's area of specialization, as required for a successful completion of the dissertation. The student confers with committee members to set up the date/time of the exam. The necessary forms are available in the ECE Graduate Student Office and should be completed prior to the exam.

It is understood that upon passing the Qualifying Examination, the student has presented an approved dissertation research proposal and has demonstrated substantial readiness to undertake the research.

Once advanced to Ph.D. candidacy, the nonresident tuition is reduced by 100% for the next nine quarters effective the quarter after an international student has advanced to candidacy.

Dates to Remember

  • Notify the ECE Student Office two weeks prior to exam date

To Do

  • Form the doctoral dissertation committee by consulting with one's faculty advisor
  • If the committee has a fourth or fifth member from industry, submit that person's curriculum vitae (CV) to the ECE Student Office to accompany paperwork
  • Complete the Conflict of Interest form, sign it and have the dissertation committee chair sign it
  • Book a room for the exam as early as possible (refer to the Room Reservation box on the right)
  • Stop by the ECE Student Office with the Ph.D. Form II signed by all committee members so that a copy of the signed form is made and filed in the student's file
  • Must have completed all course requirements (including those for the M.S. degree - if applicable) and degree milestones before one can pay the advancement to candidacy fee).
  • Pay the Advancement to Candidacy (currently $50.00 at the Cashier's Office at 1212 SAASB) before submitting to the Form II to Graduate Division

Forms (only available in the ECE Graduate Student Office)

  • Ph.D. Form I (Nomination of Dissertation Committee)
  • Conflict of Interest Form (CoI)
  • Ph.D. Form II (Actual Qualifying Exam Form)

Defense Exam & Dissertation

For the Defense of Dissertation, the candidate must defend the dissertation before the Doctoral Committee and give a public seminar presentation. Ordinarily, the public presentation is considered part of the Examination. The Committee will meet with the student after the Examination to discuss any areas that need revision or additional work.

Dates to Remember

Notify the ECE Graduate Student Office one week prior to exam date so paperwork can be processed.

To Do

  • If there are any changes to the composition of the dissertation committee since the qualifying exam, notify the ECE Student Office at least two weeks before the exam date
  • Provide the ECE Student Office with the dissertation title which needs to be included in the defense paperwork
  • One month or as soon as the exam date has been determined, book a room for the exam (refer to the Room Reservation box on the right)
  • One week prior to the exam date, submit the defense abstract/bio on the ECE Event Submission page to have it appear on the ECE Events page and to send out an ECE email announcement.
  • Bring signature pages on the special paper required by Graduate Division and a black or blue pen in case the committee is willing to sign those after the defense

Forms (only available in the ECE Graduate Student Office)

  • Ph.D. Form III
  • Ph.D. Form I-A for any changes to the committee since the Qualifying Exam



Graduation is different from the commencement ceremony. When a student graduates, they finish all degree requirements.


Commencement ceremonies occur once a year after the last day of the Spring quarter. The Graduate Student ceremony has always been at 4 p.m. on the Sunday after the last day of spring quarter. To attend the ceremony, sign up on the Graduate Division website. Information about commencement is usually available early in the Spring quarter.

Dates to Remember

  • Friday of finals week and last Friday of Summer Sessions is the deadline to complete all degree requirements for that term

To Do

  • File the dissertation
  • Pay filing fee if one is on a filing fee leave. Filing fee must be paid only after all requirements are successfully done. DO NOT PREPAY FILING FEE, AS IT IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
  • Check with the Graduate Division for their procedures
  • It is only the Graduate Division who can provide a letter of degree verification since one's transcripts will not be ready for a while with the degree posted on it. The diploma takes even longer.

Before Leaving UCSB

  • Complete the department exit survey
  • Turn in all department issued keys to the ECE Electronic Shop (HFH 1160)
  • Forward mail and close mailbox in the ECE Central Administrative Office (HFH 4155)