PH.D. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Who is the general contact for the ECE Ph.D. Degree?

Students can email the ECE Student Affairs Manager, Val de Veyra -

The Student Affairs Manager can answer most questions related to graduate degrees or refer the student to the proper contact.

Are travel grants available for students?

Yes, the Academic Senate has limited funds for student travel to conferences. This grant is only available once during the doctoral student's course of enrollment at UCSB after advancement to Ph.D. candidacy and only if the student has been invited to present at the conference. Allowable expenses are the actual cost of the airline ticket or equivalent ground transportation to and from the conference or meeting. For application and further information, go to the UCSB Academic Senate Travel Grants page.

Screening Exam

When am I required to take it?

Rules for taking the exam are as follows.

For students:

  1. who entered the Ph.D. program, as a holder of an M.S. degree in Electrical and/or Computer Engineering must pass the exam no later than the second time it is offered following matriculation at UCSB.
  2. who entered the Ph.D. program without an M.S. degree in Electrical and/or Computer Engineering must pass the exam no later than the first time it is offered after the first occurrence of any of the following conditions: i. completion of all M.S. requirements other than the Comprehensive Examination; ii. completion of 42 units of course work in the M.S. program; or iii. the elapse of two years from date of matriculation in the M.S. program.
  3. must have a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.30 to qualify to take the Exam. Students having a G.P.A. of less than 3.30 at the time that they are required to take the exam shall be considered to have failed the exam. This failure will be counted as one of their allowed attempts at the exam.

How many chances do I get to take the Screening Exam? If I fail the first time, when do I retake it?

If a student fails the first attempt at the examination, s/he must repeat the examination the next time that it is offered. A student is allowed a maximum of two attempts at the Ph.D. Screening Examination.

If I am in the M.S./Ph.D. program and I have taken and passed the Ph.D. Screening Exam, do I still have to take the M.S. comprehensive exam?

No, students can use the screening exam in lieu of the M.S. comprehensive exam.

Qualifying Exam and Advancing to Candidacy

Who can be on my committee?

A Ph.D. committee shall consist of no fewer than four members, which should be faculty in the same or different departments at UCSB or at another university. In rare cases, a highly qualified individual from industry can be a committee member; but in such cases a detailed technical biography or CV of the outside member must be submitted for review by the ECE Department Chair and Vice Chair. However, no fewer than three committee members shall be ECE ladder faculty with part- or full-time or affiliated appointments in ECE. The Chair and at least one other member of the ECE faculty shall be from the student's area of research as defined by the Screening Exam: CE, CCSP, or EP; whereas at least one committee member may be from outside this area. For example, if a student does his or her major and minor exams during the Screening Exam all in CE, then all his committee members could be CE faculty. If a student does his major in Controls and then does his minor in Signal Processing, then the committee should have Controls faculty and Signal Processing faculty.

A qualified individual from outside UCSB will always count as outside the major area. Exceptions to these rules regarding committee composition require the approval of the ECE Graduate Advisor.

Emeriti (retired) faculty may serve as members of Ph.D. committees but will not serve as chairs of Ph.D. committees except under particularly compelling circumstances. The appointment of an emeritus faculty member as chair requires not only departmental approval but also approval by the Graduate Council. Emeriti faculty will be counted the same as they were counted before becoming emeriti.

Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment (PSOE), Lecturer with Security of Employment (SOE) or Senior Lecturer (SOE) are allowed to serve as co-chairs or member of a doctoral committee without Graduate Council exception. They are not allowed to be sole committee chair.

When am I required to take the qualifying exam?

Students are required to have taken the qualifying exam no later than the end of the fourth year of enrollment as a graduate student in ECE. If a student does not pass the qualifying exam by the end of their fourth year in the program, s/he may be placed under academic probation.

How do I book a room for the exam?

Reserve a room as soon as possible can but no later than two weeks before the exam. Refer to the Room Reservation box on the Ph.D. Milestones and Procedures page.

Do I get a raise as a GSR after I pass the qualifying exam?

Yes, the raise is effective the month following the date of the qualifying exam. Notify your PI (the faculty member who pays you) and also the appropriate personnel staff member who can then verify the exam date with the ECE Graduate Student Office.

I understand that after the qualifying exam, I can also get faculty privileges at the Library. What do I need to do?

Students who have passed the Qualifying Examination are eligible for faculty privileges in the Library. A faculty card is issued once the student takes the Graduate Division's $50 advancement-to-candidacy cash register receipt to the Library . Should the receipt be lost, a copy of it may be obtained from the Graduate Division.

What do I have to do to advance into Ph.D. candidacy?

  1. Pass the Qualifying Exam
  2. Pass all requirements (residency plus all degree milestones including finishing all MS degree requirements for those in the MS/PhD program)
  3. Pay the $50.00 advancement-to-candidacy fee

Defense Exam & Dissertation

What needs to be done for the defense paperwork?

Inform the ECE Graduate Student Office via e-mail of the date, the time, and the place of your exam. Also, provide all the names of the committee members with the chair identified. The defense exam form (Ph.D. Form III) will be given to your committee chair.

What do I do if I have to do if I have a change in my committee?

Inform the ECE Graduate Student Office via e-mail as soon as you have the information. Separate paperwork has to be submitted to the Graduate Division. The ECE Graduate Student Office will process paperwork.

What do I need to do to prepare for the defense exam event?

  1. Room reservation: reserve a room as soon as possible can but no later than two weeks before the exam. Refer to the Room Reservation box on the Ph.D. Milestones and Procedures page.
  2. Defense announcement: fill out the form on the ECE Event Submission page one week prior to the exam date, a) the webmaster will post the defense talk to the ECE Events page, b) the ECE Central Administrative Office (CAO) will post flyers, and c) the CAO will email the defense announcement to all ECE faculty and graduate students.
  3. Refreshments: you may be reimbursed for refreshments up to $30 (excludes alcohol). Bring your receipts and fill out the reimbursement paperwork in the ECE Central Administrative Office (CAO) in Harold Frank Hall (HFH), Room 4155.