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    Feb 05, 2023  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Engineering Major, PhD

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The PhD is offered with a major in computer engineering. Exceptional students holding the bachelor’s degree may be admitted to the doctoral program without first obtaining a master’s degree. Applicants are required to submit scores from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past three years and to have these scores sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. A TOEFL score of 550 on the written exam or 80 on the Internet-based Test is required for non-native speakers of English, including those who have earned degrees at U.S. institutions. The score must be no more than two years old from the requested date of entry. Applicants who have received a degree from an accredited U.S. institution within the past two years are exempt from the TOEFL requirement. Specific departmental requirements for the PhD include the following.


Students holding only a BS degree must take a minimum of 72 total graduate credit hours, including a minimum of 39 graduate course credit hours.  Students holding an MS degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Computer Science from the University of Tennessee will be required to take a minimum of 48 total graduate credit hours, including at least 15 hours of graduate course credit beyond those applied to their MS degree.  Students with MS degrees from other universities will be required to take a minimum of 48 total graduate credit hours, including at least 24 hours of graduate course credit.  For all students, at least half of the course credits must be fulfilled by ECE or COSC courses at or above the 500 level.  Course work requirements may not be fulfilled by research or dissertation credit or seminar courses.  The student’s major professor, with the concurrence of the dissertation committee, will prepare a curriculum plan outlining precisely what courses will be taken.

For all students, the graduate course credit hours must additionally satisfy

  1. At least 3 hours must be in ECE or COSC courses outside the student’s area of focus.
  2. A minimum of 9 hours of work must be ECE or COSC courses numbered at or above the 600 level.
  3. For students holding an MS degree, a maximum of 6 hours at the 400-level may be applied toward the Ph.D. degree; other students may apply 12 hours at the 400 level (these 400-level courses must be listed in the Graduate Catalog for graduate credit).

Satisfactory performance on a qualifying examination. The qualifying examination consists of

  1. A written critical review of current literature on a research topic approved by the administering faculty.
  2. A presentation on the approved topic including an oral examination covering the topic and related fundamental knowledge.
  3. A student must take the qualifying examination within twelve months of entering the Ph.D. program. A second and final attempt is allowed within 24 months of entering the Ph.D. program.  Attendance of the examination is limited to the student and the administering faculty.

Satisfactory performance on a comprehensive examination administered by the student’s committee. The exam results are reported to the graduate committee for approval, and the exam is filed in the department. The comprehensive exam is given when the student is ready to apply for admission to candidacy. The comprehensive examination consists of both written and oral parts. The written part includes a complete review of the literature in the student’s dissertation topic, a review of the major tools to be used in the dissertation work, and proposed research. The student’s committee may require additional written sections. The student must demonstrate a mastery of the dissertation area, ability to think analytically and creatively, skill in using academic resources, and ability to complete the dissertation satisfactorily. The oral part of the comprehensive examination consists primarily of a professional presentation of a proposal for dissertation work and its defense. The committee may cover additional topics in the oral part.

Participation in departmental seminars.

A minimum of 24 hours of doctoral dissertation.

Successful public defense of the dissertation by the student. A minimum of 6 months must separate the comprehensive examination and the dissertation defense.

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