The Ph.D. in Computer Engineering degree prepares students to pursue research and advanced work in computer engineering technical areas, including computer systems and software, electronic design and applications, VLSI systems, computer networks, communication systems, and cybersecurity.


Students applying for the Ph.D. program in Computer Engineering usually have a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering or an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering, or related disciplines. A strong candidate for admission typically meets the following requirements: (a) has a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering or has a B.Sc. degree from an ABET accredited program in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, or Electrical engineering; and (b) has a GPA above 3.0. International students must demonstrate the linguistic proficiency as defined by the graduate school (click HERE to see requirements).

Students coming from different backgrounds may be required to demonstrate knowledge that is presented in the following UAH Computer Engineering undergraduate foundation courses before they pursue graduate courses.

  • CPE 211: Introduction to Computer Programming in Engineering
  • CPE 212: Fundamentals of Software Engineering
  • CS 317: Introduction to Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • EE 202: Introduction to Digital Logic Design
  • EE 315: Introduction to Electronic Analysis and Design
  • CPE 323: Intro to Embedded Computer Systems
  • CPE 431/CPE 531: Introduction to Computer Architecture

An entering student can demonstrate knowledge of the material in one of the following ways: completing the courses at UAH, completing similar courses at another institution, or evidence based on employment experience. A student may be required to successfully pass a placement exam to demonstrate his/her knowledge of the material.


An entering student can demonstrate knowledge of the material in one of the following ways: completing the courses at UAH, completing similar courses at another institution, or evidence based on employment experience. A student may be required to successfully pass a placement exam to demonstrate his/her knowledge of the material.

  • Coursework: at least 48 credit hours of coursework;
  • Dissertation research: at least 18 credit hours of dissertation research;
  • Successful completion of a Preliminary Evaluation (typically in the first year of Ph.D. studies);
  • Successful completion of a Qualifying Examination with a presentation of a dissertation topic;
  • Successful completion of the Final Examination consisting of a presentation of the dissertation and submission of the written dissertation.

Course Work

The PhD program requires at least 48 credit hours of graduate coursework and at least 18 credit hours of dissertation research. A maximum of 6 credit hours in theses/research work from the master’s degree is allowed to count toward the 48 graduate coursework requirement. Students must register for dissertation research each semester in which they receive faculty supervision. The approval of the Program of Study should be accomplished as early as possible, but no later than one year after admission to the Ph.D. program and passing the preliminary exam. Once approved, the program may be amended only by the Supervisory Committee, upon submission of the appropriate form.

Major and Minor Subjects

A defined major subject or field of specialization is required of all candidates for the Ph.D. degree. The major requires 24 credit hours of coursework. Of these 24 credit hours, at least 18 must be within a defined major and 6 from supportive fields. The candidate must also have at least two minor subjects, 12 credit hours each, chosen with approval of the candidate’s Supervisory Committee. One of the minors must cover mathematical and theoretical foundations of computer engineering or computer science, as defined by the Computer Engineering program. The list of commonly approved math minor courses is available HERE.

Preliminary Evaluation

Ph.D. students are required to complete and pass a preliminary evaluation which provides initial advice on the student's Ph.D. Program of Study and determines a student's fitness to continue in the Ph.D. program. The preliminary evaluation is required for all Ph.D. students, except for those who successfully completed a Master of Science degree in Computer Engineering with thesis.

The preliminary evaluation is conducted by a committee of three Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) faculty (including the provisional advisor), who will provide their recommendations on the Ph.D. Program of Study (POS) and determine the student's fitness to continue in the Ph.D. program.

The preliminary evaluation must be taken within a year after admission to the Ph.D. program. Successful completion of the preliminary evaluation will provide evidence of the student's ability to continue in pursuit of the Ph.D. degree. The evaluation can be conducted no more than twice.

Supervisory Committee

The supervisory committee (SC) consists of at least five members (a chair and 4 members). The dissertation advisor and the SC chair usually are the same person. The chair must be a full-time ECE faculty member. Adjunct faculty and affiliate graduate faculty members may not chair a supervisory committee. Committee members shall all be graduate faculty, with at least half being full-time members of the graduate faculty and at least half being from the Computer Engineering program. It is recommended that they cover 1st and 2nd minor subjects. Since this PhD program is shared with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), one Supervisory Committee member must come from the graduate faculty within UAB’s ECE Department.

Qualifying Exam

To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must first pass the qualifying examination. The qualifying examination can cover any aspect of the student's program and is taken after completion of the student's coursework and upon recommendation of the student's supervisory committee. It is designed to test students' fitness for pursuing research projects in their chosen areas and to test their general knowledge of computer engineering.

The Qualifying Examination is given under the auspices of the Graduate School and must be administered by the Supervisory Committee within one year of the date the student completes the formal coursework on the Program of Study. It is conducted in two distinct stages which may be separated by a length of time deemed appropriate by the supervisory committee. The first stage is a demonstration through written and oral examination that the student is proficient in the subject matter in the Program of Study. The final stage is the dissertation proposal review in which the student prepares a written report and makes a subsequent oral presentation describing the proposed dissertation research. Both the dissertation topic and expected approach(es) must be clearly delineated to the committee's satisfaction in order for a pass to be granted. The presentation of the oral dissertation research proposal must be scheduled through the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance. Once this review is complete, the results of the Qualifying Examination are reported to the Graduate School within two working days on the prescribed form. The presentation of the oral dissertation proposal may be given no more than twice.

Final Examination

The final examination for a doctoral candidate is the dissertation defense and is administered by the supervisory committee. A pass requires a favorable (no more than one dissenting) vote of the supervisory committee. Dissertation defenses are composed of two phases; the first is an oral presentation of the dissertation material and is considered to be open to members of the University community, while the second is an examination of the student by the Supervisory Committee in closed session. The final examination must be given at least six weeks before the end of the semester in which the candidate plans to graduate. A student may take the final examination no more than twice.

Graduation Requirements

For graduation with a Ph.D. degree in Computer Engineering a student must:

  • Complete a Ph.D. Program of Study and pass a Qualifying Examination;
  • Successfully defend a Ph.D. dissertation;
  • Submit the Ph.D. dissertation to the Graduate School;
  • Publish, or have accepted, at least one journal paper or have a peer reviewed paper accepted/published at a major national/international conference in the area of the conducted research. The responsibility to judge fitness of conferences and journals is reserved for the Ph.D. supervisory committee.

How to apply?

To be considered for admission to the Computer Engineering, Ph.D. program, applicants must complete the following steps:

  • Create your Charger Status account, and submit the UAH graduate application for admission.
  • Send your official college transcript to UAH Graduate Admissions through an electronic delivery service. UAH Graduate Admissions accepts official transcripts from Parchment and Student Clearinghouse.
  • Request for your official GRE test scores to be sent to UAH Graduate Admissions by the testing agency.
  • Upload the following items directly to your application through Charger Status:
    • Personal Statement
    • Resume/CV
    • 2 Letters of Recommendation

For more information about specific admission requirements for international students, see international student application instructions.

Have questions? Contact your coordinator!

Aleksandar Milenkovic

Aleksandar Milenkovic

ECE Graduate Program Coordinator

Engineering Building Room 217L