Guidelines for Ph.D. Program

UNH ECE Ph.D. Program Guidelines

September 29, 2016

Before coming to UNH:

1. Identify one or more faculty champions. These are UNH ECE faculty (regular and affiliate) who might be interested in serving as your advisor and work with you on research:

  • Review the work of UNH ECE faculty. Identify one or more faculty members whose research matches your interests.
  • Complete the pre-application. Name one or more UNH ECE professors whose research matches your interests.
  • Prepare a statement of research interest to share with potential faculty champions. Focus on accomplishments (such as publications, projects, and technical positions you held), and on areas of interest for research. Read this post before you write the statement: http://bit.ly/1OLW0J7.
  • If your pre-application is approved, contact one or more UNH ECE faculty who are conducting research in an area that you are interested in working. Ask them if they are interested in becoming your faculty champions. Faculty champions argue for accepting a student into the PhD program and possibly also for providing funding for that student. When contacting UNH ECE faculty, send them your CV, your statement of research interest, any publications you might have, and questions about their research.

2. Submit your application to the UNH Graduate School. In your statement of purpose identify one or more UNH ECE faculty champions.
3. Find source of full or partial funding: TA, RA, scholarship, tuition waiver, self-financing, or other. Successful applicants for a TA, RA, UNH-based scholarship, or a tuition waiver will have strong recommendation from a faculty champion.

At the beginning of your PhD studies at UNH:

1. You will be assigned a UNH ECE faculty advisor, most likely your faculty champion.
2. With your advisor:

  • Identify research topic.
  • Identify courses that you will need to take to help with your research.

3. Take ECE 900A and B during the first two semesters at UNH for a total of 4 credits. If you completed ECE 900A and B as part of an MS ECE at UNH this requirement is waived.
4. After completing ECE 900 A and B (either as part of your PhD, or because you completed your MS ECE at UNH), give one research talk in the ECE department each calendar year, and attend at least 50% of all research talks given by all graduate students (MS and PhD). The Graduate Committee schedules research talks, and certifies your attendance at the talks. Oral presentations given for the qualifying exam, dissertation proposal, and dissertation defense are not considered research talks.
5. During the first four semesters at UNH, complete coursework identified by you and your advisor as necessary for your dissertation research.
6. Complete the Qualifying Exam.

Qualifying Exam Rules

  • Purpose: Test general knowledge in ECE areas relevant to student’s research, and test ability to create new knowledge.
  • When: PhD students should complete the Qualifying Exam no later than the end of their fourth semester at UNH.
  • How is the student tested? The student should introduce a topic of research and proposed paths to complete the research, as well as demonstrate reasonable depth of technical background in that area. The student does this by (a) providing one or more papers co-authored by the student submitted to, or accepted by, peer reviewed publications, (b) discussing future plans for research, and (c) introducing 2-3 high impact peer reviewed publications approved by the committee. The student gives an oral presentation on(a), (b), and (c).
  • Material: Student supplies their paper(s), and the 2-3 reviewed publications to committee 2 weeks prior to exam; these are available to entire UNH ECE faculty.
  • Announcement: Exam is announced to UNH ECE faculty, and the public, 2 weeks in advance.
  • Committee: UNH ECE advisor + 2 UNH ECE faculty (affiliate faculty are eligible). The student can substitute one UNH ECE faculty with a PhD-holding committee member from outside of UNH ECE.
  • Format: Written documents available to committee and UNH ECE faculty. Oral presentation is open to the public; presentation is followed by a public question period, and a separate committee-only question period. The entire event is no more than 90 minutes long.
  • To pass: Committee recommends by majority vote, and informs the student of the recommendation immediately after the oral presentation (but does not inform the student of the exact vote). Within 7 days of the Qualifying Exam the committee informs the UNH ECE faculty of its vote (with vote count). The entire UNH ECE faculty decides on the recommendation by majority vote within 30 days of being notified. Graduate Committee officially informs student within 14 days of the faculty vote.
  • Under what circumstances can a student, who failed the Qualifying Exam, take it again? If a student fails the Qualifying Exam their committee will recommend to the entire UNH ECE faculty either to ask the student to withdraw from the PhD program, or to allow them to take the exam again. The recommendation is decided by majority vote. The entire UNH ECE faculty decides on the recommendation by majority vote within 30 days of being notified. Graduate Committee officially informs student within 14 days of the faculty vote. If the vote is positive, the student must take the Qualifying Exam during the next academic semester.
  • Failing twice. If the student fails the Qualifying Exam a second time, they must withdraw from the PhD program.

Advance to candidacy

  • After completing your Qualifying Exam work with your advisor to assemble your PhD Dissertation Committee.
  • Defend the Dissertation Proposal to advance to candidacy.

Dissertation Proposal Rules

  • Purpose: Declare a topic for dissertation research; demonstrate ability to complete the specific PhD research topic selected by the student.
  • When? Students must advance to candidacy within five years after matriculation (enrollment after admission) or within four years if they entered with a Master's in Electrical Engineering, in Computer Engineering, or in an equivalent field.
  • How is the student tested? The student should define their PhD research topic, outline hypotheses, preliminary results, and expected final results; demonstrate significant depth of technical background in the area. The student does this by submitting a written proposal document and giving an oral presentation.
  • Material: Student supplies proposal to committee 2 weeks prior to exam; document is available to entire UNH ECE faculty.
  • Announcement: Exam is announced to UNH ECE faculty, and the public, 2 weeks in advance.
  • Dissertation Committee: The committee is led by the student’s UNH ECE PhD advisor. The committee has two other UNH ECE professors (affiliate faculty are eligible), and two non-UNH ECE members (with a PhD). The non-UNH ECE members should be experts in the student’s field of research.
  • Format: Written proposal document available to committee and UNH ECE faculty. Oral presentation is open to the public; presentation is followed by a public question period, and a separate committee-only question period. The oral presentation and public questions are no longer than 60 minutes. The entire event takes no longer than 180 minutes.
  • To pass: Committee recommends by majority vote, and informs the student of the recommendation immediately after the oral presentation (but does not inform the student of the exact vote). Within 7 days of the Dissertation Proposal defense the committee informs the UNH ECE faculty of its vote (with vote count). The entire UNH ECE faculty decides on the recommendation by majority vote within 30 days of being notified. Graduate Committee officially informs student within 14 days of the faculty vote.
  • Under what circumstances can a student, who failed to defend the Dissertation Proposal, defend it again? If a student fails to defend the Dissertation Proposal their committee will recommend to the entire UNH ECE faculty either to ask the student to withdraw from the PhD program, or to allow them to defend the proposal again. The recommendation is decided by majority vote. The entire UNH ECE faculty decides on the recommendation by majority vote within 30 days of being notified. Graduate Committee officially informs student within 14 days of the faculty vote. If the vote is positive, the student must defend the Dissertation Proposal at most one calendar year after the original defense date.
  • Failing to defend proposal twice. If the student fails to defend the Dissertation Proposal a second time, they must withdraw from the PhD program.

Finalizing your PhD

1. Complete your dissertation research under the guidance of your advisor and your dissertation committee.
2. Defend your dissertation.

Dissertation Defense Rules

  • Purpose: Demonstrate ability to use the general tools of science to create new scientific knowledge. Demonstrate a specific scientific contribution to a field of research in the realm of electrical engineering or computer engineering.
  • When? PhD students must defend their dissertation within eight years after matriculation (enrollment after admission) or within seven years if they entered with a Master's in Electrical Engineering, in Computer Engineering, or in an equivalent field.
  • How is the student tested? The student should demonstrate that they are able to use the general tools of science to create new scientific knowledge, and a specific scientific contribution within electrical/computer engineering. The student does this by submitting a written dissertation document and giving an oral presentation.
  • Material: Student supplies a draft version of the dissertation to committee 60 days prior to exam. Student supplies final version 4 weeks prior to exam; document is available to entire UNH ECE faculty.
  • Announcement: Exam is announced to UNH ECE faculty, and the public, 4 weeks in advance.
  • Dissertation Committee: The committee is led by the student’s UNH ECE PhD advisor. The committee has four other members: two UNH ECE professors (affiliate faculty are eligible), and two non-UNH ECE members (with a PhD). The non-UNH ECE members should be experts in the student’s field of research.
  • Format: Dissertation document is reviewed by Dissertation Committee in writing. Dissertation is also available to UNH ECE faculty. Oral presentation is open to the public; presentation is followed by a public question period, and a separate committee-only question period. Finally, the committee meets in private to make a recommendation by majority vote. The oral presentation and public questions are no longer than 60 minutes. The entire event takes no longer than 180 minutes.
  • Dissertation committee written review: The dissertation committee chair receives written reviews from the other four members 2 weeks before the defense. The suggestion is that each review should provide the following:
    • Dissertation overview with assessment of scientific contribution,
    • Overall recommendation (pass/fail).

Dissertation committee chair synthesizes recommendations into a committee recommendation, to be accepted by a majority vote of the committee after the oral defense.

  • To pass: Committee recommends based on written reviews and oral presentation, and informs the student of the recommendation immediately after the oral presentation. The committee does not inform the student of the exact vote. Within 7 days of the defense the committee informs the UNH ECE faculty of its vote (with vote count), and provides the five dissertation review documents. The entire UNH ECE faculty votes on the recommendation within 30 days of the notification. Graduate Committee officially informs student within 14 days of the faculty vote.
  • Under what circumstances can a student, who failed to defend the dissertation, defend it again? If a student fails to defend the dissertation their committee will recommend to the entire UNH ECE faculty either to ask the student to withdraw from the PhD program, or to allow them to defend the dissertation again. The recommendation is decided by majority vote. The entire faculty votes within 30 days of being notified by the dissertation committee. Graduate Committee officially informs student within 14 days of the faculty vote. If the vote is positive, the student must defend the dissertation at most one calendar year after the original defense date.
  • Failing to defend dissertation twice. If the student fails to defend the Dissertation a second time, they must withdraw from the PhD program.