University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
Two graduate students in the lab

Visit our YouTube channel for graduate profiles of success. Photo by David Nevala.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UW-Madison is recognized for excellence in research, instruction and service to the profession. It ranks among the top electrical and computer engineering departments in national surveys, consistently producing talented graduates whose skills are highly respected throughout the nation and around the world. 


The electrical engineering graduate program ranks in 14th place (tie) in the U.S. News & World Report 2011 rankings of the best engineering graduate schools, released in August 2010. The UW-Madison College of Engineering is tied for 16th (2012 ranking).


The doctoral programs in electrical engineering is among the top 25 percent of programs in the fields, according to a September 2010 National Research Council assessment.


Its distinguished faculty of 50 members leads research efforts that span both traditional and emerging areas in electrical and computer engineering. Many have been recognized for their research contributions with awards from national and international organizations; among the faculty are 17 IEEE Fellows, 10 NSF Presidential Young Investigator (PYI) or CAREER Award recipients, and 3 recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).


Research in the department encompasses virtually every specialty within electrical and computer engineering. Our department is noted for its "hands-on" approach to graduate education, complemented with a strong theoretical program. This blend offers students a tremendous range of research and educational opportunities exploiting both technological and conceptual innovations in electrical and computer engineering.


Graduate studies are offered in all areas of electrical and computer engineering, and most specializations can be pursued in depth. These studies are currently organized into the following areas:


  • Applied Physics: electromagnetic fields and waves, solid state and microelectronics, photonics, and plasmas and controlled fusion
  • Computer Engineering: computer architecture, design automation
  • Power Engineering: machines, power electronics, and power systems
  • Systems: control and dynamics, communications, signal processing, and biomedical

Interdisciplinary research and educational programs are major components of the activities at UW-Madison. Many electrical and computer engineering faculty and graduate students conduct interdisciplinary research in such diverse fields as materials science, dynamical systems, space science, manufacturing systems, fusion and applied probability. An example is the Wisconsin Centers for Discovery that is an initial $150M private and public investment in cutting edge research in the biological, nanotechnology and computer areas with which the department is involved. These efforts typically involve cross-departmental collaboration with faculty in other branches of engineering and such areas as medicine, computer science, physics and mathematics.


The campus boasts a number of interdisciplinary centers and industrial consortia to coordinate and enhance such efforts. These centers provide access to state-of-the-art technology for a “critical mass” of talented students, faculty and professional research staff, and focus on innovations destined to enhance the competitive position of U.S. engineering and technology. Many of these centers and consortia operate with direct industry participation. This permits students to obtain firsthand knowledge of modern industrial research needs and to establish important links between the industrial participants and the department.


Quality instruction has always been among the highest priorities in our department. Our faculty feel a strong sense of responsibility to provide the finest possible education for both graduate and undergraduate students. Evidence of this commitment is the many faculty-written textbooks that have been adopted by universities here and abroad. The members of this department have always sought to maintain a symbiosis between research and teaching, with research contributions yielding improvements in curriculum, and fundamental insights from the classroom providing a foundation for innovative research.


Approximately 325 students are enrolled in our graduate program, with roughly 60 percent being doctoral candidates. The department awards an average of 120 master's degrees and 20 doctoral degrees each year. Demand for our graduates among industrial, government and academic employers is consistently high. Our alumni have been active contributors to the advancement of electrical and computer engineering throughout the department's 100-plus-year history. The department’s graduates include two Nobel Prize winners, John Bardeen (two Nobel Prizes— for the transistor and superconductivity) and Jack Kilby (for the integrated circuit).


The University of Wisconsin ranks second in research funding in the U.S. with $1B/yr in research activities. As an illustration of the interdisciplinary nature of research at Wisconsin, more PhD degrees have been awarded in the multidepartment area of plasmas and controlled fusion research here than at any other university in the world.