Doctor of Philosophy, Electrical Engineering

The doctorate is a research degree emphasizing creativity and original approaches to problem-solving in electrical and computer engineering.

Is This Program Right For You?

The doctoral program provides in-depth training in research and publication of an original research thesis. It typically requires five years of study beyond the bachelors degree, although the exact time to degree completion varies depending on research progress.
The PhD program involves a thorough study phase comprised of advanced coursework in the student’s major area of study, development and presentation of dissertation research topic, and culminates in the presentation and oral defense of an original research thesis.
Research at both the MS and PhD levels can be performed within interdisciplinary cooperative projects.
In order to be awarded a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering, students must adhere to department and Graduate School policies and requirements. Please refer to the Graduate Student Handbook for more information.

What You Learn

  • Demonstrate an extraordinary, deep understanding of mathematical, scientific, and engineering principles in the field
  • Demonstrate an ability to formulate, analyze, and independently solve advanced engineering problems
  • Apply the relevant scientific and technological advancements, techniques, and engineering tools to address these problems
  • Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct
  • Demonstrate an ability to synthesize knowledge from a subset of the biological, physical, and/or social sciences to help
     frame problems critical to the future of their discipline
  • Demonstrate an ability to conduct original research and communicate it to their peers

Information for Current Students

Click HERE to view or download the most current ECE Graduate Student Handbook and Forms.


Click here to be directed to Graduate School information.

There are various types of funding available for ECE graduate students. Begin your research by reading the UW-Madison Graduate School’s webpage about funding information the UW-Madison Graduate School’s webpage about funding information and the different types of graduate funding.

The ECE department awards research assistantships (RA), teaching assistantships (TA), project assistantships (PA), and fellowships. A graduate assistantship (RA, TA or PA) with an employment level of at least 33.33% will entitle the recipient to a salary as well as tuition remission and health insurance. Some graduate students may be awarded external fellowships.

Research Assistantship (RA): An RA is offered to graduate students to perform sponsored research duties. An RA will also fulfill the research component of a graduate degree (MS or PhD), and thus RAs must enroll in appropriate research credits each semester they are funded. An RA appointment is offered by individual faculty members.

Teaching Assistantship (TA): A TA is offered to graduate students to help classroom teaching and related activities. It is administered through the ECE TA application portal. TA positions are available for application to all current graduate students. Only rarely will incoming new graduate students be offered TA positions. TA positions last one semester, and vary according to the courses offered. Please note that many ECE students find TA positions in other academic departments (physics, mathematics, computer sciences, etc.).

Project Assistantship (PA): A PA is a position that requires a graduate student to perform a wide range of tasks. These positions are offered by individual units on campus. Prospective applicants need to contact these units directly.

Fellowships: ECE offers several fellowships to incoming graduate students. These offers are often bundled as multi-year financial award package for a small group of outstanding candidates. Some of these fellowships may have specific preferences. All admitted graduate students are automatically evaluated for fellowship eligibility and candidacy.

Click here to see a list of course offerings in the ECE Department.

Degree & Prospective Student Information

The Electrical & Computer Engineering Department reviews and admit graduate student applicants for Fall semesters. The application deadline for Fall is December 15 of the prior year before starting the program (ex:  December 15, 2016 for Fall 2017). The department does not currently offer a Spring or Summer admissions cycle. In order to be reviewed for admission all application materials must be submitted online through the Graduate School’s application portal by the deadline.


Admission Requirements & Materials:

  • ALL applicants must meet the general Graduate School Admission Requirements
  • All degree-seeking students must submit an online application to the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Graduate School and pay the application fee.
    • Within the application:
      • All applicants must complete the supplemental application section that identifies their research interest area.
      • All applicants must upload a copy of their transcripts from their undergraduate institution and other previous higher education institutions. Applicants must upload a transcript for each institution attended. Please do not send any hard-copies of transcript unless specifically instructed to by the ECE Graduate Admissions Office.
      • All applicants must submit a statement of purpose/reasons for graduate study.
      • All applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and should be uploaded electronically.
  • International applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Please refer to the Graduate School’s Admission Requirements page for minimum required scores. Scores are accepted if they are within two years of the start of the admissions term for which applicants are applying. Scores should be electronically sent directly from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to institution code 1846 (no department code is needed).
    • Scores from one these exams are required unless you met one of the following exemptions:
      • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate level
      • You earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment
      • You completed at least two full-time semesters of graded course work (excluding ESL courses) at an institution where English is the exclusive language of instruction, not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment


Please do not mail any paper copies of application materials. They will not be reviewed. Please only upload the required application materials with the Graduate School application. This includes official transcripts. If an applicant is admitted by the ECE Admissions Committee, they will receive further instructions from the ECE Graduate Admissions Office.


Applicants should monitor your application status by visiting the “Graduate Application Status” window within your MyUW portal (information on this is received after submitting an application). You may need to activate a NetID to gain access to the MyUW portal.


We anticipate most decisions will be made by mid-March for Fall semester applications. Applicants will receive an e-mail from the ECE Graduate Admissions Office with the Admissions Committee’s decision as soon as the office receives it.


Note:  When an applicant submits an application, they are automatically also put in the pool to be considered for funding from the department. Funding decisions come directly from faculty members. However, funding is limited and never guaranteed. All admitted, incoming students should anticipate to fund themselves. Those selected for funding will be contacted separately and directly by ECE faculty.


Further questions related to the ECE admissions process may be directed to


Online MS Power Engineering Degree Admissions requirements can be found here.


Re-entry applicants:  If you were a previously enrolled graduate student within the Electrical & Computer Engineering department but have had a break in enrollment for a minimum of a fall or spring term, you will need to re-apply to resume your studies. Please review the Graduate School requirements for re-entry students. Your previous faculty advisor (or another ECE faculty advisor) must be willing to supply advising support and should contact/e-mail the ECE Graduate Admissions & Student Services Coordinator regarding next steps in the process.

What graduate degrees are offered by the ECE department?

Please refer to the ECE Graduate Student Handbook for more in-depth program descriptions and requirements


How long will it take me to earn a degree from the ECE department?

  • MS degree = approximately two years
  • PhD degree = approximately five years
  • Online MS degree = two – four years


Can I apply to the Ph.D. program directly?

  • Applicants with a bachelor’s degree may apply directly to the Ph.D. program.


How should I go about contacting faculty about my research interests?

  • Prospective graduate students are individually responsible for investigating interests of ECE faculty members and contacting them. Faculty contact information can be found here.


How many students apply and how many students are admitted to the ECE degree programs?

  • Program and degree information related to admission and program statistics can be found here under the program profile section


I submitted my application and paid the fee, what happens next?

  • You will be notified via e-mail of your admission decision made by the ECE Admissions Committee. You may also check your admission status online at your MyUW portal after you have submitted an application.


I’ve been admitted! What happens next?

  • When you have been recommended by the ECE Admissions Committee for graduate studies, you will receive specific instructions regarding sending final transcripts. International students will receive information regarding submitting financial information paperwork. Please keep an eye on your e-mail for important updates regarding your admission status and for communication from the ECE Graduate Student Services Office.


More questions? Please contact the ECE Graduate Admissions Office at