Universities with a PhD in Electrical Engineering (EE): How to Choose

Electrical engineering (EE) encompasses a wide range of topics and fields from computer engineering to electrical architecture. Doctoral programs in electrical engineering entail extensive research, hands-on technological work and dissertation projects or final exams. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in EE commonly offer several concentration and minor options.

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Electrical engineering doctoral degree programs may be taken through the engineering departments at many 4-year universities. These programs cover several topics integrating computer science with electrical systems.

Top Electrical Engineering Schools

The following 4-year institutions offer doctoral programs in electrical engineering. They all are among U.S. News & World Report's top engineering graduate schools as of 2016.

College/University Location Institution Type Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit $49,272
Stanford University Standford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit $46,320
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public $13,431 (In-state) $28,533 (Out-of-state)
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, public $18,041 (In-state) $31,231 (Out-of-state)
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit $45,390
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, public $15,644 (In-state) $30,064 (Out-of-state)
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, public $20,966 (In-state) $42,016 (Out-of-state)
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburg, PA 4-year, private not-for-profit $41,371
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, private not-for-profit $45,350
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit $29,581

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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University Selection Criteria

There are several criteria a potential doctoral candidate may want to consider when looking for an electrical engineering program, such as the following:

  • Many advanced students pursue programs that offer a variety of EE research subjects or concentrations, such as computer engineering, control engineering, microelectronics, electromagnetics and electrophysics.
  • Students might want to investigate schools' levels of research funding and visit the schools to explore their facilities. Students are also encouraged to survey the departments' faculty accomplishments and research interests before applying to see if they might help them gain practical opportunities.
  • Successful doctoral programs in engineering offer graduate seminars and classes that give students hands-on experience working in their areas of specialty in electrical engineering.
  • Doctoral candidates may want to look for programs that offer financial support through teaching assistantships, research assistantships or fellowships.

Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering

The doctoral program requires around 40-70 hours of coursework beyond a bachelor's degree. Because the curriculum covers a wide variety of topics within electrical engineering, some programs offer the option to choose a minor. Most programs require a dissertation or thesis project in addition to the required coursework, though some programs offer non-thesis options that instead require final exams. Many programs have residency or full-time requirements.

While many students enter doctoral-level EE programs with master's degrees, several programs allow students to begin the Ph.D. track directly after completing a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Electrical engineers work in a range of fields, including imaging, system architecture, computer electronics, control systems and plasma science.

Students interested in studying electrical engineering at the doctoral level should consider things like funding, program concentrations and opportunities for hands-on experience when looking for the right school to attend. Many 4-year public and private institutions offer doctoral programs in the field.

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