Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Roadmap to a Ph.D. Degree

Roadmap to an Ph.D. Degree

Important Milestones:

Prelim Exam Requirements for PhD students:

  • The Ph.D. preliminary examination consists of a written and an oral examination
  • The exam is offered twice each year
  • Students can take the preliminary exam only twice and have to pass the exam by the end of the 1st full year of their Ph.D. studies
  • PhD students are required to take the exam each quarter that it is offered after the beginning of their PhD studies until they have either passed the exam or exhausted their two attempts
  • Failure to do so the first time will forfeit the exam and change the student's status to "not making satisfactory progress"
  • Failure to take the exam or not passing the exam the next time that it is offered will further change the status to "not in good academic standing" leading to academic disqualification

Prelim Exam Requirements for MS/PhD students:

  • MS/PhD students must pass the PhD preliminary exam within two complete academic year cycles after entering the MS/PhD program
  • They will also have only two attempts at the preliminary exam
  • Failure to pass the preliminary exam within this period, either due to not making the two attempts or due to failing it twice will change the status to "not in good academic standing" and lead to academic disqualification

Students in EE concentration should pick one of the following fields:

Students in CpE concentration should pick the following field:

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

  • Take this exam when you have set your dissertation topic and have completed most of the initial research.
  • This is the time to form your Candidacy Committee, which comprises 5 U.C. Academic Senate members. This committee must include:
    1. Chair: Usually your research advisor. The Chair must be a faculty member of the EECS Department.
    2. General Members: At least 2 other EECS faculty members.
    3. Outside Member: Must be a U.C. Irvine faculty member not from EECS. For more detailed guidelines, click here.
  • You should submit the nomination form of your committee to The Henry Samueli School of Engineering Graduate Student Affairs Office at least two weeks before the date of the Ph.D. qualifying examination.
  • You must fill out the Ph.D. Form 1 before your exam begins.
  • Non-resident students who have passed the Qualifying Examination are eligible for a 100% reduction in their non-resident tuition for 3 years.

Completion of Dissertation

When you finish your research and are ready to present your defense you need to follow the instructions below:

The submission of the dissertation is the last step in the program leading to the award of an advanced degree. All dissertations submitted in fulfillment of requirements for advanced degrees at UCI must conform to certain University regulations and specifications with regard to format and method of preparation.

The Standards and Procedures Manual for writing and submitting thesis/dissertations is available here:

Students are encouraged to attend the quarterly information sessions that discuss manuscript preparation and filing procedures.


Doctoral programs must be completed in seven calendar years from the date of admission.

  1. Form your Doctoral Committee, which comprises 3 U.C. Academic Senate members.
  2. Decide a time and place for your defense, when your doctoral committee members are available.
  3. Inform EECS graduate office, Amy Pham, in EH 2201 the time and place with a copy of your abstract (one paragraph describing your presentation) at least one week before the date of your defense.
  4. Defend your dissertation and fill out the Ph.D. Form 2.


Graduate Program Coordinator

Amy Pham