Washington University, St. LouisEngineering

DSc in Electrical Engineering

Students pursuing the degree Doctor of Science must complete a minimum of 72 credit hours of post-baccalaureate study consistent with the residency and other applicable requirements of Washington University and the School of Engineering & Applied Science. These 72 units must include 48 hours of regular catalog courses and 24 hours of research. Up to 48 credit hours may be transferred from another institution, including no more than 6 hours of research.

In addition to accumulating academic credit as described in the paragraph above, each candidate for the degree Doctor of Science must:

  • Pass a written qualifying examination, to be taken during the second academic year of the program.
  • Pass an oral qualifying examination, to be taken at the end of the second academic year of the program.
  • Spend one year in residency at Washington University, actively engaged in a full- time program of original research, under the direction of a departmental research supervisor. Click here (link) for more information on the research activities of the department.
  • Write a doctoral dissertation that describes the research results.
  • Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation research.
  • ESE 590 Electrical & Systems Engineering Graduate Seminar must be taken each semester.

DSc Written Qualifying Examination

Schedule: The written qualifying examination will be given once a year, during the summer break, usually in August before the start of classes for the fall semester. Doctoral students are expected to take the exam after their first academic year of the program has been completed.

Structure: The written examination will consist of three 2-hour major examinations chosen from a menu of 6. To avoid any scheduling difficulties, the exams can be offered at non-overlapping times over a period of 3 days (two exams per day, one morning and one afternoon).

Exam Topics: Each examination will cover theoretical material from two courses at the senior undergraduate or graduate level. Proposed examination topics and associated courses are:

  • Communication Theory and Signal Processing (ESE 471, ESE 482)
  • Probability, Random Processes and Statistical Inference (ESE 520, ESE 524)
  • Linear Systems Theory (ESE 551, ESE 552)
  • Topics in System Theory (ESE 553 and one of ESE 516, ESE 544, or ESE 556)
  • Electromagnetic Engineering (ESE 330, ESE 537 and one of ESE 433, ESE 438, or ESE 535)
  • Electronic Circuits and Devices (ESE 230, ESE 336, ESE 337 and ESE 432)

Grading: Each written exam will be given a letter grade on a scale A-B-C-F. Students will be assigned a GPA over the 3 exams, and rank-ordered on the basis of this GPA. Students will receive a PASS or FAIL on the written exam by a vote of the ESE faculty in a special meeting. No predetermined GPA threshold will be used for PASS/FAIL decisions.

Retakes: Students will be allowed to retake the written examination one time, but will probably be discouraged from doing so. Failing the written examination the first time may be considered grounds for terminating a departmental assistantship.

DSc Oral Qualifying Examination

Structure: Upon passing the written examination, students shall register for ESE 500, Independent Study. In the course of this independent study, students shall prepare for the oral qualifying examination, to be held at the end of the spring semester. Each student shall be given a topic and 2-3 research papers by his/her advisor, and will be required to carry out an independent literature search on the topic, as well as conduct a small amount of independent research. In a special session with the examination committee, the student will make a presentation on the semester’s research activity. This will be followed by a question-and-answer session, which may cover any topic in the research area as well as any topic in graduate courses taken at Washington University and topics in the written qualifying examination. The latter is to be expected, especially if the student performed marginally on the written qualifying examination.

Grading: Students will be assigned a PASS/FAIL on the oral qualifying examination, and a letter grade for ESE 500, based on performance in the closed examination session. It may be possible for students to receive a passing grade in ESE 500 and still fail the oral qualifying examination. Failing the oral qualifying examination may be considered grounds for terminating a departmental assistantship.

Retakes: Students will be allowed to retake the oral qualifying examination one time, but may not register again for ESE 500 as part of the process.

ESE 600: Passing the written and oral qualifying examinations becomes a prerequisite for ESE 600, Doctoral Research. [Note: Students may take 6 units of ESE 599 as part of the M.S. degree requirements, and these units may count toward the 24 research units required for the DSc degree. However, students may not register for additional research courses (ESE 500, ESE 599) and convert them retroactively to ESE 600 in order to avoid this new requirement.]

Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering & Applied Science, Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering

Green Hall, CB 1042, 1 Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO, USA 63130
Phone: (314) 935-5565, Fax: (314) 935-7500

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