Doctoral Programs

PhD in Electrical Engineering

Learn how you can earn your PhD in Electrical Engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Earn your PhD in Electrical Engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering and perform innovative research with accomplished faculty in the areas of
applied physics, devices, circuits and imaging.


Our PhD in Electrical Engineering is an academic doctoral degree designed for full-time students interested in an academic, laboratory or an industrial research and development career within electrical engineering.

You'll be required to complete a minimum of 72 credit hours of post-baccalaureate study consistent with the residency and other applicable requirements of Washington University in St. Louis and the Graduate School. These 72 units must consist of at least 36 units of course work and at least 24 units of research, and may include work done to satisfy the requirements of a master's degree in a related discipline. Up to 24 units for the PhD may be transferred to Washington University in St. Louis from another institution.

Degree Progression

The following milestones provide an example of how PhD students are expected to progress toward their degree. Students who enter the program with a master's degree may be able to shorten this timeline by one year or more.

  1. Complete at least 36 hours of post-baccalaureate course work
  2. Pass an oral qualifying examination, to be taken before the second academic year of the program
  3. Pass an oral preliminary research examination, to be completed within two years of passing the written qualifying examination, and at least one year prior to completion of the dissertation
  4. Satisfy the general residency requirement for the Graduate School 
  5. Satisfy the general teaching requirement for PhD degrees offered by the Graduate School
  6. Write a doctoral dissertation that describes the results of original and creative research in a specialization within electrical engineering or systems science and mathematics
  7. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation research
  8. Take ESE 590: Electrical and Systems Engineering Graduate Seminar each semester


The deadline to apply for the PhD in Electrical Engineering is Dec. 15

As COVID-19 is making it difficult for many students to be able to safely take the GRE General test, the test is optional for this program in Fall 2023.  

Visit the Application Checklist for complete details on what's required in your application packet. If you have any questions, check out our admissions FAQs or contact Stacia Burd, Graduate Program Advisor, at

We solve humanity's biggest problems

Our faculty strive to advance basic science and solve cutting-edge engineering problems relevant to society in the areas of:

Discover our research areas

Full Support & Funding

Our PhD students are fully funded, including full tuition support and health insurance.

As a doctoral candidate, you will also receive a generous stipend to cover living expenses. This support is guaranteed as you continue to make satisfactory progress towards your degree.

Additionally, doctoral students may also qualify for one of the fellowships:

St. Louis offers big-city amenities at a small-town price allowing you to pursue your professional goals without financial strain.

See how the cost of living in STL compares (Nerd Wallet)