Graduate Degree Programs — PhD/DSc

More details can be found in the campus bulletin.

Degree Requirements

Students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Science (DSc) degrees in Electrical Engineering or Systems Science & Mathematics must 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 and 30 units for the DSc may be transferred to Washington University in St. Louis from another institution.


  1. Complete at least 36 hours of post-baccalaureate course work
  2. Pass a written 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 (PhD) or the McKelvey School of Engineering (DSc)
  5. Satisfy the general teaching requirement for PhD degrees offered by the Graduate School; no teaching requirement for the DSc
  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

Typical Timeline

The doctoral degree should ordinarily take no more than five years to complete, for students who enter the program with a baccalaureate degree. While individual circumstances will vary, the typical timeline will be as follows:

  • Year 1: Course work and written qualifying examination

  • Year 2: Course work, preliminary research, research advisory committee selection

  • Year 3: Course work and preliminary research examination

  • Year 4: Research

  • Year 5: Research, completion of dissertation, and final oral examination

Students who enter the program with a master's degree may be able to shorten this timeline by one year or more.

Suggested Academic Requirements for Prospective Students

  • Doctoral students seeking financial aid must take the general sections of the Graduate Record Examination. Admitted students typically have an average score greater than 90% on the quantitative section (new GRE scale) and 3.5 or greater on the analytical section. International students must also submit TOEFL scores earned within the past two years. Admitted students typically have composite scores of 95 or greater.
  • Undergraduate or postgraduate research experience is highly desirable for admission to the PhD program, but not mandatory for the master's program. Letters of recommendation from research mentors are a particularly important part of the graduate application. Descriptions of previous research experience or future research goals in the personal statement portion of the application are also important in the admissions decision.
  • Selected, qualified students residing in the U.S. may be invited to campus to interview with faculty and other students prior to or after being offered admission.