PATHS TO THE Ph.D. DEGREE
There are two Paths to the PhD Degree:
- B.S. to Ph.D. - direct from B.S. to Ph.D., bypassing the M.S. degree, or by
- M.S. to Ph.D. - obtaining an MS degree first at UH (or elsewhere).
General Degree Program Requirements and Policies
Transfer of Credits
A student may transfer up to 6 hours of graduate-level work completed elsewhere or at the University of Houston upon the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The student will need to file a general petition within one semester after admission to graduate program.
(Courses in Technology programs cannot be transferred.)
General Requirements Advising
The faculty member charged with supervising your dissertation will be your official advisor. The Graduate Director will serve as your default advisor during the first year if you have not found an advisor. Students must declare an official advisor on a general petition at the end of the second semester.
If a student is interested in working with another advisor, the original advisor must approve and sign the general petition, which is then submitted to the Graduate Office for approval.
Graduate advising is mandatory upon admission into the graduate program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The dissertation advisor should approve all proposed coursework during registration cycles before each academic semester. All approval of coursework must be done by completing the Graduate Academic Advising Form.
If your advisor has a joint appointment, he/she must have ECE research/dissertation hours set up with the Department prior to the registration cycle each semester. Research and dissertation course numbers are unique to the professor which will supply the numbers.
Doctoral students are expected to be enrolled in consecutive long semesters (i.e. fall and spring semesters) until the degree program is completed and the degree is awarded
Updated information on supported enrollment hours can be found at the following college web site:
Be aware that courses taken for personal enrichment will not be counted towards the degree plan and must be approved by the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies prior to enrollment. Enrichment hours cannot be used towards the required total number of hours when an assistantship is being received.
- Non - supported (US/Int’l.) students: must maintain enrollment of at least 3 hours (US) or 9 hours (international) during each Fall/Spring semester. Summer enrollment is not necessary (no special permission is required).
- Supported (US/Int’l.) students: must enroll full time in each semester (i.e., Fall, Summer and Spring).
Requests to enroll below the minimum number of hours required may be granted in the following circumstances:
- Non - supported students, with a filed and approved degree plan showing that all degree requirements (except thesis or dissertation) have been met, and who will defend their thesis or dissertation no later than the 12th day of class (approximately September 5, February 1, and June 10). Students must supply the following supporting documents:
- A copy of the dissertation defense announcement.
- An approved degree plan for graduation
- An approved statement of your timeline for defense and graduation
- Reduced course load form from ISSSO office.
Please note that full-time enrollment prior to the start of the semester is required for all students seeking an exception to enrollment requirements. The Department will adjust the enrollment once the petition to enroll below the minimum hours has been approved.
Students are to maintain and encourage high ethical standard practices among peers and with the general public by observing all accepted principles of academic honesty. However, when case(s) of academic dishonesty occur, the Department will enforce the academic honesty guidelines that are written by the university. Academic honesty policy and procedural information are available in the student’s handbook and on the web site below.
Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)
This average is on all courses attempted at the university during the graduate program. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or better in order to remain in good academic standing for the graduate program. An academic stop will be placed on the student record when he/she fails to maintain this average. The student will receive an academic letter from the department outlining the reinstatement procedure each semester until the GPA has reached 3.0 or better. At that time, he/she must seek the academic advisor’s assistance on the removal of this stop for future enrollment.
- Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) for supported students
- The cumulative GPA must be 3.0 or better at all times in order to maintain eligibility for assistantships or in-state tuition waivers when applicable.
- Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) for scholarship students
- The cumulative GPA must be 3.0 or better at all times in order to receive the in-state tuition waiver. If you do not meet this requirement, you will lose the scholarship and no longer be eligible for in-state tuition. If you drop below the 3.0 GPA in the first semester, you may not receive the 2nd installment of the scholarship.
Major Grade Point Average (MGPA)
This average is only on courses that are on the student’s degree plan. Students must maintain a MGPA of 3.0 prior to applying for graduation.
The following passage is from the university graduate & professional studies catalog.
A student who receives a grade of C+ or lower and/or a grade of U in 12 semester hours of credit attempted at this institution for graduate credit or for application toward the graduate degree, regardless of the student’s classification, whether or not in repeated courses, is ineligible for any advanced degree at this institution and will not be permitted to re-enroll for graduate study. The Termination of Enrollment section specifies other regulations.
Leave of Absence
Students must request a leave of absence from the graduate program when enrollment is not possible for a given semester by submitting a general petition to the Graduate Admissions Office to maintain good academic status. Once a decision has been made by the Director of Graduate Studies, an academic stop will be placed on record for future enrollment.
Students who will be absent for more than 13 months must submit a new formal application.
Reduced Course Load
Non-supported students, with a filed and approved degree plan showing that all degree requirements (except dissertation) have been met, and who will defend their dissertation no later than the 12th day of class (approximately September 5, February 1, and June 10) may apply for reduced course load. A copy of the dissertation announcement, plus a signed letter from the dissertation advisor confirming the date of the defense must accompany the request.
A general petition is needed for reinstatement to the graduate program. In addition to the general petition, students must include a degree plan with all courses taken and an advising form indicating which courses the student intends to enroll in during the semester for which reinstatement is sought. Such requests must be filed according to the graduate admission deadline for new students to avoid delay in preferred enrollment for the returning semester. Students can only enroll when an approved petition has been received.
A Doctoral degree seeking student must complete the program within ten years of the date of enrollment at the University of Houston. In the event that the student cannot complete the program, he/she must submit a general petition requesting an exception to this rule. Student must attach an outline of expired course(s), a date expected for graduation, and a current degree plan along with the general petition to the ECE Department for review. For more information, please refer to the college website.
Withdrawal Due to Medical Reasons
Students seeking a medical withdrawal should contact the Department graduate office via email to receive appropriate information for processing. All relevant documents must be submitted to the Department no later than one week of the email contact. In case the student cannot submit appropriate information at the time of leave, he/she must submit the required documents within one week upon filing a request to return to the graduate program.
Withdrawal from the Graduate Program
Should circumstances cause a student to be unable to continue with the designated degree program, he/she should submit a general petition requesting the file to be closed. In this circumstance a student requiring readmission will need to reapply by following the procedures for new applicants. This process is not recommended for students who have the intention of returning to the Department at a later time.
Change of degree objective/plan within the department
Students seeking a change in degree plan will need to submit a general petition to officially request such a change. The current advisor must initially approve the general petition. The general petition must be submitted way in advance for the plan change and will only be effective in the upcoming semester.
A petition will not be processed once a new semester has already begun.
Change of major
Students who have an interest in another major must file an approved general petition from the other Department to the ECE Department in order to have files transferred to the new Department . An academic stop will remain on student’s record until this procedure is completed.
Graduation is not automatic. The student must be enrolled at the time of filing for a graduation application. The student is required to officially apply on-line at https://my.uh.edu/ and submit the degree plan in addition to official documents to the ECE Department according to the Department deadline stated on the calendar. If the student discovers that he/she will not be able to graduate during the previously indicated semester, the student must first send an email to the graduate office as soon as possible to disapprove the graduation process. The student must then reapply for graduation in a future semester. All updated forms and degree plan will need to be submitted.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
The purpose of curricular practical training (CPT) is to gain insight to the student’s academic program; therefore, it must be considered as “an integral part of an established curriculum.”
The ECE Department will allow up to six (6) hours of CPT (“internships”) in the following situations:
- Ph.D. students who need to be employed by an outside agency in order to collect data for their thesis.
- A general petition is submitted before the start of the semester in which the student intends to participate in an internship. The petition must include a formal job offer on the hiring company’s stationary, a description of the work to be performed, a beginning and ending date, and the salary offered. PhD candidates must obtain approval from their dissertation advisor as well.
- The work must be related to the practice of electrical and/or computer engineering.
- Only half-time employment is allowed during Fall and Spring semesters. Full-time employment is allowed during the Summer semester.
- PhD students can substitute OPT credit for up to six hours of research courses (ECE 8x98).
- PhD students will not be able to apply for graduation during the semester of CPT.
- CPT candidates must officially return to campus prior to the beginning of the new semester.
CPT will not be approved under any other circumstances. All procedures must be approved by the ECE department prior to any other offices. CPT COOP is not part of the PhD degree program.
For more information on the College and University requirements regarding CPT, please review websites indicated below.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
(FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS WITH F-1 VISA ONLY)
OPT allows international students to gain practical training in their related major field. The College of Engineering guidelines are as follows:
- OPT request forms and checklist are due to the ECE Department along with the graduation application according to deadline stated for that semester. For further details, please refer to web sites for more information.
The student should refer to the Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog for other requirements and regulations such as course load, time limitations, 4-C rule, etc. Nothing in this document is intended to supersede or supplant the regulations set forth by the University of Houston in the Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog.