The ECE Department offers a PhD in Computer Engineering (PhDCE) that is completely research based with minimal and flexible course requirements which can be pursued as full-time or part-time.

Applicants can enter the PhD program with either a BS or an MS degree in Electrical Engineering or a closely related field. The PhD applicants select PhDCE programs at the time of applying to Northeastern.

Students enrolled in the PhD in Computer Engineering have the opportunity to also pursue one of the many engineering graduate certificate options in addition to or in combination with this program. Students should consult their faculty advisor regarding these options. The PhD in Computer Engineering can be combined with a Gordon Engineering Leadership certificate. Learn more about the benefits of this unique program. 


Program Requirements

Graduate Program Deadlines:

  • Qualifying exam: Students who already hold an MS degree and matriculate in the fall semester must take the qualifying exam in the spring semester of their first year. Students matriculating in spring semester, or students who hold a BS degree and matriculate in the fall semester , can postpone the exam to the second spring semester. Those who fail the exam the first time, have one more chance to take the exam. These students must take the exam the next spring after their first attempt.
  • Research Advisor: Students should have a research advisor one year after their matriculation.
  • Thesis Committee: The Dissertation Committee must be formed not later than six months after passing the qualifying exam.
  • Comprehensive exam: The deadline for comprehensive exam is two years after passing the qualifying exam.
  • Dissertation Defense: The dissertation defense should be scheduled at least one year after taking the comprehensive exam.

The ECE department offers a variety of graduate courses giving students flexibility of planning their course requirements according to their research requirements and personal interests. Many of graduate courses are offered in two sections; in-class and streaming video. Part-time students and full-time students who have schedule conflicts can register in the streaming video sections.

With the large number of high-tech firms in and around Boston, both start-ups and large multinational corporations, many PhD students do an internship during their program while remaining right here in Boston. Often their advisor is instrumental in identifying the internship position, with a funding sponsor or research collaborator, be they in Boston or elsewhere in the United States. Internships can be informally arranged for several months at any time during the calendar year, and PhD students can also take advantage of the more formally arranged co-op program which entails 6 months of work experience preceded by several professional development courses to prepare students.

Learning Outcomes: 

The Ph.D. programs' student learning outcomes are:

  • The ability to use basic engineering concepts flexibly in a variety of contexts.
  • Ability to formulate a research plan.
  • Ability to communicate orally a research plan.
  • Ability to conduct independent research.