Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (PhD)

Program Overview

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the Ph.D degree must complete at least three three-credit graduate courses. No more than one third of the course requirement can be integrated with undergraduate courses (EECS5xxx courses). Candidates must successfully complete a qualifying examination consisting of a written report on the Candidate’s field of interest and defend it. Candidates must present a dissertation proposal outlining the anticipated results of their dissertation. Candidates are required to enroll in either an industrial internship or a teaching practicum. Candidates are also required to attend departmental research seminars and attend at least one professional development workshop per year. Finally, Candidates must conduct a significant body of original research under the supervision of a supervisory committee and successfully defend the resulting dissertation. Students are expected to complete their requirements in no more than four years.

Upon acceptance as a Candidate to the Ph.D. program, the Candidate will be assigned an Academic Advisor who will advise the Candidate with respect to the degree requirements and assist with the Candidate’s selection of a Dissertation Supervisor. The checkpoints in the Ph.D. program are listed in the following table, along with both desirable and acceptable completion times, measured from entry into the program. Students also are required to submit a Progress Report on April 15, August 15 and December 15 in each year of their studies.

Ph.D. Program Checkpoints

Checkpoint Desired Acceptable
Dissertation Supervisor Selection 4 months 8 months
Qualifying Examination 18 months 24 months
Dissertation Proposal 24 months 30 months
Industrial Internship/Teaching Practicum 30 months 36 months
Dissertation Examination 36 months 48 months

Dissertation Supervisor Selection

The Candidate must identify a member of the graduate program who is willing to act as the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisor.

Qualifying Examination

Roughly half way through the second year of the program, the Candidate is expected to have mastered a general understanding of the area in which they plan to complete their Dissertation. Under the supervision of the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee, the Candidate prepares a written report summarizing the literature in the Candidate’s chosen field of research. It is the responsibility of the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee to ensure that this report covers the chosen field in sufficient depth and breadth. In order to demonstrate the Candidate’s understanding of their chosen field, the Candidate presents their area of research to the members of the Graduate Program and to other Candidates, and is examined orally by the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee as well as by other members of the graduate program. Upon completion of the Oral Examination the Supervisory Committee will determine either:

  • That the Candidate has passed the qualifying examination and should be permitted to continue on towards their Dissertation Proposal.
  • That the Candidate has not demonstrated sufficient understanding of the area to proceed directly towards their Dissertation Proposal and that the Candidate should either
    • Be required to take additional courses before proceeding towards their Dissertation Proposal, or
    • Be required to complete additional readings before proceeding towards their Dissertation Proposal
    • Be required to complete remediation, as determined by the supervisory committee, and re–sit the Qualifying Examination within six months
  • That the Candidate be required to withdraw from the program.

Dissertation Proposal

The Candidate presents a written proposal to their Dissertation Supervisory Committee outlining the anticipated results of their dissertation. The purpose of this proposal is to assess the scope and relevance of the problems the student plans to solve, and to ensure significant content to the dissertation. A substantial portion of research should have been successfully completed, and a clear plan for completing the remainder should be included in the document. Ideally the Candidate will have presented some preliminary results from their Dissertation in some external formal setting such as a conference publication, and reprints of these results should be included in the Dissertation Proposal document.

Industrial Internship/Teaching Practicum

All Ph.D. Candidates are required to enroll in either an Industrial Internship or a Teaching Practicum. Under the Industrial Internship option, the Candidate will spend a 3 to 6 month period working in an appropriate research position in industry. The position must be formally approved of by the Graduate Program Director. Companies such as IBM, Hyrdro One, AECL, MDA Space Missions, etc., would be considered for possible Industrial Internships. Under the Teaching Practicum option, the Candidate will spend 3 to 6 months assisting an instructor in the preparation and delivery of a course, and possibly instructing an introductory or service course for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

It is the responsibility of the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee to ensure the academic integrity of the industrial internship/teaching practicum. The Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee must approve the internship/practicum before it begins and the committee will monitor the Candidate’s progress during the internship/practicum.

  1. Industrial Internship: Many graduate students plan to follow careers in industry, rather than in academia. This option provides students who plan to seek industrial employment after completion of their Ph.D. a chance to experience an industrial research setting. With the assistance of their supervisor, Candidates will identify an industrial position and industrial liaison willing to monitor the Industrial Internship. Before beginning the internship, the Candidate must prepare a document describing the expected duties and requirements of the internship. This document will be signed by the Candidate, the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee and an industrial liaison who will be willing to monitor the Candidate during the internship. This document must be approved by the Graduate Director before the start of the Industrial Internship.
    The time spent taking part in an Industrial Internship will not be counted towards a Candidate’s time taken towards graduation.
  2. Teaching Practicum: Graduate students who plan to follow careers in academia may wish to consider the Teaching Practicum option. Under this option the Candidate will receive considerable exposure to the preparation and delivery of instructional material to undergraduate students. Students interested in taking part in the Teaching Practicum option will work with an instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (The Teaching Practicum Supervisor) in the preparation and delivery of an undergraduate course. The student, in collaboration with the Instructor will prepare a document describing the duties and requirements of the teaching practicum.
    Before beginning a Teaching Practicum, the Candidate will prepare a document describing the proposed practicum. This document, signed by the Candidate, the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee, and the Teaching Practicum Supervisor must be approved by the Graduate Director before the Teaching Practicum may begin.

Evaluation: At the completion of the Industrial Internship/Teaching Practicum, the Candidate must submit a written report describing the Internship or Practicum to the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee. The Industrial Liaison (in the case of the Industrial Internship) or the Teaching Practicum Supervisor (in the case of the Teaching Practicum) will also be asked to submit a written description of the Candidate’s performance. The Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee will consider the proposal, the Candidate’s report, and the written comments by the Liaison/Teaching Practicum Supervisor, plus any supporting documentation such as course evaluations to determine if the Candidate has met the requirements of this checkpoint. At either the committee or the Candidate’s option, the Candidate may make an oral presentation to the committee which may then conduct an oral examination of the Candidate.

As a result of this presentation, the committee may decide that:

  • That the Candidate has met the requirements of this checkpoint, or
  • That the Candidate has not met the requirements of this checkpoint (under this decision the Candidate would normally be required to withdraw from the program), or
  • That the committee would prefer not to make a decision at this time and that the Candidate should perform some additional work within a specified period of time before deciding between either of the first two options.

Dissertation and Oral Examination

All entering Ph.D. Candidates plan a research program with their supervisor at the start of their degree studies, and must successfully complete a significant body of original research of high calibre in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or Software Engineering, under the general direction of a Supervisor and the Dissertation Supervisory Committee, and describe it in an appropriate dissertation. The research must be of such calibre that it satisfies departmental standards. Dissertation research should be of such quality that it would be publishable in prominent journals within the field. After the formal submission of the dissertation, an oral examination is held, centered on the dissertation research. In addition to the defense of their dissertation before the Dissertation Examining Committee, the Candidate is required to present their dissertation research to a Departmental Colloquium. The colloquium will be held at least one week prior to the oral examination.

The Dissertation Examination Committee is selected by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the Candidate’s Supervisor and includes at least:

  • 3 Faculty Members, at least one of whom has major research interests outside of the area of the Candidate’s dissertation (typically the Dissertation Supervisory Committee)
  • 1 Faculty Member from outside the Program but within the University (representative of the Dean of Graduate Studies).
  • 1 Representative from outside the University (the External Examiner).

According to the University Regulations, the External Examiner will submit a written appraisal of the dissertation before the Oral Examination.

Progress

Research progress is monitored by meetings of the Candidate’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee. In the event of failure to achieve satisfactory progress the Candidate will normally be required to withdraw from the program. In exceptional circumstances the Dissertation Supervisory Committee may petition the Graduate Program Director on behalf of the Candidate for additional time to complete a particular checkpoint. Should the petition be successful, the extension would be for a limited and specified period of time.

Residency Requirements

Students must maintain a continuous registration in the Program. A year (12 months) consists of three terms: fall, winter, and summer. Students are expected to complete the Master’s Programs in no more than five terms (20 months) and the Doctoral Program in no more than twelve terms (48 months). Leaving for more than 4 weeks a term requires the permission of both the program director and the dean of FGS. According to Faculty regulations, beyond the sixth year of Ph.D. study, full–time students are automatically converted to part–time, and are no longer eligible for financial support.

Program Features

The Ph.D. program covers a wide variety of sub-disciplines. For more information, see the list of faculty members.

Contact Information

Graduate Program Director: Professor Simone Pisana
Graduate Program Assistant: Ms. Ouma Jaipaul Gill
Our main office is located in the Lassonde Building, room 1012T.
Telephone: (416) 736-2100 extension 66183
Fax: (416) 736-5872
By email: gpa@eecs.yorku.ca
By Mail:
Graduate Programme in EECS, LAS 1012T
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada