The Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering offers PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and in Systems Science & MathematicsResearch activity in the department is focused in the following three areas:

  • Applied mathematics, systems & control
  • Electronics & optics
  • Signal processing, imaging & communications

Students working in any of these areas will enjoy the benefits of programs that balance fundamental theoretical concepts with modern applications. In our department, students find ample opportunities for close interactions with faculty members working on cutting-edge research and technology development.

Prospective PhD students with previous degrees in engineering who are interested in PhD studies and research in mathematics or statistics are encouraged to apply for PhD studies in Mathematics and Statistics. For more details, visit the Graduate Programs in Mathematics and Statistics webpage.


PhD in Electrical Engineering or Systems Science & Mathematics

The Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering (ESE) at Washington University in St. Louis offers two PhD programs. Both the PhD in Electrical Engineering and the PhD in Systems Science & Mathematics are academic doctoral degrees designed mainly for full-time students interested in an academic, laboratory, and/or industrial research and development career in a specialization within electrical engineering, systems, control, or applied mathematics.

Degree Requirements & Timeline

Students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy 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 and the Graduate School. These 72 units must consist of at least 36 course units 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 may be transferred to Washington University from another institution.

Each candidate for the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering and the PhD degree in Systems Science & Mathematics must:

  • Complete at least 36 credit hours of post-baccalaureate courses.

  • Pass a written qualifying examination, to be taken before the second academic year of the program.

  • 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.

  • Satisfy the general residency requirement for PhD degrees offered by the Graduate School.

  • Satisfy the general teaching requirement for PhD degrees offered by the Graduate School.

  • Write a doctoral dissertation that describes the results of original and creative research in a specialization within electrical engineering or systems science and mathematics.

  • Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation research.

  • Take ESE 590 Electrical & Systems Engineering Graduate Seminar each semester.

The PhD 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: Courses and written qualifying examination

  • Year 2: Courses, preliminary research, research advisory committee selection

  • Year 3: Courses 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.