Computer Engineering PhD

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College : Engineering and Computer Science Degree :PHD
Department : Electrical and Computer Engineering Option : Dissertation
Program Websites :


The Computer Engineering PhD prepares students for careers in research or academia with potential focus in computer systems and VLSI design, software engineering and algorithms, intelligent systems and Machine Learning, computer networks and computer security, as well as simulation systems.


The Computer Engineering PhD degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Of these 72 hours, a minimum of 36 credit hours must be formal coursework, exclusive of independent study coursework. A minimum of 15 credit hours with up to a maximum of 24 credit hours of dissertation hours can be credited toward the degree. No more than 12 credit hours of Independent Study are allowed. The remaining hours can be a combination of formal coursework and/or pre-candidacy doctoral research. Details about this program can be found in the Computer Engineering PhD Handbook.

Total Credit Hours Required:
72 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor's Degree

Formal coursework required is 36 credit hours, exclusive of independent study and research. A minimum of 15 credit hours of dissertation are required. All other credit hours will be determined with a faculty adviser. Students admitted with an earned master's degree may request to have up to 30 of those credit hours counted toward their doctoral program. The student’s doctoral adviser in conjunction with the graduate office will determine the precise number of hours to be counted subject to Graduate Studies regulations.

The Program of Study (POS) form must be approved by an adviser in the selected specialization area no later than the end of the second semester after admission. The program of study must meet all the university requirements specified in the graduate catalog.

Articulation Courses

Undergraduate articulation courses are required to be completed prior to admission for students who do not hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. In particular, the articulation courses specified below, plus all of the prerequisite string which any of them require, must be completed prior to admission. Grades of "B" or higher must be obtained in each articulation course specified below. Articulation courses are not eligible for inclusion on a graduate Program of Study.

  • EEE 3342C Digital Systems
  • EEL 3801 Computer Organization
  • COP 3502 Computer Science I
  • COP 3503 Computer Science II

In addition, choose one of the following:

  • COP 4331 Processes for Object-Oriented Development
  • EEL 4768C Computer Architecture
  • EEL 4781 Computer Communications Networks

Required Courses—36 Credit Hours

  • Suggested courses listed below.

Elective Courses—12-21 Credit Hours

  • May include formal coursework, directed research hours, doctoral research hours, dissertation research, and no more than 12 credit hours of Independent Study.
  • Suggested courses listed below.

Suggested Courses for Doctoral Program

The Computer Engineering Program supports a number of specialization areas. These specialization areas are (in alphabetical order): Computer Networks and Computer Security (CNCS), Computer Systems and Reconfigurable Hardware (CS/RH), Intelligent Systems and Machine Learning (ISML), and Software Systems and Algorithms (SSA). Please contact your graduate program assistant at 407-823-0378 for a list of faculty within each specialization area.

For each one of these areas there is a suggested list of courses stated below. Students are also allowed to take courses from other specialization areas, but the majority of their courses should be chosen from courses in their specialization area.

Computer Networks and Computer Security (CNCS)

  • CDA 5106 Advanced Computer Architecture (3 credit hours)
  • CDA 5110 Parallel Processing (3 credit hours)
  • CDA 6530 Performance Models of Computers and Networks (3 credit hours)
  • CDA 6938 ST: Research in Computer and Network Security (3 credit hours)
  • CGS 5131 Computer Forensics I: Seizure and Examination of Computer Systems (3 credit hours)
  • CNT 5008 Computer Communication Network Architecture (3 credit hours)
  • CNT 6418 Computer Forensics II: Network Security, Intrusion Detection, and Forensics Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • CNT 6519 Wireless Security and Forensics (3 credit hours)
  • CNT 6707 Computer Network Design and Distributed Processing (3 credit hours)
  • COP 5537 Network Optimization (3 credit hours)
  • COP 5611 Operating Systems (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6133 Advanced Topics in Computer Security and Forensics (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6135 Malware and Software Vulnerability Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • COP 6525 Distributive Processing of Digital Evidence (3 credit hours)
  • COT 5405 Theory and Analysis of Algorithms (3 credit hours)
  • EEE 5542 Random Processes I (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5780 Wireless Networks (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5881 Software Engineering I (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6762 Performance Analysis of Computer and Communication Systems (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6785 Computer Network Design (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6788 Advanced Topics in Wireless Networks (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6883 Software Engineering II (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6897 Software Development for Real-Time Engineering Systems (3 credit hours)

Computer Systems and Reconfigurable Hardware (CS/RH)

  • CDA 5106 Advanced Computer Architecture I (3 credit hours)
  • CDA 5110 Parallel Architecture and Algorithms (3 credit hours)
  • CDA 6107 Parallel Computer Architecture (3 credit hours)
  • CDA 6938 Multi-Core Architecture and Programming (3 credit hours)
  • COP 5537 Network Optimization (3 credit hours)
  • COT 6415 Complexity of Parallel Computation (3 credit hours)
  • EEE 5390C Full Custom-VLSI Design (3 credit hours)
  • EEE 6327 Design of Video Coding Systems (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5704 Computer Aided Logical Design (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5722C Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) Design (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6762 Performance Analysis of Computer and Communication Systems (3 credit hours)
  • ECM 6308 Current Topics in Parallel Processing (3 credit hours)

Intelligent Systems and Machine Learning (ISML)

  • CAP 5055 AI for Game Programming (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 5512 Evolutionary Computation (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 5610 Machine Learning (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 5636 Advanced Artificial Intelligence (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6545 Machine Learning Methods for Bioinformatics (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6616 Neuro-Evolution and Generative Developmental Systems (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6640 Computer Understanding of Natural Language (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6671 Intelligent Systems: Robots, Agents and Humans (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6675 Complex Adaptive Systems (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6676 Knowledge Representation (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5825 Pattern Recognition (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5874 Expert Systems and Knowledge Engineering (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6769 Parallel Knowledge Processing Systems (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6812 Introduction to Neural Networks (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6875 Autonomous Agents (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6876 Current Topics in Artificial Intelligence (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6878 Modeling and Artificial Intelligence (3 credit hours)

Software Systems and Algorithms (SSA)

  • CAP 6515 Algorithms in Computational Biology (3 credit hours)
  • CGS 5131 Computer Forensics I: Seizure and Examination of Computer Systems (3 credit hours)
  • CNT 6418 Computer Forensics II: Network Security, Intrusion Detection, and Forensics Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 5510 Bioinformatics (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6133 Advanced Topics in Computer Security and Computer Forensics (3 credit hours)
  • CAP 6545 Machine Learning Methods for Bioinformatics (3 credit hours)
  • CEN 5016 Software Engineering (3 credit hours)
  • CEN 6075 Formal Specification of Software Systems (3 credit hours)
  • COP 5021 Program Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • COP 5711 Parallel and Distributed Database Systems (3 credit hours)
  • COP 6730 Transaction Processing (3 credit hours)
  • COP 6731 Advanced Database Systems (3 credit hours)
  • COT 5310 Formal Languages and Automata Theory (3 credit hours)
  • COT 5405 Design and Analysis of Algorithms (3 credit hours)
  • COT 6410 Computational Complexity (3 credits)
  • COT 6417 Algorithms on Strings and Sequences (3 credit hours)
  • COT 6600 Quantum Computing (3 credit hours)
  • COT 6602 Introduction to Quantum Information Theory (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 5881 Software Engineering I (3 credit hours)
  • EEL 6883 Software Engineering II (3 credit hours)

Dissertation—15-24 Credit Hours

  • XXX 7980 Dissertation Research (15 credit hours minimum).
  • The program will only allow students to complete up to 24 hours of dissertation coursework in XXX 7980.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science requires that all dissertation defense announcements are approved by the student's adviser and posted on the college's website at least two weeks before the defense date.

Qualifying Review

The Qualifying Review relies on annual appraisals of the student’s progress conducted by the student’s research/academic adviser and advisory committee, once formed. The student’s appraisal template that the adviser completes will assess the student’s academic performance (course performance) and research performance. On an annual basis, and based on the completed PhD Student Annual Review template, as well as additional student documentation attached with approval of the adviser, the EECS Graduate Committee will rate the student’s performance as “Above Expectation,” “At Expectation,” or “Below Expectation” toward the completion of the PhD degree. 

Students must pass the Qualifying Review no later than the deadline, which is the semester in which they complete 24 credit hours after admission or within two calendar years after admission, whichever occurs later. If a student has passed the Qualifying Review, then the student is eligible to continue PhD studies. However, a student who does not pass the Qualifying Review by the deadline will be dismissed from the degree program and will be given the opportunity to complete a master’s degree (if applicable). 

Dissertation Committee

PhD dissertation committees for this degree program must have all of the below characteristics: 

  • consist of at least five committee members including the committee chair
  • the committee chair must be either a Regular Appointment faculty member in EECS or a Secondary-Joint Appointment faculty member in EECS
  • at least 50% of committee members (when tabulated including the chair) must be EECS regular faculty
  • the majority of committee members must vote in favor of passing for the student to Pass
  • in addition to the above, all college and university requirements (such as one member outside of EECS) must be met.

Joint faculty members may serve as committee chairs, but graduate faculty scholars may not serve as committee chairs.

Candidacy Examination

After passing the Qualifying Review, students are required to successfully complete the candidacy examination in order to demonstrate readiness for preliminary research in a chosen field of study. This exam is administered by the student’s dissertation advisory committee.  Preparedness for taking the candidacy examination requires the acceptance of a professional paper by a peer-reviewed conference or journal that is deemed acceptable by the student’s advisory committee. Candidacy is normally attempted at the completion of required coursework and must be passed before registering for doctoral dissertation hours (EEL 7980). Continuous enrollment in at least 3 hours of doctoral dissertation hours is required once a student starts taking dissertation credits.

Admission to Candidacy

The following are required to be admitted to candidacy and enroll in dissertation hours. 

  • Completion of all required formal coursework, except for dissertation hours.
  • Successful completion of the candidacy examination.
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed, consisting of approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars.
  • Submittal of an approved program of study.

Signed and well-formed Doctoral Committee Candidacy Status form and associated paperwork must be submitted to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Office for processing on or before the last day to defend Dissertation during the semester prior to enrolling in dissertation credits.

Dissertation Proposal Exam

After passing the candidacy examination, the student will write a dissertation proposal and present it to the dissertation advisory committee for approval. The proposal must include a description of the research performed to date and the research planned to be completed for the dissertation. The presentation of a written dissertation proposal must be deemed as passing requirements by the majority of the dissertation committee. 

Equipment Fee

Students in the Computer Engineering PhD program pay a $28 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled. Part-time students pay $14 per semester.

Independent Learning

The Independent Learning requirement is met by successful completion of the student's candidacy and dissertation defense examinations.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science strongly encourages prospective applicants to submit a free pre-screening ( of their qualifications prior to submitting an online application for graduate admission. However, a pre-screening is not required; rather, it is offered as a courtesy to all prospective applicants before they commit to submitting a complete online application and paying the application processing fee.

Admissions decisions are made on the basis of a complete online application only, and not on the basis of any pre-screening. Prospective applicants who are encouraged to apply to their intended graduate program based on the information provided for their pre-screening are not assured of admission or financial assistance when they submit a complete online application. Although it is possible, it is not likely, that prospective applicants who are discouraged from formally applying to a graduate program at the pre-screening stage will be admitted if they elect to submit a complete online application anyway.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • Master’s or bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering or a closely related discipline.
  • Résumé
  • Statement of educational, research, and professional career objectives.
  • Three letters of recommendation.

Faculty members may choose to conduct face-to-face or telephone interviews before accepting an applicant into their research program.

Additional courses may also be required to correct any course deficiencies. Students should contact the graduate program director for further information.

Application Deadlines

Computer Engineering PhD *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15Jul 15Dec 1


International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15Jul 1


International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Mar 1Sep 1


*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.