Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering

Notre Dame’s Ph.D. program in Electrical Engineering seeks to train the next generation of innovative engineers through coursework and research that culminate in a student dissertation. Graduates go on to careers in academia, industry, and government. Obtaining a Ph.D. is transformational for your career trajectory as it qualifies you for leadership roles in your technology area.

Research in the department is broadly divided into two areas, with further concentrations available in each.

Research areas

  • Electronics, Photonics, Materials & Devices

  • Electronic materials
  • High speed circuits and antennas
  • Quantum computing
  • Electronic devices
  • Optoelectronics and photonics
  • Biophotonics and biomedical devices
  • Electrical Circuits & Systems
  • Signal, image, and video processing
  • Wireless communication and networks
  • Networked control systems
  • Machine learning in sensing and control
  • Error control coding and information theory
  • Intelligent robotics and infrastructure

Degree requirements

  • 60 earned semester credit hours with a minimum of 27 lecture course credits, 27 research course credits, and 6 teaching training credits
  • Qualifying exam, typically taken before your third semester of graduate study
  • Candidacy exam, typically taken between the fifth and eighth semesters
  • Dissertation and defense before an oral examination board

Admission requirements

  • Undergraduate degree in engineering or physical sciences
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is recommended
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (if you come from a country where English is not the primary language)
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Transcripts from each post-secondary institution
  • Statement of intent
  • At least 3 letters of recommendation

Financial support


December 15 for Fall.


Questions about the program

Prof. Michael Lemmon
Director of Graduate Studies

Questions about the application process

Christine Broadbent Landaw
Graduate Studies Coordinator

FAQs about applying to the Ph.D. program

How do I apply?

Apply online to the Ph.D. program. Start your application by setting up an account, and you can work on it periodically, saving it as needed. We encourage you to apply for Fall semester — the deadline for applications is December 15. (Spring semester applications, which are only considered by faculty invitation, are due by November 1).

Is there a minimum required GPA?

There is no minimum required GPA. However, a strong GPA of at least 3.75 on a scale of 4.0 or equivalent is recommended to be a competitive applicant.

Do I need to take the GRE?

We strongly recommend GRE test scores for applicants who cumulative GPA is below 3.75/4.0.

Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS if I am an international student?

If you are an international student who obtained your degree outside of the U.S., then either the TOEFL or IELTS is required. The minimum TOEFL IBT score is 80 with a 23 on the speaking section. If your speaking score is below 23, we still encourage you to apply, but we may request a phone or video interview to confirm speaking ability. The minimum IELTS score is 7.0.

If you are a non-native English speaker who spent a minimum of two academic years at an academic institution whose primary language of instruction was English, then you do not have to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. If it is not obvious that the institution’s primary language of instruction was English, a letter from the Registrar’s Office (or the office responsible for academic records) confirming English as the language of instruction is required.

DUOLINGO test scores are not recommended as a replacement for the TOEFL/IELTS test scores.

Do I need letters of recommendation?

Yes, we require 3 letters of recommendation. Enter the recommender’s name and address into a form in the online application. You may add as many as five recommenders; three are required. The recommender will receive an email providing secure access to the recommendation form and instructions to complete the recommendation electronically. Please note that as soon as a recommender is added to an application, they will receive this email. Applicants should only add recommenders when they are prepared for this email to be sent and for a recommendation to be submitted for that application.

Letters of recommendation are very helpful to us in evaluating an application. Letters that discuss your potential as a graduate student are particularly helpful, especially if those that can cover your readiness for graduate level research.

We recommend that you line up your letter writers early in the application process so that they have enough time to write a strong letter and to submit it by the application deadline.

What should go in the statement of intent?

The statement of intent is a very important part of the application. We are looking for approximately two pages that describe:

  • Your passion for research, why you want to go to graduate school, and how it fits into your career goals.
  • Your preparation for graduate school and, especially, graduate research, including past research experiences, your accomplishments, and the research skills you have developed (developing and testing a hypothesis, experimental skills).

Should I contact professors I would like to work with?

You are welcome to reach out to the faculty and introduce yourself. But in practice, most faculty do not reply to such introductions.

Since admission decisions originate with a faculty member, you should identify the faculty advisors you wish to work with on both your application and in your statement of intent.

To help applicants connect with faculty members, the department holds several online ZOOM information events during the Fall (October- December). The schedule for these ZOOM sessions will be sent to you if you request more information about the EE department.

Is it possible to request an application fee waiver?

The fee is required for each application. We do award fee waivers occasionally. We will consider a request if you exhibit both genuine financial hardship and exceptional academic caliber.

What type of financial support is available to Ph.D. students?

All admitted Ph.D. students receive full financial support, including a full tuition scholarship, living stipend, and health insurance.

What is the typical time to degree?

The average time to degree for a Ph.D. in electrical engineering is 5.5 years.

Do I need to have an M.S. degree to apply for the Ph.D.?

No. Anyone with an undergraduate degree in engineering or the physical sciences is encouraged to apply for the Ph.D. program. You can obtain an M.S. degree as you work toward your Ph.D.

Whom can I contact if I have questions about my application?

If you are having technical issues with the application platform, please contact the Graduate School Admissions team (