PhD in Electronic and Computer Engineering

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program caters for students who wish to pursue a career in advanced industrial research and development, or university research and teaching. It emphasizes training in original thinking and independent research.


Adherence to the Curriculum

All postgraduate students must adhere to the curriculum of the year of entry throughout their program of study. Details of the degree requirements can be found in the  Postgraduate Program & Course Catalog of the year of entry.

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Course Requirements

PhD students are not allowed to use any undergraduate courses for postgraduate credit. The 15 credits must be earned from postgraduate courses.



In addition to the program requirements specified above, students could opt for the Nanotechnology Concentration, Energy Technology Concentration and/or Scientific Computation Concentration. Details can be found in Postgraduate Program & Course Catalog.

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Minimum Grade Requirement

The minimum grade-point average required to maintain satisfactory academic standing in the ECE Department is 2.850. The minimum grade required for each PG course is C. Courses failing to meet this requirement will not be counted toward the candidate's program and the student may be required to retake those courses. According to University regulations, a student cannot take a course more than twice.


Residency Requirements

Normally, a full-time research student is required to be on campus full-time and consequently in such geographical proximity as to be able to participate fully in University activities associated with the program. Residency provides the student with an opportunity to become immersed in the intellectual environment of the University. The residency required for a PhD degree is normally eight full-time semesters.


Procedural Matters

Each student should identify a permanent academic advisor (thesis supervisor) not later than the first semester after he/she is admitted into the program. The advisor will monitor the progress of the candidate, guide the candidate during research, and advise the candidate on academic matters.

PhD research is conducted under the general supervision of a thesis supervision committee of at least two members, one of whom is the thesis supervisor. When the thesis is ready for examination, an examination committee consisting of the chairman and five faculty members is formed, one of whom is the thesis supervisor. The thesis examination committee has the authority to recommend the conferment of the degree after the student has successfully passed the final thesis defense examination.


PhD Qualifying Examination

All PhD students, part-time or full-time, must take the qualifying examination during the third semester of PhD study and pass the examination within two years after admission, with a maximum of two attempts. The qualifying examination consists of a written proposal and an oral presentation. Students should select a topic among the six basic areas on which the ECE Department focuses on - IC Design, Microelectronic Device, Signal Processing, Communications and Networking, Optics and Photonics, Robotics and Control. The examination format may be subject to revision by the Department as deemed necessary. The student will acquire the PhD Candidate status after passing the PhD qualifying examination.


PhD Thesis Proposal

After passing the PhD qualifying examination, the student should become deeply involved in the research program of the department. When the student feels ready to propose his/her thesis research, he/she can inform the Department Head of his/her intention to do the Thesis Proposal. The Thesis Proposal consists of two parts: (1) a written proposal and (2) an oral presentation by the student. A PhD student must pass the thesis proposal before having the Final Thesis Defense.


PhD Final Thesis Defense

Six months after passing the Thesis Proposal, the student can schedule the Final Thesis Defense The Final Thesis Defense is administered by a larger examination committee consisting of five members: the thesis supervisor, two academic staff members within the department, one academic staff member from outside the department, and one examiner external to the HKUST who has expertise in the field being examined. The committee is chaired by an individual from outside the student’s major department, who is appointed by the Dean.