Welcome Doctoral (PhD) Students

Our research-intensive program cultivates the next generation of leaders in industry and academia. You will discover, explore, and innovate alongside faculty, fellow students, and researchers who are leaders in their disciplines.

As a PhD student, you are expected to participate as a full-time student. Once admitted to candidacy you have five years to complete the degree (some exceptions may be granted). You may elect to complete an MS degree as a milestone towards PhD completion, but it is not required.

Earning your doctoral degree requires profound dedication. Stanford's program aims to develop and prepare you for a lifetime of innovative discovery and dissemination, with the goal of improving society and positively impacting the world. There are many resources to assist you during your time at Stanford.

Prof Congreve and students in the Congreve lab



You were initially assigned a faculty program advisor, based on the interests you indicated in your application to the PhD program. By the end of your second year, you need to find a faculty dissertation advisor to supervise your research and provide funding (unless you receive an outside fellowship) until you graduate.

See the EE Graduate Handbook for complete rules on who may serve as a dissertation advisor (and who is not allowed to do so).


Staying on Track: Meeting Degree Milestones

As you begin your doctoral work, it is imperative that you keep yourself informed of timelines and degree requirements. For each doctoral program at Stanford, there is an approved course of study that meets both University and department requirements.

The Department of Electrical Engineering doctoral degree requirements can be found in the EE Graduate Handbook [PDF]EE's Degree Progress Officer can assist you with any questions.

EE PhD Degree Milestones
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Year 1, EE PhD Milestone

• Rotation program / Find dissertation advisor
• Take Quals
• Courses

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Year 2, EE PhD Milestone

• Find dissertation advisor and second reader
• Retake quals if necessary
• Advance to candidacy
• Courses as noted above
• Research


Year 3, EE PhD Milestone

• Course: Complete MS degree course work; Confer MS if applicable. Finish remaining units of PhD course work.
• Find third reader; finalize reading committee.
• Research

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Year 4, EE PhD Milestone

• Research
• Oral exam (defend dissertation)

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Year 5, EE PhD Milestone

• Research
• Complete dissertation writing; submit dissertation to registrar
• Graduate!

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Beyond Year 5

• If unable to graduate before 5 years of candidacy expire (year 7), the department must approve an extension of candidacy.