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Electrical & Computer Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Secure Embedded Systems

Program Description

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an excellent opportunity for the progression of embedded systems. IoT mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and wearables are already ubiquitous. As the IoT market is expanding, we expect that non-mobile IoT systems will outnumber the current IoT-enabled mobile devices that we know. With each passing day, embedded systems are getting smaller and smarter, enabling us to get more things done than before. As we embed more functionality in smaller device footprints, there is an upsurge in the security concerns as well. To address the security concerns, we present the Ph.D. in Secure Embedded Systems.

The Ph.D. program in Secure Embedded Systems targets highly motivated students. They have already obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree and desire to pursue career opportunities in the following industries: academia, commercial industry, defense, government laboratories, federal agencies, consulting, military, or research.

Approved Master’s Degree Programs

List of approved Masters Degree programs for direct admission to the Ph.D. program:

  • Masters in Electrical Engineering, Advanced Computing, Computer Science, or Computer Engineering
  • Masters in Software Engineering
  • Masters in Information Systems

Students with a master’s degree in the approved areas listed will be required to take a minimum of 18 credits of core, elective and/or research courses and 18 credits of Dissertation Research. Students who only have a bachelor’s degree or who do not have a master’s degree in the approved degree program listed in Table F will be required to take a minimum of 4 core courses totaling 12 credits, and a minimum of 18 credits of Dissertation research. Students in the Bachelors to Ph.D. track will receive an en passant, or “along-the-way,” masters degree, Master of Science in Secure Embedded Systems after completing 30 credits in the program.


The Program welcomes exceptional students with at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA (on a scale of 4.0) for all undergraduate and graduate work completed. Other requirements include a resume or curriculum vitae documenting current and previous professional activities, achievements, planned career goals, statement of research interest, and three letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors familiar with the applicant’s academic background. All application materials must be sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies through the application system for preliminary screening. Eligibility to be a student within the School of Graduate Studies is a prerequisite for admission into the Program.


Expected Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Program, students will have gained a broad technical, and interdisciplinary background enhances their ability to identify and tackle critical cybersecurity problems related to embedded system hardware and software. Specifically, upon completing the Program, students will be expected to:

  1. Demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in advanced cybersecurity, cryptography, networking, and reverse engineering; and exhibit deep expertise in any one or combination of the core breadth areas, such as lightweight cryptography for embedded systems, side-channel analysis, digital forensics;
  2. Apply mathematics, systems theory, principles of engineering, planning/or management in solving complex cybersecurity problems;
  3. Design independently and execute high-level research; and
  4. Communicate effectively both orally and in written form and function on an interdisciplinary team, particularly in a laboratory setting.

General Requirements

Students enrolled in the Program will be required to satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Form a doctoral advisory committee comprising four members, among whom at least three of them should be tenured or tenure-track faculty members. The chair of the committee must be a member of the graduate faculty and the ECE department or CAP faculty. A minimum of two ECE or CAP faculty must serve on the committee. The students form an advisory committee no later than the end of the first year. The committee approves the student’s program of study and guides the student’s research activities;
  2. Complete a minimum of 36 graduate credit hours (including 18 hours of dissertation-related research) of study beyond the Master’s degree or complete a minimum of 48 graduate credit hours (including 18 hours of dissertation-related research) of study beyond the bachelors’ degree.
  3. Pass a written qualifying exam within the first two years of study (one attempt within the first year), doctoral candidacy examinations (no sooner than a year of passing qualifying exam), administered by the dissertation committee, on the core subjects and declared concentration; DocuSign 
  4. Develop and defend a dissertation proposal within the first four years of admission; and
  5. Complete and successfully defend a dissertation based on timely and original research in a relevant area of Secure Embedded Systems within the six years of enrollment;
  6. The dissertation committee chair must determine the original contribution of the dissertation work.

To maintain good academic standing and remain in the Program, the student may not have course grades lower than B in any of the required core courses and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5. Failure to meet these requirements will lead to academic probation for one academic year.


All candidates must satisfy eighteen credit hours of residency requirements in one of the following ways: enrolling in nine credit hours per semester for two consecutive semesters or part-time candidates must register for six credit hours per semester for three consecutive semesters. Upon completion of all the course requirements and examinations, the candidate must continue to register for Dissertation Research VI each semester until they successfully defend.

Program of Study

The required minimum coursework for the Ph.D. in Secure Embedded Systems is 60 graduate-credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree and 36 graduate-credits beyond the Master’s degree. Up to four courses (not to exceed 12 credits) from other accredited institutions may be accepted for transfer towards the Ph.D. degree, assuming that students do not use transfer courses to satisfy the academic requirements of the former program.

Pursuing PhD from Bachelor’s Degree (60 credits)

Core Courses 12 Credits

Elective Courses 12 Credits

Research Courses 18 Credits

Dissertation Research 18 Credits

Total 60 Credits

Core Courses (12 credits)

Elective Courses (12 credits)

Students can choose electives courses from the following list of courses. Students can also have outside electives courses as approved by the Program Director.

Research Courses (18 credits)

Dissertation Courses (18 credits)

Students finish the Ph.D. program with EEGR 930  or EEGR 997.

Pursuing PhD from Masters Degree (36 credits)

Core courses or Elective courses or Research courses 18 Credits

Dissertation Research 18 Credits

Total 36 Credits

Core Courses

Elective Courses

Students can choose electives courses from the following list of courses. Students can also have outside electives courses as approved by the Program Director.

Research Courses

Dissertation Courses

Students finish the Ph.D. program with EEGR 930  or EEGR 997.