People/Web Search Calendar Emergency Info A-Z Index UVA Email University of Virginia

Skip to Content

Computer Engineering Graduate Program

Orientation information and Schedule for incoming Graduate students can be found here.

The Field of Computer Engineering incorporates both Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Computer engineers design, program, produce, operate, and maintain computer and digital systems. They generally apply the theories and principles of science and mathematics to the design of hardware, software, networks, and processes to solve technical problems.

Research Areas of Focus

The faculty of both the Department of Computer Science and the Charles E. Brown Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering welcome Computer Engineering students who combine interest in hardware and software. Students have the freedom to focus on a traditional research area or to work with faculty in both departments to develop apersonalized area of research interest. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Devices and Systems for biomedical and health applications
  • Computer Architecture
  • Energy and Power management
  • Computer Networks
  • Computer and Information Security
  • Embedded Systems, cyber-physical systems, wireless sensor networks
  • Mobile, Distributed and Cloud Computing
  • Dependable, Resilient and Reconfigurable Computing
  • Devices, algorithms and architectures for Image and Video Analysis
  • Software Engineering, Software Assurance, dependable and secure software
  • VLSI; System-on-chip; low-power designGraduate Program Overview


Degree Requirements

The CpE Program offers a Ph.D. degree, the primary focus of which is a dissertation describing publishable quality research (directed by a faculty advisor) of significant depth. The CpE Program also offers two Masters degrees: a Master of Science (MS), which requires a thesis, and a Master of Engineering (ME). Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the CpE Graduate Program requirements as outlined below.    The time limit for degree completion after entering the Masters program is five years for the MS and seven years for the ME although the average time for completion is two years. The time limit for the PhD degree completion is seven years although most students graduate in five years or less.  Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the following CpE Graduate Program requirements. The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Graduate record represents the offical repository for academic program requirements. These publication may be found here.

To Apply: Prospective Graduate Students apply directly to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The Graduate Office will forward applications to the program to which the student is applying. Computer Engineering only accepts applications for the Fall semester. First offers are made in February. For more information see Graduate Admissions to School of Engineering and Applied Science



The Curriculum Distribution Requirements for all three graduate degrees are outlined in detail here.The student should put together a Distribution Courses Form before the end of the first semester. The Distribution Course Form should be approved by the Graduate Director, who serves as the de facto advisor for all entering PhD students. Although an MS degree in CpE is not required, the Distribution Courses Form must meet a set of "pre-requisite coursework requirements," defined to include the architecture/design course requirement, analysis course requirement, mathematics course requirement and the three area requirements of the MS degree program. For the courses meeting the three area requirements, the student must receive a minimum grade of A-.


Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

Student desiring a PhD should take the qualifying examination as soon as possible.  Students entering with a master’s degree should take the exam no later than the beginning of their third semester.  Students entering with a bachelor’s degree should ideally take the exam by the beginning of their third semester, but no later than the beginning of the fourth semester.  (The exam should not be postponed in order to finish a master’s degree first.) The objective of the qualifying examination is to assess the student’s potential to begin doctoral-level research. The qualifying exams are administered at least twice a year, typically in January and August.  Students must pass the qualifying examination before beginning their fourth academic semester after admission to the doctoral program, unless otherwise approved by the CpE graduate Committee.

We have identified a set of six research areas from which each candidate will be required to select a primary research area and two secondary areas for the examination. The areas are: Computer Architecture; VLSI and Switching Theory; Operating Systems, Real-Time and Embedded Systems; Compiler, Software Systems and Software Engineering; Fault-tolerant Computing and Reliability Engineering; and Networks, Distributed Systems & Security.

See PhD Handbook above for more details!


Advancement to Candidacy and Dissertation Proposal, Defense, and Graduation

The culmination of the PhD program is the defense of the dissertation. After a student has successfully passed the qualifying examination, the student is now formally admitted to the PhD program. The student should put together a Proposal Examining Committee of at least five faculty members, including the research advisor and one member outside the student’s advisor's department.  Two of the faculty members must be from the ECE department and two members must be from the CS department. A member of the committee who is not in the advisor home department qualifies as the outside member. The guidelines for the proposal should match the requirements in the advisor's home department.

Graduate Teaching Requirement

Students are strongly encouraged to complete one semester of guided undergraduate teaching experience. Working as a Teaching Assistant will fulfill the requirement.   Students are also encouraged to apply for a teaching fellowship through the Dean's Office. Another model is to work with a faculty supervisor who may or may not be the student’s advisor, to co-teach an undergraduate course.

Test for upload

Pre-2016 Degree Requirements




Useful Links

Lists of PhDs Awarded

SEAS Degree Requirements

SEAS Graduation Procedures

SEAS Enrolled Student Forms

Information for International Students

Center for American English Language & Culture (SPEAK test, English Language Proficiency)