Ph.D. in Computer Engineering

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. The computer engineering Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia will prepare you to utilize your academic preparation to become a successful practitioner and innovator in computer engineering. 

Our program is interdisciplinary, which allows our students to work with researchers in a wide variety of areas across the engineering school. Admission to the computer engineering Ph.D. program is highly selective. We are looking for students with excellent technical and communication skills who are excited to join our creative community.

Research Areas of Focus

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 a personalized area of research interest. As more faculty research crosses disciplines, students are finding even more opportunities to work with faculty in other departments as well. 

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Computer Architecture And High Performance Computing
  • Computer Security, Privacy & Cryptography
  • Cyber-Physical Systems and Smart Cities
  • Data Science, Data Mining And Machine Learning
  • Dependable, Resilient And Reconfigurable Computing
  • Embedded Systems, Autonomous Systems , and Wireless Sensor Networks
  • Human-Machine Learning
  • Internet Of Things (IoT) And Physical Systems
  • Image Processing
  • Mobile, Distributed And Cloud Computing
  • Networks And Internet
  • Robotics
  • Smart And Connected Health Systems
  • Smart Energy And Power Management
  • VLSI; System-On-Chip; Low-Power Design

Admission to the Computer Engineering Program

Students who are interested in research and have completed a bachelor of science degree are encouraged to apply directly to the Ph.D. program.  A master of science degree may be earned on the way to the Ph.D. degree.

Students in the computer engineering Ph.D. program are generally supported with a teaching or research assistantship.

The submission of GRE scores is optional.  All students whose first language is not English are also required to submit TOEFL or IELTs scores. However, TOEFL/IELTS is not required if the applicant has received a 4-year degree at an English-speaking institution (whether or not the institution is in the U.S.). If the applicant has a 4-year degree from a non-English-speaking institution and a Master's degree from an English-speaking institution, TOEFL/IELTS is still required. Most students admitted score at least 24 on all areas of the TOEFL, or a minimum of 7.0 on the IELTS in each area.

Although we do not require applicants to have a degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or computer science, we do expect all applicants to have a strong background in both computing and electronic systems. 

The application for admission to the graduate program in computer engineering can be found HERE.  For information about transferring into computer engineering from another degree program, please contact the graduate coordinator at

The Ph.D. and the M.S. programs are both research oriented and require that a faculty member (in CS or ECE) agree to serve as the student’s research adviser and to provide the student with a graduate research assistantship. If no research adviser is willing to commit to a student at the time of transfer, the student may apply to transfer to the M.E. program instead. We encourage you to talk to faculty and graduate students with similar research interests to find a potential match. Not all research groups will have the funding capacity to add a new student at will. Develop a plan for you to collaborate with the faculty and the research group on a short-term well-defined task to assess mutual interest and compatibility. If a faculty member agrees to take on a new student, the transfer will likely be approved. Please work with the Graduate Coordinator as you move through the process.

Students who have failed the qualifying exam in another program are not eligible to transfer into the computer engineering Ph.D. program until they have passed the qualifying exam in their home program.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found here.