Ph.D. Coursework

The Faculty of the College of Engineering recommends a minimum number of courses for students in the Ph.D. program.  The EECS Department requires that a student, with the approval of their advisor, must choose courses to establish a major subject area, 1 minor subject area, and either two courses for an outside minor or two elective courses (one free and one outside EECS). The minimum number of units to complete the requirement must be at least 24 semester units.  In addition, students will also need to complete prelim breadth courses.  The courses used in the prelim breadth requirement may be eligible to double count in the major, minor, or electives. 

At the discretion of the Vice Chair or Head Graduate Advisor for EECS Graduate Matters, students may receive credit for some units (a maximum of 12 semester units) taken at a comparable institution. Students would need to fill out the Transfer Credit Petition, find a faculty at UC Berkeley to assess the comparison of the courses, then return the form to the staff Graduate Adviser for final review and approval with the Vice Chair. Please note that the approved transfer credits will be used for department purposes and will not appear in the official Berkeley transcript.

Graduate courses used for the Berkeley M.S. degree may be included as part of the Ph.D. coursework. Students may also transfer in coursework taken during their undergraduate career as long as the course was not used towards their undergraduate degree.  These courses must be at least upper division undergraduate or graduate courses.

More details of the Ph.D. coursework can be found in the Graduate Handbook. Students can also view Examples of Previously Approved Courses for EECS students.

There are two issues which students should consider when choosing specific courses for the minor:

  • adequate technical content in the minor, and
  • adequate breadth provided by the minor, as distinct from the major area.

Students that entered the Ph.D. program in fall 2020 and before, may choose to complete either Plan 1 or Plan 2 for the coursework requirements.  

Ph.D. candidates entering in fall 2021 and beyond will be required to follow Plan 2. 

Plan 1: 

Major (all grad (200 level) courses): 12+ units, 3.5+ GPA

Inside Minor (at least 1 grad (200 level) course): 6+ units, 3.0+ GPA

Outside Minor (at least 1 grad (200 level) course): 6+ units, 3.0+ GPA

Plan 2:

Major (all grad (200 level) courses): 12+ units, 3.5+ GPA

Minor (at least 1 grad (200 level) course): 6+ units, 3.0+ GPA

Elective courses (at least 100 level): one free elective (any department, any area except for the major) and one outside EECS elective (not in the major and not listed as EECS), 3+ units for each course, 3.0+ GPA

Some things to consider:

  • The Minor program must have an orientation different from the major program, and the courses involved should contain concepts not present in the major program.
  • The Inside Minor may include one or more classes from outside the EECS department.
  • The Inside Minor program must have depth (meaning at least 3 units of graduate course work of the 6 units required). 
  • The Outside Minor program must consist mainly of courses from outside the EECS Department (at most one course may be cross-listed within EECS).
  • The Minors and each of the Elective Courses must have at least a 3.0+ grade point average.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade (with the exception of courses that may have been taken in spring 2020 due to the Covid-19 accommodations). 
  • A minimum of 24 semester units must be completed.
  • Courses in 298, 299, 301, 375 and 602 units do not count towards the requirement.

These course criteria attempt to constitute a body of knowledge and include courses from several different departments. For example, a student in computer hardware who wishes to have a minor in statistics and stochastic processes could include courses from the Statistics Department, as well as EE 226A. 

There are cases where the technical overlap between EECS courses and courses in other departments is so great that a course in another department should be listed as part of the major, rather than as a minor, since they add so little breadth to your program. Examples of this sort of overlap would be Electromagnetics students in EECS taking certain EM courses in Physics or CS Theory students taking some of the theory courses in IEOR. These complications make it essential for students to fill out their Blue Card in the Graduate Office as soon as they have passed the preliminary exam requirement.