Information for Prospective Students

Q: Are you accepting new graduate students to your research group for the coming semester or academic year?

A: We are always looking for talented students to join our group. However, I receive several dozen requests for support each year. Unfortunately, this requires that I decline the requests of many well-qualified applicants. Given the need for more educators in the USA and abroad, my preference is for PhD students who aspire to conduct original research that culminates in a PhD Dissertation and multiple high-impact peer-reviewed publications as well as to continue in a career as a professor at a Ph.D. granting institution in the USA or abroad. Students with only a bachelor’s degree will be considered for admission to the M.S. program as a probationary period to determine if they are capable of achieving research independence, which is a central goal of the Ph.D. process.

Q: I am interested in joining your lab as a graduate student. What materials should I send?

A: Please send (i) your resume or CV, (ii) most recent transcripts, and (iii) standardized test scores. Personality Test results (https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test) are optional.

Q: I do not have a degree in electrical or computer engineering. Is there any possibility I can work with you?

A: Admission to the Computer Engineering Option of the Electrical Engineering PhD program requires preparation in a closely related field such as electrical engineering, computer engineering, or computer science. Undergraduate coursework in computer programming, computer architecture, and operating systems should be evident on one’s undergraduate transcripts. Students lacking this background may be admitted to the MS program. Students from other backgrounds such as industrial engineering and operations research can apply to the Engineering and Applied Science PhD, which is a participating academic department.

Q: I cannot afford to pursue a graduate degree without financial support. What are my options?

A: There are two primary ways to finance your graduate education. The first is a teaching assistantship (TA). The second is a research assistantship (RA). Both provide a stipend sufficient for living in the United States as well as a full tuition waiver.

Q: The cost of living and studying in the United States is much higher than my home country and applying to schools is expensive. How can I maximize my chances of financial support?

A: In addition to applying to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, you may also consider applying to a few large public universities. These universities have large programs with many undergraduates and hire many graduate students to serve as teaching assistants. Therefore, applying to large public universities is recommended for students who only wish to complete an Master’s of Science (MS) degree.

Q: How do I qualify for a TA?

A: International students should (i) exhibit academic achievement in the form of excellent grades on courses at the undergraduate level to justify being entrusted with TA duties and (ii) excellent IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores. Alternatively, international students can document their English language proficiency with a transcript that indicates the medium of instruction for their undergraduate degree was English.

Q: Are there any disadvantages to being a TA?

A: In addition to TA duties, you must also (i) be enrolled full time, (ii) perform well in your courses, and (iii) conduct 20 hours of research per week. Many students find this combination of responsibilities demanding and must possess excellent time management skills in order to make satisfactory progress in their research.

Q: How do I qualify for a RA? What skills are you looking for in prospective graduate students?

A: Success as a graduate student depends a combination of (i) technical, (ii) general academic, and (iii) interpersonal skills. Key technical skills include a combination of mathematics and programming. In addition to calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra, mathematical preparation in probability and statistics are especially beneficial. Required programming skills include experience in a computer algebra system such as Mathematica, Matlab, or R or general-purpose programming languages such as C, C++, Java, or Python. Knowledge of algorithms and numerical methods is also desired. Students possessing strength in mathematics or programming will be considered, but are expected to develop knowledge in areas where they lack experience. In addition to strong academic performance, necessary general academic skills include time management and technical communication, both written and spoken as well as a combination of critical thinking skills and self-awareness to work around problems encountered or seek help from an appropriate individual (advisor or more senior member of the lab). Students are expected to work towards research independence, including the ability to identify research problems worthy of pursuit, potential solutions, research design and execution through submission and revision of manuscripts as well as assistance with preparation and reporting on grants from which the student is supported. Research integrity is paramount. This includes ethical considerations such as thorough documentation of methodology employed and the scientific soundness of approaches taken. Ultimately, ethical research saves time and enables students to progress toward degree completion and a successful career. Interpersonal skills include the ability to work independently and in groups as appropriate, including mentoring of less experienced members of the lab or in one’s areas of expertise. Effective collaboration also requires negotiation and conflict resolution skills as well as respectful treatment of all members of the lab regardless of differences.