A grad student looks at a computer with Professor Hai Li

PhD—Doctoral Study in Electrical & Computer Engineering

Duke ECE offers highly motivated doctoral students the opportunity to develop research skills in our uniquely interdisciplinary environment

Our PhD students undertake ambitious projects with global impact, in areas including machine learning, cyberphysical systems, smart sensing, metamaterials and quantum computing.

We provide amazing opportunities for our students—to publish with their faculty adviser, to present research at professional conferences, and to explore their field in a highly collaborative, cross-disciplinary working environment.


    national university

    AI and machine learning research in the U.S.

    computer engineering research productivity in the U.S.
    Top 20

    graduate electrical and computer engineering programs in the U.S.

Sources: U.S. News, NeurIPS Publication Index, Academic Analytics


+ World-Class Research

Direct admission to a research group allows PhD students to engage immediately with Duke ECE faculty members, working to cultivate the learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities needed to adapt, to develop and to exercise responsible leadership through times of rapid change. PhD research is fully funded, and our students also receive conference and travel support.

Academic curricular groups include:

  • Computer Engineering
  • Engineering Physics
  • Microelectronics, Photonics and Nanotechnology
  • Signal and Information Processing

Research centers include:

+ Day One Mentorship

Advising and early introduction to research and to your research community are hallmarks of the Duke ECE PhD experience. We believe in mentorship from Day One!

The process of finding your research adviser begins before you are admitted. Once you apply, our faculty may contact you. We then invite the best applicants to interview. You'll meet our faculty and see their labs before a formal offer is made.

Once you are admitted, we help you assemble your Advising Team. Your team will include your research adviser, your departmental adviser, the director of graduate studies, a five-member dissertation committee, and the department chair.

+ Authentic Opportunities to Learn Mentorship Through Mentoring

In preparation for your role as a research mentor, Duke Engineering actively encourages and supports efforts by its PhD students to mentor undergraduates in research work.

Our PhD students can register to serve as a mentor and post a research project to a university-wide directory of research opportunities for undergraduates: Muser.

As mentors, our PhD students build professional mentoring relationships with undergraduates, while increasing undergraduate involvement in research—one of the hallmarks of a Duke Engineering education.

+ Welcoming, Inclusive Community

By choosing Duke, you join an engaged, diverse and welcoming community that values and supports you. You'll notice the importance we place on faculty-doctoral student interaction.

+ Excellent Career Outcomes

Duke Engineering offers dedicated career and professional development services to support our PhD students throughout their time here, as well as PhD Plus, which prepares students for careers in research and technology development.

Learn more about the career paths of recent Duke ECE PhD graduates.

+ A Great Location

Our engineering campus is next to one of the nation's leading academic medical centers (Duke University Hospital is our across-the-street neighbor). Plus, the Duke campus is just miles from Research Triangle Park (RTP), home to 250+ major tech companies and a global hub for research.

You'll enjoy a mild climate, acclaimed restaurants, a thriving arts scene and an affordable cost of living⁠—lower than Boston, New York, Atlanta or the Bay Area. Your Duke degree can take you anywhere in the United States and beyond. Some students choose to remain in our Research Triangle region, which is consistently ranked among the best places to live in the United States.

Visit Duke's website dedicated to all things Durham.

How to apply