Engineering Science & Systems

Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

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Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Science and Systems

The Engineering Science and Systems doctoral program leading to the Ph.D. degree is housed in the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. Faculty, curriculum, and resources for this program are contributed by six departments: Systems Engineering, Computer Science, Information Science, Engineering Technology, Earth Science, and Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering. The program is designed to provide a collaborative, interdisciplinary framework of graduate studies and research in engineering with exposure to the systems approach that is increasingly the hallmark of current research and development in the global engineering community. Students enrolled in the Engineering Science and Systems Ph.D. program can select one of the four following tracks:

  • Systems Engineering

The Systems Engineering track focuses on design and analysis of systems and their architecture, integration of systems, decision and risk analysis, simulation, and optimization of systems that are part of the technical infrastructure that supports an organization’s application and information needs.

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Electrical and Computer Engineering track focuses on embedded systems, robotics, measurement techniques, design of analog and digital electronics and circuits, power systems, digital systems, coding, software systems and operating systems.

  • Telecommunications and Networking Engineering

The Telecommunications and Networking Engineering track focuses on communications and mobile networking and protocols, advanced digital communications, digital signal processing, and antennas and wireless systems.

  • Mechanical and Materials Engineering

The Mechanical and Materials Engineering track focuses on advanced solid and fluid mechanics, MEMS and microsystems, vibration analysis, applied numerical and finite element methods, and smart materials.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the UALR Graduate School admission requirements, the applicants for the Ph.D. program in Engineering Science and Systems must also meet the following criteria:

  • Education: Applicants must have at least one degree (bachelor’s or master’s) in engineering. Applicants with only a bachelor’s degree must have an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or 3.3 on the last 60 credit hours. Alternatively, applicants with a master’s degree in engineering should have a master’s GPA of 3.3 or better.
  • Standardized test scores: Applicants are required to take the GRE test. Applicants must have the following minimum scores on the following tests:
    • GRE test: The combined score of the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections should be 301 or above on a 340 scale with a minimum score of 155 on the quantitative reasoning section. Applicants should also have a score of  3.0 in the analytical writing section. GRE requirements can be waived for applicants who graduate from UA Little Rock with a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 3.5 GPA or higher.
    • English language requirement: International students must satisfy the Graduate School TOEFL or IELTS tests requirements.
  • Statement of purpose: Applicants are required to submit a personal statement that should include their background and qualifications for doctoral studies, and emphasize their educational and research interests they intend to pursue at UA Little Rock.
  • Letters of recommendation: Applicants should make arrangements to for have three letters of recommendation submitted to UA Little Rock, on their behalf, by individuals familiar with their academic background and educational interests.

The student must choose a track at the time of admission according to the student’s academic background. The availability of advisors will also be evaluated for each application.
The deadline for applications for summer and fall admission is April 15, and for spring admissions is November 15.

Conditional Admission

Applicants who do not meet all the admission requirements may be recommended for conditional admission by the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee. The conditionally admitted students must fulfill the requirements specified by the UA Little Rock Graduate School and the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee. The requirements will be explained in an admission letter.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships that support teaching and research opportunities are available to qualified full-time students. Tuition is paid for nine credits per semester, and a stipend is provided for living expenses. Students must pay registration fees, buy textbooks, and purchase any necessary support materials. For more information about graduate assistantships, the online application process, and other financial assistance opportunities, visit the Engineering Science and Systems doctoral program website. A student supported by a graduate assistantship must be a registered full time student taking at least nine credit hours during the fall and spring semesters.

Transfer of Credit

The student can request up to 15 credit hours of graduate-level courses to be transferred. Only  courses within 5 years of their completion can be accepted for transfer. Only courses with grade B or above are qualified to be transferred. All transferred courses should get approval of the student’s advisor, the instructors of comparable UA Little Rock courses, and the track coordinator.

Program Requirements

The program consists of a total of 76 credit hours, which include 17 credit hours of program core courses, nine credit hours of track core courses, 12 credit hours of elective courses, and 38 credit hours of dissertation research. In addition, the student is required to:

  • Maintain acceptable academic performance. If a student receives one C grade in his/her course work, he/she will be warned that his/her performance is unacceptable and that his/her status will be reviewed by the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee, which will suggest corrective actions. A student receiving two C grades or either a D grade or an F grade in his/her course work will be dismissed from the program, pending review by the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee;
  • Pass candidacy examinations;
  • Pass proposal defense;
  • Publish and present at least one paper in a peer-reviewed national/international conference;
  • Have at least one paper accepted for publication in an international reputed journal with the student as the first author; and
  • Pass dissertation defense.

Engineering Science and Systems Curriculum

The student’s plan of study must be developed in conjunction with his/her Doctoral Dissertation Committee and filed with the appropriate track coordinator, as well as, the Engineering Science and Systems graduate coordinator.

Program Core

The program core provides students an introduction to the systems approach to engineering, as well as the mathematical and research methodologies and tools needed to successfully complete the Ph.D. studies. The 14 credit hours of program core courses are listed below:

Engineering systems component – Three credit hours

SYEN 7311 Systems Design and Analysis

Engineering seminar component – Four credit hours (one credit hour per semester for four semesters)

SYEN 7192 Graduate Seminar

Engineering ethics component – One credit hour

SYEN 7118 Research Ethics in Science and Engineering

Engineering mathematical foundations component – Six credit hours

As advised by the Doctoral Dissertation Committee

Program Track Courses

The track courses consists of both core and elective courses, as follows:

Track core courses: 9 credit hours.
Elective courses: 15 credit hours.

A list of the core courses for each of the four program tracks and examples of elective courses are presented below. Students must choose three of the four listed core courses under their chosen track, and four elective courses, usually from the ones listed under their chosen track. Student may, with their advisors’ permission, choose elective courses from other tracks as necessary to further their research.

Systems Engineering Track
Core courses:

SYEN 7312 System Architecture and Design
SYEN 7313 System Management and Evaluation
SYEN 7314 Multicriteria Decision and Risk Analysis
SYEN 7316 Advanced Systems Simulation

Elective courses examples:

SYEN 7342 Networks and Combinatorial Optimization
SYEN 7315 Complex Engineered Systems
CPSC 7373 Artificial Intelligence
CPSC 7383 Modeling and Simulation
IFSC 7310 Information Systems Analysis
INFQ 7318 Total Quality Management and Statistical Quality Control

Electrical and Computer Engineering Track
Core courses:

SYEN 7302 Advanced Electronics for Instrumentation
SYEN 5332 Applied Operating Systems/CPSC 7321 Operating Systems
SYEN 5354 Power Systems Analysis
SYEN 5366 Advanced Digital Systems

Elective courses examples:

SYEN 7306 Real-Time Embedded Systems
SYEN 7331 Transducers and Real-Time Control
SYEN 7332 Advanced Operating System Design
CPSC 7321 Operating Systems
CPSC 7331 Computer Architecture
CPSC 7374 Image Processing

Telecommunications and Networking Engineering Track
Core courses:

SYEN 5310 Introduction to Signal Processing/ SYEN 5350 Digital Signal Processing
SYEN 5353 Advanced Digital Communications
SYEN 5356 Radio Frequency Techniques and Systems
SYEN 5355 Mobile Multimedia Internet/CPSC 7341 Telecommunications and Networking

Elective courses examples:

SYEN 7357 Advanced Antennas for Wireless Systems
CPSC 7341 Telecommunications and Networking
CPSC 7343 Sensor Networks
CPSC 7374 Image Processing
IFSC 7321 Information Science: Principles and Theory

Mechanical and Materials Engineering Track
Core courses:

SYEN 5371 Introductory Continuum Mechanics
SYEN 5375 Mechanical Vibrations/SYEN 5384 Computer Methods in Fluids and Heat Transfer
SYEN 5383 Finite Element Analysis
SYEN 7317 Nanostructural Materials: Physical and Chemical Properties / SYEN 7318 Micro- and Nano-Fabrication

Elective courses examples:

SYEN 7307 Smart Materials
SYEN 7374 Elasticity
SYEN 7376 Fracture Mechanics

Dissertation Research Courses:

Students are required to complete at least 38 credit hours of doctoral dissertation research courses during their doctoral studies, using one of the below designations:
CPSC/IFSC/SYEN 9100-9900 Doctoral Research Dissertation

Candidacy Exams

The program is designed so that the student is exposed to a breadth of knowledge through the program core and a depth of knowledge through the track core. Before a student formally begins dissertation research, he/she is required to pass the candidacy exam. The only exception for students who were awarded a master’s degree with the thesis option in Engineering at UA Little Rock with a GPA of 3.5 or above and continues the Ph.D. program in Engineering Science and Systems with the same advisor. The candidacy exam will have a written and an oral component. The written component will test the student on the fundamental knowledge at the advanced undergraduate level, whereas the oral component will test the student’s ability to conduct research in his/her area of interest.  A candidacy exam committee will be formed including three faculty members who will prepare the problems for the written exam. The following candidacy exam structure is followed:

  1. The student can take the candidacy exam as soon as possible. The student can take the exam no later than the third semester he/she is enrolled in the program. Students who do not take the exams by the third semester will be treated as having failed in their first attempt.
  2. The student will have to officially declare his/her intention to take the candidacy exam by the end of the semester prior to the semester in which he/she will take the exams for the first time.
  3. The student will have to attempt both components in the same semester, and will need to pass each of the components separately. If the student fails to pass one or more components in the first attempt, he/she will have to retake those components in the next semester. Failure to pass the exam in two attempts will result in dismissal from the program, pending review of the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee. This review will be completed and a decision conveyed to the student by the end of the academic year when he/she has taken the exam.
  4. The students may contact the faculty members who prepare the problems for the written exam for necessary information such as syllabi and problem styles.
  5. Decisions of the Track Candidacy Exam Committee will be supported by a minimum of 2/3 majority of the committee members present and will be any one of the following:
    i. Pass
    ii. Pass with remedial course work
    iii.Fail; in this case, the student will retake the oral component in the next semester on the same research topic; a new report will have to be submitted by the student prior to retaking the oral exam.
Written Component:

The written exam for each track will be one 3-hour exam. Each written exam should include 3 different subject areas. The problems should be prepared by 3 different faculty members including the advisor. The subject areas should be proposed by the advisor and approved by the track coordinator. The instructors may provide the syllabi and examples of problems for the selected topics.
The student will have passed the exam if her/his overall grade in the written exam is 70% or higher with at least 60% in each subject area.

Oral Component:

The oral exam for each student taking the exam will be of one-hour duration.
The student will be given a research topic on which to submit a written report. This report shall be submitted no later than one month from the date the student was assigned the topic.
Using the written report as the basis, the student will be orally tested by the Track Candidacy Exam Committee. The oral exam will be scheduled no earlier than two weeks after the student has submitted the report.

Proposal Defense

At least one years prior to the dissertation defense, candidates must present their research proposal to their Doctoral Dissertation Committee. At the completion of the proposal defense, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student. Students who fail the proposal defense will have to repeat the defense within a semester of their first attempt. If the student fails the proposal defense for a second time, he/she will be dismissed from the program, pending review of the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee.

Dissertation Defense

In order to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree, students will prepare and successfully defend a written dissertation in accordance with the format and procedures dictated by the Graduate School. Students must orally defend their completed doctoral research to their Doctoral Dissertation Committee. At the completion of the defense, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student. A majority vote is required to pass. If a student fails the exam, he/she may be dismissed from the program, pending review by the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee.

Doctoral Dissertation Advisor

A student admitted to the doctoral program can declare an advisor, with advisor’s approval, no later than the second semester that he/she is in the program. The advisor must be Engineering Science and Systems program faculty.

Doctoral Dissertation Committee

The Doctoral Dissertation Committee can be constituted once the student has declared his/her doctoral dissertation advisor, and no later than the second semester that the student has been in the program. The committee will include a minimum of five members and a maximum of seven members. At least four members have to be Engineering Science and Systems program faculty. The committee can have one or more external members who are not Engineering Science and Systems program faculty. If the dissertation advisor and the doctoral student are affiliated with different tracks, it is required that at least one Engineering Science and Systems program faculty in the committee belong to the student’s track.

Residency Requirement

After entering the ENSS program, a candidate must complete 18 hours on campus within 4 consecutive semesters, with optional summer semesters. Of these 18 hours, at least 6 are to be research credits.


Courses in the Engineering Science and Systems Doctoral Program

The catalog description of the program core, track core and elective courses, and the dissertation research courses that are part of the Engineering Science and Systems Doctoral Program, is provided in the “Systems Engineering,” “Computer Science,” “Information Science,” and “Information Quality” sections of this catalog. Other courses may be approved in consultation between the student and his/her Doctoral Dissertation Committee.
Up to 15 credit hours may be granted to the student for completing equivalent graduate coursework at other institutions. Such credit must be exclusive of thesis or other exit project credits, be no more than 5 years old at the time of transfer, and must have a letter grade of B or better. In some cases students may be required to balance their transfer credit with a corresponding increase in research hours. Students interested in requesting a credit transfer should discuss the request with their doctoral dissertation advisor and appropriate track coordinator. The request must also be approved by the Engineering Science and Systems graduate coordinator and the dean of the Graduate School before the transfer of credit can be granted.
For a student with a M.S. in one of the EIT programs from UA Little Rock, all lecture credit hours earned in the M.S. program with a grade of B or above are counted towards the ENSS Ph.D. program.