Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students and New Applicants

You're expected to have questions. To make it easier for you, the FAQ section below has answers for students interested in our graduate programs in Electrical and Computer Engineering. After you read the FAQs, if your questions are not answered, please contact us. This is a link to FAQs for current Binghamton University graduate students. Click this link if you are a BU student in the Accelerated Program.

General
Application Process
Embark Application
Dates and Deadlines
Degree
Examination Requirements
Financial Information

General FAQs

 Embark Application

Application Process

Dates and Deadlines

Degree

Examination Requirements (TOEFL, GRE, IELTS, GPA, etc.)

Financial Information

Current Student FAQs

Click here to go to FAQs for current students.

 

Answers

General

Where is the Graduate Coordinator?

  • The Coordinator of Graduate Programs can be found in the Engineering Building (H11).

What about the job opportunities after graduation?

  • Job opportunities depend heavily on many external factors (e.g., the economy, the particular area of specialization, the student's job search skills, etc.) so it is hard to give precise information on this. Graduates from our master's and PhD programs have been successful getting job offers from both large and small employers throughout the U.S. For additional information, consider conducting an Internet search or contacting the ECE Program's Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Mark Fowler.

What percentage of your students are international students? Are there any Chinese students?

  • Roughly 60 percent are international students. And yes, we have many students from China.

 What labs do electrical and computer engineering students work in?

For a list of the laboratories and their photo galleries, please visit our research facilities page.

Where can I find course information if I don't have a log-in yet?

  • Course information can be found by going to registrar.binghamton.edu, click "Schedule of Classes" at the top of the page. Choose the semester on the drop-down menu. On the next drop-down menu choose "EECE." Click submit at the bottom of the page.

I am an international student. Where can I find information about Full Time Certification?

  • Please click here for information regarding full-time status.
  • When a student is course complete as a Master’s student and therefore only needs to register for 1 credit (of thesis or project), he/she needs to complete a Full-time Certification form for students not receiving funding.
  • The full-time certification forms can be downloaded here; choose the correct form for funded or non-funded. You must be registered for qualifying classes before you can be certified.
  • As an international student you are required to be full-time. As a PHD student, 9 credits is considered full-time. If you have completed all coursework, you may register for one credit per the policy above, and be certified full-time for the balance.
  • Note: If you are beginning your first year of PHD study it is unlikely you have met all course requirements and can be certified full-time per the policies found at the 1st link. If you aren’t registered for a qualifying course as noted in the procedures you cannot be certified full-time

 I am interested in bioelectronics. Do professors in your department work in that area?

  • Assistant Professor Zhanpeng Jin has interests that may align with yours. His interests include medical cyber physical systems and instrumentation, sensor-enabled embedded systems, reconfigurable computing, hardware systems (FPGA/SoC/VLSI/ASIC) and electronic devices design, neural networks and neuromorphic systems, computer architecture and microprocessors.

 Why don't I see Binghamton University in some ranking lists? 

  • For ranking information, please go to our rankings page. We are younger and smaller than most of the universities on some ranking lists. Because we are smaller and younger we do not yet have the recognition needed to be on some ranking lists. However, you will get a very solid education here. Binghamton is one of the most active universities in the research areas listed on your web site. See this link for our "BU Fast Facts" for more information about Binghamton University, the Watson School of Engineering and the ECE Department.

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Embark Application

 Can I send my materials via postal mail?

We do not accept applications via postal mail. Please use the online application.

One exception is if you are an accelerated degree student that is currently applying.

 I don't have/cannot get my bank statement/proof of support AND/OR International Student Financial Statement (ISFS). Can I submit my application with out it? Can I submit them after I have been accepted?

Unfortunately, The Graduate School cannot give you permission to withhold these documents until you have received an admissions decision. Please contact the Graduate School at gradadmission@binghamton.edu, or ask us on our website.

 My official test scores will not be ready by the application due date. Can I still submit my application or be considered for admission and send the test scores after?

You may still submit your application without the official test scores. However, we cannot guarantee that your application will be reviewed if the scores are not received by the application deadline.

 I do not have a passport, but the instructions say a passport is required. Can I submit it later?

If you do not currently have a passport you must substitute this requirement with a written statement. Please declare that you are in the process of obtaining a passport but have not received it at this time and that you will send a copy to Binghamton University when it is received. Please upload this document in place of the copy of your passport on the application.

How can I send you additional documents or update my submitted documents?

Please do not submit documents that the Graduate School has not specifically requested. See step 3 of the application instructions in this website.

Application Process

I am a Binghamton student. Do I need to submit letters of recommendation?

  • Both current students and former Binghamton University students are required to submit at least two letters of recommendation for graduate applications for Spring 2014 and Fall 2014 applications. Starting Spring 2015 PhD applicant are required to submit 3 letters of recommendations. 

Please click here for guidelines that current, former and accelerated Binghamton students should follow when they apply to the Graduate School.

What should a former Binghamton University student do to apply to the Graduate School?

  • Former Binghamton students should fill out the online application and pay the application fee. Please click here for guidelines that current, former and accelerated Binghamton University students should follow when they apply to the Graduate School.

Is graduate admission ultimately decided by the Graduate School or by the department? And do I need to send one package of application materials to the grad school and another to the department separately when I apply?

  • The department decides. You should send only one package directly to the Graduate School, which will organize the application materials and send them to us.

Do you consider the reputation of applicant's undergraduate university?  Is it important?

  • Yes, it is important and we consider the reputation of an applicant's undergraduate university.

What kind of applicant background is competitive? High test scores, research experiences or something else?

  • It is difficult to isolate a single factor; they are all important.

Can an MS student be a Research Assistant?

  • Each processor handles the hiring decisions for Research Assistants so students must be a professor in his or her area of interest and contact them. When the application is reviewed, the Graduate Director refers professors to quality applicants. However, while professors typically look for PhD students, MS students that exhibit exceptional talent are also funded. 

 How can I check the status of my application?

  • Once an admission decision has been made, you will receive an e-mail from the Graduate School.
    (Please add "gradadmission@binghamton.edu" to your e-mail address book. Make sure to check your spam folder, just in case!)
    If you have been accepted, you will also receive an admission letter.

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Dates and Deadlines

When does the fall application process start?

  • We begin looking at fall applications in November of the preceding year. Deadline for funding consideration is February 1st.

When are the deadlines for fall and spring applications?

  • The deadline for fall applications is February 15 to be considered for funding. The deadline for spring applications is October 15 to be considered for funding. If you would like to apply and do not need to be considered for funding, you may apply closer to the beginning of the semester. If you are an international student, the time frame for you to get your visa and travel documents in order may be a concern for you. For your best interest, please begin your preparation as soon as possible.

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Degree

I'd like to apply to a computer engineering program, but I cannot find such a program in your department.

  • Our program name is currently Electrical Engineering with Computer Engineering as a specialization within that. We have courses and research in computer engineering but we do not have a separate PhD degree NAMED that.

 What is the difference between MS with a concentration in computer engineering and MS in computer science?

  • The difference between computer engineering (CoE) and computer science (CS) is a lot like the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist - there are some clear difference and some clear similarities. Psychiatrists can prescribe drugs so they deal more with the "hardware" of the mind while psychologists discuss a patient's thoughts and feelings so they deal more with the "software" of the mind. Of course, each is keenly aware of the interaction between the "hardware" and the "software". CoE deals more with the hardware aspects of computer design and the interfacing/networking of computers with other devices and systems. To study CoE you need to have a solid background in electronics. To study CS you would not need to understand electronics at all. To study CS you need to have a solid background in advanced programming. To study CoE you need to have some background in programming but it need not be an extensive background. As an example, both CS and CoE students may have a course in "digital logic" but the CS students would mainly discuss it in the abstract (e.g., what are the logical functions of AND, OR, etc... and how are they used to form functional operations used in computing) while a CoE would also be concerned with things like how much current could this logic circuit actually source into this other device to which I am connecting it... and what happens if the device needs more current?

    As to what each does after graduation, many jobs could be filled with one or the other without any trouble. Jobs that are programming-heavy are better filled by CS grads and those that are hardware-heavy are better filled by CoE grads. The job market for each type is quite strong.

I am a non-matriculated student but I'd like to apply to be a matriculated student. What should I do?

  • To submit an application for degree study, please go to the application website.

    Please make sure to enter your name and date of birth as it appears on your current student record, so that we can correctly match your application to your record.

    Your application materials must be submitted through the online application system (Embark). Once you start an application on Embark, you will be able to upload your documents and send recommendation upload requests to your recommenders. If you have sealed and signed hard copies of your letters of recommendation, or if your recommender does not want to upload his/her letter, the letters can be mailed to the Graduate School; however, you must also register your recommenders on Embark. (Note: starting Spring 2015, PhD applicants will be required to submit 3 letters of recommendations instead of 2)

 Are you interested in taking courses as a Non-Matriculated student?

  • If a non-matriculated student seeks admission to a degree or certificate program with the intention of applying some of the student's non-matriculated course credits to the degree or certificate, then it is the student's responsibility to apply to the degree or certificate program in a timely way. At most, 12 non-matriculated credits will be applied to the degree program and 8 credits to the certificate program.

    Application and information on the Graduate School's web site:

    ECEs FAQs for Non-Matriculated students

    ECE EngiNet Courses (on left hand navigation)

    EngiNet

I am still a senior student, can I apply for the PhD program along an MS/PhD track... or should I apply for the MS program instead?

  • You can apply for the PhD program directly and earn the MS as you progress.

If I apply to the PhD program and am denied, can I be considered for the MS program?

  • Yes. If you apply as a PhD applicant but you are denied, you can request to be reviewed for the MS program. If you know, in advance, that you are interested in being reviewed as an MS applicant (in the event you are denied) when you apply for the PhD program, please e-mail the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as soon as you send your packet to “My Credential Vault”.

I am an Accelerated Senior. What 500 level courses should I take? Is there a guideline?

  • The requirements you need to meet for the MS degree are spelled out in the ECE Graduate Handbook located here. Your regular academic advisor can help your during your advising session as well. It is important for you to be aware that Accelerated (4+1) students can take up to 3 500-level courses during their senior year and have them double counted, so it is recommended that students choose these in order to fill their various requirements for the MS degree (refer to the handbook).

I am a PhD student about to fill out a form to be ABD. What forms do I need to graduate?

There is a form you will need when you take your comprehensive exam on our forms web page called the "PhD Comprehensive Exam Approval Form" at this link. The "Recommendation for Admission to Candidacy" form (to be advanced to ABD status) is also at that link.

Information about deadlines and what the Graduate School needs you to do.

You need to fill out the Graduate Application for Degree Form before the date listed on the Graduate School's web site.

There is a triplicate form in the ECE secretary's office that needs to be filled out and requires signatures.

After that, the triplicate form, your proposed course of study form which is also found on our resources page-see the link above (signed by your advisor, found at the forms link) and your PhD Comprehensive Exam Approval Form go together to our Graduate Director, Professor Fowler. From this point our office handles the travel of the forms through these next steps. Once they are reviewed and signed, they go to the Dean of Watson. From there they go to our Graduate Coordinator, Ellen Tilden, who processes them and takes them to the Graduate School.

How many years would it take for a graduate student to complete the PhD program in Electrical Engineering?

  • For students who come in with an MS degree, the typical time is 3 to 4 years, although 3 years is a bit rushed. If a student comes in with a "perfect" background (e.g. already quite familiar with the literature and issues in the area, possibly from their MS thesis work or from R&D-type work for the dissertation topic they choose), then 3 years is doable. Otherwise, 4 years is more common. If you do not yet have an MS degree, that adds another 1.5 years. It is possible to go straight from BS to PhD and that would only add 1 year to the 3 to 4 years stated above (the risk though is that if you don't complete the PhD you may not have met the degree requirements for the MS, so you might leave without a degree). Those numbers are for full time students; part-time students are quite different because such students progress at variable rates.

Does the department prefer applicants immediately out of undergraduate programs or applicants who have work experience?

  • It does not matter if a student has been working as long as the student's "academic skills" have not gotten rusty. If it has been a while since you've done R&D-type work then it can be rough getting started. However, I found that students who come in with some experience that is nicely aligned with their research interests are very well-suited to our program.

 I want to study solar technology as a PhD student. I want to take some courses no only in Electrical Engineering but also Mechanical Engineering, Material Science and Physics. Is it possible?

  • Yes it is possible. Your PhD adviser would be the one who would help you select the courses that will prepare you for your PhD work. In the solar cell area it is common to take courses in the other areas you mention. 

 I want to study two research groups, for example Prof Rastogi from Electrical Engineering and Prof White from Physics. Is it possible? 

  • Yes, This is possible. It depends on your PhD adviser's willingness to do that but CASP is quite interdisciplinary so this kind of thing does happen often. 

 Is CASP Center active?

Yes, it is very active. There are many professors working with CASP and also many graduate students. This is the website CASP

 Is there a chance to study minor PhD degree such as from Physics etc. with ECE PhD Degree?

  • It is possible to officially have a minor in Physics 

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Examination Requirements (TOEFL, GRE, IELTS, GPA, etc.)

 What is the Binghamton University code?

  • The code to give to your testing center for your scores to be sent to Binghamton University 2535.

 What are the exam requirements for international students? What is an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score?

 I'm an international student, but I will be receiving an undergraduate degree from a U.S. school. Am I required to submit GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores?

  • The TOEFL/IELTS score is not required if you have received a degree from an ABET accredited U.S. institution unless you are requesting to be considered as a teaching assistant.  GRE scores are required.

 Which TOEFL option should I choose on my application?

  • In order to send my TOEFL score there are three options for me which are:

    2535 SUNY CTR BINGHAMTON-UNDERGRAD Undergraduate BINGHAMTON NY 13902-6001
    2535 SUNY CTR BINGHAMTON-GRADUATE Graduate Schools WASHINGTON DC 20036-5024
    2535 SUNY CENTER BINGHAMTON BINGHAMTON NY 13902-6001

    You can choose any of them to send his scores, but the scores MUST BE SENT ELECTRONICALLY.
    Once received electronically, they are available to everybody in the university who needs to access them. DO NOT CHOOSE to send paper, only electronic.

 I am a US citizen and I graduated from an ABET accredited school. Do I need to submit TOEFL/IELTS or GRE scores?

  • All International applicants are required to submit a GRE score.  TOEFL/IELTS scores will be waived if you have graduated from an ABET accredited U.S. school except for applicants who wish to be considered for teaching assistant positions.  If you are not an international applicant, your scores will be waived.

 I am a Binghamton University student. Do I need to submit GRE and TOEFL scores?

  • No, if you are a Binghamton University student, your GRE and TOEFL scores are waived.

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Financial Information

 I am a new applicant. Do I need to send my financial information with my application?

  • No. It is not required that you send your financial information at the beginning of your application process.
    You can send it after you have been recommended to be accepted by our department, but you will not receive official notification from the Graduate School that you have been accepted until you have satisfied their financial document requests.
    If you send your financial information at the same time as you send your other application materials, the process for you to receive your I20 and Visa information is much quicker.
    The items we need for a decision to be made are: a completed application, transcript, resume, personal statement, 2 letters of recommendation*, GRE and TOEFL or IELTS scores and your application fee must be paid.  Upload a document that tells when you will be sending your completed financial documents.
  • All graduate applicants are required to submit 2 letters of recommendations for Fall 2014. Beginning Spring 2015, Masters of Science and Masters of Engineering applicants will submit 2 letters recommendation, and PhD applicants are required to submit 3 letters of recommendation.

What about the financial aid for master's students?

  • Occasionally master's students receive financial support as a teaching assistant (TA), and sometimes as a research project assistant (RPA). Exceptional academic performance, high test scores and research experience can increase your chances of receiving support. Usually the TA positions are given to PhD students.  When Research Assistantships are available, they are usually offered to applicants after they become students and after they show a driving interest in a specific area and also show an excellent work ethic. 

    For international students, please refer to the ISSS website.

    Other funding options are available at the graduate website.

 I am an international student. Where can I find funding information and employment opportunities?

  • The Graduate School has information about funding. Go to their website and scroll to "Aid and Funding".
  • ISSS has information about financial Aid for International Students. Please check out their web page.
  • ISSS also has some information about employment for international students. Many of our international students work on campus for the food service (Sodexo) and some work for OCC (Off Campus College) OCC does our Binghamton University transportation. Some students drive a bus and some drive the campus shuttle.
  • Here are links to Sodexo (click "People" then "Careers" and scroll to student employment) and OCC Trancport - after you have been in the United States for one year.
  • The Financial Aid department can also help you with funding.

 What is the minimum TOEFL score I need in order to be considered for a TA position?

  • We typically consider PhD students for TA positions if they have a TOEFL score of 100.

What are the approximate tuition, fees, and living expenses?

  • The total costs for your graduate studies can vary depending on the number of credits you will be taking and your living expenses. The Graduate School's web site lists tuition and fee rates. (based on the Student Funding Survey published by Graduate School).

What Financial Information will be needed for an international student before an I20 can be processed?

  • Financial paper work will need to be submitted. Please see the International Student Financial Statement here. Complete the form as required, attach the necessary documentation supporting proof of the funds. The completed form and bank documents should be uploaded to your credentials vault. This needs to be complete before ISSS can begin processing an I-20. When we have appropriate mailing information and satisfactory financial documentation on file, DHL can deliver the documents between 3-5 days.

 Do RA/TA positions or funding include salary, fees, medical insurance, and/or housing?

  • The RA/TA positions cover full tuition (including fees - I believe) and pay a stipend (i.e., salary); you are also covered by medical insurance. Housing costs are not covered and you would need to pay those yourself. Unfortunately, TA/GA/RPA positions that include a tuition scholarship do NOT cover fees. It only covers the actual cost of tuition. 

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Last Updated: 10/29/14