FAQ on PhD


  • Q: I have applied to the PhD program at University X. How do I arrange for my GT transcripts to be sent to University X?
    Since you are in Shenzhen, you obviously will not be able to pick up your GT transcripts in person. However, transcripts can be conveniently ordered online. Follow the instructions under “Option #1” on the Registrar’s Office Ordering Transcripts page. Once logged in, you will be able to type in the address where the transcripts should be mailed. The $5.00 per transcript fee includes first-class mail postage. Allow at least one week of time for mailing within the United States, and at least three weeks of time if the transcripts are to be mailed internationally.
  • Q: The following is required when applying to the graduate program at University X: “A Provisional Certificate from your Registrar must give the expected month/year of graduation, if you have not yet graduated and received your diploma.” How do I obtain the provisional certificate from the GT Registrar?
    A: Verification of pending degree can only be issued if you have already submitted your GT MS degree petition. Afterwards, you will need to complete two forms. First, the “Change of Anticipated Graduation Date” form as explained here. The expected date of graduation was automatically calculated at the time of acceptance – correct it if necessary to reflect your actual progress. Next, complete the Verification Request Form found on the Registrar’s website. Check “Degree Pending” under “Type of Verification”. For “Special Instructions”, indicate that you have already submitted your GT MS degree petition materials and give your expected graduation date. Write in the address of the university requesting the form. Click here for a sample completed degree pending verification request form. Once you have completed both forms, sign and date the forms, scan and email them to the Registrar’s office address printed on the form. You should send in both forms, and only after you have submitted your degree petition materials.
  • Q: When applying to the graduate program at University X, I am asked to provide an official “Statement of Rank in College or University Class.” How do I obtain that from the GT Registrar?
    A:  Complete the Verification Request Form found on the Registrar’s website. Check “Rank” under “Type of Verification”. Once you have completed, signed, and dated the form, scan and email it to the Registrar’s office address printed on the form. Click here for a sample completed rank verification request form. Your rank will be given as a number among the thousands of current GT MS students (irrespective of major), ranked according to your GPA. More information about this from the Registrar’s office.
  • Q: When is it a good time to contact professors regarding graduate research assistantship (GRA) positions?
    A: Generally not more than 9 months before the start date of your intended PhD program, definitely not more than 12 months in advance. It is best if you wait until after you have completed at least one semester of GT courses so you have a meaningful GT GPA to talk about, before you contact the professors. If you are an ECE student and would like to come to Georgia Tech for the PhD, you should wait until after you have passed the ECE PhD prelim exam (please highlight this fact in your first communication with the professor). There is no need to mention the ECE PhD prelim exam if you contact professors in other universities, since the PhD prelim exam is a GT School of ECE exam and is only known within GT.
  • Q: I would like to continue my PhD studies at the School of ECE at GT-Atlanta after obtaining my MS ECE degree from GT-Shenzhen. Are there graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) positions that I can apply for?
    A: The School of ECE has set aside a couple of GTA positions to help highly qualified GT-Shenzhen MSECE students to transition into the PhD program at GT-Atlanta. These GTA positions are usually for the spring semester and are for a one-semester appointment only. Besides the financial support, a GTA position is a very good opportunity to get to know GT professors and prove yourself worthy of a GRA position for the remainder of your PhD studies. You should of course do a great job to impress the professor whom you TA for. You should also take courses from 3-4 different ECE professors and do well in those courses. Hopefully you can impress the instructors well enough for them to take you on as PhD student or recommend you to another professor. For spring semester start, you must have completed all GT MS ECE degree requirements by the end of December, and have passed the ECE PhD prelim exam. Since excellent communication skills are crucial for the GTA position, strong preference is given to those who have played active roles in the GT-Shenzhen Toastmasters Club. The GTA position comes with a tuition waiver plus a GTA stipend for one semester. In order for you to receive the I-20 form (for F-1 visa) however, you must provide proof of financial support to meet any gap in estimated expenses; see the cost of attendance page for more information. Please do not apply for the GTA position if you have already secured a GRA commitment. To be considered for the GTA position, please discuss with Prof. G. Tong Zhou around early September. Please submit a resume indicating ECE PhD prelim exam results and achievements at the GT-Shenzhen Toastmasters Club.
  • Q: After obtaining my ECE MS degree at GT-Shenzhen, I would like to pursue the ECE PhD degree at GT-Atlanta. Do I have to re-apply?
    A: If you have passed the ECE PhD preliminary exam, you can fill out a simplified internal application form in order to gain acceptance into the GT ECE PhD program. The preliminary exam is offered around mid October and again in early March. Note however, if it has been two or more semesters (including the summer) since you last enrolled at GT, you will have to apply for readmission to GT. Note that registering for the COOP 6012 course counts as enrollment for that semester.
  • Q: I have already passed the GT ECE PhD prelim exam. What else do I need to do in order to enroll in the GT ECE PhD degree program after I have completed my MS ECE degree at GT-Shenzhen?
    You can fill out a simplified internal application form in order to gain acceptance into the GT ECE PhD program. However, admission does not imply financial aid. As of Spring’2014, tuition and fees for full-time graduate students amount to $14,861 per semester. Unless you have means to pay for this yourself, you will need to contact individual professors to seek Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) positions in their laboratories. Once you receive the GRA offer letter from a professor, the GT-Shenzhen office can help coordinate your I-20 form and switch your campus from GT-Shenzhen to GT-Atlanta. If you plan to pay your own way for the PhD, you will need to show proof of personal funds of at least $65,133 for the 2013-2014 academic year, before the I-20 can be issued. Click here for detailed information regarding estimated cost of attendance.
  • Q: After I complete my GT MS ECE degree at GT-Shenzhen, I would like to pursue PhD studies in a new discipline at GT-Atlanta. Do I have to re-apply?
    A: You will need to re-reply. However, since you are a current GT graduate student, you should not use the online application form for new students (the online application that you went through when you applied to GT for the first time). Each PhD program will have its own application procedures and deadlines, so please inquire with the graduate program director for the discipline of your interest. Typically, a graduate program expects the following items: discipline-specific application form, updated statement of purpose, letter(s) of recommendation, and resume. GT should already have on file (in the BANNER system) the following items so you will not need to submit again: (i) TOEFL and GRE scores; (ii) your final undergraduate transcripts and degree documents; (iii) your GT transcripts.
  • Q: After I complete my GT MS ECE degree at GT-Shenzhen, I would like to pursue the PhD program in the College of Computing (CoC) at GT-Atlanta. What is the application procedure?
    A: The following items need to be completed and submitted by email to Mr. Kemonta Gray by December 15 of each year for matriculation in the following fall semester:
    Application form for current students
    – Background essay (no more than 2 pages, on what you have done in the past)
    – Statement of purpose (no more than 2 pages, on what you plan to do in the future)
    – Resume
    Please submit the above items as one package. It is a good idea to indicate the degree program in the subject line. The application form needs to be signed, dated, and scanned.
    Additionally, 3 letters of recommendation should be emailed directly from the recommenders to Mr. Kemonta Gray by December 31. The recommendation letters to CoC programs should be addressed to:
    Graduate Admissions
    Georgia Tech College of Computing
    801 Atlantic Drive NW
    Atlanta, GA 30332-0280
    On the application form, you need to indicate a major/program name, and two areas of interest under that major. The list of CoC degree programs can be found here. The areas of interest under each PhD program can be found here.
  • Q: I would like to apply to several PhD programs in CoC at GT-Atlanta to maximize my chances. Do I apply separately to each program?
    A: Yes, you will need to fill out a different application form for each CoC degree program (the program name will be different and the areas of interest will be different). Your statement of purpose will likely be different for a different degree program. The background essay and resume will be the same. Package these items in one email and submit to Mr. Kemonta Gray. He will then distribute to the appropriate program committee. If you apply to multiple programs in CoC, please do not mix the different program applications in one email – send one email per application. The referees only need to send one set of recommendation letters.
  • Q: Does CoC admit PhD students for Spring semester start?
    Generally no, except for the Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) program. CSE does accept PhD applications for matriculation in the spring semester, with October 1 as the application deadline for receipt of all application materials including reference letters.
  • Q: Prof. X in the GT College of Computing (CoC) collaborates with Prof. Y in the GT School of ECE. Prof. X is willing to offer me a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) position. He appreciates my ECE background and does not mind if I remain an ECE PhD student. Prof. Y has agreed to act as my ECE co-advisor. Is this a feasible arrangement?
    A: Yes. Under this arrangement, your home department is ECE and you will receive a PhD degree from ECE. Prof. Y will need to check with Prof. X prior to the start of each semester to get the updated GRA support level and account number and pass that information onto his/her accountant. Prof. Y’s accountant will then do the paperwork to ensure that your tuition waiver and your stipend are set up correctly for the following semester. It is important that there is a clear understanding between Prof. X and Prof. Y regarding who is paying the GRA and for which semesters.