robot with woman picking up food

Ph.D. in Robotics

Georgia Tech is one of the first institutions to offer an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in robotics to students enrolled in a participating home school in the College of Computing or the College of Engineering. A fully integrated and multidisciplinary experience, the program educates a new generation of robotics researchers who are prepared to be impactful contributors upon entering the high-tech workforce.

The Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM) serves as the flagship for Tech’s robotics efforts and therefore, the research institute has an integral relationship with the program. Almost all of IRIM faculty members serve as research advisors to students pursuing the robotics degree.

The program supports Tech’s mission to provide education in disciplines related to science, technology, and interdisciplinary areas, and to recruit and educate outstanding students who will provide leadership in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology. Currently, Tech has more than 40 faculty members actively engaged in the Ph.D. robotics program.

Admission Requirements

The Georgia Tech criteria used in determining each applicant’s eligibility for consideration includes:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (prior to matriculation) from a recognized institution; graduation in the upper quarter of their class; students must show evidence of preparation in their chosen field sufficient to ensure profitable graduate study;
  2. GRE scores (General Test is required for all; Subject Tests in Computer Science, Math or Physics recommended but not required);
  3. For international applicants, satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Minimum scores are 100 (Internet-based test), 250 (computer-based) or 600 (paper-based).

Students enroll for the Robotics Ph.D. Program through one of the participating units:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • College of Computing
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Students should indicate that they are applying for the Robotics Program through that unit by marking a check box. As minimum requirements, students must satisfy all of the specific admission requirements of the home unit.

The Robotics Ph.D. Program Committee will make final admission decisions in coordination with the home units.

Decisions are based on a combination of factors:

  • Academic degrees and records
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • GRE and TOEFL test scores
  • Relevant work experience

Also considered is the appropriateness of the applicant’s goals to the Robotics Ph.D. Program, their expected abilities in carrying out original research, and the faculty research interests.

Complete the online application

Program of Study

The main emphasis of the Robotics Ph.D. program is the successful completion of an original and independent research thesis. The degree requirements are designed around this goal.

Minimum Requirements
  • Completion of 36 semester hours of courses with a letter grade
  • Passing a comprehensive qualifying exam with written and oral components.
  • Successfully conducting, documenting, and defending a piece of original research culminating in a doctoral thesis.
Ph.D. Candidacy

Prior to completing all of these requirements, Georgia Tech defines the Ph.D Candidate milestones. Admission to candidacy requires that the student:

  1. Complete all course requirements (except the minor);
  2. Achieve a satisfactory scholastic record;
  3. Pass the comprehensive examination;
  4. Submit and receive approval naming the dissertation topic and delineating the research topic.
Core Area Courses

The core areas of robotics consist of: Mechanics, Control, Perception, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomy and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). They are used to select three foundation courses and three targeted elective courses. Visit for a full list of core area courses.

Qualifying Exam

The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to assess the student’s general knowledge of the degree area and specialized knowledge of the chosen research area. The comprehensive examination provides an early assessment of the student's potential to satisfactorily complete the requirements for the doctoral degree. As such, it requires that fundamental principles be mastered and integrated so that they can be applied to solving problems relevant to robotics.


After three regular semesters (Fall or Spring) from entering the Ph.D. program the student must take the comprehensive examination at the next scheduled offering, usually during the fourth regular semester. If the comprehensive examination is failed, the student may have one additional opportunity at the next scheduled offering. The examination will be offered at least once every year.

The comprehensive exam is a written and oral examination and is administered by a faculty committee, selected by the thesis advisor in consultation with the student, and approved by the Robotics Program Committee. The committee consists of:

  • Three faculty members consistent with the student's graduate coursework and research area.
  • The thesis advisor as a non-voting observer.