Computer Science, PhD

Academic Requirements for PhD in Computer Science

A minimum of 48 semester hours of course work beyond the BS/BA degree is required of all students.

Admission to Candidacy

All students must demonstrate sufficient knowledge in the fundamentals of computer science, as well as the ability to carry out research in an area of computer science.

The student must maintain a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.500 among the six core courses satisfying the above course requirements and receive a grade of B or better in each of these courses. Students who have taken equivalent courses in other institutions may petition to be exempted from the course(s) (subject to the approval of the PhD CS curriculum committee). Each student may repeat a course once for no more than three out of the six courses if they do not receive a B or better in the course. Students with an Master of Science in Computer Science may petition to the PhD CS curriculum committee for an exemption from these courses. Petition forms are available on the college website.

The fields listed do not necessarily represent areas of specialization or separate tracks within the PhD program. Rather, they attempt to delineate areas on which the student must be examined in order to measure his or her ability to complete the degree. Therefore, they may be adjusted in the future to reflect changes in the discipline of computer science and in faculty interests within the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS). Similarly, these fields do not represent the only areas in which a student may write his or her dissertation. They are, however, intended to serve as a basis for performing fundamental research in computer science.

Paper Requirement

To demonstrate research ability, the student is required to submit to the PhD committee a research or a survey paper in an area of specialty under the supervision of a faculty advisor.  A submitted paper from a student is considered to have fulfilled the paper requirement if:

  1. The paper has been submitted to a selective conference.
  2. The student has made a substantial contribution to the paper.
  3. The advisor has endorsed the paper with a written statement indicating the student’s contribution.
  4. The PhD CS curriculum committee has voted on a positive recommendation. The committee may require a presentation from the student before making a recommendation.

Upon completion of the course and the research paper requirements, the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. It is highly recommended that the student complete the candidacy requirement by the end of his or her second year but no later than the third year.

Residency

One year of continuous full-time study is required after admission to the PhD candidacy. It is expected that during this period the student will make substantial progress in preparing for the comprehensive examination.

Teaching Requirement

All computer science PhD students must satisfy the teaching requirement in order to graduate. This requirement is fulfilled when the student works as a teaching assistant (TA) or instructor of record (IoR) for one semester and during this semester:

  • Teaches at least 3 hours of classes
  • Prepares at least one assignment, or quiz, or equivalent

PhD students are expected to satisfy the teaching requirement some time after completing their first year and at least one semester prior to scheduling their PhD defense. 

Comprehensive Examination/Dissertation Proposal

The examination is taken after the student has achieved sufficient depth in a field of study in order to prepare a prospectus for the PhD dissertation. This process should take place no later than the end of the fifth year in residence. Prior to taking the examination, the student prepares a dissertation proposal, which describes the proposed research, including the relevant background materials from the literature. The proposal should clearly specify the research problems to be attacked, the techniques to be used, and a schedule of milestones toward completion.

The dissertation proposal must be approved by the dissertation committee. With the help of the advisor, a student selects the committee, consisting of at least four members, to be approved by the PhD CS curriculum committee. The four members must include the advisor, two internal members, and an external examiner.

Upon approval of the written proposal, the student has to present the proposed work orally in a public forum, followed by a closed-door oral examination from the dissertation committee. The student may take the dissertation proposal examination twice, at most.

Doctoral Dissertation

Upon successful completion of solving the research proposed in the dissertation proposal, the candidate has an opportunity to prepare the dissertation for approval by the dissertation committee. The dissertation must contain results of extensive research and make an original contribution to the field of computer science. The work should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out independent research. It is expected that the dissertation should be of sufficient quality to merit publication in a reputable journal in computer science.

Doctoral Committee

With the help of the advisor, a student selects the committee, consisting of at least four members, to be approved by the PhD CS curriculum committee. The four members must include the advisor, two internal members, and an external examiner.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is held in accordance with the regulations of the University Graduate Council. It consists of a lecture given by the candidate on the subject matter of the dissertation. This is followed by questions from the dissertation committee and others in attendance concerning the results of the dissertation as well as any related matters. The examination is chaired by the PhD advisor.

Time and Time Limitation

After the establishment of degree candidacy, a maximum of five years will be allowed for the completion of the degree requirements, unless an extension is granted by the college graduate committee.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a PhD in Computer Science must:

  • Gain a broad understanding of computer science fundamentals, spanning a substantial portion of the following core areas: artificial intelligence and data science, human-centered computing, software, systems, and theory.
  • Gain significant expertise in at least one research area in computer science.
  • Produce and defend original research in an area of computer science.
  • Be able to communicate research results effectively in both oral and written forms.

Complete all courses and requirements listed below unless otherwise indicated.

Milestones

Course requirements    
Paper requirement        
Dissertation proposal       
Dissertation defense     

Core Requirements

A grade of B or higher is required in each course. A cumulative 3.500 GPA is required for the core requirement.

Breadth Areas
Complete one course from four of the five following breadth areas:16
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
Machine Learning
Human-Centered Computing
Theory and Methods in Human Computer Interaction
Information Visualization: Theory and Applications
Software
Intensive Principles of Programming Languages
Compilers
Systems
Intensive Computer Systems
Theory
Advanced Algorithms
Theory of Computation
Specialization Courses
Complete 8 semester hours from the specialization course lists.8

Electives

Complete 24 semester hours in the following:24
Note: Consult faculty advisor for the other acceptable courses.
CS 6110 to CS 6810
Theory and Methods in Human Computer Interaction
Readings

Dissertation

Upon achieving PhD candidacy, complete the following (repeatable) courses for two consecutive semesters:
Dissertation
Readings
For remaining semester(s), complete the following (repeatable) course until graduation:
Dissertation Continuation

Specialization Course Lists

Artificial Intelligence
Foundations of Artificial Intelligence
Robotic Science and Systems
Natural Language Processing
Machine Learning
Advanced Machine Learning
Special Topics in Artificial Intelligence
Computer-Human Interface
Mobile Application Development
Empirical Research Methods
Visualization for Network Science
Special Topics in Data Visualization
Theory and Methods in Human Computer Interaction
Data Science
Database Management Systems
Machine Learning
Information Retrieval
Data Mining Techniques
Large-Scale Parallel Data Processing
Advanced Machine Learning
Special Topics in Database Management
Special Topics in Data Science
Graphics
Computer Graphics
Pattern Recognition and Computer Vision
Information Security
Software Vulnerabilities and Security
Network Security
Cryptography and Communications Security
Privacy, Security, and Usability
Special Topics in Software Engineering
Foundations of Cryptography
Networks
Fundamentals of Computer Networking
Wireless Network
Network Security
Cryptography and Communications Security
Privacy, Security, and Usability
Seminar in Computer Security
Special Topics in Networks
Programming Languages
Principles of Programming Language
Compilers
Advanced Software Development
Intensive Principles of Programming Languages
Special Topics in Programming Language
Special Topics in Formal Methods
Software Engineering
Web Development
Advanced Software Development
Special Topics in Software Engineering
Systems
Fundamentals of Cloud Computing
Building Scalable Distributed Systems
Network Security
Intensive Computer Systems
Foundations of Distributed Systems
Special Topics in Computer Systems
Theory
Cryptography and Communications Security
Application of Information Theory
Special Topics in Formal Methods
Advanced Algorithms
Theory of Computation
Special Topics in Theoretical Computer Science
Game Design
Game Artificial Intelligence
Computer Graphics
Computer/Human Interaction
Building Game Engines
Advanced Machine Learning

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

48 total semester hours required
Minimum overall 3.000 GPA required

Sample Curriculum 

Year 1
FallHoursSpringHours
Breadth course4Breadth course4
Core elective 4Core elective4
 8 8
Year 2
FallHoursSpringHours
Breadth course4Breadth course4
Open elective4 Open elective4
 8 8
Year 3
FallHoursSpringHours
CS 99904CS 99904
CS 89824CS 89824
 8 8
Year 4
FallHoursSpringHours
CS 99960CS 99960
 0 0
Year 5
FallHoursSpringHours
CS 99960CS 99960
 0 0
Year 6
FallHoursSpringHours
CS 99960CS 99960
 0 0
Total Hours: 48