PhD in Computer Science

A PhD in Computer Science enables students to become experts in a technical subfield of computer science and advance the state of the art by contributing original research in that discipline. Most PhD students also gain practical experience in the classroom, as well as become visible members of the research community by publishing research and through oral presentations at conferences and research seminars. Upon completing the PhD program, students are able to set their own research direction, teach and advise students, and work at the forefront of cutting-edge research in academia or at an industrial laboratory.

Applicants should have obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science or show evidence of equivalent preparation in computational science subjects.

Course Requirements

Sixteen semester courses (64 credits) approved for graduate study are required. Students with prior graduate work may be able to transfer course credits. For details, see the the GRS Transfer of Credits policy.

Specific course requirements include six breadth courses. At least one course must be taken from the following four areas:

  • Algorithms (at least one course)
  • Systems (at least one course)
  • Software (at least one course)
  • Theory of Computation (at least one course)

Additionally, at least one course must be taken from any of the following areas:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Graphics
  • Cryptography & Security
  • Data Science

For a full list of approved courses in each area, see the department website.

The remaining courses will provide a reasonable breadth of background in computer science as well as mastery of the basic tools relevant to the research area selected. A minimum grade of B− is required in all courses. The GPA in the six breadth courses must be 3.5 or higher.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

Qualifying Examinations

All PhD candidates must pass a written or oral comprehensive examination administered by the department. In addition, every PhD candidate is required to pass an oral examination in a distinct area of computer science. These examinations must be completed by the end of the third year of study.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be successfully defended by the end of the fifth year of study. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.

Students in the PhD program who wish to leave the program with a master’s degree must complete all requirements of the master’s degree program and must have passed all required PhD qualifying examinations.