PhD Degree

The PhD program in Computing & Data Sciences at Boston University prepares you to make significant contributions to the art, science, and engineering of computational and data-driven processes that are woven into all aspects of society, economy, and public discourse. It is our goal that this program leads to solution of problems and synthesis of knowledge related to the methodical, generalizable, and scalable extraction of insights from data as well as the design of new information systems and products that enable actionable use of those insights to advance scholarly as well as practical pursuits in a wide range of application domains.

Requirements

  • completion of coursework covering breadth and depth topics spanning the foundational, applied, and sociotechnical dimensions of CDS
  • completion of research rotations in which students engage in on-going projects under the supervision of CDS-affiliated investigators
  • completion of a cohort-based training on ethical and responsible conduct of CDS research
  • successful passage of an oral area exam, presentation of a dissertation prospectus, and defense of a final thesis

Upon completion of the program, you will be prepared to pursue careers in which they lead independent cutting-edge research and development agendas, whether in academia (by teaching, mentoring, and supervising teams of students engaged in scholarly pursuits) or in industry (by collaborating, directing, and effectively managing diverse teams of practitioners working at the forefront of industrial R&D).

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Program Details

Admission Requirements

Applicants are expected to have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the methodological or applied disciplines relating to the computational and data-driven areas of scholarship in CDS. Applicants with degrees in one of the core areas of CDS (namely, Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Mathematics & Statistics, or equivalent) are expected to have a portfolio that demonstrates propensity for cross-disciplinary work.

Applicants with degrees in applied areas of CDS (such as information systems, economics, bioinformatics, physics, astronomy, earth & environment, emerging media, among others) are expected to possess basic mathematical and computational competencies, including probability, statistics, linear algebra, programming, data structures, and algorithms.

Given the inherently demanding nature of pursuing cross-disciplinary research, students admitted to the program are expected to have exceptional credentials and letters of reference that attest to their readiness.

To accommodate a diversity of backgrounds and preparations of prospective students, a holistic admission review process will be utilized, including the conduct of online interviews for finalists.

As such, GRE tests and scores are not required, but could be optionally provided and considered as part of the applicant’s portfolio, which could also include evidence of prior, relevant preparation, including creative works, code repositories, etc.

Special attention will be paid to applicants from under-represented minorities in computing and data science disciplines.

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Course Credits Requirements

Sixteen semester courses (64 credits) are required for post BA/BS students and twelve semester courses (48 credits) are required for post MA/MS students.

Students with prior graduate work (including master’s degrees) may be able to transfer up to two courses (8 credits) as long as these credits were not used to fulfill matriculation requirements, upon the recommendation of the student’s academic advisor, and subject to approval by the Associate Provost for CDS.

Typical timeline and milestones for completion of PhD Degree in CDS

Year 1: Cohort Phase
– First-year Doctoral Seminar (4 credits)
– Ethics & RCR Training (4 credits)
– Methodology/Subject Core (16 credits)
– Summer Externship (optional)
Year 2: Cohort + Binding Phase
– Two Research/Lab Rotations (8 credits)
– Methodology/Subject Core (16 credits)
– Summer Internship or Externship (optional)
Year 3: Binding Phase
– Directed Research and/or Coursework (8 credits)
– Teaching Assignment
– Oral Area Exam
– Summer Internship (optional)
Year 4: Dissertation Phase
– Directed Research and/or Coursework (8 credits)
– Teaching Assignment
– Dissertation Prospectus
– Summer Internship (optional)
Year 5: Dissertation Phase
– Dissertation Research
– Teaching assignment (optional)
– Thesis defense