Academic Requirements

A minimum of 16 semester hours of course work beyond the Master’s degree (excluding the six required core courses) or 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.

Course Requirements

Each student is required to take six courses including:

Core – Required

CS7600 Intensive Systems
CS7400 Intensive Principles of Programming Languages
CS7800 Advanced Algorithms
CS7805 Theory of Computation
Two additional courses from the below options, usually in the student’s concentration

Artificial Intelligence

CS5100 Foundations of Artificial Intelligence
CS6140 Machine Learning

Database Management

CS5200 Introduction to Database Systems
CS5100 Foundations of Artificial Intelligence

Programming Languages and Software Design

CS6510 Advanced Software Development
CS6410 Compilers
CS6412 Semantics of Programming Languages
CS7480 Special Topics in Programming Languages


CS5700 Fundamentals of Computer Networking
One other course under concentration (subject to approval)


Upon approval by the Graduate Committee

The fields listed do not necessarily represent areas of specialization or separate tracks within the Ph.D. 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. 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.

GPA Requirement

The student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 among the six courses satisfying the above course requirement and 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 Ph.D Committee. Each student may repeat a course once for no more than 3 out of the six courses if they do not receive a B or better in the course. Students with an M.S. degree in Computer Science may petition the Ph.D. Committee for an exemption from these courses. Petition forms are available in the College Administrative Office at 202 WVH.

Research/Survey Paper

To demonstrate research ability, the student is required to write a research or a survey paper in an area of specialty under the supervision of a faculty advisor and submit it to the Ph.D. Committee. Normally the length of the paper should not exceed 15 pages. 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 substantial contribution to the paper
3. The advisor has endorsed the paper with a written statement indicating the student’s contribution
4. The Ph.D. Committee has voted on a positive recommendation

Upon completion of the course and the research paper requirements, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. It is highly recommended that the student complete the candidacy requirement by the end of his/her second year.


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

Comprehensive Examination

The examination will be taken after the student has achieved sufficient depth in a field of study in order to prepare a prospectus for the Ph.D. dissertation. This process should take place no later than the fall semester of the fifth year in residence. Prior to taking the Comprehensive Examination, the student will prepare a thesis proposal for the examination, which describes the proposed research including the relevant background materials from the literature. The thesis proposal should clearly specify the research problems to be attacked, the techniques to be used, and a schedule of milestones towards completion. Normally the thesis proposal should not exceed fifteen pages, excluding appendices and bibliography.

The thesis proposal must be approved by the Comprehensive Committee. It is strongly recommended that the same members should serve on both the Comprehensive and Thesis Committees. With the help of the advisor, a student will select the Comprehensive Committee consisting of 4 members to be approved by the Ph.D. Committee. The 4 members must include the advisor, 2 other faculty members from the College and an external examiner (optional for Comprehensive Committee).

To help the Ph.D. Committee make an informed decision, a copy of the external examiners’ resume should be submitted at the same time. 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 Comprehensive Committee. The student may take the Comprehensive Examination at most twice.

Doctoral Dissertation

Upon successful completion of the research proposed in the Thesis Proposal, the candidate will prepare the dissertation for approval by the Doctoral 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

If the Thesis Committee is the same as the Comprehensive Committee, no further approval is needed. If the Thesis Committee is changed in its composition, approval process will follow that of the Comprehensive Committee.

Dissertation Defense

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