Academic Requirements

The Ph.D. in Information Assurance degree requires completion of at least 48 semester credit hours beyond a bachelor’s degree. Students who enter with an undergraduate degree will typically need four to five years to complete the program, and they will be awarded a master’s degree en route to the PhD.

Students who enter the program with a master’s degree will be required to complete 16 semester credit hours beyond the master’s degree. They also must complete the required core courses.

Course Requirements

The program includes a core of required courses to ensure students receive a sound foundation in information assurance. It also incorporates electives selected from three tracks—Network/Communication Security, System Security, or Policy/Society—and general electives chosen from courses in computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering, criminal justice, and the social sciences.

Core – Required

Core courses comprise a total of 20 semester credit hours:
CS5700 Fundamentals of Computer Networking (4 credits) or EECE7336 Digital Communications (4 credits)
CS5770 Software Vulnerabilities and Security (4 credits)
CS6740 Network Security or CS6750 Cryptography (4 credits)
IA5200 Information Security Risk Management (4 credits)
IA5240 Cyberlaw: Privacy, Ethics and Digital Rights (4 credits)


Track 1: Network/Communication Security

CS6710 Wireless Network (4 credits)
EECE5666 Digital Signal Processing (4 credits)

Track 2: System Security

CS5600 Computer Systems or EECE7352 Computer Architecture (4 credits)
CS6540 Foundations of Formal Methods and Software Analysis (4 credits)
IA6120 Software Security Practices (4 credits)

Track 3: Policy/Society

IA5240 Cyber Law (4 credits)
CRIM7252 White Collar Crimes (3 credits)
CRIM7242 Terrorism and International Crime (3 credits)
CRIM7246 Private Security Management (3 credits)
POLS7341 Homeland Security, Resilience, and Policy (3 credits)

General Electives

EECE7204 Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes (4 credits)
EECE7205 Fundamentals of Computer Engineering (4 credits)
EECE7337 Information Theory (4 credits)
EECE7339 Testing and Design for Testability (4 credits)
EECE7357 Fault-Tolerant Computers(4 credits)
CS6200 Information Retrieval (4 credits) CS 6220 Data Mining (4 credits)
CS6140 Machine Learning (4 credits)
CS5500 Managing Software Development (4 credits)
EECE7350 Software Engineering 1 (4 credits)
EECE7351 Software Engineering 2 (4 credits)
SOCL7211 Research Methods (3 credits) or
 CS 6350 Empirical Research Methods (4 credits)

Awarding of Master’s Degrees

Students who enter the PhD in Information Assurance program with a bachelor’s degree have the option of obtaining an MS degree from one of the departments participating in the program. To do so, they must meet all of the department’s degree requirements.

Doctoral Degree Candidacy

A student is considered a Ph.D. degree candidate after:

Completing the core courses with at least a 3.4 GPA.

Either publishing a paper in a strong conference or journal or passing an oral exam that is conducted by a committee of three information assurance faculty members and based on paper(s) written by the student.


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

Dissertation Advising

The doctoral dissertation advising team for each student consists of two information assurance faculty members, one in a technical area. When appropriate, the second faculty advisor will be from the policy/social science area.

Dissertation Committee

A Ph.D. student’s dissertation committee consists of the two members of the dissertation advising team plus two others: One is a member of the information assurance faculty, and the other is an external examiner who is knowledgeable about the student’s research topic.

Comprehensive Examination

A Ph.D. student must submit a written dissertation proposal and present it to the dissertation committee. The proposal should identify the research problem, the research plan, and the potential impact of the research on the field. The presentation of the proposal will be made in an open forum, and the student must successfully defend it before the dissertation committee after the public presentation.

Dissertation Defense

A PhD student must complete and defend a dissertation that involves original research in information assurance.