The Computer Science PhD Program prepares students for research careers in the software industry and in academia. It combines a commitment to theory with significant experience in software development. The areas in which students may carry out dissertation research are currently applied database research, bioinfomatics, computer graphics, computer vision, cybersecurity, data mining, distributed software systems, higher performance computing, network information systems, programming languages, theoretical computer science, and visual attention.

Degree Requirements

  1. Complete a minimum of 48 credits (16 courses).

    Course requirements Notes
    CS680 Cannot co-requisite with CS681 or CS682.
    CS681 Must be taken in the same semester as CS682.
    Pre-requisites: CS680 and one of the following with a grade of B or better: CS636 or CS CS637 or CS651.
    CS682 Must be taken in the same semester as CS681.
    2 Theoretical courses Pick from: CS620, CS622, CS624, CS420, MATH470
    5 Applied courses Pick from: CS612, CS615, CS630, CS634, CS636, CS637, CS638, CS642, CS646, CS648, CS651, CS670, CS671, CS675, CS752, CS410, CS411, CS433, CS443, CS449, CS450, CS460, CS461
    4 CS graduate-level courses Pick from: CS-400 level, CS-600 level, and CS-700 level.
  2. Take the Qualifying Exam after completing 30 credits.
    • Exam covers theoretical CS and two of the following areas (Artificial Intelligence ‘AI’, Databases, Programming Languages, Networks, and Systems).
  3. Complete a minimum of 15 credits of CS899.
    • Up to 9 credits per semester.
    • Pre-requisites: qualifying exam.
  4. Proposal

  5. Defense and Dissertation

    • Date of defense must precede the dissertation deadline.


  • No more than 2 upper-level (400-level) undergraduate courses may be counted towards the program.
  • Minimum of 15 credits for dissertation research.
  • A GPA of 3.5 must be maintained.
  • The minimum grade for graduate-credit is C.
  • No more than 2 grades below B- may count for credit.
  • Non-degree courses or transferred will not transfer if they are below a B grade.
  • PhD students with TA/TF/RAs for same semester must enroll full time (9 credit), this excludes last/graduation semester.
  • CS698 Practicum Course and its credit will not count towards the program requirement

The Major Advisor and the Thesis Committee

Every incoming PhD student will have a temporary advisor appointed by the department, until a major advisor is appointed through the procedure described below.

After the candidate passes the qualifying exam, he or she must apply to the Graduate Program Director for the appointment of the major advisor and the thesis committee. The Graduate Program Director submits a recommendation to the campus graduate program administration who will appoint the dissertation committee. The major advisor is then responsible for monitoring the candidate’s progress.

The PhD program must be completed in seven years. Thereafter, individual approval must be obtained on a yearly basis.