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Computer Science - DOCTORATE (Ph.D.)

STEM Program STEM Program
CIP CODE 11.0101.00


The purpose of the graduate program in computer science is to facilitate the student's continued professional and scholarly development. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is designed to prepare the student to conduct research and development in an area of concentration.


A doctorate in computer science builds on prior knowledge, education, and experience in the field. The degree typically takes four to five years to complete and involves independent study and research in a focused area of interest. Doctoral programs include coursework and research that culminate in a final dissertation.

Students may apply for the Ph.D. program after completing their M.S. degree in computer science or proceed directly to Ph.D. program after completing their B.S. degree in computer science. Students without an M.S. will typically spend an extra year learning the basic research skills prior to begin working on their dissertation.

Candidate selection for the doctoral program is a very a competitive process, considering GPA, performance in computer-related classes, TOEFL or IELTS (for non-English-speaking candidates), GRE, and reputation of the university where you did your undergraduate and graduate studies. Relevant recent work experience is considered in cases where educational credentials are dated or not in the computer science field.



Demand for research scientists in the computer and information technology field continues to grow at a record pace. Most positions require a great research background and mastery of the field. The demand for Ph.D. graduates to fulfill faculty positions in academia is greater than ever.


Ph.D. candidates select one of the following eight graduate tracks provided by the Computer Science and Engineering Department and complete five milestones to achieve their doctorate in computer science:

  1. Data Analytics (database systems, data mining, cloud computing, big data, and others)
  2. Intelligent Systems (knowledge representation, knowledge acquisition, machine learning, neural networks, parallel AI, and others)
  3. Networking, Telecommunications, and Mobile Computing
  4. Software Engineering (environments, formal verification, testing, and others)
  5. Multimedia Systems (authoring, compression, collaboration, and communication)
  6. Theory and Algorithms
  7. Bioinformatics
  8. Information and Cybersecurity

Five Ph.D. Milestones:

After selecting one of the major tracks above, a Ph.D. candidate must complete the following five milestones.

Milestone Description
Form Committee At least four members (supervisor plus three committee members). One member may be external. External member must have a doctoral degree and be approved by the department’s Graduate Senate Committee.
Diagnostics Evaluation

Complete required coursework:

  • B.S. to Ph.D.: 30 hours
  • M.S. to Ph.D.: 18 hours
All students must complete required core classes plus classes in their selected major.
Comprehensive Exam A written and an oral examination that evaluates the basic research foundation of the candidate prior to the proposal and dissertation phases.
Proposal Propose dissertation topic. Requires full approval of the committee members.
Defense Final defense and granting Ph.D.

All Ph.D. students’ progress toward the milestones are reviewed and monitored by a committee consisting of at least four members (supervisor plus three committee members).


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Ginger Dickens, Sha’Londa Towns


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Computer Science - DOCTORATE (Ph.D.)

Learn more about this program on the Department or College website.

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

College of Engineering

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