Apr 12, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Bulletin 
2016-2017 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Computer Science, Ph.D.

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The primary focus in selecting and training candidates for the doctoral program is to ensure breadth of knowledge and to develop the student’s ability to do independent and productive research, synthesis, and design.


Applicants for the doctoral program in Computer Science must hold a baccalaureate degree or a master’s degree from accredited institutions in the United States or from a recognized institution in another country. A doctoral applicant who has earned a master’s degree must have a minimum of 3.0/4.0 GPA. An applicant who does not have a master’s degree must have a minimum of 3.5/4.0 GPA with a baccalaureate degree in Computer Science or a closely related discipline, and will abide by the admission guidelines and requirements for master’s students. Each application must include a letter of intent describing the applicant’s interests and career objectives, plus three letters of reference. All applicants must also submit Graduate Record General Examination scores. International applicants whose native language is not English must submit, in addition to the above, a minimum TOEFL score of 80 on the internet-based exam or 550 on the paper exam, with a departmental preference for TOEFL scores of 90 and 575 or higher. Non-native English speakers may substitute a minimum score of 6.0 on the IELTS examination for the TOEFL, with a departmental preference for an IELTS score of 6.5.

Admission to the doctoral program in computer science is open to degree holders in all branches of science and engineering. Applicants who lack only a few of the computer science undergraduate proficiency courses may be admitted conditionally to the doctoral program, but they will be required to remove those deficiencies by taking prescribed undergraduate courses and obtaining a grade of B or better in each deficiency course. With the exception of CS 6103  and CS 6113 , no graduate credit is allowed for courses taken to remove deficiencies. A complete list of the computer science undergraduate deficiency courses is available from the department.

Curriculum Requirements

A minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree is required for the Ph.D. These may include a maximum of 30 credit hours applied from the master’s degree. The following conditions apply:

A minimum of 18 research and dissertation hours must be earned, which may include a maximum of six thesis hours applied from a computer science master’s degree. Research and dissertation hours also include a maximum of six hours in research internship.

A minimum of 48 credit hours must be earned in course work and independent study, which may include a maximum of 30 graduate course hours with grade of B or better applied from the master’s degree. Course work and independent study hours also include a minimum of 27 graduate computer science hours, of which 21 must be 7000-level or above; a minimum of six graduate mathematics hours, to form part of a minimum core of 42 graduate computer science, mathematics hours, or courses from other disciplines associated with information assurance, which may include independent study; a maximum of 12 hours of 6000-level computer science courses; a maximum of 18 hours of 6000-level courses. All courses outside of computer science must have the approval of the student’s doctoral committee and must be taken for a letter grade.

Doctoral Matriculation Requirements

Students entering the doctoral program with a baccalaureate degree will file a report with the graduate coordinator stating their intention to remain in the Ph.D. program and indicating their area of research. Such a report must be filed during the semester of their 21st graduate credit hour and shall be supported by a graduate faculty member who becomes their designated research advisor. Failure to secure a designated research advisor removes the student from the Ph.D. program and enters them into the Master’s program.

Language and Residence Requirements

Because research is a full-time activity and technology changes very rapidly in this field, part-time study for the Ph.D. is not encouraged. Every doctoral student is required to satisfy a one-year, full-time residence (nine hours a semester) in work towards the doctorate. There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree in computer science.

Comprehensive Requirements.

Every computer science doctoral student is required to satisfy competency requirements in four topic areas, one of which may include a subject area outside of computer science with approval of the student’s designated research advisor. The list of topic areas is maintained by the department. Prior to the completion of 39 hours of graduate credit toward a Ph.D., students must file a Comprehensive Qualifier plan with their designated research advisor and the graduate coordinator that establishes the four areas and modes (exam or course) of satisfying this requirement. Students will have two opportunities to execute a Comprehensive Qualifier plan. A student may only change the areas in their plan once with the approval of their designated research advisor. Students who have taken relevant courses with an A grade prior to filing a Comprehensive Qualifier plan need to obtain a letter from the instructor to certify their eligibility for using that grade to satisfy Comprehensive Requirements in that topic area. Failure to satisfy the Comprehensive Requirements within two years of starting the PhD program will result in dismissal from the program.

Advisory Committee

No later than eight weeks after satisfying the Comprehensive Requirements, the student shall secure the agreement of a graduate faculty member to serve as the candidate’s dissertation advisor, which may or may not be the same as the designated research advisor, and shall request an advisory committee. The department will recommend to the Graduate School dismissal from the program of students who fail to secure a dissertation advisor. The members of the advisory committee are selected with the assistance of the candidate’s dissertation advisor, the computer science graduate program advisor, and the department chair, with the intent that this committee will become the student’s doctoral committee. When appropriate, the advisory committee may suggest alternate graduate faculty members for the doctoral committee. The doctoral committee must consist of at least five graduate faculty members, including at least one member from outside the Department of Computer Science. The candidate’s dissertation advisor chairs the doctoral committee. The purpose of the advisory committee is to assist the applicant in planning the proposed program of study for the doctoral degree. This includes identifying any deficiencies in the applicant’s graduate record to date, scheduling a research internship, and scheduling the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination

Within one year of passing the comprehensive examination, the student must attempt the qualifying examination, which is administered by the student’s doctoral committee. The student must apply for the examination at least four weeks before it is to be held. At the time of the application, the student must furnish the members of his or her committee with 1) an in-depth written proposal for research in an area of scientific or technological importance and should relate any progress to date, and 2) a written report of a scholarly or research nature that demonstrates the student’s ability to explore the topic in depth. The report should be of at least master’s level quality and may be undertaken as a research course of three credits. A master’s thesis, a properly documented computer project, or the report from a research internship may also be acceptable. The report must be accepted by the committee.

The qualifying examination consists of two parts, one written, one oral. At the discretion of the doctoral committee, a written exam may be prepared by the members of the doctoral committee in the student’s major and, if any, minor field. It may be the analysis of a significant problem in some aspect of the student’s field of specialization. It will also include advanced material in the area in which the student contemplates producing a dissertation. The oral portion consists of the oral defense of the written proposal the student submits; however, the examiners may also ask questions covering the student’s major, minor, and related topics.

Following the exam, the chair of the doctoral committee submits a report to the Dean of the Graduate School, signed by all the members of the student’s committee, indicating whether the student has passed or failed. If the student fails, he or she may, at the discretion of the doctoral committee, repeat the examination within three months. One dissenting vote is permitted to grant a pass to the student on the first attempt at the qualifying exam, but a unanimous vote of approval is required to pass the second attempt.

Research Internship

Each prospective candidate for the doctoral program is strongly urged to participate in a research internship prior to admission to candidacy. The research internship consists of at least three full-time months (or the equivalent) of research participation in an industrial or government research laboratory. The internship does not have to be in the exact area in which the dissertation research is planned, but should be in a closely related area. During the internship, the student enrolls in up to six credits in CS 8981-6 , Research Internship. The student should consult his major professor, the members of his committee, and other computer science faculty members for possible opportunities to secure an internship.

Admission to Candidacy

A doctoral student in good standing and not on probation may apply for candidacy. Admission to candidacy is recommended by the advisory committee upon passing four areas of the computer science comprehensive examination, successful completion of a minimum of 45 acceptable course work credit hours, and passing the qualifying examination.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is the final and the most important component of the series of academic goals which culminate in the awarding of the doctoral degree. The dissertation is to be a work of original research scholarship which represents a patentable invention or material publishable in an archival publication. It should demonstrate the student’s ability to address a significant intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion.

Final Oral Examination

The final oral examination is a defense of the dissertation and is open to the public. The candidate will prepare and distribute reading copies of the dissertation to each doctoral committee member four weeks prior to the oral examination.

Time Limitations

Any doctoral student not completing all degree requirements within four years of passing the qualifying examination will be dismissed from the program.

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