May 26, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Cyber Studies, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. in Cyber Studies encourages students to pursue research under supervision of faculty
in the School of Cyber Studies.

What encompasses cyber studies? The word cyber has its origins in the word cybernetics, a term
used to describe the study of control systems and communications between humans and
machines. We now use the word cyber as an adjective associated with activities that involve
computers and computer networks. In that sense, cyber studies refers to the broader study of the
Internet and its impact on society in many different fields: health, science, engineering, business,
law, public policy, technology, privacy, computer security, cyber-physical systems and many

A wide range of disciplinary perspectives are valuable when researching cyber topics. The PhD
in Cyber Studies is designed to accommodate many such perspectives while ensuring that
students acquire core knowledge from relevant disciplines to become effective, independent
researchers in cyber-related domains.

Learning Objectives

Students who complete the Ph.D. degree program in cyber studies will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in the discipline’s foundational areas by successfully completing coursework in cyber security, networking, data analysis, and a disciplinary specialization relevant to cyber studies.
  • Create and advance the body of scientific knowledge in cyber topics by writing and submitting scholarly papers to peer-reviewed conference proceedings and journals.
  • Demonstrate research skills and professional behavior consistent with the scholarly cyber scientific community.


Applicants for the doctoral program in cyber studies must meet the following minimum requirements for admission:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution;
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher in a 4.0 scale;
  • Three letters of recommendation;
  • Satisfactory personal statement ;
    • Each application must include a letter of intent describing the applicant’s interests and career objectives, the areas of interest within cyber studies, and optionally identify faculty with whom the candidate would like to study.
  • Satisfactory test scores on Graduate Record Examination.

Prospective students may also be interviewed via video-conferencing technology.

Note that meeting these minimum requirements may not necessarily lead to admission due to the selective nature of the program. 

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 or transferred from another PhD program.

Core Requirements (12 Hours)

Cyber Seminars (6 Hours)

Cyber Specialization (12 Hours)

Students select appropriate specialization courses in consultation with their faculty advisor.

Current areas of cyber specialization include:

  • Cyber Security
  • Data Science
  • Business Analytics
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Engineering

Additional areas of cyber specialization may be allowed if requested by the student and their faculty advisor and approved by the Cyber Studies graduate advisor.

Disciplinary Specialization (12 Hours)

Students select courses according to a disciplinary focus from graduate programs offered at TU, subject to advisor approval.

Disciplinary specialization can also be a continuation of a cyber specialization.

Electives (12 Hours)

Students can choose between elective coursework or additional dissertation hours. Electives can include enrollment in CYB 8003  beyond the two times required. All elective courses must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor.

Dissertation Hours (18 Hours)

Research and dissertation hours also may include a maximum of six hours in research internship.

6000-Level Coursework

Students may take no more than 40% of coursework at the 6000-level to meet degree requirements listed above.

Total: 72 Hours

Language and Residence Requirements

There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree in cyber studies.

The Ph.D. in cyber studies can be completed online, in-person, or a combination thereof, subject to the approval of the student’s research advisor. Part-time study is not encouraged given how rapid changes occur in the field, but it can be permitted if the student has already completed a Master’s degree and their research advisor submits a request that is approved by the graduate program advisor. Requests are evaluated based upon a credible explanation for why the research can be completed while still working full-time (e.g., the topic is related to the student’s work duties).

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 completing all required core, cyber seminar, cyber specialization and disciplinary specialization courses, successful completion of the pre-candidacy paper and presentation, and passing the dissertation proposal defense.

Students who fail one or more of the core courses will have an opportunity to repeat the courses consistent with Graduate School policies, provided that they have not been dismissed from the University for another reason.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is the final and the most important component of the series of academic goals that culminate in the awarding of the doctoral degree. The dissertation is a work of original research scholarship representing novel scientific advances that are publishable in archival, peer-reviewed outlets. It should demonstrate the student’s ability to address a significant intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion.

The dissertation must follow the Graduate School’s recommended procedures for submission to the student’s advisory committee, and before final typing or reproduction must be presented to the full advisory committee for examination and review. The dissertation must be archived by UMI and published in Dissertation Abstracts. The dissertation is graded as Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).

The following requirements are designed to help the student progress towards a successful and timely completion of the doctoral dissertation.

Identifying a Research Advisor

Students in the Ph.D. program will be advised initially by the graduate program advisor. Students must file a report with the graduate program advisor stating their intention to remain in the Ph.D. program and indicating their area of research. Such a report must be filed before the end of the second semester of study and shall be supported by a graduate faculty member in the School of Cyber Studies who becomes their designated research advisor. Failure to secure a designated research advisor by the conclusion of the second semester may remove the student from the Ph.D. program and can lead to dismissal from the university or transfer into an appropriate M.S. program.

Pre-Candidacy Paper and Presentation

All doctoral students must complete a pre-candidacy paper. Masters’ theses or other independent research projects may be substituted for the pre-candidacy paper at the discretion of the graduate program advisor. Research conducted while the student was an undergraduate may not be used to meet this requirement. Students also must give a 15- minute presentation on the topic of a completed paper. Pre-candidacy papers should be completed by the end of the fourth semester (second year) of the program.  

Pre-candidacy papers and presentations are evaluated on a pass-fail basis. If the student fails, he or she may, at the discretion of the doctoral program advisor, submit a revised paper and presentation to be evaluated within three months.

Advisory Committee

The student, after consultation with the research advisor or co-advisors, recommends the other members of the advisory committee to the Dean of the Graduate School by the end of the fifth semester of enrollment. The advisory committee is comprised of at least five graduate faculty members, the majority of which must be appointed to the School of Cyber Studies. At least one faculty member must come from outside the School of Cyber Studies. That member of the advisory committee may be a qualified expert in the research area from outside the University. The advisory committee approves the dissertation and administers the proposal defense and the final dissertation oral examination.

Pre-candidacy papers and presentations are evaluated on a pass-fail basis. If the student fails, he or she may, at the discretion of the doctoral program advisor, submit a revised paper and presentation to be evaluated within three months.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

The student’s doctoral committee administers the dissertation proposal defense. 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 must be accepted by the committee.

The student must give an oral defense of the submitted written proposal to the advisory committee. The examiners may also ask questions covering the student’s major, minor, and related topics, in addition to questions about the written proposal. 

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, but a unanimous vote of approval is required to pass the second attempt.

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.

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