Jun 17, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin

Computer Science, Ph.D.

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.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Ph.D. degree program in computer science will

  • Specialize in solutions and techniques from the discipline’s foundational areas by successfully completing comprehensive exams in 4 of the following areas: Algorithms, Databases, Programming languages, Artificial Intelligence, Scientific Computing, Graphics, Systems, Software Engineering, and Information Insurance/computer security.

  • Contribute to the body of knowledge in Computer Science topics by completing scholarly papers which are publishable in peer reviewed journals.

  • Demonstrate research skills and professional behavior consistent with the computer science scientific community.


Requirements for admission to the Graduate School, including English proficiency, may be found in the Admission section of this Bulletin.

In addition, 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 must 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 GRE scores.

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 Tandy School of Computer Science .

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 6 thesis hours applied from a master’s degree in computer science. Research and dissertation hours also include a maximum of six hours in research internship.

A minimum of 48 credit hours must be earned in coursework 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. Coursework 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.

The following courses satisfy requirements as computer science courses for the Ph.D. in Computer Science:

  • CYB 6013 Secure Electronic Commerce
  • CYB 7083 Security Audit and Penetration Testing
  • CYB 7143 Security Economics
  • CYB 7153 Foundations of Cyber Security
  • CYB 7163 Cyber Security Practicum
  • CYB 7173 Defensive Cyber Security Technologies
  • CYB 7183 Information System Security Engineering
  • CYB 7223 Network Security Concepts and Applications
  • CYB 7443 Information System Assurance
  • CYB 7473 Network Security
  • CYB 7493 Secure System Administration

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.

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.

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 and 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.

Time Limitations

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

Comprehensive Requirements

Computer science doctoral students are required to satisfy competency requirements in four topic areas, one of which, with approval of the student’s designated research advisor, may include a subject area outside of computer science. The list of topic areas is maintained by the Tandy School of Computer Science . Prior to the completion of 39 hours of graduate credit toward the Ph.D., students must file with their designated research advisor and the graduate coordinator a comprehensive qualifier plan 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. With the approval of their designated research advisor, students may change the areas in their plan only once. Students who have taken relevant courses with an A grade prior to filing a comprehensive qualifier plan must obtain a letter from the instructor to certify their eligibility to use that grade to satisfy comprehensive requirements in that topic area. Failure to satisfy the comprehensive requirements within two years of starting the Ph.D. program will result in dismissal from the program.

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.

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 coursework 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.

Advisory Committee

No later than eight weeks after satisfying the comprehensive requirements, the student shall request an advisory committee and 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. 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 Tandy School 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.