Dec 04, 2022  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog

Doctor of Philosophy - Computer Science


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Plan Description


The Ph.D. degree is awarded to a candidate who has demonstrated breadth of knowledge in computer science in general and has displayed depth of knowledge in the area of specialty as well as the ability to make original contributions to the body of knowledge in the chosen field in which they purse to defend dissertation.

For more information about your program, including your graduate program handbook and learning outcomes, please visit the Degree Directory.

Plan Admission Requirements


Application deadlines

Applications available on the UNLV Graduate College website.

Applicants for admission to the Ph.D. program in computer science must meet the following:

  1. A GPA of 3.70 (on a 4.00 scale) or higher in post-baccalaureate course work is required for admission. Students entering with a bachelor’s degree must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher for the courses at the 200-level or above.
  2. Students are expected to have a master’s degree in computer science before applying to the Ph.D. program. On rare occasions, an unusually capable student may be admitted to work directly for the Ph.D. degree without having a master’s degree.
  3. At least three letters of recommendation (preferably from academic sources) attesting to the applicant’s professional competence and academic potential are required.
  4. A personal statement of purpose, which should be as specific as possible and should include the applicant’s objectives and area(s) of interest, is required.
  5. A minimum score of 315 on the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. Official score reports from the last five years are acceptable.

Additional information for the Integrated BS-PhD degree program:

  1. Up to nine credits of approved graduate-level course work can be taken as technical electives for the grade of B or better during the senior year and those credits will be waived for the graduate degree.
  2. The GRE requirement is waived for students participating in the Integrated BS-MS subplan.

The following conditions must be met to enroll in the Integrated BS-MS program:

  1. A minimum of two semesters of full-time enrollment in B.S. of Computer Science program is required.
  2. Applications are normally submitted with two semesters remaining in the senior year.
  3. A minimum of 90 credits of course work applicable to the B.S. of Computer Science degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher must be completed before beginning the joint degree program.
  4. Student have to choose the thesis option in the MS degree. Students interested in this program and who also meet the credentials listed above should request a letter of nomination from a Computer Science faculty member. Submit this letter along with a short resume (no more than 2 pages) and an application form to the main office of the department of Computer Science. The materials will be evaluated by the Graduate committee.

All domestic and international applicants must review and follow the Graduate College Admission and Registration Requirements.

Students are accepted into a degree program as described in the Graduate Catalog. The faculty and corresponding sub-disciplines and sub-plans within the described programs are subject to change at any time.

Subplan 1 Requirements: Post-Master’s


Total Credits Required: 48  

Course Requirements


Required Courses – Credits: 30


Complete 30 credits of 600- or 700- level Computer Science (CS) courses.   

Dissertation – Credits: 18


Degree Requirements


  1. A student entering the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree in computer science is required to take at least 48 credits of coursework.
  2. At least 24 credits must be in computer science (excluding dissertation).
  3. A minimum of 12 credits of 700-level Computer Science courses (excluding CS 791, CS 795, CS 798, CS 799).
  4. A maximum of 12 credits of 600-level Computer Science courses.
  5. A maximum of 6 credits of 600/700 level non-Computer Science courses (with departmental approval).
  6. A Ph.D. student can take at most 9 credits per semester from a combination of CS 795, CS 798, CS 799 and any other course. During the summer a Ph.D. student can take at most 9 credits overall, not per summer session, from a combination of CS 795, CS 798, CS 799, and any other course.  
  7. Satisfactorily pass a written comprehensive examination within the first four semesters.
    1. The written comprehensive examination will be given twice a year. The comprehensives will assess the student’s breadth of knowledge through examinations covering the six Core Areas listed below:
      1. Automata and formal languages
      2. Algorithms and data structures
      3. Programming languages
      4. Compiler construction
      5. Computer architecture
      6. Operating systems
    2. A syllabus will be published well in advance of the exams listing the topics to be covered in each exam. Students are expected to take the comprehensive examination within two years of entering the Ph.D. program. All Ph.D. students are urged to take this examination as early as possible. Preference is given in the allocation of student financial support to those who have passed the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination may be attempted at most twice. Students who do not pass the comprehensive examination the first time must retake the examination at the next scheduled offering. Failure to pass the comprehensive examination after two attempts will normally lead to dismissal from the Ph.D. program. After passing the comprehensive examination, a research topic of mutual interest to the student and their proposed committee is selected. At this point, the student formally begins their research study.
  8. The qualifying examination is an oral examination designed to test the depth of the student’s knowledge in their area of research specialization.
    1. It must be taken before either:
      1. Two years after passing the comprehensive examination or
      2. Four years after entering the Ph.D. program.
    2. It generally focuses on their dissertation proposal. The main purpose of this exam is to evaluate the technical merits and feasibility of the student’s proposal for their Ph.D. dissertation.
    3. The student’s Ph.D. committee must conduct the examination. This committee consists of five faculty members of whom one must be from outside the Department of Computer Science. The student’s advisor is the chairperson of this committee. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
    4. The student must prepare a dissertation proposal before taking this examination. The student’s advisor should have already approved this proposal. This proposal must be given to the Ph.D. committee members at least two weeks before the date of the qualifying exam. The proposal must contain a discussion of the background literature on the problem area, description of the specific topic of research proposal approach, feasibility arguments, the objective of the research project, and a list of references.
    5. The student begins the exam with a presentation of the dissertation proposal. The remaining time is used for discussion and asking questions to determine if the student has sufficient depth of knowledge to carry out the proposed research.
    6. The examination cannot be taken more than twice. After successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student is advanced to candidacy for the doctoral degree.
  9. Satisfactorily pass a dissertation proposal defense by the end of year 4.
  10. The candidate must prepare a dissertation on their research. The doctoral dissertation should represent a significant original research contribution to the field of computer science and be publishable in a recognized refereed journal.
  11. After completion of the dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral defense of their dissertation. The candidate must make the final changes, if any, in the dissertation within three months from the date of the oral defense. A candidate can defend the dissertation no more than twice. Each member of the committee must approve the final dissertation.
  12. Maintain a satisfactory rate of progress and a yearly progress report must be submitted. To maintain satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program a student must:
    1. Pass the comprehensive examination within 4 semesters of entering the Ph.D. program.
    2. Maintain a minimum grade point average required by the College of Engineering.
    3. Pass the qualifying examination within four years of entering the Ph.D. program.
    4. Maintain satisfactory progress towards research.
    5. Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within six years. If these requirements are not met, the department may place the student on academic probation or drop him/her from the Ph.D. program.

Graduation Requirements


The student must submit and successfully defend their dissertation by the posted deadline. The defense must be advertised and is open to the public.

After the dissertation defense, the student must electronically submit a properly formatted pdf copy of their dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once the dissertation format has been approved by the Graduate College, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest. Deadlines for dissertation defenses, format check submissions, and the final ProQuest submission can be found here

Students may apply for graduation up to two semesters prior to completing their degree requirements. All required forms must be submitted to the graduate college via the Grad Rebel Gateway.

Subplan 2 Requirements: Post-Bachelor’s


Total Credits Required: 72

Course Requirements


Required Courses – Credits: 54


Complete 54 credits of 600- or 700- level Computer Science (CS) courses.

Dissertation – Credits: 18


Degree Requirements


  1. Complete a minimum of 72 credits of coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  2. At least 42 credits must be in computer science (excluding dissertation).
  3. A minimum of 12 credits of 700-level Computer Science courses (excluding CS 791, CS 795, CS 798, CS 799)
  4. A maximum of 12 credits of 600-level Computer Science courses.
  5. A maximum of 6 credits of 600/700 level non-Computer Science courses (with departmental approval).
  6. A Ph.D. student can take at most 9 credits per semester from a combination of CS 795, CS 798, CS 799 and any other course. During the summer a Ph.D. student can take at most 9 credits overall, not per summer session, from a combination of CS 795, CS 798, CS 799, and any other course.
  7. Satisfactorily pass a written comprehensive examination within the first four semesters.
    1. The written comprehensive examination will be given twice a year. The comprehensives will assess the student’s breadth of knowledge through two examinations covering the six Core Areas listed below:​
      1. Automata and formal languages
      2. Algorithms and data structures
      3. Programming languages
      4. Compiler construction
      5. Computer architecture
      6. Operating systems
    2. A syllabus will be published well in advance of the exams listing the topics to be covered in each exam. Students are expected to take the comprehensive examination within two years of entering the Ph.D. program. All Ph.D. students are urged to take this examination as early as possible. Preference is given in the allocation of student financial support to those who have passed the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination may be attempted at most twice. Students who do not pass the comprehensive examination the first time must retake the examination at the next scheduled offering. Failure to pass the comprehensive examination after two attempts will normally lead to dismissal from the Ph.D. program. After passing the comprehensive examination, a research topic of mutual interest to the student and their proposed committee is selected. At this point, the student formally begins their research study.
  8. The qualifying examination is an oral examination designed to test the depth of the student’s knowledge in their area of research specialization.
    1. It must be taken before either:
      1. Two years after passing the comprehensive examination or
      2. Four years after entering the Ph.D. program.
    2. It generally focuses on their dissertation proposal. The main purpose of this exam is to evaluate the technical merits and feasibility of the student’s proposal for their Ph.D. dissertation.
    3. The student’s Ph.D. committee must conduct the examination. This committee consists of five faculty members of whom one must be from outside the Department of Computer Science. The student’s advisor is the chairperson of this committee. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
    4. The student must prepare a dissertation proposal before taking this examination. The student’s advisor should have already approved this proposal. This proposal must be given to the Ph.D. committee members at least two weeks before the date of the qualifying exam. The proposal must contain a discussion of the background literature on the problem area, description of the specific topic of research proposal approach, feasibility arguments, the objective of the research project, and a list of references.
    5. The student begins the exam with a presentation of the dissertation proposal. The remaining time is used for discussion and asking questions to determine if the student has sufficient depth of knowledge to carry out the proposed research.
    6. The examination cannot be taken more than twice. After successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student is advanced to candidacy for the doctoral degree.
  9. Satisfactorily pass a dissertation proposal defense by the end of year 4.
  10. The candidate must prepare a dissertation on their research. The doctoral dissertation should represent a significant original research contribution to the field of computer science and be publishable in a recognized refereed journal.
  11. After completion of the dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral defense of their dissertation. The candidate must make the final changes, if any, in the dissertation within three months from the date of the oral defense. A candidate can defend the dissertation no more than twice. Each member of the committee must approve the final dissertation.
  12. Maintain a satisfactory rate of progress and a yearly progress report must be submitted. To maintain satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program a student must:
    1. Pass the comprehensive examination within 4 semesters of entering the Ph.D. program.
    2. Maintain a minimum grade point average required by the College of Engineering.
    3. Pass the qualifying examination within four years of entering the Ph.D. program.
    4. Maintain satisfactory progress towards research.
    5. Those who enter the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within eight years. If these requirements are not met, the department may place the student on academic probation or drop him/her from the Ph.D. program.   

Graduation Requirements


The student must submit and successfully defend their dissertation by the posted deadline. The defense must be advertised and is open to the public.

After the dissertation defense, the student must electronically submit a properly formatted pdf copy of their dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once the dissertation format has been approved by the Graduate College, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest. Deadlines for dissertation defenses, format check submissions, and the final ProQuest submission can be found here

Students may apply for graduation up to two semesters prior to completing their degree requirements. All required forms must be submitted to the graduate college via the Grad Rebel Gateway.

Subplan 3 Requirements: BS-PhD Integrated


Total Credits Required: 72

Course Requirements


Required Courses – Credits: 45-51


Complete 45-51 credits of 600- or 700- level Computer Science (CS) courses.

Dissertation – Credits: 18


Degree Requirements


  1. Complete a minimum of 72 credits of coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  2. At least 42 credits must be in computer science (excluding dissertation).
  3. A minimum of 12 credits of 700-level Computer Science courses (excluding CS 791, CS 795, CS 798, CS 799)
  4. A maximum of 12 credits of 600-level Computer Science courses.
  5. A maximum of 6 credits of 600/700 level non-Computer Science courses (with departmental approval).
  6. A Ph.D. student can take at most 9 credits per semester from a combination of CS 795, CS 798, CS 799 and any other course. During the summer a Ph.D. student can take at most 9 credits overall, not per summer session, from a combination of CS 795, CS 798, CS 799, and any other course.
  7. Satisfactorily pass a written comprehensive examination within the first four semesters.
    1. The written comprehensive examination will be given twice a year. The comprehensives will assess the student’s breadth of knowledge through two examinations covering the six Core Areas listed below:​
      1. Automata and formal languages
      2. Algorithms and data structures
      3. Programming languages
      4. Compiler construction
      5. Computer architecture
      6. Operating systems
    2. A syllabus will be published well in advance of the exams listing the topics to be covered in each exam. Students are expected to take the comprehensive examination within two years of entering the Ph.D. program. All Ph.D. students are urged to take this examination as early as possible. Preference is given in the allocation of student financial support to those who have passed the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination may be attempted at most twice. Students who do not pass the comprehensive examination the first time must retake the examination at the next scheduled offering. Failure to pass the comprehensive examination after two attempts will normally lead to dismissal from the Ph.D. program. After passing the comprehensive examination, a research topic of mutual interest to the student and their proposed committee is selected. At this point, the student formally begins their research study.
  8. The qualifying examination is an oral examination designed to test the depth of the student’s knowledge in their area of research specialization.
    1. It must be taken before either:
      1. Two years after passing the comprehensive examination or
      2. Four years after entering the Ph.D. program.
    2. It generally focuses on their dissertation proposal. The main purpose of this exam is to evaluate the technical merits and feasibility of the student’s proposal for their Ph.D. dissertation.
    3. The student’s Ph.D. committee must conduct the examination. This committee consists of five faculty members of whom one must be from outside the Department of Computer Science. The student’s advisor is the chairperson of this committee. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
    4. The student must prepare a dissertation proposal before taking this examination. The student’s advisor should have already approved this proposal. This proposal must be given to the Ph.D. committee members at least two weeks before the date of the qualifying exam. The proposal must contain a discussion of the background literature on the problem area, description of the specific topic of research proposal approach, feasibility arguments, the objective of the research project, and a list of references.
    5. The student begins the exam with a presentation of the dissertation proposal. The remaining time is used for discussion and asking questions to determine if the student has sufficient depth of knowledge to carry out the proposed research.
    6. The examination cannot be taken more than twice. After successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student is advanced to candidacy for the doctoral degree.
  9. Satisfactorily pass a dissertation proposal defense by the end of year 4.
  10. The candidate must prepare a dissertation on their research. The doctoral dissertation should represent a significant original research contribution to the field of computer science and be publishable in a recognized refereed journal.
  11. After completion of the dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral defense of their dissertation. The candidate must make the final changes, if any, in the dissertation within three months from the date of the oral defense. A candidate can defend the dissertation no more than twice. Each member of the committee must approve the final dissertation.
  12. Maintain a satisfactory rate of progress and a yearly progress report must be submitted. To maintain satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program a student must:
    1. Pass the comprehensive examination within 4 semesters of entering the Ph.D. program.
    2. Maintain a minimum grade point average required by the College of Engineering.
    3. Pass the qualifying examination within four years of entering the Ph.D. program.
    4. Maintain satisfactory progress towards research.
    5. Those who enter the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within eight years. If these requirements are not met, the department may place the student on academic probation or drop him/her from the Ph.D. program. Students may be released from up to 9 credits of classes towards completion of the M.S. degree as long as the average G.P.A for these classes taken as part of the undergraduate program is a 3.0 or above.

Graduation Requirements


The student must submit and successfully defend their dissertation by the posted deadline. The defense must be advertised and is open to the public.

After the dissertation defense, the student must electronically submit a properly formatted pdf copy of their dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once the dissertation format has been approved by the Graduate College, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest. Deadlines for dissertation defenses, format check submissions, and the final ProQuest submission can be found here.

Students may apply for graduation up to two semesters prior to completing their degree requirements. All required forms must be submitted to the graduate college via the Grad Rebel Gateway.

Plan Graduation Requirements


Refer to your subplan for Graduation Requirements.

Subplan 1: Post-Master’s
Subplan 2: Post-Bachelor’s
Subplan 3: Integrated BS-PhD

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