Sep 22, 2023  
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog 

Computer Science Ph.D.

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Admission Requirements - Doctoral Degree Program

In addition to the requirements of the Graduate College, applicants for admission to the Ph.D. program in computer science must meet the following:


  1. A GPA of 3.30 (on a 4.00 scale) or higher in postbaccalaureate course work is required for admission. Students entering with a bachelor degree must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher for the courses at 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 1100 on the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. All students applying for a GA position must also submit the GRE Computer Science subject test (C29) score. Official score reports from the last five years are acceptable.


Degree Requirements

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 this field.

To successfully complete the Ph.D. program, a student must fulfill all the Graduate College degree requirements and the following requirements:

  1. Complete 48 credits of course work. (72 credits with bachelor degree)
  2. Satisfactorily pass a written comprehensive examination within the first four semesters.
  3. Satisfactorily pass a dissertation proposal defense by the end of year 4.
  4. Prepare a dissertation that must be acceptable to his or her Ph.D. committee.
  5. Satisfactorily pass an oral defense of the dissertation.
  6. Maintain a satisfactory rate of progress and a yearly progress report must be submitted.


Course Requirements

A student entering the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree in computer science is required to take at least 48 credits of course work subject to the following conditions:

  1. At least 42 credits must be in computer science.
  2. At least 18 credits of CS 799 - Dissertation Research 
  3. A minimum of 12 credits of 700 level Computer Science courses (excluding CS 799 credits)
  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).

A student entering the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree is required to take at least 24 extra credits of 600-and 700-level computer science courses, following the above guidelines, in addition to the 48 credits delineated above.

The Comprehensive Examination

The written comprehensive examination will be given twice a year. The comprehensives will assess the student’s breadth of knowledge through three examinations covering the six Core Areas listed below and another examination in two other areas of his or her choice.

Core Areas

  1. Automata and formal languages; Algorithms and data structures
  2. Programming languages; Compiler construction
  3. Computer architecture; Operating systems

Application Areas

  1. Artificial intelligence
  2. Computer graphics and image processing
  3. Computer simulation and networks
  4. Data base systems
  5. Software engineering and reliability
  6. Document analysis
  7. Networks and distributed computing
  8. Geometric applications

The level of the examination is that of 600-level and 700-level courses in each area. 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 his/her proposed committee is selected. At this point, the student formally begins his/her research study.

The Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is an oral examination designed to test the depth of the student’s knowledge in his or her area of research specialization. It must be taken before either (a) two years after passing the comprehensive examination or (b) four years after entering the Ph.D. program. It generally focuses on his/her dissertation proposal. The main purpose of this exam is to evaluate the technical merits and feasibility of the student’s proposal for his/her Ph.D. dissertation. 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 school of computer science. The student’s advisor is the chairperson of this committee. The faculty member from outside the school is selected by the Graduate College from three faculty members who are suggested by the student in consultation with his or her advisor. 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. 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. 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.

Preparation of Dissertation

The candidate must prepare a dissertation on his or her 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.

Oral Defense

After completion of the dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral defense of his/her 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.

Satisfactory Progress

To maintain satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program a student must:

  1. Pass the comprehensive examination within 2.50 years 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. 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.

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