Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

The PhD degree in Computer Science requires 72 credit hours of course work and research credits. Required course work provides a strong background in computer science. A course of study leading to the PhD degree can be designed either for the student who has completed the master's degree or for the student who has completed the bachelor's degree. The following five courses are required of all students. Students who have taken equivalent courses at another institution may satisfy these requirements by transfer.

  • CSCI-406 Algorithms
  • CSCI-442 Operating Systems
  • CSCI-561 Theoretical Foundations of Computer Science
  • CSCI-564 Advanced Computer Architecture
  • SYGN-502 Introduction to Research Ethics

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

Students desiring to take the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam must have:

(if required by your advisor) taken SYGN 501 The Art of Science (previously or concurrently),
taken at least four CSCI 500-level courses at CSM (only one CSCI599 is allowed), and
maintained a GPA of 3.5 or higher in all CSCI 500-level courses taken.

The Ph.D. Qualifying Exam must be taken during the fourth semester of study. Exception must be formally requested via an email to the Qualifying Exam Committee Chair and approved by the Graduate Committee. The PhD Qualifying Exam is offered once a semester. Each Ph.D. Qualifying Exam comprises TWO research areas, chosen by the student. The exam consists of the following steps:

Step 1. A student indicates intention to take the CS Ph.D.Qualifying Exam by choosing two research interest areas from the following list: algorithms, education, high-performance computing, human-centered robotics, image processing, machine learning, and networks. This list is subject to change, depending on the current faculty research profile. Students must inform the CS Qualifying Exam Graduate Committee Chair of their intention to take the exam no later than the last day of classes the semester before planning to take the exam.

Step 2. The PhD Qualifying Exam Chair creates an exam committee of (at least) four appropriate faculty. The exam committee assigns the student deliverables for both research areas chosen. The deliverables will be some combination from the following list:

  • read a set of technical papers, make a presentation, and answer questions;
  • complete a hands-on activity (e.g., develop research software) and write a report;
  • complete a set of take-home problems;
  • write a literature survey (i.e., track down references, separate relevant from irrelevant papers); and
  • read a set of papers on research skills (e.g., ethics, reviewing) and answer questions.

Step 3. The student must complete all deliverables no later than the Monday of Dead Week.

Step 4. Each member of the exam committee makes a recommendation on the deliverables from the following list: strongly support, support, and do not support.To pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam, the student must have at least TWO "strongly supports" and no more than ONE "do not support". The student is informed of the decision no later than the Monday after finals week. A student can only fail the exam one time. If a second failure occurs, the student has unsatisfactory academic performance that results in an immediate, mandatory dismissal of the graduate student from the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. Thesis Proposal

After passing the Qualifying Examination, the Ph.D. student is allowed up to 18 months to prepare a written Thesis Proposal and present it formally to the student's Thesis Committee and other interested faculty.

Admission to Candidacy

In addition to the Graduate School requirements, full-time PhD students must complete the following requirements within two calendar years of enrolling in the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. Thesis Defense

At the conclusion of the student’s PhD program, the student will be required to make a formal presentation and defense of her/his thesis research. A student must "pass" this defense to earn a PhD degree.


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Last Updated: 05/17/2017 10:56:25