Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science
The Ph.D. in Computer Science program is administered by the Graduate College. The Department of Computer Science has set up the policies and requirements for its Ph.D. program on the basis of the policies and requirements of all Ph.D. programs administered by the Graduate College. This document should answer most of the common questions about the Ph.D. in Computer Science Program. However, all readers are encouraged to consult with the Graduate Committee of the Computer Science Department as well as the Graduate College for further information.
The uniqueness of Our Ph.D. Program
Doctoral programs are fundamentally different from Bachelor's or Master's degree programs. Like other programs, doctoral students gain a base level of knowledge through coursework. The difference, however, comes with research. Whereas a Bachelor's or Master's student may undertake a research project, it merely provides a complement to the coursework and is clearly guided by a faculty advisor. Doctoral research is the focus of a doctoral student's studies. Doctoral research is much more self-guided and exploratory than research done in the other programs. Future employers typically select doctoral students on the quality and originality of their thesis research, not their grades in coursework. Reflecting this focus, the bulk of time and effort during a student's doctoral studies is spent on thesis research.
In the last thirty-plus years, computer science has developed into a rich academic discipline. But computers and computation also play a key role in many research disciplines, including (but not limited to) engineering, biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, and education. Against such a backdrop, our interdisciplinary Ph.D. program produces Computer Science professionals capable of teaching and performing original research at the university level as well as in industrial or other professional settings.
The interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Computer Science offers study in both traditional and cross-disciplinary areas such as bioinformatics and ecological modeling. Our faculty in Computer Science are involved in the forefront of research in data mining, distributed systems, and evolutionary & agent-based computing. Our interdisciplinary work cuts across all areas of campus, with current emphasis in bioinformatics, computational imaging, computational engineering, and ecological modeling. Our faculty publish in prestigious journals and conferences in Computer Science, have significant research grants from federal agencies (such as NSF, NIH, DOE, and DOD), and serve on editorial boards, conference committees, National Science Foundation review panels, and leading professional societies.
Doctoral students are expected to include courses from beyond the traditional realm of computer science. Students are encouraged to consider research topics that combine computer science with other disciplines. The Department has a broad range of secondary faculty appointments with primary interests in other fields who may be used as a student's thesis advisor.
Minimum Requirements for Admission into the Ph.D. Program
A Bachelor's degree and satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general section are required of all applicants. Applicants will be evaluated based on their potential for excellence in research, as judged from their academic background, test scores, relevant experience and letters of recommendation. We admit students who we believe are most likely to succeed and thrive in the program. See the next section for complete application packet requirements and deadlines.
Applicants whose native language is not English or whose formal education has been conducted in a language other than English must have a Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) score of 550 (or 213 with computer-based test or 90 with the Internet-based test) or above. To be considered for financial assistantship from the University, applicants must have a TOEFL score of 600 (or 250 with computer-based test or 100 with the Internet-based test) or above.
Applicants who have strong academic records in a different discipline and lack an acceptable computer science background (normally including at least courses in Data Structures, Computer Organization, and Programming Languages) may be accepted provisionally. Provisionally accepted students will be required to complete an approved program of remedial work within their first year of study.
Applying to the Ph.D. Program
A student interested in a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science must submit a complete application packet including:
- the application form
- complete collegiate transcripts
- statement of purpose and experience (available as part of the packet)
- three reference letters
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general scores
- Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) score if your native language is not English or if your formal education has been conducted in a language other than English.
About the School
The College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) is composed of a constellation of brilliant and vibrant departments and programs.