About the program

The Computer Science program educates students to become world-class researchers and thought leaders in the field of computer science. The program is designed to prepare the student for a career in academia, industrial research or advanced positions in the industry.

The program offers two degrees: the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree and the M.S. degree The M.S. degree can be obtained by taking courses only or by a combination of courses and writing a thesis. Students who are interested in a research career are encouraged to apply directly to the Ph.D. program. An M.S. degree is not a pre-requisite to enroll in the Ph.D. program.

A student who completes the Ph.D. degree will have demonstrated original research that is published in world-class prestigious conferences, journals, and other research forums. This degree is appropriate for those who want to pursue a career in research either in academia or industry. A student who completes the M.S. degree by taking courses and writing a thesis will have demonstrated the ability to perform directed research and complete a research project. This degree is appropriate for students who wish to pursue a

Ph.D. degree later. A student who completes the M.S. degree by taking only courses will have demonstrated strong performance in graduate-level courses that prepare the student for a career in advanced research and development in the industry.

The scope of research in the Computer Science program at KAUST includes the following areas:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Computational Biosciences
  • Computer Systems and Databases
  • High-Performance Computing
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Visual Computing


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree is designed to prepare students for research careers in academia and industry. It is offered exclusively as a full-time program.

There is a minimum residency requirement at KAUST of three and a half years for students entering with a B.S. Degree and two and a half years for students entering with an M.S. Degree. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved on all doctoral coursework. Individual courses require a minimum of a ‘B-‘ to earn course credit.

The Ph.D. Degree includes the following steps:

  • Securing a Dissertation Advisor.
  • Successful completion of Program Coursework.
  • Passing the Qualifying Examination.
  • Passing the Dissertation Proposal Defense to obtain candidacy status.
  • Preparing, submitting and successfully defending a Doctoral Dissertation

Ph.D. Course Requirements

The required coursework varies for students entering the Ph.D. Degree with a B.S. Degree or a relevant M.S. Degree. Students holding a B.S. Degree must complete all Program Core/Mandatory Courses and Elective Courses outlined in the M.S. Degree section and are also required to complete the Ph.D. courses. Students entering with a B.S. Degree may also qualify to earn the M.S. Degree by satisfying the M.S. Degree requirements; however, it is the student’s responsibility to declare their intentions to graduate with an M.S.

Students entering the Ph.D. Degree with a relevant M.S. Degree must complete the requirements, though additional courses may be required by the Dissertation Advisor.

Ph.D. Courses

  • At least two 300-level courses
  • Graduate Seminar 398 (non-credit): All students are required to register and receive a Satisfactory grade for every semester the program requires they attend.
  • Winter Enrichment Program: Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least one full Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) as part of the degree requirements. Students who completed WEP requirements while earning the M.S. Degree are not required to enroll in a full WEP for the second time in the Ph.D. Degree.

Students entering the program with an M.S. Degree from KAUST may transfer unused coursework toward the Ph.D. program requirements subject to program level approval. Students transferring from another university’s Ph.D. program may receive some Dissertation Research and Coursework credit on a case-by-case basis for related work performed at the original Institution upon approval by the Dean. However, such students must still satisfy the Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Proposal Defense requirements at KAUST.

For more information, access the Program Guide.

Program taught in:
  • English
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

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Last updated August 19, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Open Enrollment
30 - 42 months
Fully Funded Scholarship + Monthly Allowance
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