This is the first version of the 2021-22 General Catalog. The final edition and the historical PDF will be published during the fall semester.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in computer science emphasizes preparation for research and teaching in academic settings or for research in private, industrial, or government laboratories.

Current and prospective graduate students should consult the Computer Science Graduate Handbook, available from the department's office and its website. The handbook provides detailed information about specific degree requirements, such as required courses, examinations, and dissertation requirements.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in computer science requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit, three examinations (qualifying, comprehensive, and final), and a written dissertation. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00. Consult the Computer Science Graduate Handbook for detailed information about Ph.D. requirements and graduate study policies.

Basic Ph.D. requirements are as follows.

Core Requirements

This course:
CS:5350Design and Analysis of Algorithms3
And one of these:
CS:4330Theory of Computation3
CS:5340Limits of Computation3

Breadth

Students must complete at least three of the following courses, with at least one course selected from each area (9 s.h.).

Systems and Software

CS:4640Computer Security3
CS:4980Topics in Computer Science II (section approved by advisor)3
CS:5610High Performance Computer Architecture3

Networks and Distributed Systems

CS:4980Topics in Computer Science II (section approved by advisor)3
CS:5620Distributed Systems and Algorithms3
CS:5630Cloud Computing Technology3

Programming Languages and Compilers

CS:4980Topics in Computer Science II (section approved by advisor)3
CS:5810Formal Methods in Software Engineering3
CS:5850Programming Language Foundations3
CS:5860Lambda Calculus and Applications3

With departmental approval, new courses or specific section offerings of CS:4980 Topics in Computer Science II also may satisfy a given area requirement.

Practice

Students must complete at least one 3 s.h. course with significant practical or implementation-oriented content. Each semester the department designates courses that satisfy this requirement. The following are typical selections.

CS:4400Database Systems3
CS:4420Artificial Intelligence3
CS:4440Web Mining3
CS:4470Health Data Analytics3
CS:4500Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction3
CS:4630Mobile Computing3
CS:4700High Performance and Parallel Computing3
CS:4720Optimization Techniques3
CS:4980Topics in Computer Science II (section approved by advisor)3
CS:5800Fundamentals of Software Engineering3
CS:5990Individualized Research or Programming Project3

Cognate Area

In consultation with their advisor, students are required to select three courses, totaling 9 s.h. or more, that constitute coherent coverage of an external cognate area; the courses need not be offered by the same department. Choices include, but are not limited to, mathematics, statistics, genetics, biology, and engineering disciplines.

Colloquium

Students must earn at least 4 s.h. in the following.

CS:6000Research Seminar: Colloquium Series (must enroll at least four times for 1 s.h. each)4

Responsible Conduct of Research Requirement

Students must complete this course within their first two years; it is offered in spring semesters.

This course:
CS:7270Computing Research Ethics1

Electives

Students fill their remaining semester hours with a selection of computer science graduate courses numbered 4300 or above and graduate courses outside of the Department of Computer Science, approved by their advisor.

Qualifying Exam

Students are required to pass a qualifying examination by the end of their second year of graduate study. Once students select a topic in consultation with their advisor, they are assigned a three-member faculty examination panel by the department. Then they prepare a written prospectus for review by the committee, followed by an oral presentation.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive examination is an evaluation of a student's mastery of a research area near completion of formal coursework, and before preparation of the dissertation. The exam may be written, oral, or both, at the department's discretion, and is administered by a faculty committee. The comprehensive exam typically should be completed by the end of a student's third year and no later than the end of the fourth year in the Ph.D. program.

Dissertation Proposal

At least six months prior to the final exam, a student must form a dissertation committee and circulate a formal thesis proposal to the committee. The proposal should describe the research performed to date, related work, and outline the expected thesis results. A student must argue the originality and significance of the expected results to the committee in a manner consistent with the advisor's counsel, which may or may not include an oral presentation.

Possible outcomes of a thesis proposal are that the committee finds the proposal satisfactory; or the committee suggests modifications, and within a few weeks after the proposal defense, the student and committee reach a consensus by email or in face-to-face meetings on a modified set of expected thesis results; or the committee asks the student to redo their proposal, likely with a fresh proposal document and oral presentation, giving the student enough time to address the committee's concerns.

Dissertation

Each student must write a dissertation, a significant, original contribution to the field of computer science. The dissertation must be prepared in accordance with the format specified on the Graduate College Thesis and Dissertation website.

Final Oral Examination

Once the dissertation is complete and has been reviewed by the student's committee, a final oral examination is administered on campus. This examination must take place no sooner than the semester following successful completion of the comprehensive examination and no later than five years after completion of the comprehensive exam.

Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, the applicant's statement about background and purpose, and scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. Students need not have a master's degree to begin the Ph.D. program or to be granted the doctoral degree. A student admitted without a master's degree may choose to be granted an M.S. or the M.C.S. while working toward the doctorate.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

Many graduates obtain positions in industry research laboratories, such as Amazon, Disney, Google, Samsung, and Yahoo, or in government research laboratories. Others pursue research and teaching careers in higher education, with some starting their careers in postdoctoral positions at universities before seeking employment in tenure-track positions, and some are employed as faculty with more teaching-oriented positions. A few recent Ph.D. graduates have founded or joined start-up companies.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Computer Science, Ph.D.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
72 s.h. must be graduate level coursework; up to 33 s.h. of graduate transfer credits allowed upon approval. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a  
 Hours0
First Year
Any Semester
Qualifying Exam b  
 Hours0
Fall
CS:5350 Design and Analysis of Algorithms 3
CS:5340
Limits of Computation
or Theory of Computation
3
Breadth Requirement Course c 3
CS:6000 Research Seminar: Colloquium Series d 1
 Hours10
Spring
Breadth Requirement Course c 3
Breadth Requirement Course c 3
Practice Requirement Course e 3
CS:7270 Computing Research Ethics f 1
 Hours10
Second Year
Fall
Cognate Area Course g 3
Cognate Area Course g 3
Cognate Area Course g 3
CS:6000 Research Seminar: Colloquium Series d 1
 Hours10
Spring
Elective h 3
Elective h 3
Elective h 3
CS:6000 Research Seminar: Colloquium Series d 1
 Hours10
Third Year
Any Semester
Comprehensive Exam i  
 Hours0
Fall
Elective h 3
Elective h 3
Elective h 3
CS:6000 Research Seminar: Colloquium Series d 1
 Hours10
Spring
Elective h 3
Elective h 3
Elective h 3
Elective h 1
 Hours10
Fourth Year
Fall
Dissertation Proposal Defense j  
CS:7990 Research for Dissertation 7
 Hours7
Spring
CS:7990 Research for Dissertation 6
Final Oral Exam k  
 Hours6
 Total Hours73