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Computer Science

Doctor of Philosophy

Ph.D. degree requirements include 90 semester hours of graduate-level credit, typically distributed as 30 hours of master’s degree work; 24-30 hours of Ph.D.-level coursework; and 30-36 hours for research, culminating in a Ph.D. dissertation. At least 15 credit hours of Ph.D. work must be at the 800 or 900 level. Students must complete all work within seven years. International students may have attendance requirements to maintain their immigration status.

Program of Study
The Graduate School requires all graduate students to file a program of study. This a formal list of courses the student intends to take to fulfill the degree requirements.

The program of study consists of the following information:

  • Name of major professor
  • Names of all members of the supervisory committee
  • Proposed title of dissertation
  • List of graduate credits taken and to be taken (totaling 90 credit hours)
Students who bypass the master's degree must take one course from each of the following five areas:
  • Implementation: CIS 690, 706, 722, or 736
  • Languages: CIS 705, 706, 771, or 806
  • Systems: CIS 720, 721, 725, 726, 750, or 751
  • Structures: CIS 730, 740, or 761
  • Theory: CIS 770 or 775

At least 15 credit hours must be at 800 level or higher. For more details on the program of study please refer to the Ph.D Handbook.

Breadth Requirement
The breadth requirement involves demonstrating proficiency in the six areas listed below, by either passing an exam or taking a course. The following courses can take the place of an exam:

  • Operating Systems: CIS 520, CIS 720, CIS 722, CIS 726, CIS 750, CIS 751
  • Database Systems: CIS 560 or CIS 761
  • Algorithm Analysis: CIS 575 or CIS 775
  • Formal Language Theory: CIS 570 or CIS 770
  • Programming Languages: CIS 505 or CIS 705
  • Software Engineering: CIS 641, CIS 740 or CIS 744

If using a course to satisfy the breadth requirement, the student must receive an A in each 500-level course and a B+ or better in each 700-level course used to satisfy the breadth requirement (B+/B/B grading will be done for the graduate courses listed above for the purposes of the breadth exams.).

Students must complete the breadth requirement by the end of their third semester. At the beginning of each semester, students wanting to take a breadth exam must submit the Ph.D. Breadth Exam Request Form. Exams will be scheduled each November and April.

Additional Resources

Breadth Advising Form
(for students who are completing the breadth requirement)

Candidate Advising Form
(for students who have passed the RPE and have been admitted into candidacy)

Program of Study

Program of Study Change Form

Program of Study Checklist

Program/Committee Change Form

Preliminary Ballot Request
(Admission to Candidacy)

Approval to Schedule Final Exam Ballot

Research Proficiency Exam (RPE) Request Form

RPE Advising Form
(for students who have completed the breadth requirement and are working on their RPE)

Graduate Certificate Completion




Apply to graduate school
Minimum Admission Requirements
  • GRE scores (Institution Code: 6334, Department Code: 0402)
  • Minimum scores: Verbal – 146; Quantitative – 151; Analytical – 3.0
  • Graduation from an accredited institution with a baccalaureate degree in computer science or closely related field. 
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 out of 4.0.
International Students
  • Official TOEFL scores (Institution Code: 6334, Department Code: 78)
  • Must be at least 79 (internet based), visit the Graduate School for more details
Application Deadlines
Summer – January 8
Fall – January 8
Spring – August 1