PhD Computer & Information Sciences

2024 through2025

Ph.D. in Computer and Information Sciences

About the Program

Degree Requirements

Course requirements

Most of the courses that PhD students will take will be geared toward preparing the student for the Breadth exams, and for whatever other preparation the advisor deems necessary. There are some specific requirements for courses, as specified below.

Number of credits

Students must take at least 60 credits in the CDM 420 - CDM 699 range, including at least 12 credits of CSC 699 (or equivalent as approved by advisor). Non-CDM courses may be substituted with permission of the advisor.

CSC 426

Students must take CSC 426 in their first two years.

CSC 500

Students must take at least two quarters (4 credits) of CSC 500 in their first two years.

Other requirements for conditionally admitted students

Students who do not have a master's degree are considered "conditionally admitted" students. These students must complete an additional 40 credits (typically 10 courses) of graduate coursework, including 36 credits (9 courses) of CDM courses in the range of 420 - 598. No courses under CSC 420 shall count toward the PhD degree. Non-CDM courses may be substituted with permission of the advisor.

Grade requirements

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or better to remain in good standing in the program. Any course grade below Bis unsatisfactory and will not be counted toward degree requirements.

Continuous enrollment

Students must remain continuously enrolled in CSC 701 (Full Time, 0 credits) or CSC 702 (Part Time, 0 credits) in Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters if they are not taking any other courses. CSC 701 is for students who are working on their doctoral work on a full-time basis during that quarter. CSC 702 is for those students working on their doctoral work on a part-time basis (e.g., if they also hold a full-time job).

Ph.D. Resources for current Ph.D. students.


Breadth Exams

Students must pass two Breadth Exams. Exams are administered in the second week of the Spring and Fall Quarters. Registration for the exams are due 30 days prior. If an exam is unsuccessful, the student is required to retake the Breadth Exam in that same area. Students may attempt a Breadth Exam twice. If a student fails a Breadth Exam twice, he or she will be dismissed from the program.

In consultation with their advisor, students in the Computing track can choose two exams from among the following.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automata Complexity and Computability
  • Data Analysis & Data Mining
  • Databases
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Networking
  • Programming Languages & Compilers
  • Software Engineering
  • Systems

In consultation with their advisor, students in the Information Systems and HCI track can choose two exams. One of the breadth exams must be selected from the following topic areas. The second breadth exam can be either one of the I-track exams listed below or a C-track exam from the previous list.

  • IS Analysis
  • IT Project Management
  • Information Security and Compliance
  • IT Policy, Strategy, and Management
  • E-Commerce Technology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


Students must complete a Depth examination in the chosen area of research. The Depth Exam must be completed before the Proposal Defense.

For the C-track, the specifics of the depth examination will be determined by the student's Dissertation Committee, who must all agree on the format of the exam and whether it was successfully completed.

The I-track Depth Exam is a take-home exam administered by the student's advisor. This exam covers research methodology and essential data analysis techniques. A common reading list is established by the I-track faculty for this exam.

The Dissertation

After the exams have been passed, the student must propose a significant original research project and successfully defend that proposal to the student's Dissertation Committee. Once the research has been completed, the student must hold a public defense to demonstrate to the Dissertation Committee that the work has been completed satisfactorily.

Time Limits

Full-time students

  • Year 1: (a) Pass at least 1 breadth exam or (b) show concrete evidence of initial research, such as a literature review, technical report, poster presentation at a conference, etc.
  • Year 2: (a) Pass both breadth exams and (b) show evidence of continuing research, such as a publication or conference presentation.
  • Years 3 to 5: Continue to demonstrate progress in research; submit additional publication(s) to reputable journals or conferences; and pass Proposal Defense.
  • No less than six months and no more than three years between Proposal Defense and the Dissertation Defense.

Conditionally admitted students will have an extra year to achieve these milestones.

Part-time students

  • No more than three years between enrollment in the doctoral program and completion of Breadth Examinations.
  • No more than five years between completion of Breadth Examinations and Proposal Defense.
  • No less than eight months and no more than five years between Proposal Defense and the Dissertation Defense.