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The doctoral program in computer science provides students with a deep grounding in the fundamental principles and practice of computer science through core and elective coursework. The program also prepares students to conduct novel research that advances the state of the art in the field of computer science.  Students conduct research projects under the direction of a faculty mentor, culminating in the defense of a doctoral dissertation.  Graduates of the program are expected to excel in research, teaching, and the practice of computer science.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants must have earned a Baccalaureate degree from an accredited university. Students apply through the Graduate School by submitting an application and the following supporting materials:

  • Official transcripts of all previous academic work.
  • Official scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • Official scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if required.
  • Personal Statement of Purpose.
  • A minimum of two letters of recommendation.
  • A CV/resume with evidence of other relevant experience.

Depending on qualifications for study, students may need to complete leveling coursework at the undergraduate level. These courses are not applied towards the degree. Applicants must be able  to demonstrate knowledge of programming in a high-level language such as Java or C++, including knowledge of data structures and algorithms. This can be demonstrated by completing CS 2302 Data Structures Data Structures with a B or better, or by completing equivalent coursework or certifications as approved by the program committee.  Additional leveling courses may be required as prerequisites for specific graduate courses, or on a case-by-case basis depending on the qualifications of the student.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework beyond the bachelor's degree, and 36 credit hours of research, seminar, and dissertation courses. Students who enter the program with a relevant Master's degree qualify for reduced coursework. All courses must be taken at the 5000-level or above, unless specifically approved by the graduate advisor. The coursework and research credit requirements are summarized in the following table.

Table 1 summarizes the degree requirements. The descriptions follow.

Table 1: Degree Requirements Summary
Core Courses9
Breadth Courses12
Technical Electives12
Interdisciplinary Electives3
Doctoral Research27
Dissertation6
Doctoral Seminar3
Total Hours72

Core Courses (9 credit hours):

The following three (3) core courses are required for all students, and must be completed with a B average or better.

CS 6392Graduate Research Methods3
CS 6315Theory of Computation3
CS 6350Advanced Algorithms3
Total Hours9

Breadth Courses (12 credit hours):

To fulfill the breadth requirement, students must complete at least one course from four of the following five areas of compute science.  All courses must be completed with a B average or better.

Area 1: Systems
CS 5340Advanced Operating Systems3
CS 6341Adv Computer Architecture3
CS 5313Computer Networks3
Area 2: Security
CS 5352Computer Security3
CS 5375Software Reverse Engineering3
CS 5376Comp. Dec Making & Risk Anal3
CS 5377Cyber-Sec for Critical Op Tech3
Area 3: Software Development
CS 5382Model-Based Software Devlpmnt3
CS 5385Software Requirements Engr3
CS 5386Software Architecture & Design3
CS 5387Software Integration and V&V3
Area 4: Intelligent and Interactive Systems
CS 5314Artificial Intelligence I3
CS 5317Human-Computer Interaction3
CS 6303Logical Foundations of CS3
Area 5: Data Management and Analytics
CS 5322Topics in Adv Database Systems3
CS 5361Machine Learning3
CS 5362Data Mining3
 

Technical Electives (12) credit hours:

Students must select at least 12 credit hours of technical elective courses in computer science. These courses should be selected in consultation with the research advisor and graduate program advisor to develop technical depth in the student's specific area ofresearch interest.

Interdisciplinary Elective (3) credit hours:

Students must take at least one graduate-level course outside of the computer science department to develop exposure to interdisciplinary topics that complement the student's area of study.

Doctoral Research (27) credit hours:

Students must take at least 27 hours of doctoral research credits.

Dissertation (6) credit hours:

Students must take a minimum of six (6) hours of dissertation credits.  These credits may only be taken after passing the comprehensive examination (dissertation proposal).

The dissertation must demonstrate competence in scholarly exposition and the ability to do independent research. It should present original investigations at an advanced level on a significant problem in computer science and should provide the basis for a publishable contribution to the research literature in the field. The rules for the dissertation and dissertation defense will follow the guidelines set forth by the Graduate School at UTEP.

Doctoral Seminar (3) credit hours:

Students are expected to actively participate in departmental seminars and other scholarly activities.  During the program, they must complete at least 3 hours of seminar credits.

Students Entering with a Relevant MS Degree

Students entering with a relevant Master's degree must satisfy the core requirements of the PhD program through coursework or transfer credits and must complete a minimum of 15 credit hours of technical coursework in the PhD program.  The specific coursework will be determined in consultation with the graduate advisor.

Examinations

Doctoral students must complete a qualifying examination, a comprehensive examination, and a final dissertation defense.  The detailed requirements for each examination can be found on the departmental website.

The qualifying examination is designed to ensure that students are prepared to conduct research at the PhD level.  This includes assessing graduate-level mastery of fundamental concepts in computer science, as well as written and oral communication skills.

The comprehensive examination is a written and oral defense of a dissertation proposal.  This is designed to ensure that the student has identified a relevant research problem, outlined a feasible and sound approach to address the problem/research questions, and acquired sufficient depth of knowledge in the topic area to perform new and significant research. Upon successful

completion of the examination, the chair of the student's dissertation committee will inform the graduate school that the student is ready to begin work on his or her final dissertation, and the student will be admitted to candidacy.

The culmination of the PhD is writing and defending a dissertation.  Students must submit a written dissertation following the guidelines published by the graduate school and defend the dissertation in a public defense before an approved dissertation committee.

Cybersecurity  Certificate

The department also offers a certificate in cyber security that can be obtained in combination with the PhD degree if the student selects the necessary courses as electives.  See the description of  the certificate program for the detailed requirements.

Degree Plan

Required Credits: 72

 
PhD in Computer Science Program (All courses require a grade of C or better) 9
Required Courses:
Core Courses (9) credit hours (B average is required for the following thee (3) courses):
CS 5315Theory of Computation3
CS 5350Advanced Algorithms3
CS 5392Graduate Research Methods3
Breadth Courses (12) credit hours (All courses require a B or better):12
Area 1: Systems
CS 5340Advanced Operating Systems3
CS 6341Adv Computer Architecture3
CS 5313Computer Networks3
Area 2: Security
CS 5352Computer Security3
CS 5375Software Reverse Engineering3
CS 5376Comp. Dec Making & Risk Anal3
CS 5377Cyber-Sec for Critical Op Tech3
Area 3: Software Development
CS 5382Model-Based Software Devlpmnt3
CS 5385Software Requirements Engr3
CS 5386Software Architecture & Design3
CS 5387Software Integration and V&V3
Area 4: Intelligent and Interactive Systems
CS 5314Artificial Intelligence I3
CS 5317Human-Computer Interaction3
CS 6303Logical Foundations of CS3
Area 5: Data Management and Analytics
CS 5322Topics in Adv Database Systems3
CS 5361Machine Learning3
CS 5362Data Mining3
Technical Electives (12) credit hours:
Select twelve additional credit hours of technical electives in CS, Courses should be selected in consultation with the research advisor and graduate program advisor.
CS 5313Computer Networks3
CS 5314Artificial Intelligence I3
CS 5317Human-Computer Interaction3
CS 5319Topics in Language Processing3
CS 5322Topics in Adv Database Systems3
CS 5334Parallel & Concurrent Program3
CS 5339Secured Web-Based Systems3
CS 5340Advanced Operating Systems3
CS 5351Interval Computations3
CS 5352Computer Security3
CS 5353Topics/Emerg.Comput Paradigms3
CS 5354Topics/Intelligent Computing3
CS 5361Machine Learning3
CS 5362Data Mining3
CS 5363Computer Vision3
CS 5370Ethical & Legal Issues in Tech3
CS 5371Software Safety & Risk Anlysis3
CS 5372Spec. & Desgn of Real-Time Sys3
CS 5373Graduate Student Internship3
CS 5374Software Construction3
CS 5375Software Reverse Engineering3
CS 5376Comp. Dec Making & Risk Anal3
CS 5377Cyber-Sec for Critical Op Tech3
CS 5380Software Engineering3
CS 5381Topics in Software Engineering3
CS 5382Model-Based Software Devlpmnt3
CS 5383Topics in Software Assurance3
CS 5385Software Requirements Engr3
CS 5386Software Architecture & Design3
CS 5387Software Integration and V&V3
CS 5388Software Project Management3
CS 5389Software Engineering Practicum3
CS 5390Special Topic Computer Science3
CS 5391Individual Studies3
CS 5394Graduate Research3
CS 5396Graduate Projects3
CS 5397Graduate Projects3
CS 5398Master's Thesis3
CS 5399Master's Thesis3
CS 5694Graduate Research6
CS 6194Doctoral Research1
CS 6294Doctoral Research2
CS 6303Logical Foundations of CS3
CS 6315Theory of Computation3
CS 6341Adv Computer Architecture3
CS 6350Advanced Algorithms3
CS 6390Special Topics3
CS 6391Individual Studies3
CS 6392Graduate Research Methods3
CS 6393
CS 6394Doctoral Research3
CS 6398Dissertation3
CS 6399Dissertation3
Interdisciplinary Electives (3 credit hours):3
Students must take at least one graduate-level course outside of the computer science department to develop exposure to interdisciplinary topics.
Doctoral Research (27 credit hours):27
CS 6194Doctoral Research1
CS 6294Doctoral Research2
CS 6394Doctoral Research3
CS 6694Doctoral Research6
Dissertation (6 credit hours)6
CS 6398
CS 6399
Dissertation
and Dissertation
3
Total Hours72