Program of Study

The program of study should be designed to provide appropriate depth and support for the student's area of interest (concentration) and to prepare the student for research in his/her chosen area. The program of study is proposed by the student after consultation with his/her major and minor professors and must be approved by his/her Graduate Committee and the Graduate Coordinator.

The course work will consist of not less than forty-three credit hours of applicable graduate courses, plus dissertation and internal or external minor. The forty-three credit hours includes a graduate seminar (one credit), but excludes master's thesis, master's project, and dissertation. Graduate courses completed as part of the Master's degree or graduate courses completed prior to entry into the Ph.D. program may, when approved by the student's Graduate Committee, be applied to the Ph.D. degree requirements. The Committee's decision will be documented by an "Attachment Sheet for Program of Study" form. The program of study will cover remaining course work requirements. A Ph.D. student's program of study may include 6000-level prerequisite courses [effective Spring 2008]. In addition, the program of study must contain the following specific elements:

Major Course Work

The major course work requires a minimum of 43 credit hours. It must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. The program of study must include at least two full graduate courses from the Theory of Computation area:
    • CSE 8813 Theory of Computation
    • CSE 8833 Algorithms
    • CSE 8843 Complexity of Sequential and Parallel Algorithms
    • CSE 8990 Special Topics in Computer Science on a topic which has been designated in advance by the Department as a theory course fulfilling this requirement.
  2. At least four full graduate courses from one area (the area of concentration) below, and at least two full graduate courses from one other area below (the supporting area):
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Software Engineering
    • High Performance Computing
    • Graphics and Visualization
    • Computer Security
    • Courses applying directly to the student's research and approved by the student's Graduate Committee may be included in the research area course work, even if they are offered from another area or by another department.
  3. The program of study must include at least three of the following six Fundamental Areas courses:
    • CSE 6153 Data Communications and Computer Networks
    • CSE 6163 Designing Parallel Algorithms
    • CSE 6214 Introduction to Software Engineering
    • CSE 6413 Computer Graphics
    • CSE 6503 Database Management Systems
    • CSE 6633 Artificial Intelligence
    • A student who has taken any of these six courses for undergraduate credit may use the undergraduate course to meet the graduate Fundamental Areas requirement and substitute another graduate-level course approved by the student's graduate committee.
  4. The program of study must include the departmental seminar (one credit hour):
    • CSE 8011 Graduate Seminar


A minimum of 20 hours of dissertation credits is required.

Dissertation Proposal

  1. Purpose: The dissertation proposal provides the student with the opportunity to formally present his/her dissertation proposal to the Graduate Committee. The proposal also allows for questioning by the Committee to clarify the objectives of the proposal, and allows for adjustment of objectives until agreement is reached between the student and the Graduate Committee.
  2. To be taken: After taking the preliminary examination.
  3. To be offered: Upon arrangement with the Graduate Committee.
  4. Format: The student will submit a written proposal to the Graduate Committee at least one week prior to the oral presentation. The format of the proposal shall conform to the University's Standard for Preparing Theses and Dissertations, and the Department's format standard. (The signature page will list only Committee members.)
    • The presentation shall consist of an oral presentation of the dissertation proposal that is open to the student's Graduate Committee only. At this time, the student and his/her Committee may negotiate specific changes in the proposed work.
  5. Contents: Material related to the student's intended area of research. The written proposal should contain a literature review in the proposed research area, a clear thesis statement, a description of the significance of the proposed area to the field, a proposed procedure for the conduct of the research and publication plan.
  6. Grading: The acceptability of the proposal will be determined by the Committee.