Doctor of Philosophy

in Computer Science

As a doctoral student in the computer science program, you'll be expected to pass a comprehensive oral and written examination, as well as complete a research dissertation.

Entrance Requirements

When applying for the program, you will have to submit a letter outlining tentative research interests and career goals along with GRE verbal, quantitative and analytical writing test scores. Admission into the Ph.D. program in Computer Science is granted by majority vote of the computer science graduate faculty, demonstration of supervisory interest by a faculty member, and approval of the vice provost of graduate education.

If you do not already have a graduate degree, in most cases you will be required to complete a Master of Science in computer science before entering the Ph.D. program. In select cases, you may be admitted into the Ph.D. program with just a undergraduate degree, but only at the discretion of department faculty. You will be expected to meet all requirements for both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs. Examination schedules for the Ph.D. program will apply.

Minimum requirements for admission

Visit the Graduate and International Admissions website for more information on admission requirements. You can also visit our CS Catalog page to find more specific requirements set forth by our department.

Knowledge of the following:

1. Strong math skills
2. Competency in a modern programming language
3. Computer science core including:
                   * Algorithms & Data Structures
                   * Computer Organization/Architecture
                   * Database & File Structures
                   * Discrete Mathematics & Automata
                   * Operating Systems
                   * Software Engineering

Qualifying Examination

To pass the Ph.D. qualifying examination, you must pass both a written and oral examination. The oral portions of the qualifying examination may each be taken no more than twice.

The Ph.D. qualifier consists of two parts.

Part 1 – Broad Knowledge

  • Student selects five 5000/6000-level CS lecture courses
    • Mandatory course: CS 5200 – Algorithms (unless CS 5200 was waived by the GPPC)
    • At least two additional 5000-level courses
    • Courses taken as part of Missouri S&T undergraduate curriculum also count
  • Non-qualified courses
    • Seminar/paper reading courses as determined by the GPPC
    • Courses taught by non-CS faculty are not allowed (faculty with courtesy appointments in the CS department are counted as CS faculty for this purpose)
  • Passing Criterion
    • A minimum grade of B on each course
    • A minimum GPA of 3.5 averaged on the five selected courses, taken during or before the first three semesters of the student’s Ph.D. program
    • When a student makes below B on CS 5200, offer one more attempt to make B or higher on each exam in CS 5200 in subsequent semester. If the student’s advisor teaches CS 5200, then the GPPC will provide and grade alternative comprehensive exams.

Part 2 – Research Readiness

  • The student must declare a dissertation advisor
  • Dissertation advisor
    • Provide a list of 10-15 papers fundamental to the student’s future research
    • This list is customized to the student’s research interest
  • GPPC
    • Provide feedback to the advisor regarding the quality of the papers (note that this is merely meant to ensure a high standard, not to second guess the advisor in regard appropriate papers)
  • Approve the final list

Research Qualifier Exam Committee

  • At least 3 faculty members including:
    • Dissertation advisor
    • At least one faculty member from GPPC
    • At least one faculty member who has closely related research expertise
    • All members must be graduate faculty
  • Dissertation advisor forms the exam committee
  • GPPC approves the final selection of the exam committee members
  • Written exam
    • Each committee member provides 2-3 questions based on the reading list
    • The questions need to be reviewed and agreed by the exam committee
  • Oral exam
    • A follow-up Q&A session where the committee members may ask any questions related to the selected papers and the written exam
  • The number of attempts: 2
  • Deadline
    • Must be completed by the end of the second year 
    • If the first attempt fails, the second attempt must wait for at least three months
  • Scheduling
    • The reading list is given to the student as early as possible
    • Within the deadline, a student can schedule the exam with the exam committee at any time
    • Once the questions are given to the student, the student has one week to complete the written exam
    • The oral exam will take place ideally within the first two weeks after the completion of the written exam

Research Readiness Approval

Research Proposal

You must present and receive approval of your research proposal before beginning research for your dissertation. An appropriate time for the presentation would be during the oral portion of the comprehensive exam. More information about this exam can be found in the comprehensive exam rubric.

You will also need to request permission at least two weeks prior to presenting your final dissertation so an announcement can be sent to the program's graduate faculty. More information about how dissertations are graded can be found in the dissertation rubric.

72 Hour Curriculum

72 hours

  • 15 hours 6000 level CS lecture courses
  • Three semesters of seminar course CS 6010
  • CS 5200 – Algorithms
  • At least 24 hours of research
  • At least 24 hours of courses
    • (Students who do not hold a master’s degree will be required to complete a minimum of seventy-two hours of graduate credit. The plan of study(Form 5/5-A) must include a minimum of thirty-six credit hours of 4000-, 5000-, and 6000-level lecture courses (1000/2000-level courses cannot be included). It is recommended that fifteen credit hours of the required coursework come from the group of 6000-level lecture courses. Additionally, a minimum of twenty-four credit hours of graduate research is required.)
  • Other courses prescribed by Ph.D. Committee
  • Qualifier exam
  • Research Readiness Presentation
  • Publication Requirement for PhD (Effective Fall 2018)
    • Before dissertation defense, two full research papers (e.g., not short, abstract or poster papers), substantially related to the dissertation, must be accepted for publication in Ph.D. committee approved reputable and peer-reviewed conferences or journals
    • In egregious cases, the GPPC can reject a conference or journal for not being reputable

72 hours (before fall 2012)

  • 18 hours 6000 level courses
  • Three hour out-of-department course
  • CS 5200 – Algorithms
  • At least 24 hours of research
  • At least 24 hours of courses
  • Other courses prescribed by Ph.D. Committee
  • Qualifier examination
  • Research Readiness Presentation.

Contact Information

Graduate Coordinator
Computer Science Department
Missouri University of Science and Technology
500 West 15th Street
325 Computer Science Building
Rolla, MO 65409-0350
Phone: 573-341-4491