Computer and Information Systems Graduate Programs
The Department of Computer and Information Sciences offers master’s (MS) and doctoral (PhD) programs. Computer Science is a vigorous and exciting field of research and study that continues to grow in importance. Our computer science programs are broad in scope and deal with software and hardware technology, the theory of computation, scientific computing, and their applications. Departmental research strengths include artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, computational theory, compiler optimization and compilation for parallel machines, natural-language processing, systems, networks, graphics and computer vision, rehabilitation engineering, software engineering, and symbolic mathematical computation, and robotics.
Computer Science Programs:
Cross-cutting Graduate Programs:
Computer Science Graduate Programs
Master of Science in Computer Science
The MS program prepares students for doctoral studies or for professional employment. It is normally completed in four semesters of full-time study.
In addition to satisfying the general requirements of the University, candidates for the Master of Science degree must satisfy both the departmental general requirements and the computer science course requirements.
An Application for Advanced Degree for the Master of Science degree should be filed with the Departmental Graduate Committee no later than the beginning of the semester in which the degree is expected. Application forms are available from the Office of Graduate and Professional Education.
A. Departmental General Requirements
The Departmental General Requirements include:
- At least 6 credits of the 30 credits used to satisfy the degree requirements must be 800-level CISC courses. Credits for independent study, research and master’s thesis do not count towards this requirement.
- A minimum grade average of 3.0 is required in the graduate courses used to satisfy the degree requirements. The University also requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all graduate courses taken including any not used towards the required 30 credits. Students are encouraged to explore graduate courses (600 level or higher) in other areas such as electrical engineering, mathematics, linguistics, statistics, and business and economics. Graduate courses outside of Computer and Information Sciences to be used towards meeting degree requirements require written approval of the Graduate Committee.
- Students are encouraged to participate in the research activities of the Department by taking CISC 666, CISC 866-Special Problems and Independent Study or CISC 868-Research. This is especially true of potential PhD students. No more than three credits of CISC 666, CISC 866 or CISC 868 (combined) may be applied toward meeting the degree requirements or used in satisfying the required minimum grade average without prior written approval from the Graduate Committee. (Exception for master’s thesis students-see later section.)
- Each semester all graduate students must explicitly register for CISC 890 – Colloquium and sign up and satisfactorily participate in one of the Department’s special research interest groups. One faculty member for each group will be responsible for overseeing satisfactory participation for each student on an individual basis (e.g., simply attending, giving a presentation) and will assign a pass/fail grade accordingly. Each MS student needs 3 semesters of passed CISC 890 to graduate. Special arrangements for part-time students and those who finish in less than 3 semesters will be made.
B. Computer Science Course Requirements
Breadth requirement courses:
Area 1: Theory
- Elements of the Theory of Computation (CISC 601)
- Logic in Computer Science (CISC 604)
- Algorithm Design and Analysis (CISC 621)
Area 2: Systems and Networks
- Computer Networks II (CISC 650)
- Computer Systems: Architecture (CISC 662)
- Operating Systems (CISC 663)
- Compiler Construction (CISC672)
Area 3: Software
- Computer Graphics (CISC 640)
- Software Engineering: Principles and Practices (CISC675)
- Artificial Intelligence (CISC 681)
Area 4: Information
- Bioinformatics (CISC636)
- Introduction to Machine Learning (CISC684) or Introduction to Data Mining (CISC683)
- Database Systems (CISC637)
- Introduction to Computer Vision (CISC642)
1. All students must take four breadth courses, one in each of the four areas.
2. All students must take a graduate course in either algorithm design and analysis (e.g., CISC 621) or in theory of computation (e.g., CISC 601).
3. A grade of B- or better is required in each of the four breadth courses taken to meet the breadth requirement.
4. Substitutions or satisfaction through courses taken at another university are permitted, but require written approval by the Graduate Committee.
C. Master’s Thesis
A master’s thesis is optional; successful completion requires a combination of six credits of CISC 868and/or CISC 869, which are included in the thirty credits needed for the MS degree. Students with a high GPA and/or motivation and ability to perform research are strongly encouraged to get involved in a research project. One way to do this is to complete an MS thesis.
Each student working on a master thesis, with the advice of the master’s thesis advisor, needs to establish an advisory committee. The committee consists of 2-3 members of the faculty approved by the CIS Graduate Program Committee. The committee chair is a faculty member in the CIS department, and the thesis advisor. At least one other member should be a faculty member in the CIS department. The proposed advisory committee must be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee for approval. Upon completion of the master’s thesis, a final oral examination must be passed, consisting of a defense of the master’s thesis. The final oral examination is directed and evaluated by the student’s advisory committee.
Admission to the master’s degree program does not guarantee that a student can pursue a thesis since more students may desire to do a thesis than there are faculty available to guide them. A thesis student may obtain three credits of CISC 666, CISC 866, CISC 868 in addition to the six credits of CISC 868 and/or CISC 869 applied toward the MS thesis only if the areas of study do not overlap, as approved by the CIS Graduate Committee. The MS thesis student must still satisfy all other Department requirements.
Ph.D. in Computer Science
The PhD is designed to prepare students, for academic careers and for careers in government and industry research labs.
In addition to satisfying the general requirements of the University, candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree must satisfy several departmental requirements. One objective of these requirements is to provide flexibility in designing an appropriate plan of study. The PhD is an individualistic degree. As soon as possible in the program, each candidate should find a faculty member to act as adviser and be in charge of the candidate’s research.
The candidate and advisor design a plan of study that satisfies the University and Department requirements. The Department requirements as listed below specify a minimum amount of necessary work. It is expected that additional course work will normally be required by the adviser. A minimum set of requirements provides a large degree of flexibility for each individual candidate.
A. Departmental General Requirements
- A minimum grade average of 3.0 is required in the graduate courses used to satisfy the degree requirements. The University also requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all graduate courses taken including any not used towards the degree requirements. Students are encouraged to explore graduate courses (600 level or higher) in other areas such as electrical engineering, mathematics, linguistics, statistics, and business and economics. Graduate courses outside of Computer and Information Sciences to be used towards meeting degree requirements require written approval of the Graduate Committee.
- Each semester all graduate students must explicitly register for CISC 890 – Colloquium and sign up and satisfactorily participate in one of the Department’s special research interest groups. One faculty member for each group will be responsible for overseeing satisfactory participation for each student on an individual basis (e.g., simply attending, giving a presentation) and will assign a pass/fail grade accordingly.
B. Degree Requirements
The Department requires the following:
- Course Work
- Each candidate must complete all requirements of a University of Delaware MS degree in Computer and Information Sciences. A candidate with a master’s degree in a related field (e.g., EE, Math) must put together a program that meets the CIS Graduate Committee’s approval. Using courses taken for the related graduate degree plus courses taken at Delaware, the candidate must satisfy the Computer Science course requirements for the MS degree, and show the equivalent of the 30 credit MS degree offered by the CIS Department.
- Each candidate is required to complete a minimum of 6 additional credits beyond the master’s degree. At least 3 of the 6 additional credits must be in 800-level CISC courses. The 6 additional credits do not include the following courses: CISC 666, CISC 866, CISC 868, CISC 969. Normally, in meeting the University’s requirement for a major area, a candidate will be required by the adviser to complete more than 6 credits. (Note that the University requires a candidate to complete 9 credits of CISC969 after admission to candidacy.)
- Research Ability. PhD candidates are strongly encouraged to get involved in research as early as possible in their program. As part of the process of finding an adviser, and as early as possible, candidates must demonstrate the potential to perform research. Demonstration may be in the form of independent study (CISC 666, CISC 866), research (CISC 868), working as a research assistant, or writing an MS thesis.
- Preliminary Requirements. These requirements ensure that each Ph.D. candidate (1) has significant breadth of knowledge in core areas of computer science, and (2) has demonstrated the ability to perform research in a specific computer science area. The breadth requirement is met by taking 5 breadth courses, which may include the 4 breadth courses from the breadth requirement of the MS degree, and obtaining a minimum 3.5 GPA on these breadth courses. See Prelim Course Selection Process for detail.The research requirement is met by working with a committee of 2 CIS faculty members on a research project, culminating in a written report and presentation/oral exam. A pass or fail decision for the preliminary exam will be made by the faculty in a faculty meeting that will take place after the end of each semester. Candidates must fulfill the Preliminary Requirements within 2 years, counted from the date the student enters the graduate program. Candidates may request an extension in exceptional circumstances (such as serious illness or injury) subject to approval by the Faculty. The student will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program if the Preliminary Requirements are not satisfied within the allowed time period. (further information)
- Advisory Committee. Each candidate, with the advice of the PhD advisor, needs to establish an advisory committee (usually following the successful completion of the preliminary exam). In accordance with the University requirements, the committee consists of 4-6 members nominated and approved by the CIS Department faculty. The committee chair is the candidate’s PhD advisor in charge of the candidate’s research and dissertation and must be a member of the CIS faculty. The candidate may have a co- advisor who must be a UD faculty, possibly from another department. A co-advisor is a member of the advisory committee. At least two members represent the area of proposed research. The committee must also include at least one member of the CIS faculty working outside the main area of the proposed research. At least one member must be from outside the CIS Department.The proposed advisory committee must be submitted to the Graduate Committee for approval. It must then be approved by the CIS faculty. In the above, CIS faculty means tenure-track faculty whose primary appointment is in the CIS Department or who have a joint appointment in CIS, but not including continuing track faculty, research faculty, affiliated faculty, visiting faculty, secondary faculty, or adjunct faculty.
- Qualifying Examination. Each candidate must pass a qualifying exam. The advisory committee prepares an examination (oral and/or written) testing a candidate’s knowledge in the area of proposed research. Part of the examination includes an oral presentation of a candidate’s proposed dissertation research. A student passes the qualifying exam as long as there is no more than one negative vote.
- Course Work
Prior to taking the qualifying exam, candidates must submit a dissertation proposal and a written plan describing their background and research interests. The proposal and plan are submitted to the advisory committee and are considered as input to the qualifying examination. Copies of “Discussion on PhD Thesis Proposals in Computing Science” are available in the CIS Department Office.
The qualifying exam is normally taken one year after passing the preliminary exam. During this year a student should actively investigate research possibilities and select a dissertation topic.
- Dissertation. Each candidate must complete a dissertation demonstrating results of original and significant research written in a scholarly and competent manner worthy of publication. Upon completion of the dissertation, a final oral public examination must be passed, consisting of a defense of the dissertation and a test of the mastery of a candidate’s research area. The final oral examination is directed and evaluated by the student’s advisory committee.
- Facility of Expression in English. As part of satisfying the University’s requirement that PhD graduates demonstrate an ability to orally express themselves clearly and forcefully, each candidate must present his or her research results in a departmental colloquium, or one of the Department’s special research interest groups within six months of the defense.
- Foreign Language. There is no foreign language requirement.
Cross-cutting Graduate Programs
The thesis-based MS degree prepares students for advanced research. The Computational Sciences Concentration (CS) allows students with strong quantitative sciences background to gain knowledge and research experience in developing computational methods and bioinformatics tools and databases for the study of biological systems.
The Ph.D. in Bioinformatics Data Science will train the next-generation of researchers and professionals who will play a key role in multi- and interdisciplinary teams, bridging life sciences and computational sciences. Students who complete this degree will be able to generate and analyze experimental data for biomedical research as well as develop physical or computational models of the molecular components that drive the behavior of the biological system.
The Certificate in Computational Science and Engineering is a an exciting opportunity to develop your computational skills as part of a degree program or as part time study if you already have a career going.
The Bioinformatics Graduate Certificate is ideally suited for working professionals who cannot make a commitment to a MS or PSM program at this time, but can use the Certificate as a stepping stone. The Certificate can also complement other UD graduate degree programs, allowing current graduate students to gain bioinformatics knowledge and skills.
Academic and Research Advisors
As a new graduate student, you will typically be assigned an academic advisor by the Department when you first join the graduate program. You should contact your advisor to discuss your choice of courses to take in the first semester. Subsequently, you should also meet with your advisor at least once a semester to decide what courses to take in the following semester. The advisor is available to you as an important resource on academic issues. If you need help on any curriculum-related subject or have questions about the degree requirements, you should not hesitate to contact your advisor. Ultimately, you are responsible for making sure that you satisfy all requirements for your graduate degree. However, an advisor can help you avoid mistakes and guide you to understand what the requirements may mean in your specific context.
If you are a PhD student or you are an MS student who is interested in research, you are encouraged to find a research advisor within your first year of study. You must have a research advisor before you start the PhD Preliminary Exam. Once you have a research advisor, he/she will also become your academic advisor. A research advisor must be a member of the CIS tenure-track You may have a research advisor from another department within the University, in which case you will be asked to have a co-advisor from within the CIS Department.
New Graduate Student Colloquium
Every Fall semester, the Department offers a special Colloquium course called “New Graduate Student” Colloquium or SIGNewGrad. If you are a new student entering our graduate program (either MS or PhD) in the Fall semester, then you must sign up for the SIGNewGrad Colloquium in your first semester. If you enter our program in the Spring semester, then you should take SIGNewGrad in the following Fall semester.
The SIGNewGrad Colloquium course has sessions on diverse topics that should be helpful to new graduate students. These topics include the academic requirements for the MS and PhD degrees, how to succeed in graduate school, computer science careers in academia and industry, and use of local resources such as the Library and the Writing Center. The Colloquium also features individual presentations by the department faculty on their research. These presentations should help new students to become familiar with the different research areas in the Department. New students are encouraged to directly contact faculty whose research they find interesting and to get involved with a research group as early as possible.
Each semester you should explicitly register for CISC 890 – Colloquium which means sign up and satisfactorily participate in one of the Department’s special research interest groups. The Colloquium courses are informally called SIGs (Special Interest Groups); they are 0 credits and taken on a Pass/Fail basis. Each semester, multiple Colloquium courses are offered in different research areas. One faculty member for each research group will be responsible for overseeing satisfactory participation for each student on an individual basis (e.g., simply attending, giving a presentation, etc.) and will assign a pass/fail grade accordingly. You should familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the Colloquium course that you are signed up for and should make sure that you meet the requirements to avoid getting a failing grade.
If you are an MS student, then you will need 3 semesters of passed CISC 890 to graduate, including SIGNewGrad in your first Fall semester. This is a requirement for graduation and it is strictly enforced. If you have not met this requirement, then you will not be able to graduate even if you have met all other requirements. If you are a PhD student, then you must complete all requirements for the MS degree (except in some situations, click here) which then means that you also must complete at least 3 semesters of CISC 890.
If you are a part-time student, then you should talk to your advisor to draw up a plan for how and when to take the Colloquium courses. You may also request the Graduate Program Committee to approve your plan to meet your special circumstances.
PhD students are strongly encouraged to enroll in and participate in the Colloquium courses even after their three required Colloquium courses have been completed.
Policy on Independent Study and Research Courses
As a graduate student, you are encouraged to participate in the research activities of the Department by taking CISC 666, CISC 866-Special Problems and Independent Study or CISC 868-Research. This is especially true of potential PhD students. No more than three credits of CISC 666, CISC 866 or CISC 868 (combined) may be applied toward meeting the requirements for the MS degree, or used in satisfying the required minimum grade average without prior written approval from the Graduate Program Committee.
The Graduate Program Committee may allow a student to take up to six credits (two courses) of Special Problem, Independent Study, or Research provided the work performed is in two different research areas. Students doing a master’s thesis may also be allowed to take three credits (one course) of Special Problem, Independent Study, or Research in addition to the six credits of CISC 869-Master’s Thesis provided the work performed in the Independent Study course is in a different research area than the master’s thesis. In all such cases, you must obtain prior written approval from the Graduate Program Committee.
None of the 866, 868, or 869 courses may be used to satisfy the requirement of 800-level courses for the MS degree. Moreover, PhD students may not use these courses for the additional six credits of PhD coursework beyond the MS degree.
No Duplicate Credit for Certain 400/600 - Level Courses
Certain 400 and 600 level courses taught by our department have substantial overlap in content. If you have previously taken the 400-level course, then you cannot get credit for the corresponding 600-level course. A common situation where this policy applies is when you took the 400-level course while enrolled as an undergraduate student at the University of Delaware. If you then join our graduate program as an MS or PhD student, then you will not be allowed credit for the corresponding 600-level course. If you are in this situation, then you should consult with your advisor and/or the Graduate Program Committee to come up with a plan of study that avoids these courses and also fulfills all the requirements for your graduate degree. Since most of these courses are breadth courses, you may have to select alternate courses that meet the breadth requirement. The same applies to courses used for the PhD preliminary exam course requirement.
Below is a complete list of current courses for which duplicate credit is not allowed:
CISC 401 / 601 (Elements of the Theory of Computation)
CISC 404 / 604 (Logic in Computer Science)
CISC 414 / 614 (Formal Methods in Software Engineering)
CISC 436 / 636 (Bioinformatics)
CISC 437 / 637 (Database Systems)
CISC 440 / 640 (Computer Graphics)
CISC 442 / 642 (Introduction to Computer Vision)
CISC 450 / 650 (Computer Networks)
CISC 451 / 651 (Data Compression in Multimedia)
CISC 453 / 653 (Simulation of Computer Networks)
CISC 464 / 664 (Introduction to Network Security)
CISC 465 / 665 (Introduction to Cybersecurity)
CISC 470 / 670 (Programming Languages)
CISC 471 / 672 (Compiler Design / Compiler Construction)
CISC 475 / 675 (Advanced Software Engineering / Software Engineering Principles and Practices)
CISC 481 / 681 (Artificial Intelligence)
CISC 483 / 683 (Introduction to Data Mining)
CISC 484 / 684 (Introduction to Machine Learning)
Planned 2020-2021 CIS Graduate Courses
This is the timetable for CIS courses to be offered during the 2020-2021 academic year. Course offerings will be similar in subsequent years.
Note that Topics courses and 800-level courses are tentative and specific courses may or may not be offered; if offered, the topics may vary.
|COURSE NUMBER||2020 FALL COURSE OFFERINGS|
|CISC621||Algorithm Design and Analysis|
|CISC636||Computational Biology & Bioinformatics|
|CISC642||Introduction to Computer Vision|
|CISC649||Topics in Computer Applications|
|CISC650||Computer Networks II|
|CISC662||Computer Systems: Architecture|
|CISC675||Software Engineering Principles and Practices|
|CISC682||Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)|
|CISC683||Introduction to Data Mining|
|CISC684||Introduction to Machine Learning|
|CISC849||Advanced Topics in Computer Applications: Economics of Security and Privacy|
|CISC849||Advanced Topics in Computer Applications: Applied Game Theory|
|CISC849||Advanced Topics in Computer Applications: Data Science and its Applicability|
|CISC889||Advanced Topics in Artificial Intelligence: Neural Networks & Deep Learning|
|COURSE NUMBER||2021 SPRING COURSE OFFERINGS|
|CISC601||Elements of the Theory of Computation|
|CISC604||Logic in Computer Science|
|CISC615||Software Testing and Maintenance|
|CISC649||Topics in Computer Applications|
|CISC650||Computer Networks II|
|CISC664||Introduction to Network Security|
|CISC683||Introduction to Data Mining|
|CISC684||Introduction to Machine Learning|
|CISC689||Topics in Artificial Intelligence|
|CISC849||Advanced Topics in Computer Applications|
|CISC859||Advanced Topics in Communications, Distributed Computing Networks|
|CISC889||Advanced Topics in Artificial Intelligence|
Below is a partial list of student organizations within the CIS department and across the University. Their web pages offer helpful information, tips, and links, as well as communities which may help you throughout your graduate student career.
- Bioinformatics Student Association (BiSA)
- CISters: Women undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty
- Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA)
- CIS Department Graduate Students Association (GSA) Contact: Matthew Saponaro (email@example.com)
- Indian Graduate Student Association (IGSA) (which also has a Yahoo group for questions)
- Turkish American Student Association (TASA)
Graduate Academic Advisor