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PhD in Computer Science

The PhD is designed to prepare students for academic careers and careers in government and industry research labs. Computer science is a vigorous and exciting field of research and study that continues to grow in importance.

Departmental research strengths include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (machine learning, multiagent systems, planning and problem solving),
  • Bioinformatics,
  • Computational Theory (computational learning theory, design and analysis of algorithms, computability theory),
  • Compiler Optimization and Compilation for Parallel Machines,
  • Natural-Language Processing, (discourse and dialogue, generation, information extraction, summarization),
  • Systems (parallel and distributed computing, grid and volunteer computing, algorithm and architecture design for massive parallelism),
  • Networks (distributed computing, transport layer protocols, mobile and wireless networks, algorithm and architecture design for massive parallelism, networks management, security performance modeling, simulation),
  • Graphics and Computer Vision,
  • Rehabilitation Engineering (augmentative communication, speech recognition and enhancement),
  • Software Engineering (program analysis and testing),
  • Symbolic Mathematical Computation (algebraic algorithms, parallelization), and
  • Robotics.

The CIS graduate program provides a solid foundation in the fundamental areas of computer science and provides numerous advanced courses and seminars to acquaint the student with current computer science research.

Degree Requirements

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

The Department requires the following:

  1. Course Work
    1. 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.
    2. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
    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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Foreign Language. There is no foreign language requirement.


Graduate Recruitment Contacts

Li Liao
Email: cis-gradprgm@udel.edu
Phone: 302-831-2783

Chiamesha Carey
Graduate Academic Advisor II
Email: careyc@udel.edu
Phone: 302-831-4467

UD Graduate Admissions
Email: gradadmissions@udel.edu
Phone: 302-831-2129