• NSMIT (MyNSM)

Doctoral Degree Program

The University of Houston, Department of Computer Science offers a Ph.D. in Computer Science degree.  Students in this program must comply with all the rules and satisfy all the requirements set by the University. In addition, the Department of Computer Science has rules and regulations detailed below.

For details on Admission to the Graduate Program of the Computer Science Department, please visit the Admissions page.

The department mandates that all students admitted to the graduate program have a sufficient background in computer science. Details on the requirements can be found on the Prerequisites page.

Program Requirements

A student must complete a minimum of 72 credit hours subject to the following restrictions:

  • At least 36 credits of approved, regular, or special topics (xx97) courses. At most 6 of these hours may be outside the Department with the approval of the student’s research advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Between 24 and 30 credits of research hours (8x98) to fulfill the 72 hour degree requirement.
  • At least 6 but not more than 12 credits of dissertation (8x99).

In addition, students have to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Satisfactory completion of the core requirement.
  • Obtain a research advisor.
  • Satisfactory performance on the preliminary examination.
  • Maintain satisfactory progress.
  • Preparation of a written dissertation and satisfactory defense thereof. Details on preparation of a dissertation document can be found on the Thesis Guidelines page. 

Time Limitations

Program requirements have certain strict time limitations. The time limitation period begins as soon as the student has 18 or more hours of credits applicable to a graduate degree (MS or PhD) in Computer Science. These include transferred credits as well as credits earned at UH. The time limitations apply to MS students who later decide to continue in the PhD program as well as to PhD students.

Core Requirements

A student satisfies the core requirement by taking a set of 4 or more courses from the two lists below with a GPA of 3.4 or better and no grade less than B. Two course must be from the Theory list and two  from the Systems list. The Director of Graduate Studies may in exceptional cases waive at most 1 of the 4 courses based on similar courses taken at another university.

 Theory

  • Data Structures and Algorithms (6320)
  • Numerical Analysis (6364)
  • Theory of Computation (6369)
  • Machine Learning (6342)

Systems

  • Database Systems(6340)
  • Computer Architecture (6385)
  • Languages and Compilers (6361)
  • Operating Systems (6360)

Full-time students must complete the core requirements in at most 2 long semesters after the time limitation period begins. Part-time students (6 hours or less every semester) must complete the core requirement in at most 4 long semesters after the time limitation period begins. Failure to complete the core requirements with the required GPA within the time limitation normally results in an MS student not being allowed to continue into the PhD program and a PhD student being removed from the PhD program.

Graduate Colloqium Course

All PhD students are requires to take the Graduate Colloquium course (COSC 6110) no later than the first Fall semester after completing the core requirement.

Research Advisor

Students are urged to find a research advisor as early as possible. Full-time and part-time students should have a research advisor by the end of the second long semester. Student may register for doctoral research hours if they have an advisor and have completed the core requirement.

Proposal Defense

A student must pass a proposal defense administered by the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation committee consists of the student’s research advisor and at least 4 other members. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the department and the majority of members must be voting faculty of the Computer Science Department. The proposal defense is open to the public and should be announced two weeks in adance. The purpose of the proposal defense is to determine the fitness of the student for PhD level research. The exact content of the examination is at the discretion of the dissertation committee. All faculty members in attendance as well as the committee members may ask the student questions related to the proposal or the student’s preparation for a PhD level research.  . The committee may have a closed session with the student at the end of the proposal defense. The committee will submit a written report to the Director of Graduate Studies concerning the student’s performance on the proposal defense and assign an overall evaluation of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. A student in the Ph.D. program becomes a Ph.D. candidate upon proposal defense Full-time and part-time students must appear no later than the end of the third long semester after completing the core requirement. The Preliminary ExaminationProposal Defense cannot be taken before fulfilling the core requirement.  The proposal defense must be completed at least six months before dissertation defense.  At the proposal defense, a summary of the student’s academic performance, including the student’s previous degree(s), past work/research experience, GPA, core course performance and duration of study, should be presented to the committee in a closed session.

Details on how to announce the defense can be found on the Thesis Guidelines page.

Maintenance of Satisfactory Progress

The Director of Graduate Studies will review a student’s progress at the end of every long semester after completing the core requirement subject to the following rules:

  • If a student does not have a research advisor by the end of the second long semester after the initial enrollment in the Ph.D. program, then the student is automatically classified as not making satisfactory progress.
  • If the student has not taken the proposal defense and received a satisfactory evaluation from the dissertation committee by the end of the third long semester after completing the core requirement and any subsequent semester then the student is automatically classified as not making satisfactory progress.
  • If a student has not attended the required minimum number of department seminars then the student is automatically classified as not making satisfactory progress.
  • At the end of each semester that the student has a research advisor, the advisor must give the Director of Graduate Studies a written report concerning the student’s progress and specify whether the student is or is not making satisfactory progress.

A student who is evaluated as not making satisfactory progress on two consecutive reviews is normally removed from the PhD program.

A decision to remove a student from the PhD program for failure to successfully complete the core requirement within the time limitation or for two consecutive unsatisfactory reviews will be brought to the entire faculty for a vote.

Dissertation Defense

A candidate will be required to present her/his dissertation in a public defense. The dissertation committee decides the acceptability of the dissertation. Candidates are expected to publish results of their dissertation research prior to the dissertation defense.

The dissertation defense is open to the University community and the student must inform the department at least two weeks in advance so that it can be publicized. Details on how to announce the defense can be found on the Thesis Guidelines page. The dissertation defense should be scheduled at least six months after successful proposal defense.

University Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements

Students must satisfy all the university academic regulations and degree requirements for a PhD degree. See the Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements section of the online graduate catalog.