Doctor of Philosophy


54 credit hours for students entering with an M.S. degree in Computer Science
72 credit hours for students entering without an M.S. degree in Computer Science

All students must take at least 33 credit hours at the 700 level. See below for more detailed information on requirements.

Course requirements

54 credit hours for qualified students with an MS degree in Computer Science (please see the last section for requirements for students with only BS degrees):

  • CSC 701 (3 CH) Orientation and Introduction to Research
  • Core courses (0-18 CH: Can satisfy using prior graduate-level courses, but will need to pass qualifying exam at UNCG)
    • 6 CH from “Theory and Algorithms” course group
    • 6 CH from “Systems and Networks” course group
    • 6 CH from “Data/Knowledge” course group
  • Electives (18-36 CH)
    • Other 600-level or 700-level CS courses, other than CSC 799
    • Courses from other departments with the approval of the Graduate Program Director
    • Note: At least 15  credit hours must be at the 700 level
  • Dissertation (CSC 799, at least 15 CH)

Minimum total credit hours: 54 (at least 33 at the 700-level)

PhD Core Course Categories

Core courses fall into three areas, shown below, and students must take at least two courses from each area (prior graduate-level courses can be used to satisfy the core course requirement, but all students will need to pass the qualifying exam for each area):


  • CSC 752: Theory of Computation
  • CSC 754: Algorithm Analysis and Design
  • CSC 756: Foundations of Computer Science


  • CSC 761: Principles of Computer Architecture
  • CSC 762: Principles of Operating Systems
  • CSC 777: Principles of Computer Networks


  • CSC-705: Data Science
  • CSC-709: Big Data and Machine Learning
  • CSC-716: Digital Image Processing
  • CSC-725: Bioinformatics
  • CSC-729: Artificial Intelligence
  • CSC-744: Human-Computer Interface
  • CSC-771: Advanced Database Systems

Advisory Committee

Each student will have an advisory/dissertation committee, consisting of at least four members of the graduate faculty, who shall assist the student with the preparation of the plan of study and shall guide and evaluate the doctoral dissertation.The advisory committee is initially developed by the student and their advisor after consulting with each other. Students can then request the identified committee members to participate in the advisory committee. This committee will formally be appointed by the Vice Provost and Dean of The Graduate School upon input from the student and the subsequent recommendation of the Computer Science Graduate Program Director. The advisory committee must be mutually acceptable to the student and all committee members. The committee chair (student advisor) must be a graduate faculty member in the Department of Computer Science, and at most one committee member may come from outside the Department of Computer Science. If appropriate to the student’s dissertation research, one member may be from outside the department or outside the university (any member from outside UNCG must be approved by the university as Adjunct Graduate Faculty). The student must request the appointment of this committee no later than upon completion of the first 18 semester hours of graduate courses. Any subsequent changes in the advisory/dissertation committee must be approved by the Graduate Program Director and submitted to The Graduate School for approval.

Seminar Attendance and Participation

Ph.D. students are expected to become part of an active scholarly community with other students and faculty in the department. As such, all students are expected to attend all departmental research talks and present at least two public research talks in addition to their dissertation proposal and defense. Students must track attendance at talks using a department-determined process, such as an attendance log.

Qualifying exam

  • Part 1: Based on core courses taken by the student
  • Part 2: PhD dissertation proposal

Part 1 of the qualifying exam is a written exam based on the core courses the student has taken. It is offered twice per year: a regular exam offering in May (after Spring classes conclude) and a “make-up exam” offering in the early part of the Fall semester. This part of the qualifying exam will consist of three individual area exams, corresponding to the three core areas in the table above, and each area exam will be designed to be three hours long. Area exams will be scheduled over a period of two weeks. Content will be determined by faculty responsible for the core courses taken by the student. If a student fails an area exam for any of the core areas in the regular exam offering, a second and final chance will be given to retake the failed area exam(s) at the make-up date.

Part 2 is intended to evaluate students’ research aptitude. In consultation with the student’s advisor, the student thoroughly surveys a research area and prepares a written proposal for his/her dissertation that puts the proposed research in the context of previous work. Then an oral exam is held during which the student presents the proposal to the advisory committee, who evaluates and assigns a grade (pass/fail). A failing student is given a second and final chance. Students must have demonstrated participation in the department’s scholarly community by documenting attendance at 9 or more department research talks before being eligible for presenting their dissertation proposal.

Dissertation Defense

With the approval of the advisor, the student submits the dissertation to Graduate School. The dissertation defense is then conducted by the advisory committee.

Students with only BS degrees

Students with a BS degree in Computer Science or a related discipline can apply for admission to PhD in Computer Science. The minimum credit-hour requirement for PhD for these students is 72. The admissions committee can require students with inadequate preparation, who are otherwise qualified, to take additional courses (in addition to the minimum 72 credit hours). Normally, these students will spend at least one year (2 semesters) preparing for the PhD program. These students may register in CSC 701, Orientation, at the beginning of their second year. Students who complete the MS program requirements can receive a “pass through master’s” after passing phase 1 of their qualifying exam.