Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

Credit hour requirements: 72 credit hours if without M.S. degree; 49 credit hours if with M.S. degree not in computer science; 40 credit hours if with M.S. degree in computer science

The doctoral program is designed for those students who have an interest in pursuing an academic or industrial research career. To be awarded a Ph.D. in Computer Science, a student must demonstrate mastery in several areas of computer science and must make a significant original contribution to research in the field of computer science. On entry into the program, a student is required to take coursework in a number of areas and pass written and oral qualifying exams. Next, the student must formulate a thesis research problem and present it and the proposed research to a committee of faculty at a comprehensive exam. Upon passing this examination, the student must carry out the research and write and defend a thesis, among other requirements.

Admission to the Ph.D. program is competitive and applicants must have high grade point averages, GRE scores, and (if required) TOEFL scores. Students who enter the program after completing a master's degree (not necessarily in computer science) normally require three to four years of full-time work to complete the Ph.D. Part-time students take longer. Students may also enter the program directly after completing only a bachelor's degree in computer science. The direct program enables bright, highly-motivated students to participate in departmental research programs immediately after their bachelor's degree. Students in the direct program take extra coursework and normally require an additional year to complete the Ph.D. compared to students in the post-master's program.

Requirements for Students Entering with a B.S. Degree

72 credit hours
Qualifying exam
Comprehensive exam
Dissertation and oral defense

Admission Requirements

The applicants should have a B.S degree in computer science. Admission to the program is competitive and depends on a student’s GRE score and it is expected that applicants will have a high grade-point average. The minimum required GRE scores are 310 (combined quantitative and verbal) and 4.0 (analytical writing). Non-English speaking applicants without a U.S. degree should have a minimum score of 70 on the internet-based TOEFL or 523 on the paper-based TOEFL; a 47 on the PTE; or a 5.5 on the IELTS; in order to be considered for admission. 

If an applicant's TOEFL score is below the minimum, the applicant will be required to take the English Proficiency Exam administered by the university's humanities department. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Requirements for Students Entering with an M.S. Degree

40-49 credit hours
Qualifying exam
Comprehensive exam
Dissertation and oral defense

Admission Requirements

The applicants should have an M.S degree in computer science or related fields. Admission to the program is competitive and depends on a student’s GRE score and it is expected that applicants will have a high grade-point average. The minimum required GRE score is 304 (combined quantitative and verbal) and 3.5 (analytical writing). Non-English speaking applicants without a U.S. degree should have a minimum score of 70 on the internet-based TOEFL or 523 on the paper-based TOEFL; a 47 on the PTE; or a 5.5 on the IELTS; in order to be considered for admission. 

If an applicant's TOEFL score is below the minimum, the applicant will be required to take the English Proficiency Exam administered by the university's humanities department. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Curriculum (for students with a B.S. degree)

The program requires students to complete at least 72 and at most 128 adviser-approved semester credit hours of study.  A maximum of 6 credit hours may come from outside the Department of Computer Science. Credits from CS 595 are allowed.

Minimum Credits Required72
Maximum 400-Level Credit12
500- and 600-Level Computer Science Coursework Credit36-54
Required Courses (16)
Select a minimum of one course from each of the following groups: Theory of Computation, Systems, and Programming Languages9
Select a minimum of two courses from two of the following groups: Networks and Security, Databases, Software Engineering, or Computational Intelligence6
CS 695Doctoral Seminar1
Readings and Special Problems Courses (6-12)
CS 597Reading and Special Problems6-12
General Electives (8-26)
Select 8 to 26 credit hours8-26
Ph.D. Research (24-36)
CS 691Research and Thesis Ph.D.24-36

Notice that no credits will be given to accelerated courses (700-level courses). No credits are given to courses in which the student earns a grade of "C" or below. The student may have to take some other courses as required by the adviser. Advanced courses may be substituted after approval of the department. 

M.S. Exit from Program

Students wishing to leave the direct Ph.D. program with the degree of Master of Science in Computer Science must satisfy all the requirements of the master’s degree and either write an M.S. thesis or pass the Ph.D. qualifying examination.

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. qualifying exam has two parts: a written examination and an oral examination. The written examination is used to judge a student’s breadth of knowledge; the oral examination is used to judge a student’s research potential. The first attempt in oral examination and the written examination must be taken no later than a student’s fifth semester. The second attempt must be taken no later than a student’s sixth semester. These requirements hold for both full-time and part-time students. The written examination is divided into three independent area examinations. To pass the written examination, a student must pass all the area examinations.

Area examinations can be taken in the same or different semesters. A student who fails an area examination can retake the area examination, but only once. Passing a relevant core course with “A” when registered in the PhD section of that course qualifies as passing the respective area examination. See the computer science website (science.iit.edu/computer-science) for more detail for qualifying examinations.

Comprehensive (Research Proposal) Examination

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to ensure that the candidate has the background to carry out successful research in the chosen area and that the research problem is properly formulated and has sufficient scholarly merit. The student (in concert with the student’s research adviser) must develop a written research proposal containing a literature review, a proposed research topic, and a program of research based upon this topic, and then present the proposal orally as well.

The student must request appointment of an examination committee using Form G301. The examination committee may consist of from four to seven members. It must include at least three full-time faculty members from the Department of Computer Science and one full-time faculty member from another department in the university. Other committee members from inside or outside the university may be chosen. The student should consult with his/her research adviser concerning the makeup of the committee.

Thesis Defense

Each student must present an oral defense of his/her Ph.D. thesis. The thesis review committee is appointed in much the same way as the Ph.D. comprehensive examination committee. It will examine the written thesis and examine the student during the oral defense. All Ph.D. thesis defenses are open to the public.

Curriculum (for students with a M.S. degree in Computer Science)

If the student has an M.S. degree in computer science, the program requires the student to complete at least 40 adviser-approved semester credit hours of study. A maximum of 6 credit hours may come from outside the Department of Computer Science. Credits from CS 595 are allowed.

Minimum Credits Required72
Maximum Transfer Credit32
Maximum 400-Level Credit12
500- and 600-Level Computer Science Coursework Credit15-30
Required Courses (10)
Select a minimum of three courses from three different core course groups as listed below9
CS 695Doctoral Seminar1
Readings and Special Problems Courses (0-12)
CS 597Reading and Special Problems 10-12
General Electives (0-6)
Select 0-6 credit hours0-6
Ph.D. Research (24-36)
CS 691Research and Thesis Ph.D. 124-36
Transfer Credit (32)
A maximum of 32 hours of masters transfer credit is allowed32
1

At least 3 credits of CS 597 or CS 691 are required in the first year.

Notice that no credits will be given to accelerated courses (700-level courses). No credits are given to courses in which the student earns a grade of "C" or below. The student may have to take some other courses as required by the adviser. Advanced courses may be substituted after approval of the department.

Computer Science Core Course Groups

Group I: Theory of Computation (15)
CS 530Theory of Computation3
CS 533Computational Geometry3
CS 535Design and Analysis of Algorithms3
CS 538Combinatorial Optimization3
CS 539Game Theory: Algorithms and Applications3
Group II: Systems (9)
CS 546Parallel and Distributed Processing3
CS 550Advanced Operating Systems3
CS 570Advanced Computer Architecture3
Group III: Programming Languages (12)
CS 536Science of Programming3
CS 540Syntactic Analysis of Programming Languages3
CS 541Topics in Compiler Construction3
CS 545Distributed Computing Landscape3
Group IV: Networks and Security (12)
CS 542Computer Networks I: Fundamentals3
CS 544Computer Networks II: Network Services3
CS 549Cryptography and Network Security3
CS 558Advanced Computer Security3
Group V: Databases (3)
CS 525Advanced Database Organization3
Group VI: Software Engineering (3)
CS 586Software Systems Architectures3
Group VII: Computational Intelligence (15)
CS 512Computer Vision3
CS 579Online Social Network Analysis3
CS 583Probabilistic Graphical Models3
CS 584Machine Learning3
CS 585Natural Language Processing3

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. qualifying examination has two parts: a written examination and an oral examination. The written exam is used to judge a student’s breadth of knowledge; the oral exam is used to judge a student’s research potential. The first attempt at the oral examination and the written examination must be made no later than a student’s third semester. The second attempt must be made no later than a student’s fourth semester. These requirements hold for both full-time and part-time students.

The written examination is divided into three independent area examinations. To pass the written examination, a student must pass all the area examinations. Area examinations can be taken in the same or different semesters. A student who fails an area examination can retake the area examination, but only once. Passing a relevant core course with “A” when registered in the Ph.D. section of that course qualifies as passing the respective area examination. See the computer science website (science.iit.edu/computer-science) for more detail for qualifying examinations.

Comprehensive (Research Proposal) Examination

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to ensure that the candidate has the background to carry out successful research in the chosen area and that the research problem is properly formulated and has sufficient scholarly merit. The student (in concert with the student’s research adviser) must develop a written research proposal containing a literature review, a proposed research topic, and a program of research based upon this topic, and then present it orally as well.

The student must request appointment of an examination committee on Form G301. The examination committee may consist of from four to seven members. It must include at least three full-time faculty members from the Department of Computer Science and one full-time faculty member from another department in the university. Other committee members from inside or outside the university may be chosen. The student should consult with his/her research adviser concerning the makeup of the committee.

Thesis Defense

Each student must present an oral defense of his/her Ph.D. thesis. The thesis review committee is appointed in much the same way as the Ph.D. comprehensive examination committee. It will examine the written thesis and examine the student during the oral defense. All Ph.D. thesis defenses are open to the public.

Curriculum (for students with a M.S. degree not in Computer Science)

If the student has an M.S. degree in a field other than computer science, the program requires the student to complete at least 49 adviser-approved semester credit hours of study. A maximum of 6 credit hours may come from outside the Department of Computer Science. Credits from CS 595 are allowed.

Minimum Credits Required72
Maximum Transfer Credit23
Maximum 400-Level Credit12
500- and 600-Level Computer Science Coursework Credit24-30
Required Courses (16)
Select a minimum of one course from each of the following groups: Theory of Computation, Systems, and Programming Languages9
Select a minimum of two courses from two of the following groups: Networks and Security, Databases, Software Engineering, or Computational Intelligence6
CS 695Doctoral Seminar1
Readings and Special Problems Courses (0-12)
CS 597Reading and Special Problems 10-12
General Electives (0-9)
Select 0-9 credit hours0-9
Ph.D. Research (24-36)
CS 691Research and Thesis Ph.D. 124-36
Transfer Credit (23)
A maximum of 23 hours of masters transfer credit is allowed23
1

At least 3 credits of CS 597 or CS 691 are required in the first year.

Notice that no credits will be given to accelerated courses (700-level courses). No credits are given to courses in which the student earns a grade of "C" or below. The student may have to take some other courses as required by the adviser. Advanced courses may be substituted after approval of the department.

Computer Science Core Course Groups

Group I: Theory of Computation (15)
CS 530Theory of Computation3
CS 533Computational Geometry3
CS 535Design and Analysis of Algorithms3
CS 538Combinatorial Optimization3
CS 539Game Theory: Algorithms and Applications3
Group II: Systems (9)
CS 546Parallel and Distributed Processing3
CS 550Advanced Operating Systems3
CS 570Advanced Computer Architecture3
Group III: Programming Languages (12)
CS 536Science of Programming3
CS 540Syntactic Analysis of Programming Languages3
CS 541Topics in Compiler Construction3
CS 545Distributed Computing Landscape3
Group IV: Networks and Security (12)
CS 542Computer Networks I: Fundamentals3
CS 544Computer Networks II: Network Services3
CS 549Cryptography and Network Security3
CS 558Advanced Computer Security3
Group V: Databases (3)
CS 525Advanced Database Organization3
Group VI: Software Engineering (3)
CS 586Software Systems Architectures3
Group VII: Computational Intelligence (15)
CS 512Computer Vision3
CS 579Online Social Network Analysis3
CS 583Probabilistic Graphical Models3
CS 584Machine Learning3
CS 585Natural Language Processing3

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. qualifying examination has two parts: a written examination and an oral examination. The written exam is used to judge a student’s breadth of knowledge; the oral exam is used to judge a student’s research potential. The first attempt at the oral examination and the written examination must be made no later than a student’s third semester. The second attempt must be made no later than a student’s fourth semester. These requirements hold for both full-time and part-time students.

The written examination is divided into three independent area examinations. To pass the written examination, a student must pass all the area examinations. Area examinations can be taken in the same or different semesters. A student who fails an area examination can retake the area examination, but only once. Passing a relevant core course with “A” when registered in the Ph.D. section of that course qualifies as passing the respective area examination. See the computer science website (science.iit.edu/computer-science) for more detail for qualifying examinations.

Comprehensive (Research Proposal) Examination

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to ensure that the candidate has the background to carry out successful research in the chosen area and that the research problem is properly formulated and has sufficient scholarly merit. The student (in concert with the student’s research adviser) must develop a written research proposal containing a literature review, a proposed research topic, and a program of research based upon this topic, and then present it orally as well.

The student must request appointment of an examination committee on Form G301. The examination committee may consist of from four to seven members. It must include at least three full-time faculty members from the Department of Computer Science and one full-time faculty member from another department in the university. Other committee members from inside or outside the university may be chosen. The student should consult with his/her research adviser concerning the makeup of the committee.

Thesis Defense

Each student must present an oral defense of his/her Ph.D. thesis. The thesis review committee is appointed in much the same way as the Ph.D. comprehensive examination committee. It will examine the written thesis and examine the student during the oral defense. All Ph.D. thesis defenses are open to the public.