Computer Science and Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy Degree
The Ph.D. in computer science and engineering offers an in-depth, cutting-edge curriculum that allows students to gain expertise in a chosen area of specialization within computer science and engineering. Advanced courses and opportunities for original research allow students to further scientific knowledge within the discipline.
Our department has research strengths in four main areas:
- Computer and network systems
- Games and simulations
- Intelligent systems
- Software systems
Specific research topics within these broad areas of focus include artificial intelligence, computer vision, pattern recognition, robotics, agent modeling, motion planning, evolutionary computing, digital interactive games, software engineering, computer graphics, human-computer interactions, distributed computing, virtual reality, embedded systems, computer networks, and network measurement and security.
There are three main requirements for the doctoral degree: required and elective coursework, comprehensive exams, and a research-based dissertation. In addition, doctoral students are expected to attend department colloquia, participate in proposal writing and present their research.
You can view official degree requirements on the University course catalog.
Doctoral students are required to complete 72 credits of coursework beyond that of their bachelor's degree. Of this coursework, the Graduate School requires that 700-level courses must account for 30 credits, while 24 credits are earned through dissertation work.
If you have completed a master's degree, a total of 24 course credits can be transferred (with grades B or better) to the Ph.D. degree program. No more than 18 of these credits can be from 700-level courses.
Further, doctoral students must complete 3 credits of CS 792 Graduate Seminar, which requires attendance at department colloquia. These 3 credits of CS 792 count towards the requirement for 30 credits of 700-level coursework.
Up to two independent studies are allowed at the Ph.D. level.
While your Ph.D. program allows you to specialize in one area of computer science and engineering, graduates of the program should be broadly familiar with key topics within the field. You must show that you have taken at least one graduate-level course in each of the areas listed below:
- Operating systems
- Computer architecture
- Computer networks
- Artificial intelligence
- Analysis of algorithms
- Software engineering
- Theory of computing
Your dissertation committee should be formed within a year of admission to the Ph.D. program. You will work closely with your dissertation committee to develop a program of study that suits your goals and interests. Your committee will also play a key role in guiding your progress through your comprehensive exams and dissertation.
Before you can become a Ph.D. candidate, you must pass a set of comprehensive exams. The exam has two requirements: written and oral.
- Thorough review of the literature from the student's research area
- Research proposal (goals, methodology, research plan)
- Work in progress
- Public colloquium covering the written exam
- Q&A by the student's dissertation committee, covering the written exam
Your dissertation committee will decide whether you pass the written and oral portions of the comprehensive exam. Students can take the exam up to two times.
You must enroll in CPE 795 the semester you take your comprehensive exams.
Applicants to the Ph.D. program are expected to have a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics, or science and have minimum experience that includes the equivalent of the computer science minor. Exceptions to these criteria may be made for applicants who show exceptional promise.
Applicants should meet the following minimum requirements for admission:
- A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00 for students with a master's degree
- A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25 for students without a master's degree
- Combined GRE verbal and quantitative score of at least 301 (1100 in the old scale). Students who score below 152 (670 in the old scale) in the quantitative section will find it difficult to complete our graduate program and may not be eligible for graduate assistantships.
- TOEFL scores of 550 (old scale), if applying from a non-U.S. institution
- A one-page personal statement describing research interests and career goals
- Three letters of recommendation
How to Apply
Contact Dr. Mircea Nicolescu, Graduate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants to the program must apply via The Graduate School website.
Our department evaluates applications on a rolling basis. However, to receive full consideration you should meet the following deadlines.
- January 15 for Fall semester
- August 15 for Spring semester
The department offers two main forms of financial support for doctoral students. To apply for departmental funding, please fill out the Application for Graduate Assistantship or Fellowship.
Assistantships may be either teaching assistantships or research assistantships.
- Teaching assistants work under the supervision of department faculty and are expected to teach recitation sections or laboratories, help with grading and develop course materials and exams.
- Research assistants conduct innovative research in cooperation with and under the supervision of department faculty. They are expected to conduct experiments, implement prototype systems, develop new theories, and attend conferences or publish work in scholarly journals.
Typical support for graduate assistantships covers the student's tuition and fees, health insurance, and offers financial compensation of $1,550 / month. If you are selected for an assistantship, you will receive additional details about your funding package at that time.
Two competitive fellowships are available for new doctoral students, providing up to three years of support provided that academic progress is maintained. Fellowships offer a stipend of $23,000 and an additional $7,000 to cover tuition, health insurance and other fees. Eligibility criteria for a fellowship include the following:
- New Ph.D. student
- Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.50
- Combined (verbal + quantitative ) GRE scores of at least 309 (1200 on the old scale)
- Quantitative GRE score of at least 159 (750 on the old scale)
- TOEFL score of at least 600 (international students only)
- Evidence of previous research experience and academic achievement
To keep your fellowship, you must show good academic performance and progress during each term of the award, maintain full-time enrollment in the program, and submit a research proposal by the end of your first year, with satisfactory progress shown each year after that.
International students should visit the Office of International Students and Scholars for more information.
The University offers on-campus housing for graduate students. Visit the graduate housing website to learn more about living at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Related Degrees and Programs
- Computer Science and Engineering, Minor
- Computer Science and Engineering, Bachelor of Science Degree
- Computer Science and Engineering, Master of Science Degree
Contact Computer Science and Engineering
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