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Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering


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:

  1. Computer and network systems
  2. Games and simulations
  3. Intelligent systems
  4. 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.

Degree Requirements

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.

Course requirements

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

Dissertation committee

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.

Comprehensive exams

Before you can become a Ph.D. candidate, you must pass a set of comprehensive exams. The exam has two requirements: written and oral.

Written Requirement

  • Thorough review of the literature from the student's research area
  • Research proposal (goals, methodology, research plan)
  • Work in progress

Oral Requirement

  • 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.

Admissions Requirements

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. Murat Yuksel, Graduate Director, at

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

Financial support

Information about graduate student tuition and fees is available on The Graduate School website.

Many of our full-time Ph.D. students are currently fully supported, and the department expects to have sufficient funding to support additional students in the upcoming years. You are encouraged to check out the funding sources below and apply for any funding for which you are eligible.

The University offers two kinds of graduate 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.

Graduate assistantships are valued at an estimated $34,000 and include a monthly stipend of $1,650, a per credit grant-in-aid, health insurance, and in-state resident status for tuition purposes. If you are selected for an assistantship, you will receive additional details about your funding package at that time. Individual academic departments make decisions on awarding the graduate assistantships and students should contact the department directly or the faculty supervisor they are interested in working with. Assistantships do not have to be from the department you are studying in.

To apply for an assistantship from the Computer Science and Engineering Department, please fill out the Application for Graduate Assistantship or Fellowship. Assistantships may be either teaching assistantships or research assistantships.

Fellowships are available for graduate students from this NSF-funded program that partners STEM graduate students with middle and high school teachers across Washoe County. Visit the GK-12 E-Fellows website to learn how to apply.

International Students

International students should visit the Office of International Students and Scholars for more information.

Information about scholarships and financial aid for international students is also available on the OISS website.

Housing Options

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

Contact Computer Science and Engineering

Phone (775) 784-6974
Fax (775) 784-1877
Location Scrugham Engineering and Mines

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