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Computer Science and Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Program 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.

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University of Nevada, Reno
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