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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer Science

Overview of Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science at The University of Georgia is an advanced, intensive program offered by the Computer Science Department and designed to take students to the frontiers of knowledge in one of a number of key areas of Computer Science. The Ph.D. in Computer Science combines theory and practice in complementary, yet flexible, ways. The program has been designed to prepare students for careers in research (at universities, or government or industrial research laboratories), teaching (at colleges or universities), or advanced development (at hardware and software companies).

The Department presently has active research groups in the following areas:

  • Theory (combinatorics, algorithms and theory of computing).
  • Distributed Information Systems (database systems, information systems, software engineering, distributed systems, and the Web),
  • Image Processing and Vision (high and low level image processing, computer vision, and graphics),
  • Parallel Processing (advanced algorithms and architectures, operating system support, and programming languages and techniques),
  • Computational Science (numerical, algorithmic and heuristic approaches to problem solving for the sciences, and advanced presentation and visualization techniques),
  • Artificial Intelligence (knowledge based systems, expert systems, logic and logic programming, natural language processing, robotics, genetic algorithms, simulated annealing, and neural nets),
  • Computer Architecture (advanced computer architectures, VLSI and CAD),
  • Compilers (link-time optimization, run-time optimizations), and
  • Modeling and Simulation (analytic modeling, simulation, animation, and virtual reality).

Prospective students are advised to consult The University of Georgia Graduate Bulletin for institutional information and requirements.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general policies set forth in the Graduate Bulletin, the following departmental policies apply to all applicants:
  1. A baccalaureate degree or masters degree is required with a major in Computer Science or a closely allied discipline. Students with an insufficient background in Computer Science should apply for one of the Masters level programs (MS or MAMS). Please consult the admission requirements section of the MS degree for prerequisite undergraduate courses.

  2. Admission to this program is highly selective; students with a record of academic excellence have a better chance for acceptance. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores are required for admission consideration, ideally including the Subject Test in Computer Science. (In any case, the Subject Test in Computer Science must be taken before completing the PhD degree.)

  3. Three letters of recommendation are required, preferably written by university professors familiar with the student's academic work and potential. If the student has work experience, one letter may be from his/her supervisor. Letters should be sent directly from the letter writer or signed on the back of the envelope.

  4. A one-page personal statement outlining the student's background, achievements and future goals is required.

Graduate School Requirements

Additional requirements are specified by the Graduate School (application fee, general application forms, all transcripts, etc.). Please see the University of Georgia Bulletin for further information. Detailed admissions information may be found at Graduate School Admissions. Printed information may be obtained by contacting the
Office of Graduate Admissions
Room 534 Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-7402
phone: 706-542-1787
fax: 706-542-3219
Applications are processed on a year round basis. Students can be admitted for either semester (Fall or Spring). Please visit the Graduate School for application submission deadlines .

Summary of Basic Degree Requirements

Program of Study

The program of study consists of at least 48 semester hours of resident graduate coursework. This includes
  1. at least 19 hours of CSCI 6000-level coursework,
  2. at least 16 hours of CSCI 8000-level coursework,
  3. at least 1 hour of CSCI 8990 Research Seminar,
  4. at least 6 hours of coursework in a doctoral minor,
  5. at least 6 hours of CSCI 9300 Doctoral Dissertation.
Typically, full-time students will take 9 to 15 hours per semester. See the CSCI section of the University of Georgia Bulletin for course descriptions. A program of study should be a coherent and logical whole; it requires the approval of the student's major professor, the student's advisory committee, and the departmental graduate coordinator.

Core Curriculum

At least one course from each of the following four groups must be taken:

Group 1: Theory
CSCI 6470 Algorithms
CSCI 6610 Automata and Formal Languages
Group 2: Software Design
CSCI 6050 Software Engineering
CSCI 6370 Database Management
CSCI 6570 Compilers
Group 3: System Design
CSCI 6720 Computer Architecture and Organization
CSCI 6730 Operating Systems
CSCI 6760 Computer Networks: Technology and Application
Group 4: Applications
Any 6000-level CSCI course except
6300, 6345, 6390, 6950, courses in groups 1-3.

The core curriculum consists of a total of 19 semester hours.

Additional Coursework

Students must take additional 8000-level courses in CSCI sufficient to satisfy all necessary prerequisites and to bring the cumulative (including the core) hours to at least 35 (at least 19 at the 6000 level and at least 16 at the 8000 level).

Exclusions and Limitations

  • Courses in the Master of Internet Technology (MIT) program ( CSCI 6300, CSCI 6345, CSCI 6390) may not be listed in the program of study.
  • At most 4 hours of CSCI 6950 Directed Study may be included in the program of study.
  • CSCI 8990 Research Seminar may not be counted in the 20 hours of additional coursework at the 8000-level.
  • At most one of the 8000-level courses may be repeated once. That course must be listed in the catalog as repeatable and a syllabus from both offerings of the course must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator with the Program of Study showing a differentiation between the two offerings.

Research Seminar

All students must take 1 hour of CSCI 8990 Research Seminar, in which they must attend weekly meetings of a research seminar and give presentations. Presently, there are two ongoing research seminars, the Theory Seminar (CATS) and the Systems Seminar (RATS).

Research Skills

The department has no research skills requirement.

Advisory Committee

A doctoral student's advisory committee shall consist of at least three members of the graduate faculty, including the student's major professor who will chair the committee, and a minor professor, who is from the student's doctoral minor. A fourth member of the graduate faculty may be appointed as co-major professor. At least half of the committee must be non-adjunct members of the Computer Science Department. Either the major professor or the co-major professor (if there is one) must be a non-adjunct member of the Department. Both the major and co-major professors must be regular members of the graduate faculty. A committee may have at most one non-UGA-affiliated voting member, who must hold the terminal degree in their field of study and certify their credentials with a letter and vita. The maximum size of a committee is six, a majority of which must be members of the graduate faculty.

Doctoral Minor

A minor must be composed by the student's major professor and advisory committee and approved by the graduate coordinator. A minor must consist of at least 6 hours of graduate-level coursework from other departments. The department is particularly interested in encouraging students to pursue minors in Computational Science, Artificial Intelligence, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geography, Management Information Systems, Mathematics, Physics, or Statistics.

Qualifying Examination

The student must pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, covering the core topics in computer science. (This exam is parallel to the one taken by candidates for the M.S. degree in Computer Science.) Students entering the Ph.D. program from another school will be required to take the Ph.D. qualifying examination before being considered for advanced study. Note that students may not take the Ph.D. written comprehensive examination unless the Ph.D. qualifying exam has been successfully completed. Students have two attempts to pass the qualifying exam.

Comprehensive Examination

The student must pass the Ph.D. comprehensive examination that covers the student's major and minor areas of study. The examination consists of two parts: a written part and an oral part. Students have at most two attempts to pass the written part. The oral part may not be attempted unless the written part has been passed. The written part may not be attempted unless the student has successfully completed the qualifying exam. The exams are administered by the student's advisory committee.

For more information see Ph.D. Exams: Form and Timing.

Non-Departmental Requirements

Non-departmental requirements are set forth by the Graduate School (see the Graduate Bulletin ). They concern residence, time limits, programs of study, acceptance of transfer credits, admission to candidacy, minimum GPA's, dissertation, and examinations.

Admission to Candidacy

The student is responsible for initiating an application for admission to candidacy once all requirements, except the dissertation prospectus and the dissertation, have been completed.

Dissertation Planning and Prospectus

Dissertation planning will involve exploratory research leading to the preparation of a dissertation prospectus. CSCI 9000 Doctoral Research may be taken at this time. The prospectus must be presented to the advisory committee for approval.

Dissertation Approval and Defense

The student's dissertation must represent originality in research, independent thinking, scholarly ability, and technical mastery of a field of study. The dissertation must also demonstrate competent style and organization (see Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations). While working on his/her dissertation, the student must enroll for a minimum of 6 hours of CSCI 9300 Doctoral Dissertation spread over at least 2 semesters. Students may not register for this course until they have been admitted to candidacy. Once the student's major professor has approved the final version of the dissertation, it will be distributed to the other members of the advisory committee, and a dissertation defense scheduled no sooner than three weeks after the distribution. All but one of the members of the advisory committee must approve the student's dissertation and defense.
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