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Ph.D. Course Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science is, above all else, a degree of quality. Simply completing a number of graduate courses or years of study is not sufficient to receive the degree. The successful candidate must demonstrate a breadth of understanding in computer science and a depth of understanding in their chosen area(s) of emphasis.

Students must also show an ability to do creative research. Thus, each successful Ph.D. candidate will produce a significant piece of original research presented in a written dissertation and defended in an oral examination. This work should be of such quality that one or more journal or conference articles can be derived from it.

  • All Ph.D. students must turn in a Program of Study by the end of their third semester. If you are on an assistantship, you must turn in your Program of Study by the end of your second semester.
  • Completion of at least 70 credits of graduate course work beyond a BS-CS or at least 40 credits beyond a MS-CS with a minimum class grade of B.
  • Students must maintain a 3.50 GPA on all courses shown on his or her Program of Study Form
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 on all courses taken as a matriculated graduate student and all CS courses numbered 5000 or above.
  • Must complete nine credits of courses at CS 6000-level or above. CS 6900, CS 6250, and CS 7970 are not included in the nine required 6000-level or above CS courses.
  • Must take three additional course credits or 21 without a MS. (CS 6900 does not count as one of these credits)
  • A Ph.D. student cannot take more than 9 credits outside of the CS Department. Any outside credits must be approved by your committee.
  • Independent Studies courses taken outside the Computer Science Department will not be approved.
  • CS 5950 or CS 6950 or CS 7950 can be taken only with advisor's prior permission and only for three credits at a time. The maximum total number of credits allowed for these courses are three (with previous MS) or six (without previous MS).
  • CS 6990, CS 7990 and CS 5060 CANNOT be counted on the Program of Study for Ph.D. students.
  • CS 6250 can be taken only with advisor's prior permission and for 1-3 credits at a time. A maximum of three credits will be allowed on your Program of Study.
  • No more then 15 credits of 5000 level can be included (with a Previous MS) or 21 credits (without a previous MS).
  • Pass a set of written examinations and an oral examination showing depth and breadth of knowledge in computer science and their area(s) of emphasis. While there is some flexibility in the scheduling of the qualifier, it is important that it be completed early in your program. For that reason, the following timelines are given:
    • Those without an MS must have completed 18 credits and have a 3.5 GPA in order to take the qualifier.
    • Those with an MS must have completed 12 credits and have a 3.5 GPA in order to take the qualifier.
    • Students may complete (register for) a maximum of six credits of CS 7970 (dissertation credits) before successfully completing the qualifier.
  • IELI 7920 cannot be included on the POS
  • Ph.D. students are required to take the 1-credit CS6900 in their first year to introduce them to the research in the department

Click here for more information Ph.D. Exams Policy

The research proposal and dissertation must be at least 18 semester credits.

Table 7: Course and Credit Requirements for Ph.D. degree. "Without MS" denotes students without a MS-CS degree, "with MS" denotes students already holding a MS-CS degree. Unless otherwise noted, a credit hour value denotes the number that must be included in the degree. No more and no less than this number may be included.

  Ph.D. without MS Ph.D. with MS
6000-level or 7000-level 9 9
Credits from MS 0 0 to 30
Seminar CS 6900 1 1
Dissertation 18 18
Additional Courses 21 3
Remaining Courses / Dissertation 21 39 (hours awarded from MS)
Minimum Total 70 70

Please Note: Research Integrity is a required course, even though it is 0 credits

Tuition Awards Limitations



Nonresident Portion


70 Credits

70 Credits


70 Credits

70 Credits


70 Credits

70 Credits


70 Credits

70 Credits

*For any student that started spring 2015 or before with a MS degree, 30 credits will be included in the Remaining Courses/Dissertation category. For any student who starts after spring 2015 but before fall 2019, a committee will review their Master’s degree to see how many credits will be allowed in their Remaining Courses/Dissertation category. The most a student can include is 30, so a student must take at least nine more credits of courses or Dissertation.  For any student who starts fall 2019 or later, the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) will review their Master's degree to see how many credits will be allowed in their Remaining Courses/Dissertation category.  Only CS or CS-equivalent courses are allowed to be included (they must be mapped to a corresponding CS course offered in the USU Computer Science Department).  The most a student can include is 30 credits of CS or CS-equivalent coursework.

(updated 1/23/2020)