Doctor of Science
in Computer Science



Admission Requirements

Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree in an appropriate scientific discipline, such as computer science, engineering, chemistry, physics, or mathematics. A GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last 60 credit hours is preferred. An applicant is expected to possess the prerequisites for the intended area of study. If a deficiency exists, the necessary course work must be completed prior to the advancement to candidacy.

Students not meeting these requirements may be admitted on a conditional basis. The conditional student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in at least nine (9) Computer Science graduate credits in the first year of study to be fully admitted.

In the week prior to the start of classes, incoming students will meet with his/her assigned advisor to discuss the program of study. The student's program of study will be directed based on the chosen area of interest. A student is required to take all prerequisite courses within the first year. The prerequisite courses will not be counted towards graduation.

International students whose native language is not English and who do not have a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of higher education must submit a score of at least 550 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), 213 on the computer-based version or 75% on the internet based version. In order to qualify for a teaching assistantship, students whose native language is not English must score a 5.0 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE).

International students who have questions about visas or other concerns should contact Mr. Robert Batten, International Student Advisor, in Wiseman Center, Room 126, phone: (301) 860-3830, email:


During the week prior to the beginning of a student‟s first semester, new doctoral students will have the opportunity to meet with the advisor, doctoral program director, and department chair. During this orientation session, the concentration area liaison or the program director will be assigned as the student's Provisional Mentor. This mentor will act as the student‟s temporary advisor for the first and second semesters within the program. Students should meet with their Provisional Mentors as soon as possible to receive instruction in selecting and registering for courses, as well as to take care of all the other aspects required to begin their graduate education at the University. Students should consult regularly with their Provisional Mentors during their first semester concerning progress with coursework, rotations where applicable, etc. By the end of the first semester of study, students should select their Doctoral Advisors from faculty within the Department of Computer Science.

The department will organize computer science seminar series during each semester. All D.Sc students are required to attend the seminar series.

Program Requirements

The Doctor of Science program requires a minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. A minimum of 60 graduate level credits (not including the dissertation) chosen from the list of courses for the doctoral program must be completed. Students who do not have computer science background must meet all of the deficiencies required by the Doctoral Program Committee (DPC). Fifteen credits of core courses are required. A minimum of thirty-six (36) credit hours of graded course-work is required from at least three knowledge areas of which at least 27 credits should be in 600-800 level distributed at all three levels. A minimum of 9 credit hours is required from advanced research concentration areas. Up to 30 credits from approved institutions may be counted towards the doctoral degree for those students who have completed a Master's degree in Computer Science or a related area. The student‟s program of study must be developed in conjunction with his/her doctoral advisor/mentor and advisory committee.

A minimum of twelve credit hours of dissertation work/research is required. The research must be substantial and must extend the state of the art in the student's chosen field through theoretical development, design or process improvement, or experimental technique.

Each student must satisfactorily complete the qualifying examination and the comprehensive examination.

Summary of Doctor of Science Degree Requirements

Minimum of 72 credit hours beyond BS degree
Minimum of 15 credits hours graded course work from core topics
Minimum of 36 credit hours graded course work (of which 27 credits in 600 - 800 levels)
Minimum of 9 Credits in Advanced Research Concentration areas (courses 890-899)
Minimum of 12 credit hours of research-dissertation work
Participation/Registration in Computer Science Seminar is required every semester
Dissertation and Advisory Committee (Minimum 5 – Maximum 7 members)
Qualifying Candidacy Examination
Comprehensive Examination
Dissertation Proposal Oral Examination
Dissertation Defense Examination

Doctoral Advisor

The selection of a Doctoral Advisor is one of the most important choices students will make during their time in our program. A Doctoral Advisor should be chosen with the intent of not only matching research interests, but also with an eye toward finding an individual with whom the student feels comfortable entrusting his/her educational future. Once a Doctoral Advisor is selected, students should complete the “Selection of Doctoral Advisor” form no later than the end of the second year. The form should be signed by both the Doctoral Advisor and the Doctoral Program Director for inclusion in the student's file.

Dissertation Committee

You should select and meet with your dissertation committee prior to the completion of the third semester. The role of this committee is to advise and help direct your academic and research programs. The dissertation committee will be composed of a minimum of five (5) members (no more than seven (7)), including the committee chair, who will be the student's doctoral advisor. The chair and three of the members must be Computer Science doctoral faculty members as previously described. External committee members must be approved and offer a needed expertise. The Doctoral Program Committee must approve the dissertation committee constituency.

The dissertation subject is selected by the student, with input from the dissertation committee, at least two years prior to the oral defense. It must be a scholarly contribution to a major field of computer science in the student's concentration area, consisting of new important knowledge or a major modification, amplification, or interpretation of existing significant knowledge. The written dissertation format must follow the BSU Dissertation and Thesis Guide, which can be obtained from the Department of Computer Science or online.

In the first meeting with the dissertation committee, the student should provide appropriate background material on his/her education to aid committee members in advising the student on course work. The student should also brief the committee on his/her research interest and any thoughts on the thesis/dissertation. Obtaining committee consent is essential toward ensuring future success. Subsequently, the student should meet with the committee at least once a semester. The dissertation advisor will conduct the semester meetings. Regular meetings will ensure that progress is made in accordance with the committee's expectations.

Program of study

The preliminary program of study should reviewed by the advisory committee for the course work to be completed. The program of study must receive signed approval by the advisory committee and the Department Chair. The DPC and the Department Chair must approve any subsequent alterations in the program of study.

Transfer of Credit

Transferability of credit is determined by the student's advisor based upon the applicability of the courses selected for dissertation work and the student's educational goals.

Qualifying Candidacy Examination

The purpose of the Candidacy Examination is to determine whether the applicant possesses the attributes of a doctoral candidate. Typically, the Candidacy Examination will be held once a year. The date and time will be announced by the department. The Candidacy Examination is a comprehensive it is recommended that a student must take the examination at the next opportunity after completion of the core preparation subjects and, in any event, no later than the beginning of the fifth semester in the program. A student may attempt the candidacy exam a maximum of two times. If a student is not successful in passing the candidacy exam in two attempts he/she may be dismissed from the program.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is a written test composed of material covering three knowledge areas out of the five knowledge areas. The suggested courses for the comprehensive exam from each knowledge area is indicated with in the course list. A student may attempt the comprehensive examination a maximum of two times. A student who has not passed comprehensive exam in the second attempt will be dismissed from the program. A minimum GPA of 3.0 in the doctoral course-work is required to take the examination.

Dissertation Proposal

At least two years prior to the dissertation defense, candidates must present a written proposal in either a National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) format for their dissertation work to the advisory committee. The proposal will be given to the DPC two weeks in advance of meeting with the committee. The student must defend successfully the rationale and experimental procedures for the proposed doctoral dissertation. Students are encouraged to present an open seminar on the proposal prior to meeting with the advisory committee. Students who fail the proposal defense may repeat the proposal defense a maximum of one time. If a second failure occurs, he/she may be dismissed from the program.

Doctoral Dissertation and Defense

In order to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree, students will prepare and successfully defend a written dissertation in accordance with the format and procedure dictated by the BSU Department of Computer Science and the Graduate School. Each student must orally defend the completed doctoral research to his/her dissertation committee. The defense will be open to the public and must be publicized at least two weeks in advance. The first hour of this final examination will consist of an open seminar to the Department on the student's research. This will be followed by a closed examination of the candidate by the Doctoral Advisor and the Dissertation Committee. This examination will follow guidelines established by the Department of Computer Science and the Graduate School. The examination can be wide-ranging, but will usually utilize the student's research as a starting point. At the completion of the examination, the Doctoral Advisor and Dissertation Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student. If the majority of the committee members cast negative votes, it is considered a failure of the examination.

Summary of Graduation Requirements

Completion of any writing and seminar requirements
Completion of an approved program of study with a minimum 3.0 GPA
Passed qualifying and comprehensive examinations
Present an acceptable dissertation proposal to the Dissertation Committee
Successful oral defense and completion of the dissertation


Students are required to earn 15 credits (5 courses) in core computer science topics, 36 credits (12 courses) from at least three of the knowledge areas, 9 credits (3 courses) from the advanced research concentration areas and 12 credits from the dissertation area.

Faculty Research Areas


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Click here to view the required courses

Sample questions for qualifying exams click here
To view the graduate student handbook click here

For a full list of course descriptions click here
For a microsoft word version of the previous information click here
For a Doctoral Program of Study form click here
For a Doctoral Dissertation handbook click here




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