VCU Bulletins

Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a concentration in computer science

Graduate program director
Tom J. Arodz, Ph.D.
Assistant professor
tarodz@vcu.edu
(804) 827-3989

Additional contact
Krzysztof J. Cios, Ph.D.
Professor and chair, Department of Computer Science
kcios@vcu.edu
(804) 828-9671

Program website: computer-science.egr.vcu.edu/graduate

Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.

Computer and Information Systems Security, Master of Science (M.S.)
Computer Science, Master of Science (M.S.)
Computer Science, Master of Science (M.S.), accelerated Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.

Admission requirements

Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a concentration in computer science
Degree:

Ph.D.
Semester(s) of entry:
Fall

Spring
Deadline
dates:

Jun 1 (Feb 15 for financial assistance)
Nov 15
Test requirements:
GRE – General

International students require TOEFL
Special requirements:
Acceptance of an applicant is based upon the recommendation of the admissions committee with approval of the program chair and the associate dean for graduate studies.

Students may begin a course of study in either the fall or spring semesters for the engineering graduate programs, although a start in the fall semester is preferred.

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, and the School of Engineering, applicants must meet the following requirements:

Applicants to the Ph.D. in Engineering with a concentration in computer science must have a B.S. and master’s degree in engineering, computer science or a closely related discipline.

Students with an M.S. degree in a field closely related to computer science, such as mathematics, physics, engineering or bioinformatics, can be accepted directly into the Ph.D. program. However, only outstanding students (preferably with a B.S. degree in computer science) can be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program with just the baccalaureate degree.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university.  These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU

Program mission

The mission of the Ph.D. in Engineering degree program is to provide graduate students with learning opportunities for acquiring a broad foundation of engineering knowledge, an in-depth original research experience at the frontiers of engineering, and skills for lifelong learning and professional development. Graduates of this program will pursue careers in research and development or academia.

  1. Advanced research skills: To produce graduates who possess the necessary advanced analytical, technical and research skills in engineering and the sciences – responds directly to the higher goal of fulfilling the needs of industry, academe and research laboratories for effective, productive engineers, professors and researchers
  2. Communication: To produce graduates who possess a facility with both written and oral communications – emanates from the requirement that engineers, researchers and professors must be able to interact and share ideas with others in the work environment, and at a higher level, be capable of creative self-expression, conveying knowledge and leadership
  3. Advanced problem-solving: To produce graduates who demonstrate creativity and innovation in solving technological problems – stems from the realization that new knowledge and new solutions to existing problems are necessary to meet the needs of our changing society and to advance the quality of human life

Student learning outcomes

  1. Apply advanced knowledge of mathematics, science or engineering: Graduates will demonstrate an ability to apply advanced knowledge of mathematics, science or engineering.
  2. Communicate effectively: Graduates will demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively.
  3. Identify, formulate and solve engineering problems: Graduates will demonstrate an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.
  4. Demonstrate abilities in research: Graduates will demonstrate the ability to identify pertinent research problems, to formulate and execute a research plan, to generate and analyze research results, and to communicate those results through oral presentations and written publications. Graduates will be able to creatively solve the research problems posed. 

Degree requirements

In addition to the VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students must meet the following requirements.

A minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, including research credit hours, is required for the Ph.D. in Engineering. Students holding the master’s degree must complete a minimum of six credit hours in concentration course work and 18 credit hours in dissertation research. The student’s adviser must approve all course work. Ph.D. students must take a minimum of 30 credit hours (including research) beyond the master’s degree. No elective courses may be used for both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. At least half of the credit hours required in the student’s program must be those designated as exclusively for graduate students, that is, at the 600 level or above.

A minimum of three years of study, including research, is necessary to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. A period of residence of at least three consecutive semesters is required. Residency is defined as registration for at least nine credits per semester. A time limit of eight calendar years, beginning at the time of first registration, is placed on work to be credited toward the Ph.D.

A student may choose to pursue a Ph.D. under the guidance of a computer science graduate faculty member. Interdisciplinary programs of study that involve computer science and another discipline are encouraged; however, a core of computer science courses is required. Courses not labeled CMSC must show relevance to the student’s program of study and must be submitted for approval by the computer science graduate committee through the student’s adviser.

Comprehensive examinations

In order to advance to doctoral candidacy, the student must pass both written and oral comprehensive examinations. The written examination focuses on the subject matter deemed critical as a foundation in the program. The examination is largely based on material covered in required course work and its application to theoretical and practical problems. The oral examination, which follows successful completion of the written examination(s), is administered to assess the ability of the student to integrate information and display an appropriate mastery of problem-solving capabilities. Graduate students may not take the comprehensive exam if their overall GPA is less than 3.0. Students must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for courses within the program in order to take the comprehensive exam. For further details, see the graduate program director or the program chair.

Admission to candidacy

Before admission to doctoral candidacy, students must have: (1) completed required course work, (2) successfully completed the comprehensive examinations and (3) fulfilled all additional departmental requirements. A student may seek admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree without first completing the research and thesis portion of the Master of Science degree.

Dissertation research

The student must conduct a substantial original investigation under the supervision of the permanent adviser and prepare a dissertation reporting the results of this research and analyzing its significance in relation to existing scientific knowledge.

When the dissertation has been completed, copies in accepted form and style are submitted to the members of the advisory committee. The committee members decide upon the acceptability of the candidate’s dissertation. A favorable unanimous vote is required to approve the dissertation and all examiners are required to vote.

If the advisory committee accepts the dissertation for defense, the candidate appears before them for a final oral examination. This examination is open to all members of the faculty. The final oral examination will be limited to the subject of the candidate’s dissertation and related matters. A favorable vote of the candidate’s advisory committee and no more than one negative vote shall be required for passing the final oral examination. All committee members must vote. There shall be an announcement of the candidate’s name, department and title of dissertation, together with the day, place and hour of the final oral examination at least 10 working days in advance.

Students will have to satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Take a minimum of 12 credit hours of didactic course work at the graduate level and 18 credit hours of directed research for a minimum of 30 credit hours including a minimum of four courses that should satisfy the following:
    1. At least two courses at the 600 level or greater
    2. At least one course from each of the two foundation areas: theory and systems.
  2. Take and pass a written comprehensive exam (maximum of two attempts allowed)
    1. The written comprehensive examination will cover knowledge in three areas and, in order to pass, students must score a minimum of 75 percent in each area.
      1. The exam must include material based on CMSC 501 from the theory area and on at least one course from the systems area.
      2. The third area will cover the student’s specialization based on courses to be decided by the dissertation adviser.
    2. Students are allowed to take the comprehensives based on courses they may not have taken at VCU; however, they have to satisfy the course requirements as mentioned above.
    3. Students can contact the lead professor for any area and obtain a list of topics that will be covered in the exam.
    4. The exam will be conducted a minimum of once a year and will be organized by the graduate director, with prior approval of the exam questions by the graduate committee.
    5. A student who fails one area of the required three comprehensive exam areas must retake the exam in the failed area. The department will organize and schedule a special comprehensive exam for such students. A student who fails two or more exam areas must retake the entire comprehensive exam at the regularly scheduled comprehensive exam in the following year.
  3. Write and defend a dissertation proposal (oral comprehensive exam) on an original research topic.
  4. Write and publicly defend the Ph.D. dissertation.
    1. Since the Ph.D. is awarded for completion of work on an original research problem, peer-reviewed evidence of the quality of this work, in terms of at least one accepted journal paper or published high-quality conference paper (publications should be in a student’s research area), must be approved by the dissertation committee and the graduate committee before the final dissertation defense can be scheduled.
    2. Specific publication requirements are available at the computer science department website as well as in the School of Engineering graduate handbook.

For students with a B.S. degree

Students admitted into the Ph.D. program with a B.S. degree must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Take a minimum of 60 credit hours of course work, including:
    1. A minimum of 30 didactic credit hours, including
      1. At least two courses from each of the three foundation areas; CMSC 501 must be one of these courses.
      2. At least 15 credit hours at the 600 level or greater
    2. In addition, a student admitted to this program may need to take other undergraduate computer science courses in order to prepare for the required graduate-level courses. The choice of these courses will be left to the discretion of the student’s adviser.
    3. A minimum of 18 credit hours of directed research is required.
  2. Satisfy the comprehensive examination requirements as articulated above.

For students without an M.S. in Computer Science

  1. Students admitted into the Ph.D. program without an M.S. in Computer Science must satisfy the following:
    1. Take a minimum of 18 credit hours of course work at the graduate level and 18 credit hours of directed research for a minimum of 36 credit hours including:
      1. A minimum of two courses from each of the foundation areas: theory and systems; CMSC 501 must be one of these courses
      2. At least nine credits at the 600 level or greater
      3. In addition, a student admitted to this program may need to take other undergraduate computer science courses in order to prepare for the required graduate-level courses. The choice of these courses will be left to the discretion of the student’s adviser.
    2. Satisfy the comprehensive examination requirements as articulated above.

Curriculum requirements

B.S. to Ph.D. curriculum

Courses Credit hours
   
Concentration component: This component allows the student to pursue a series of courses that focus on a specific field of engineering and serve as the student’s primary engineering discipline.  
   
Foundational area: theory 6
CMSC 501 Advanced Algorithms (required) 3
   
Choose at least one of the following:  
CMSC 526 Theory of Programming Languages 3
CMSC 620/CISS 624 Applied Cryptography 3
CMSC 621 Theory of Computation 3
   
Foundational area: systems (choose at least two of the following) 6
CMSC 502 Parallel Algorithms 3
CMSC 506/EGRE 526 Computer Networks and Communications 3
CMSC 608 Advanced Database 3
CMSC/CISS 618 Database and Application Security 3
CMSC 622 Network and Operating Systems Security 3
   
Foundational area: applied computer science (choose at least two of the following) 6
CMSC/CISS 609 Advanced Computational Intelligence 3
CMSC 630 Applied Signal and Image Analysis 3
CMSC 635 Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining 3
CMSC 678 Statistical Learning and Fuzzy Logic Algorithms 3
   
Optional electives component: This component allows the student to take courses in either engineering or science with approval of the student’s adviser.  
   
Additional CMSC course work 12
Note: At least 15 credit hours of all CMSC courses must be at the 600 level or greater.  
   
Directed research component: This component emphasizes research directed toward completion of degree requirements under the direction of an adviser and advisory committee.  
   
Research 18
CMSC 692 Independent Study or CMSC 697 Directed Research  
   
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 60

M.S. to Ph.D. curriculum

Courses Credit hours
   
Concentration component: This component allows the student to pursue a series of courses that focus on a specific field of engineering and serve as the student’s primary engineering discipline.  
   
Foundational area: theory (choose at least one of the following) 3
CMSC 501 Advanced Algorithms (required) 3
CMSC 526 Theory of Programming Languages 3
CMSC 620/CISS 624 Applied Cryptography 3
CMSC 621 Theory of Computation 3
   
Foundational area: systems (choose at least one of the following) 3
CMSC 502 Parallel Algorithms 3
CMSC 506 Computer Networks and Communications 3
CMSC 608 Advanced Database 3
CMSC/CISS 618 Database and Application Security 3
CMSC 622 Network and Operating Systems Security 3
   
Optional electives component: This component allows the student to take courses in either engineering or science with approval of the student’s adviser.  
   
Additional CMSC course work or other engineering or science courses in MATH/OPER/STAT/EGRE (Non-CMSC courses require approval by Graduate Committee.) 3
   
Note: At least six credit hours of all CMSC courses must be at the 600 level or greater. An additional six credit hours is required for students with an M.S. degree in a subject other than computer science.  
   
Directed research component: This component emphasizes research directed toward completion of degree requirements under the direction of an adviser and advisory committee.  
   
Research 18
CMSC 697 Directed Research  
   
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 30

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Degree candidacy requirements

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Graduation requirements

Other information

Student handbook is available on the School of Engineering website.

 

 

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Last update: 12/18/2014

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