Computer Science PhD

Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.


Total Units Required: 10

Course Title
Course Requirements
10 graded units of graduate coursework
COMP_SCI 401-0 (Introduction to Graduate Studies) is required and should be taken in the fall quarter of the first year
Coursework includes COMP_SCI 499-0, but not COMP_SCI 590-0 (Research)
Track-specific course requirements are given in the CS Ph.D. Manual
The normal full-time course load is three units and the maximum is four units per academic quarter. All students receiving financial aid (fellowships, assistantships, grants, etc.) must register as full-time students.

Other Ph.D. Degree Requirements

  • Advisor: The CS Ph.D. program uses an apprenticeship model.  A Ph.D. student is required to find an advisor by the end of their third quarter (typically spring quarter,) ideally earlier.  The advisor must have a primary or partial academic appointment in the Computer Science Department, though courtesy faculty may be co-advisors. 
  • Research:The CS Ph.D. program focuses on training researchers.  Learning how to do research is accomplished mostly by doing research.   A Ph.D. student is expected to become involved in research from the first quarter.   Research continues throughout the program, becoming increasingly self-guided as it does so, and culminates in the student's thesis work.
  • Examinations: Qualifying Exam, Thesis Proposal (Prospectus), Oral Thesis Defense, and Written Dissertation.
  • Teaching: at least one experience as an instructor, or teaching assistant
  • Details of the above and other aspects of the CS Ph.D. program are given in the CS Ph.D. Manual, which can be found on the departmental web site or via