Computer Science PhD

Major: Computer Science
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 90.0 (post-bachelor's) or 45.0 (post-master's)
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 11.0701
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 11-3021; 15-1111; 15-1131; 15-1132; 15-1199

About the Program

Students enrolled in the PhD in Computer Science program are expected to become an expert in a research area in computer science or a related interdisciplinary field. They are expected to conduct research in considerable depth and make substantial contributions through creative research and serious scholarship. The program is designed for students to ensure core knowledge of the fundamental computer science areas and to conduct cutting-edge research at the forefront of a selected area. Students are prepared for computer science leadership careers in industry, research, government and education and interdisciplinary work using computer science.

Additional Information

For more information about these programs, including admission requirements, visit the College of Computing & Informatics website.

Degree Requirements

Students in the PhD program move through several milestones on their way to completion of the degree: (1) qualifying requirements in which the student takes courses to ensure breadth and depth of knowledge across areas of computer science; (2) a candidacy exam in which the student performs an in-depth study of a particular area of research; (3) a thesis proposal in which the student provides a detailed overview of their planned dissertation work; and finally (4) a thesis defense in which the student presents their completed dissertation work. Upon entering the PhD program, students work with a Graduate Advisor to develop a plan of study (filed no later than the end of the first term); this plan can be revised and brought up-to-date when necessary, and serves as a blueprint for planning out the timely and successful completion of all milestones.

PhD Students Admitted with Post-Masters Status: Students entering with a master's degree in computer science or a closely related field will be considered a postmasters PhD student and will only be required to complete a total of 45.0 credit hours, in accordance with University policy. Students who are admitted for PhD study with “post-masters” status must take 12.0 credits of graduate coursework and pass each of these courses with a grade of B+ or higher to fulfill the qualifying requirements. Courses are to be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee. A post-masters PhD student must meet all other degree milestones (candidacy exam, thesis proposal and thesis defense).

Post-Bachelor's Student Requirements

Breadth Requirements12.0
Students must take 4 courses from the list below, with at least 1 course from each category.
Data Structures and Algorithms I
Theory of Computation
Operating Systems
Computer Networks
Programming Languages
Software Design
Fundamentals of Databases
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
Developing User Interfaces
Computer Graphics
High Performance Computing
Game Engine Programming
Applied Symbolic Computation
Introduction to Computer Vision
Security Engineering
Depth Requirement12.0
Students must take 4 additional Computer Science (CS) courses at the 500 level or higher. Related courses (e.g., Software Engineering) may be used to fulfill these requirements with departmental permission. CS 501, CS 502, CS 503 and CS 504 cannot be taken to fulfill the Depth Requirement.
Independent Study in Computer Science
Research in Computer Science
Ph.D. Dissertation
Total Credits90.0-135.0

Post-Master's Student Requirements

Required Courses:
CS 590Privacy3.0
CS 613Machine Learning3.0
CS 618Algorithmic Game Theory3.0
CS 630Cognitive Systems3.0
CS I999Independent Study in Computer Science6.0
CS 997Research in Computer Science21.0
CS 998Ph.D. Dissertation6.0
Total Credits45.0

All post-bachelors PhD students must take 4 courses as part of the Breadth Requirements, and an additional 4 courses as part of the Depth Requirements. Students must pass each of the 4 Breadth courses with a grade of B+ or higher and must achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher across all 8 courses. Normally, a student will satisfy the Breadth Requirements by the end of their first year in the program and will satisfy the Depth Requirements by the end of their second year.

-  If a student fails to meet the minimum grade or GPA requirements above, the department will require supplemental remediation on a case-by-case basis that may include any of the following: (1) take another Breadth course in the same category and obtain a grade of B+ or higher; (2) retake the same course at the next offering and obtain a grade of B+ or higher; or (3) retake the final exam of the same course with permission of the instructor and obtain a grade of B+ or higher. Failure to satisfy the required remediation will lead to termination from the PhD program.

-  If a student feels that they have already mastered the material in any of the Breadth categories (Theory, Systems, or Applications) — for example, from prior coursework or work experience —they may choose to satisfy the requirement in that category by taking an advanced course in the same category, and by receiving a grade of B+ or higher in the advanced course. Students should discuss their situation with the department as early as possible, and the department can provide potential options for advanced courses in that category. In all cases, students must obtain departmental approval before enrolling in or starting any advanced course that will be used to satisfy the Breadth Requirements.

-  Transfer credits may not be used for Breadth Requirements but may be used for Depth Requirements. (If transfer credits are used, the GPA for purposes of qualifying is calculated only from Breadth and Depth courses taken while enrolled in the PhD program.) Thus, incoming students with prior graduate-level coursework may be able to transfer up to 4 prior courses into the PhD program to satisfy the Depth Requirements. However, because transfer credits cannot be used for Breadth Requirements, all students must take a minimum of 4 courses as part of the PhD program, regardless of prior coursework.

Sample Plan of Study

Post-Bachelors PhD Student

First Year
CS 5103.0CS 5433.0CS 5833.0VACATION
CS 5213.0CS 9976.0CS 9976.0 
CS 9973.0   
 9 9 9 0
Second Year
CS 5363.0CS 6153.0CS 6453.0VACATION
CS 6133.0CS 9973.0CS 9973.0 
CS 9973.0CS I999 (Candidacy exam prep)3.0CS I999 (Candidacy exam prep)3.0 
 9 9 9 0
Third Year
CS 9979.0CS 9979.0CS 9976.0VACATION
  CS 9983.0 
 9 9 9 0
Fourth Year
CS 9976.0   
CS 9983.0   
Total Credits 90

Post-Masters PhD Student

First Year
CS 5903.0CS 6303.0CS 6183.0Vacation
CS 6133.0CS I999 (Candidacy exam prep)3.0CS I999 (Candidacy exam prep)3.0 
CS 9973.0CS 9973.0CS 9973.0 
 9 9 9 0
Second Year
CS 9976.0CS 9976.0  
CS 9983.0CS 9983.0  
 9 9  
Total Credits 45


3675 Market Street

The College of Computing & Informatics is located at 3675 Market. Occupying three floors in the modern uCity Square building, CCI's home offers state-of-the-art technology in our classrooms, research labs, offices, meeting areas and collaboration spaces. 3675 Market offers Class A laboratory, office, coworking, and convening spaces. Located at the intersection of Market Street and 37th Street, 3675 Market acts as a physical nexus, bridging academic campuses and medical centers to the east and south, the commercial corridors along Market Street and Chestnut Street, and the residential communities to the north and west.

The uCity Square building offers:

  • Speculative lab/office space
  • World-class facilities operated by CIC
  • Café/restaurant on-site
  • Quorum, a two-story, 15K SF convening space and conference center
  • Adjacent to future public square
  • Access to Science Center’s nationally renowned business acceleration and technology commercialization programs

Drexel University Libraries

Drexel University Libraries is a learning enterprise, advancing the University’s academic mission through serving as educators, supporting education and research, collaborating with researchers, and fostering intentional learning outside of the classroom. Drexel University Libraries engages with Drexel communities through three physical locations, including W. W. Hagerty Library, Queen Lane Library, and the Library Learning Terrace, as well as a vibrant online presence which sees, on average, over 8,000 visits per day. In the W.W. Hagerty Library location, College of Computing & Informatics students have access to private study rooms and nearly half a million books, periodicals, DVDs, videos and University Archives. All fields of inquiry are covered, including: library and information science, computer science, software engineering, health informatics, information systems, and computing technology. Resources are available online at or in-person at W. W. Hagerty Library.

The Libraries also make available laptop and desktop PC and Mac computers, printers and scanners, spaces for quiet work or group projects and designated 24/7 spaces. Librarians and library staff—including a liaison librarian for computing and informatics—are available for individual research consultations and to answer questions about materials or services.

CCI Commons

Located on the 10th floor of 3675 Market Street, the CCI Commons is an open lab and collaborative work environment for students. It features desktop computers, a wireless/laptop area, free black and white printing, and more collaborative space for its students. Students have access to 3675 Market's fully equipped conference room with 42” displays and videoconferencing capabilities. The CCI Commons provides technical support to students, faculty, and professional staff. In addition, the staff provides audio-visual support for all presentation classrooms within 3675 Market. Use of the CCI Commons is reserved for all students taking CCI courses.

The computers for general use are Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OSX machines with appropriate applications which include the Microsoft Office suite, various database management systems, modeling tools, and statistical analysis software. Library-related resources may be accessed at the CCI Commons and through the W.W. Hagerty Library. The College is a member of the "Azure Dev Tools for Teaching” platform that allows students free access to a wide array of Microsoft software titles and operating systems.

The CCI Commons, student labs, and classrooms have access to networked databases, print and file resources within the College, and the Internet via the University’s network. Email accounts, Internet and BannerWeb access are available through the Office of Information Resources and Technology.

CCI Learning Center

The CCI Learning Center (CLC), located in 3675 Market Street's CCI Commons student computer lab, provides consulting and other learning resources for students taking courses offered by the Computer Science Department. The CLC is staffed by graduate and undergraduate computer science students from the College of Computing & Informatics.

The CLC and CCI Commons serve as a central hub for small group work, student meetings, and TA assistance. 

Research Laboratories

The College houses multiple research labs, led by CCI faculty, in 3675 Market Street including: the Metadata Research Center (MRC), Interactive Systems for Healthcare (IS4H) Research, Economics and Computation (EconCS), The TeX-Base Lab, SPiking And Recurrent SoftwarE (SPARSE) Coding, Human-System Evaluation and Analysis Lab (H-SEAL), Applied Symbolic Computation Laboratory (ASYM), Software Engineering Research Group (SERG), Social Computing Research Group, Vision and Cognition Laboratory (VisCog) and the Vision and Graphics Laboratory. For more information on these laboratories, please visit the College’s research web page.

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