Jul 25, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Computer Science, Ph.D.

Return to: 3210 Department of Computer Science  

A baccalaureate or master’s degree in computer science, or its equivalent, is required for admission to the Ph.D.. The department encourages applications from high-tech and teaching professionals and those with non-computer science but closely related degrees. Pursuing the Ph.D. programs part-time is possible, so working professionals are encouraged to consider applying. Competitive financial aid is available for full-time Ph.D. students along with tuition waivers.

The computer science department accepts applications for the Ph.D. program only fall semester with the general deadlines applying. However, in order to be considered for graduate assistantships, applicants must have all application materials in by February 15 for fall semester and by August 15 for spring semester.

Applicants may obtain additional information about the Department of Computer Science by contacting cscgrad@gsu.edu.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Computer Science has the following requirements:

  1. A baccalaureate or master’s degree in computer science or its equivalent. While we welcome capable students with non-computer science degrees, they may need some foundation courses.
  2. A supplemental application for computer science.
  3. A statement of background and goals.
  4. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for Ph.D. work in computer science.
  5. GRE (General) score.
  6. Minimum GPA 3.0/4.0.

Note: Students enrolled in this program must maintain 3.5 GPA in coursework at Georgia State University.

Degree Requirements

Foundation Coursework

If any of the following foundation courses in computer science or mathematics has not been taken in another program, these must be completed at the earliest. 4000-level foundation courses must be taken as their 6000-level counterparts by graduate students.

Computer Science

Foundation coursework in computer science with a grade of B or higher in each.


Foundation coursework mathematics that includes a standard elementary calculus sequence (MATH 2211 and MATH 2212) with a grade of B or higher in each.

Ph.D. Coursework (48 Hours)

Of these 48 hours, no more than 12 hours can be taken at the 6000 level. These 12 hours exclude any of the foundation courses previously listed.

Research Training Course

A research training course which must be taken in the first semester.

Core Coursework (12 Hours)

Take 12 hours from the following two groups, at least one course from each group:

Breadth Coursework (12 Hours)

Students must take Breadth courses from at least two different areas. If more than three Core courses have been taken, the extra Core courses can be counted as Breadth courses. 

Data Mining

Numerical and Scientific Computing

Software Engineering and Simulation/Modeling

Electives (23 Hours)

  • To be chosen in concert with dissertation committee and approved by dissertation committee and should reflect student interest, coursework related to research area, etc.
  • A maximum of 12 credits from 6000-level.
  • A maximum of 12 hours can be directed study/research or seminars: CSC 8950  and CSC 8910 .
  • A minimum of 0 hours and a maximum of 9 hours from outside the department, related to a student’s research. 
  • 6 to 20 hours of depth computer science classroom taught non-foundation courses.

Qualifying Process

The qualification process consists of two parts:

  1. Curriculum Requirement
    • The student is required to complete three courses in two core areas (Theories and Systems) and receive at least two A grades and one B grade in these courses to meet the curriculum requirement of the qualifying process. Timeline: A typical student (one who is admitted to the Ph.D. program with very few foundation courses to take) is expected to qualify by the end of the third semester (excluding summers) after admission.
  2. Research Examination 
    • The objective of the research examination is to assess the student’s potential to begin doctoral‐level research. The examination will assess the student’s abilities to read and understand research papers in their field; formulate a problem clearly and provide the motivation and requirements for a solution; determine if a solution is correct; assess to what extent a presumably correct solution solves the problem; clearly identify potential next research problems and provide solutions; communicate effectively both in writing and orally; and answer questions related to the problem and its solutions.
    • The student will request the research examination in one of the following areas of computer science: Artificial Intelligence, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Database and Data Mining, Graphics and Visual Computing, Networks and Distributed Systems, Numerical and Scientific Computing, Security and Privacy, Software Engineering, and Theoretical Foundations.
    • A committee of 3 faculty members will choose 2 research papers and assign to the student. The chosen papers are preferably to be published in the recent 4 years in top-tier journals such as ACM/IEEE Transactions related to the subject area. Paper 1 is the key paper. Paper 2 should be related to Paper 1. Paper 2 could be from flagship conferences, but not necessary to be published in the recent 4 years.
    • The student has at least 2 months to prepare a paper review written report. An oral defense will be scheduled, in which there will be general questioning by the committee. The written report needs to be submitted to the committee at least one week prior to the oral defense. 
    • The result of the research exam is PASS/FAIL. A student who receives a FAIL in the first attempt will be given a second and final attempt. In the second attempt, at least 1 new committee member will replace a committee member in the first attempt, and the student’s advisor’s performance evaluation of the student will be considered.

Suggestions for paper review report:

  • The length of the report should be 3-10 pages. The report must be sent to the committee at least 1 week prior to the presentation.
  • The report should provide the following information:
    • For each of the 2 papers, provide the summary of the paper (1 paragraph); key contributions of the paper (1 paragraph/bullet points); brief introduction of the methods and approaches, summary of the evaluation results (1 paragraph/bullet points).
    • Relationship between the two papers in terms of background knowledge, motivation, goals, contributions, performances, etc.
    • Derive your own observations and explanations for the proposed solutions and experiment/simulation results in the papers.
    • Identify shortcomings and future research directions considering the computer science context of the papers.


  • A typical student (one who is admitted to the Ph.D. program with very few foundation courses to take) is expected to qualify by the end of the third semester (excluding summers) after admission.

Dissertation Committee

Must be formed immediately after completing the qualification process.

  • Major adviser plus at least three other members.
  • One member must be from outside the department. Major adviser and at least two other members must be computer science graduate faculty.
  • This committee should be consulted to plan electives and possibly required courses to ensure depth in the research area.
  • This committee may suggest additional technical writing, mathematics, or computer skill courses depending on the student’s background.

Candidacy Examination

To be taken within two years of qualifying. A written proposal on the research to be carried out will be submitted and defended in front of the dissertation committee. Upon successful completion of the candidacy examination, a student is declared a candidate for the doctoral degree. An unsuccessful result in the candidacy examination would require the student to take the candidacy examination a second and last time within three semesters (excluding summer).


Students can start registering for CSC 9999 after passing the Qualifier.

Written Dissertation and Oral Defense

Graduate Assistants Requirements

Graduate assistants are required to register for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. These hours will consist of the required courses outlined in the prescribed program of study, as well as one hour of CSC 8920 (if necessary), and additional hours of CSC 9999, CSC 8981 and/or CSC 8982.

Concentration Areas