Feb 22, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2007-08 
Graduate Catalog 2007-08 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science

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The doctoral program is designed to develop computer scientists with research expertise in computer science. Specific areas of emphasis include algorithmic complexity theory, artificial intelligence, computational geometry, computer architecture, computer graphics, computer networking, data warehousing and mining, distributed and mobile data bases, expert systems, formal specifications, human-computer interaction and visualization, knowledge-based systems, language and automata theory, mathematical and computer modeling, multimedia databases and systems, neural networks, parallel and sequential algorithms, pattern recognition and image processing, scientific computing and numerical analysis, simulation, and software engineering.  The program also permits student to acquire expertise in closely related fields such as computer engineering and mathematics.

Students completing the program are typically well qualified for teaching and research positions with colleges and universities as well as with national and international industries and laboratories.

The doctoral program is designed to allow a full-time student entering with a Master of Science in Computer Science to complete all degree requirements within three years.  However, it is not uncommon for doctoral programs to take somewhat longer.

Admission Requirements

A successful applicant to the doctoral program in computer science must satisfy:

  1. All of the general admission criteria identified in the Graduate Catalog.
  2. Submission of transcripts of prior education.
    1. Applicant should have earned or expect to earn a master’s degree in computer science.  An applicant with a master’s degree in electrical or computer engineering, mathematics or a related field will also be considered.
    2. An outstanding student who has not completed a master’s degree but who has met all other entrance requirements may be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program.
  3. Submission of the results of the verbal, analytical, and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  4. Submission of three letters of reference from persons able to assess the student’s qualifications for doctoral-level study and likelihood of success; the student and referees would use the forms and procedures available from the department.
  5. Submission of a resume that includes a description of academic background and professional experience.
  6. Submission of an essay describing the applicant’s academic and professional objectives.
  7. For international students, the submission of the TOEFL examination result.

Financial Assistance

Students accepted into the doctoral program may apply for one of the department’s graduate teaching and research assistantships. In addition, advanced Ph.D. students may apply for one of a limited number of doctoral associateships. Graduate internship opportunities with local industries are also available. Applications for teaching and research assistantships should be sent directly to the Department of Computer Science. The forms and instructions for applying for financial assistance can be obtained from the department. Information about non-departmental assistantships and fellowships, tuition remission, special assistance for minority graduate students, general research funds, and tuition grants is available from The Graduate College. Information about student loans and other federal, state, and University need-based financial aid programs is available from the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Program Requirements

The plan of study allows for considerable variety of emphasis; student can take advantage of the strengths of the department in matching their interest in professional development.

A successful candidate for the Ph.D. in Computer Science is responsible for all the general requirements for a doctoral degree as stated in the Graduate Catalog.  The remainder of this section restates some of the general requirements and includes additional requirements specific to the doctoral program in computer science


A student having prerequisite requirements as a condition of admission must complete all prerequisites before being considered to have entered the doctoral program.

Take at least 30 hours beyond the master’s degree

Computer Seminar Courses

Each doctoral student will be required to complete two computer science seminar courses for one to three credit hours each, with at least one during the first year in the program.

Demonstrate comptency in two research skills.

Each Ph.D. candidate must obtain departmental approval and demonstrate mastery of two of the following three research skills:

  1. A foreign language other than English, with competency equivalent to a 4000-level course at WMU;
  2. Statistics or probability at the level of MATH 3620 or MATH 3640.
  3. Computer document preparation and library tools.

General Qualifying Examination

Before admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must pass a general qualifying examination in computer science.  Students admitted with a master’s degree must take one qualifying examination no later than the first time offered after completion of 15 credit hours and must take a second examination no later than the first time offered after completion of 30 credit hours.  All students must take all their qualifying examinations no later than the first time offered after completion of 45 credit hours.  A student has one opportunity to repeat the qualifying examination.  There are five examination topic areas in two categories as follows:

  1. Systems:  Computer architecture (CS 5250, CS 6250); Compiler design (CS 5810, CS 6810); Operating systems (CS 6550).
  2. Theory:  Design and analysis of algorithms (CS 6310); Theory of computation (CS 5800, CS 6800)

    The student must select three of the five areas for his or her qualifying examination, with at least one exam from each category.  The student will have the opportunity to repeat a portion of the qualifying examination once, but may not change the selected areas.  The department will determine what area(s) of the examination, if any, the student must repeat

    The qualifying examination may be satisfied by taking the 6000-level courses of the three selected areas (i.e., three of CS 6250, 6310 and/or 6320, 6550 6800 6810). To satisfy the qualifying examination requirements, three of these courses must be passed with at least a “B” grade.

Preliminary Examination

Each doctoral candidate must obtain approval from his or her dissertation committee for a dissertation topic and research plan.  This approval process is called the preliminary examination  and is structured by each dissertation committee to fit each candidate’s program.  The preliminary examination must be completed within one year after passing the qualifying examination and at least one year in advance of the dissertation defense.  A candidate has one opportunity to repeat the preliminary examination.

Complete and successfully defend a dissertation (12 - 24 hrs)

A doctoral dissertation, which is the culmination of an original and substantive research effort by the candidate, must be completed and publicly defended.  This study is done under the supervision of a dissertation director and dissertation committee.  A dissertation director is appointed by the department, typically within the candidate’s first two years in the doctoral program and based on the candidate’s interests.

The doctoral dissertation committee is appointed by The Graduate College based on the petition of the candidate and the approval and recommendation of the department chair.  The doctoral dissertation committee is comprised of the dissertation director and at least two other members of the graduate faculty, at least one of whom shall be from outside the department.

Committee members facilitate and guide the candidate’s academic and research development.

Before a candidate is awarded the Ph.D. degree, each member of the doctoral dissertation committee must approve the dissertation.  The completed dissertation is presented by the candidate at a public seminar and oral defense.


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