Graduation Requirements

The requirements for the Ph.D. degree include the following:

  1. Course work
  2. Comprehensive examination leading to Ph.D. Candidacy
  3. Ph.D. Candidacy and Doctoral Dissertation

A student must advance to Ph.D. candidacy before working on a dissertation, then defend the dissertation to be awarded the doctoral degree.

Course Work

A minimum of 60 credit hours of courses numbered 4000 or above are required, of which at least 45 credit hours must be from courses numbered 5000 or above. The 60 credit hours must include a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 15 Dissertation Research credit hours. All courses numbered below 5000 must be completed with a grade of at least B. Courses outside the Department of Computer Science will require the approval of the Graduate Director. The same applies to courses taken at other institutions, but these credits would be subject to residency requirements. All courses to be counted as part of the degree requirement, including transfers but excluding prior MS, are subject to an eight-year limitation.

Students are expected to maintain a GPA of 3.0 on a 4 point scale. At least half of the counted courses must be UMSL courses according to the residency requirements.

Comprehensive Examination leading to Ph.D. Candidacy

A student advances to Ph.D. candidacy after satisfying the following requirements:

  1. Passing comprehensive examinations in two steps:
    1. Passing a qualifier examination covering fundamental topics in Computer Science. This examination should take place no later than in the semester immediately after completing 12 credit hours here while in the program. If necessary, this examination can be repeated once, in the first, but no later than the second semester following the first attempt.
      This examination covers the following two courses/topics

Cmp Sci 4760 Operating Systems
Cmp Sci 5130 Advanced Data Structures and Algorithms

and two additional courses, selected by the Graduate Director taking each student’s interests into account, from the following list (subject to change)

Cmp Sci 4250 Programming Languages
Cmp Sci 4730 Computer Networks and Communications
Cmp Sci 5300 Artificial Intelligence
Cmp Sci 5700 Computer Systems

  1. After passing the qualifier examination, the student finds a research advisor and constitutes a research committee, and then must do one of the following
    • Pass a written examination in the area of the student’s interests written under the direction of the research advisor covering some specialized advanced coursework or area.
    • Write a survey paper in the area of the student’s interests under the direction of the research advisor and successfully present it orally.
  2. Completing the required credit hours other than Dissertation Research (minimum 45 credits, including transfers and prior MS credited toward the Ph.D.)

Doctoral Dissertation

A Ph.D. candidate obtains Ph.D. in these steps:

  1. The Ph.D. candidate must propose a dissertation committee.
  2. The Ph.D. candidate must prepare a written dissertation proposal and defend it in front of the dissertation committee. The dissertation proposal is a substantial document describing the problem area, the specific problem to be worked on, and the methods to be used, as well as demonstrating the student’s proficiency in written communication.
    A candidate making substantial changes in the research direction may have to repeat this step.
  3. The Ph.D. candidate must then write a dissertation as outlined in the dissertation proposal while enrolling for Dissertation Research credits. This work must be an original contribution to the field, and it must meet the standards and requirements set by the Graduate School including the public defense of the dissertation. 
  4. The Ph.D. candidate must successfully present and defend the dissertation in front of the dissertation committee.