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Doctor of Science in Computer Science

Admission Requirements

Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree in an appropriate scientific discipline, such as computer science, engineering, chemistry, physics, or mathematics. A GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last 60 credit hours is preferred. An applicant is expected to possess the prerequisites for the intended area of study. If a deficiency exists, the necessary course work must be completed prior to the advancement to candidacy.

Students not meeting these requirements may be admitted on a conditional basis. The conditional student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in at least nine (9) computer science graduate credits in the first year of study to be fully admitted.

In the week prior to the start of classes, an incoming student will meet with an adviser to discuss a program of study. The student's program of study will be directed based on the chosen area of interest. A student is required to take all prerequisite courses within the first year. The prerequisite courses are not part of the program's credits and will not count toward graduation.

International students whose native language is not English and who do not have a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of higher education must submit a score of at least 550 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  In order to qualify for a teaching assistantship, students whose native language is not English must score a 5.0 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE).

International students who have questions about visas or other concerns should contact Mr. Robert Batten, International Student Advisor, in Thurgood Marshall Library, Room 1122, phone: (301) 860-3830, email:


New doctoral students will have the opportunity to meet with the doctoral program coordinator during the BSU orientation session for graduate students. Please see the BSU online calendar of events for dates.

Provisional Mentor

A concentration area liaison or the program coordinator will be assigned as the student's provisional mentor. This mentor will act as the student's temporary advisor for the first and second semesters within the program. Students should meet with their provisional mentors as soon as possible to receive instruction in selecting and registering for courses. Students should consult regularly with their provisional mentor during their first semester concerning progress with coursework. By the end of the first semester of study, students should select their doctoral advisor from faculty within the Department of Computer Science.

Doctoral Advisor

The selection of a doctoral advisor is one of the most important choices students will make during their time in our program. A doctoral advisor should be chosen with the intent of not only matching research interests, but also with an eye toward finding an individual with whom the student feels comfortable entrusting his/her educational future. Once a doctoral advisor is selected, students should complete the “Selection of Doctoral Advisor” form no later than the end of the second year. The form should be signed by both the doctoral advisor and the doctoral program coordinator for inclusion in the student's file.

Dissertation Committee

You should select and meet with your dissertation committee prior to the completion of the third semester. The role of this committee is to advise and help direct your academic and research programs. The dissertation committee will be composed of a minimum of five (5) members (no more than seven (7)), including the committee chair, who will be the student's doctoral advisor. The chair and three of the members must be BSU computer science faculty members. External committee members must be approved and offer a needed expertise. The doctoral program committee must approve the dissertation committee constituency.

The dissertation subject is selected by the student, with input from the dissertation committee, at least two years prior to the oral defense. It must be a scholarly contribution to a major field of computer science in the student's concentration area, consisting of new important knowledge or a major modification, amplification, or interpretation of existing significant knowledge. The written dissertation format must follow the BSU Dissertation and Thesis Guide, which can be obtained from the Department of Computer Science or online.

In the first meeting with the dissertation committee, the student should provide appropriate background material on his/her education to aid committee members in advising the student on course work. The student should also brief the committee on his/her research interest and any thoughts on the thesis/dissertation. Obtaining committee consent is essential toward ensuring future success. Subsequently, the student should meet with the committee at least once a semester. The dissertation advisor will conduct the semester meetings. Regular meetings will ensure that progress is made in accordance with the committee's expectations.

Program of Study

The preliminary program of study must be reviewed by the advisory committee before the coursework can begin or be completed. The program of study must be approved by the advisory committee and the department chair. The doctoral program coordinator and the department chair must approve any subsequent alterations in the program of study.

Transfer of Credit

The transfer of credits is determined by the student's advisor based upon the applicability of the courses selected for dissertation work and the student's educational goals.


Students cannot take either the qualifying exam or the comprehensive exam unless they have advanced to candidacy with a GPA of at least 3.25 in their course work.  Students must earn a GPA of 3.25 during the first 12 to 18 credits taken within the program in order to advance to candidacy.

Qualifying Candidacy Examination

The purpose of the qualifying candidacy examination is to determine whether the applicant possesses the attributes of a doctoral candidate. Typically, the qualifying examination is held twice a year, on the second Friday in November and on the second Friday in April. The dates and times will be announced by the department. Students must take the qualifying exam during the first two years and pass the examination by the third year.  A student may attempt the qualifying candidacy exam a maximum of two times. If a student is not successful in passing the exam in two attempts he/she will be dismissed from the program.  Students may not take this exam unless they have a minimum GPA of 3.25 in their course work.

Comprehensive Examination

A student will take the comprehensive examination after passing the qualifying exam. The examination covers the five Knowledge Areas; students choose any three of the five areas for their comprehensive exam. Typically, the comprehensive examination is held twice a year, in October and March. The dates and times will be announced by the department.  Students can be given two attempts to pass the comprehensive exam. A student must pass within the first five years in the program.  A student who has not passed the comprehensive exam in the second attempt will be dismissed from the program.  Students may not take this exam unless they have a minimum GPA of 3.25 in the doctoral course work.

Dissertation Proposal

At least two years prior to the dissertation defense, candidates must present a written proposal in either a National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) format for their dissertation work to the advisory committee. The proposal will be given to the doctoral program coordinator two weeks in advance of meeting with the committee. The student must successfully defend the rationale and experimental procedures for the proposed doctoral dissertation. Students are encouraged to present an open seminar on the proposal prior to meeting with the advisory committee. Students who fail the proposal defense may repeat the proposal defense a maximum of one time. If a second failure occurs, the student may be dismissed from the program. 

Doctoral Dissertation and Defense

In order to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree, students will prepare and successfully defend a written dissertation in accordance with the format and procedure dictated by the BSU Department of Computer Science and the Graduate School. Each student must orally defend the completed doctoral research to his/her dissertation committee. The defense will be open to the public and must be publicized at least two weeks in advance. The first hour of this final examination will consist of an open seminar to faculty and students of the department on the student's research. This will be followed by a closed examination of the candidate by the doctoral advisor and the dissertation committee. This examination will follow guidelines established by the Department of Computer Science and the Graduate School. The examination can be wide-ranging, but will usually utilize the student's research as a starting point. At the completion of the examination, the doctoral advisor and dissertation committee will vote to either pass or fail the student. If the majority of the committee members cast negative votes, it is considered a failure of the examination.

Summary of Graduation Requirements

  1. Completion of any writing and seminar requirements
  2. Completion of an approved program of study with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  3. Pass qualifying and comprehensive examinations
  4. Present an acceptable dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee
  5. Successful oral defense and completion of the dissertation


Students are required to earn 15 credits (5 courses) in core computer science topics, 45 credits (15 courses) from four of the knowledge areas, (where the 500-level courses cannot exceed 9-credits and those courses should also include at least 9-credits of 800-level courses, and 12 credits from the dissertation area.

Click here to view the required courses

click for links to graduate-level course descriptions

For the Doctoral Dissertation handbook click here
(To view the handbook, download the free Adobe Acrobat reader by clicking here.)

Graduate Catalog 2016-2018