PhD in Computer Science and Systems

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PhD in Computer Science and Systems

The PhD in Computer Science and Systems is designed to develop scholars, educators, and interdisciplinary researchers who focus on computing principles for breadth, to become experts in one of many interdisciplinary areas in science and society characterized by substantial engineering and technology challenges requiring significant domain expertise to solve.

Graduates from the PhD in Computer Science and Systems program will be scholars and contributors to local growth and use-inspired innovation. The program builds advanced computing knowledge, augments critical thinking skills, and helps inquiry, questioning and abstraction towards tool development while contributing to theoretical advances in the area of the student’s emphasis. The curriculum includes courses in traditional areas of computer science, such as advanced algorithms and distributed computing, as well as courses and a doctoral thesis in high demand fields where SET’s faculty have strong expertise, such as machine learning, cryptography, cloud computing, and bioinformatics. Graduates of this program will be leaders and advanced explorers able to bridge the gap between technological and societal demands through collaborative research.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Start your application now! 

Overview of Degree Requirements                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The PhD program requires completion of 90 credits, namely:

  • 40 credits required to obtain the MS CSS degree with a master thesis option, namely:
    • TCSS 543 Advanced Algorithms or TCSS 540 Theory of Computing (5 credits)
    • TCSS 558 Applied Distributed Computing (5 credits)
    • TCSS 598 Master Seminar in CSS (5 credits)
    • 15 credits of 500-level TCSS elective courses (510 or above; see course catalog)
    • TCSS 700 Master’s Thesis (10 credits)
  • 20 credits of 500-level TCSS elective courses, choses from at least 3 different concentration tracks
  • 30 credits of doctoral dissertation TCSS 800

In addition, to obtain the PhD degree, students need to successfully pass a:

  • General examination
  • Final examination

Prerequisite coursework

All students admitted to the PhD program are expected to have competency in the following areas:

  •  Object-Oriented Programming (equivalent to TCSS 142, TCSS 143 and TCSS 305)
  •  Discrete Mathematics (equivalent to TCSS 321)
  •  Data Structures (equivalent to TCSS 342)
  •  Algorithms (equivalent to TCSS 343)
  •  Program Management/Software Engineering (equivalent to TCSS 360)
  •  Computer Organization (equivalent to TCSS 371)
  •  Computer Architecture (equivalent to TCSS 372)
  •  Calculus
  •  Science (Physics preferred)

Student learning goals

The PhD in Computer Science and Systems program prepares students for a research career in industry or academia. Graduates of the PhD in Computer Science and Systems program have a broad, comprehensive knowledge of computer science core areas, including algorithms and architecture. They have deep knowledge and expertise in a specific area of computer science research that enables them to create solutions that can change the world.

Program learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the PhD in Computer Science and Systems program, graduates will be able to:

  • read, understand, and evaluate professional literature on advanced topics in computer science

  • use current techniques, skills, and tools necessary for computing practice

  • independently conduct original research by identifying important computer science problems (e.g. performing a gap analysis), developing solutions through creative problem-solving and rigorous design, designing and performing experimental evaluation, and conducting rigorous analyses of results

  • communicate computer science concepts in verbal and written forms to effectively disseminate results to a technical audience


The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering on the UW Seattle campus has a different, separate Ph.D. program with its own admissions.  Learn more on the Allen School website.