The goal of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in the Department of Computer Science is to prepare first-rate scholars in computer science. Successful graduates may assume significant positions in academia, research institutes, industry, or government laboratories.
Applications for admission to the Ph.D. program in Computer Science are reviewed by a faculty committee. Although the specific criteria are not rigid, all students admitted will exhibit exceptional intellectual achievements and promise. Applicants must submit letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and (for international applicants) TOEFL/IELTS scores. Visit https://engineering.jhu.edu/graduate-admissions/ for more information on the application process.
In keeping with Hopkins’ traditions, program requirements are flexible, as described below. For more detailed policies regarding the PhD program, please visit the Advising Manual on our departmental website.
All full-time CS PhD students in good academic standing are fully-funded. Additional financial aid may be available for candidates of high promise. Fellowships provide a student with a stipend plus tuition. Research assistantships are available on sponsored research projects directed by members of the faculty. Teaching assistantships normally consist of tuition plus a stipend commensurate with the teaching or grading duties assigned. Students determined to have significant deficiency in spoken English may be required to take one or more semesters of English as a Second Language in order to qualify for employment as a teaching or research assistant.
Two consecutive semesters of residence as a full-time graduate student are required.
All Ph.D. degree candidates are required to enroll and maintain satisfactory attendance in EN.601.801 Computer Science Seminar each semester for the duration of their enrollment in the program. Although seminar attendance is required, the seminar may not be counted toward the qualifying course requirement.
Responsible Conduct of Research and Academic Ethics
All doctoral students are required to take AS.360.625 Responsible Conduct of Research. Students are expected to complete the course by the end of the first year but have until the start of the fourth semester to meet this requirement. Failure to do so may result in a loss of funding. Additional information regarding this requirement can be found here: http://eng.jhu.edu/wse/page/conduct-of-research-training. In addition, all doctoral students must complete the course EN.500.603 Graduate Orientation and Academic Ethics.
Qualifying Course Requirements
The Department of Computer Science classifies its courses into five sub-areas: Applications, Reasoning, Software, Systems and Theory. All Ph.D. candidates must complete at least one course (3 class hours/credits each) from each of these five areas. A current listing of courses with area designators is provided on the departmental website. The areas are also encoded as POS (program of study) tags in SIS. [Note that course descriptions include old area designators which may have changed in 2019.] Ph.D. students must also complete an additional three elective graduate courses (chosen from any CS area or from closely related departments such as Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cognitive Science, Mathematics, or Applied Mathematics and Statistics) for a total of eight courses. Computer Science graduate students may count 600-level and above graduate courses. The coursework program must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor. The overall grade point average for these eight courses must be at least equivalent to a B+. No course with a grade of less than C- may be counted toward this Ph.D. qualifying course requirement. Other than independent study courses, no courses with grades of P or S can be counted toward the coursework requirement. Courses with grades of P or S will not be included in the grade point average calculation. One of the courses required for the degree, but only one, may be replaced by 3 credits from comparable short courses. With approval of the student’s faculty advisor, up to two courses can be transferred from graduate programs of other institutions; more than two such courses can be transferred with approval of the department. It is the obligation of the student to provide all necessary data to the Department of Computer Science regarding the course(s) for which transfer credit is being requested. Students are expected to complete the course requirements by the end of their second year as a Ph.D. candidate.
Qualifying Project Requirements
A Ph.D. student must complete two projects, each under the supervision and with the written agreement of a different faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. Upon conclusion of each project, the student must write a “Project Report” describing the project in detail. This report will be a public document and will be kept on file in the department office. The supervising faculty member must approve the project report. Students are expected to complete the qualifying projects by the end of their third year as a Ph.D. candidate.
Upon completion of the Ph.D. qualifying course requirements and the first qualifying project, students are ordinarily eligible to receive a master of science in engineering degree. The degree will be awarded upon student request.
Graduate Board Oral Examination (GBO)
This examination is a university requirement, ideally taken in the student's third year. The oral exam is administered by a panel consisting of the research sponsor, two faculty members from the Department of Computer Science, and two from outside the department. The exam seeks to establish the student’s readiness to conduct original research in the area of his or her “Preliminary Research Proposal,” which should be distributed to the examiners in advance and presented by the student at the start of the exam.
Two consecutive semesters of residence as a full-time graduate student are required by the university. Attempting to obtain a Ph.D. is a major commitment and involves close coordination with a faculty advisor in the department. Part-time students must be able to establish and maintain these close links, therefore part-time study is by advanced permission only.
Ph.D. students must give an official departmental seminar on their research area. This is to be done after the GBO and prior to the dissertation defense, or as part of the dissertation defense.
Dissertation and Defense
Ph.D. students must write a dissertation consisting of original research in their chosen area. They must deliver a public presentation of the dissertation before a dissertation committee consisting of the faculty advisor, a second faculty member in the Department of Computer Science (who must have a primary tenure-track appointment in the Department if the advisor does not), and one or more other members with Ph.D. degrees. In conformity with University requirements, the members of the dissertation committee must submit a referee’s letter to the Graduate Board recommending that the dissertation be accepted. Completed dissertations will be formatted and submitted to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library for electronic publication.
All Ph.D. students are required to serve as a Teaching Assistant at least one semester during their program of study. As part of the requirement, the supervising course instructor must give the TA an opportunity to be in front of a group of students at least once during the course. Students are required to sign-up for the course EN.601.807 Teaching Practicum Teaching Practicum during the semester in which the requirement is being fulfilled, and at the end of the semester his/her performance will be evaluated by the course instructor.
Student Progress Review
Ph.D. students are reviewed annually by their advisor(s) and the department, and notified in writing as to their standing in the program. Students deemed to not be making satisfactory progress may be placed on probation.