PhD Degree in Engineering Science (Computer Science)

PhD Program in Engineering Science (Computer Science)

GO TO Graduate Academic Program Information Revised: January 19, 2014



The Ph.D. Degree program in Engineering Science is one of the graduate degree programs of the School of Engineering administered through the Graduate School of The University of Mississippi. Students in this program must comply with all rules and satisfy all the requirements set by the Graduate School and the School of Engineering. In addition, the Department of Computer and Information Science (CIS) has the following rules and regulations.


The student must be admitted to the Ph.D. degree program by the Department of Computer and Information Science. To be admitted into the Ph.D. degree program a student must:

  • Possess a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science or equivalent,
  • Have a B average on all graduate work (3.0 on a 4-point scale),
  • Submit a competitive score on the general GRE,
  • Submit a minimum score of 575 on the TOEFL (for international students),
  • Submit three letters of recommendation,
  • Have demonstrated research ability.

Admission FAQs

Application Deadlines

The application deadline for admissions and financial aid decisions are:

  • April 1, for summer term and fall semester admissions and financial aid
  • October 1, for spring semester admissions and financial aid

The applications available on those dates will be processed as promptly as possible, within one month of the closing date. Admission decisions will be based on the space available and the criteria and preferences explained elsewhere. Applications received after the deadline will be considered if space is available, but such applications will normally not be considered until the next appropriate application deadline.


Upon acceptance into the program, each student will be assigned an interim advisor in the CIS department. It is the student's responsibility to obtain a permanent (dissertation) advisor in the CIS department no later than the beginning of the third term of study (excluding the summer term). Every student must obtain approval of his or her (interim or permanent) advisor for registration.

Course Requirements

A student must complete a minimum of 48 semester hours of approved graduate-level course work (excluding the 18 semester hours of dissertation research) beyond the bachelor's degree, subject to the following restrictions:

  1. The M.S. coursework requirement must be satisfied. A student must complete ENGR694 Research Methods with a grade of B or better.
  2. All students will be required to maintain a minimum graduate GPA of 3.0 until completion of the degree. If the student's GPA falls below 3.0, the student will be allowed to make up the deficiency in a probation period of one semester (Fall, Spring, or a full Summer) if the student is full-time, or another nine credit hours if the student is part-time. If the GPA at the end of this probation period is still below 3.0, the student will be dismissed from the degree program.
  3. A student may count up to three non-regular courses (9 hours) toward his or her degree. For the purpose of this document, a non-regular course is
    • an independent study, or
    • any other course not listed in the published class schedule (unless it was added and advertised by the department as open to all students).
  4. A minimum of 18 semester hours must be regular courses at the 600-level (e.g., ENGR 6XX).
  5. No more than 24 semester hours may be transferred from another university and applied toward the 48-hour course work requirement. See the Graduate School catalog for additional requirements.
  6. No course numbered lower than 510 (in the University of Mississippi curriculum) may be counted toward the Ph.D. degree requirements. (In particular, CSCI 500, CSCI 501, CSCI 502, and CSCI 503 may not be counted toward the Ph.D. degree requirements.)

A student must complete a minimum of 18 semester hours of dissertation research (ENGR 797). These semester hours may not be taken until the student has passed the written comprehensive examination. No more than six semester hours of dissertation research may be taken before the student passes the preliminary oral exam (dissertation prospectus). For successful research in the chosen area of specialization, the student may need to acquire specific background information and skills. Toward this end, the student's dissertation advisor and doctoral committee may require the student to complete course work at an appropriate level in the relevant fields. In some cases this may necessitate the student completing courses beyond the 48-hour minimum. A final program of study must be approved by the doctoral committee no later than the time of the preliminary oral examination (dissertation prospectus).

Examinations, Dissertation and Doctoral Committee

A student must pass the comprehensive examination and the preliminary oral examination (dissertation prospectus) before being considered a Ph.D. candidate.

Students may not take the comprehensive examination until they

  • Have been admitted to the Ph.D. program in full standing;
  • Satisfy the M.S. coursework requirement; and
  • Complete ENGR 694 Research Methods with a grade of B or better.

A student must pass the comprehensive examination within the first 3 years in no more than two sittings in order to qualify for candidacy in the Ph.D. program. The Comprehensive Exam Process is given below:

  • The student informs the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) that he or she would like to take the comprehensive exam and indicates the general area of interest. A potential advisor, if known, should also be named.
  • The CIS Graduate Committee appoints a committee of at least three faculty members to serve as the Examination Committee. One Examination Committee member is appointed as chair of the committee. The GPC informs the student of the membership of his or her Examination Committee.
  • The Examination Committee selects 3-4 papers in the area indicated by the student. The chair of the Examination Committee informs the student and the GPC of the papers to be used in the comprehensive examination.
  • The student must read the papers and write a 5 to 6 pages summary of the topic, referencing the chosen papers. The summary should be an integrated overview of the selected papers, not just independent summaries of the papers. Additional papers can be referenced, as needed. The student should use the given template in writing the summary.
  • Within 4 weeks of receiving the selected papers, the student must provide a copy the summary paper to the Examination Committee.
  • A presentation must be scheduled at the earliest convenience of the Examination Committee (generally 2-4 weeks after the summary is provided).
  • The student will present the topic in an open seminar of 30-40 minutes in length. Following the seminar, the Examination Committee will conduct a closed question and answer session with the student. Questions may come from the topic or background material that the committee deems essential.
  • Within one week of the seminar, the student will be informed of the outcome of the comprehensive exam. The outcome could be:
    •  - Pass.
    •  - Fail, the exam must be repeated.
    •  - Conditional Pass. Some conditions will be specified, e.g., additional research papers, additional coursework, additional writing, or presenting a programming portfolio. If met, the student will pass the exam. If not met in the time frame indicated by the Examination Committee, the exam will count as a Fail.

A student who does not pass the comprehensive examination in two sittings may choose to get an M.S. degree after completing a M.S. project or a M.S. thesis.

A student who has passed the comprehensive examination must also pass a dissertation prospectus defense conducted by the student's doctoral committee. There must be at least one intervening semester between the semester in which the dissertation prospectus defense is completed and the semester in which the final oral defense is given. The student's doctoral committee shall determine the acceptability of the dissertation prospectus.

A student's doctoral committee will be appointed by the dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the dissertation advisor and with the approval of the Graduate Committee of the Department of Computer and Information Science. The dissertation Advisor shall chair the doctoral committee. The doctoral committee shall consist of a minimum of four members, of which one must be outside the Department of Computer and Information Science and at least three must be graduate faculty members or affiliated faculty members from the Department of Computer and Information Science. At least two of the committee members must be graduate faculty members of CIS. The outside member must be an UM graduate faculty member.
The candidate will be required to present his or her final dissertation results in a public defense before the faculty during the semester in which the candidate expects to complete his or her degree requirements. The candidate shall present a complete draft of the dissertation to each committee member, and one to the departmental secretary, at least three weeks prior to the anticipated date of the defense. The request for the final defense must reach the Graduate Dean's office 14 days prior to the anticipated date of the examination with the approval of the student's doctoral committee and the Graduate School.


At least one technical paper per year based on the dissertation research, suitable for publication in a refereed journal or national conference, must be prepared by a candidate before his or her dissertation can be considered acceptable. Each candidate shall also present a departmental seminar once a year. The faculty of the CIS Department will review the progress of all PhD students (not just candidates) at a meeting during the last week of March each year. All PhD students must submit a summary of their progress toward the degree to the departmental secretary by March 15. The summary should contain a one-page description of activities for the last year. Copies of all reprints and technical papers should be attached. Information submitted for the review will become part of the student's permanent file.


All students are expected to conduct themselves with the highest academic integrity at all times. This means respecting and acknowledging the work of others while engaged in course work, funded research, paper writing and presentations, and writing of the dissertation. Plagiarism, falsification of data, and other forms of academic dishonesty are serious offenses. The University of Mississippi Research Misconduct Policy applies to all aspects of the CIS graduate program.


The student must complete a minimum of one year of full-time study (18 hours) in continuous residence and a minimum of two years of study (36 hours) at The University of Mississippi. Enrollment must be continuous: if students are not continuously enrolled, they will be dropped from the Ph.D. program. Continuous enrollment is defined as enrollment for at least three semester hours credit during two of the three terms of the calendar year: fall, spring, summer. Continuous residence is defined as enrollment for at least nine semester hours credit during two of three terms of the calendar year.

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