Computer Science Ph.D. Requirements

The Ph.D. program in Computer Science offers the opportunity to conduct theoretical and practical research in a broad range of subfields of computer science or in the intersection of computer science and other disciplines (e.g. biology, cognitive science, statistics).

Detailed description of the program requirements is provided below. Please download the Ph.D. Timeline and Computer Science Ph.D. Handbook for your reference.

Program Requirements

A total of 90 credit hours of graduate‐level coursework are required. These courses are defined as any course listed in the Graduate School Bulletin (Computer Science section) that carries graduate credit. Among them,

  1. at least 8 courses to fulfill the requirements of the Computer Science major
  2. at least 3 courses to fulfill the requirements of the University Ph.D. minor
  3. The remaining credits can be received from regular courses, independent studies, and research.
Detailed description of the course requirements is provided below. Please download this form to help you keep track of your course work.

Computer Science Course Requirements

The following CS course requirements were adopted in fall 2012. A student who entered the program before fall 2012 may choose to following these requirements or the old courses requirements.

 Ph.D. candidates must take at least 24 credit hours of courses in computer science at or above the 500 level, except for the A500‐A599 courses. Six courses, from the list below, must be completed each with a minimum grade of B. At least one course must be taken from each of the areas of Foundations of Computing and of Computer Systems, and one from either Programming Languages or Intelligent Systems.

  1. Foundations of computing: Theory of Computing (B501), Computational Complexity (B502), Algorithms Design and Analysis (B503).
  2. Computer systems: Distributed Systems (B534), Advanced Operating Systems (P536), Computer Networks (P538).
  3. Programming languages: Programming Language Principles (B521), Programming Language Foundations (B522), Programming Language Implementation (P523).
  4. Intelligent systems: Elements of Artificial Intelligence (B551), Machine Learning (B555), Advanced Database Concepts (B561), Data Mining (B565).

A grade average of B+ (3.3) is required for the 24 credit hours of required computer science courses. This is in addition to the University’s Graduate School requirement of a B (3.0) average for all courses taken.

Minor Area Requirement

Three options are available:

1. An external minor awarded by another Indiana University department or graduate program that is approved by the Computer Science Program.

2. An internal minor: at least 9 computer science credits, in courses other than reading and research, and in an area other than the student’s specialization. The area and the courses must be approved by the student’s advisory committee.

3. An individualized interdisciplinary minor: at least 12 credits spanning at least two Indiana University departments/ degree programs, to be recommended by the student’s advisory committee and approved by the Computer Science Program in advance of any course work.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is given by the first semester of the student’s third year in the program. This examination is administered by the advisory committee and is expected to have a written and an oral component. A student must have completed the 24 credit hours of courses in computer science as specified in the Computer Science Course Requirements before taking the qualifying exam.
See Qualifying Examination details

Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal is submitted and defended after the completion of the qualifying examination. It consists of an oral presentation covering a submitted written research plan for the dissertation. This examination is given by the research committee.


A written elaboration of significant original research, which must be successfully presented to the research committee in a defense of dissertation as described in the Graduate School Bulletin Dissertation section.

Computer Science Ph.D. Handbook

Academic Integrity Guidelines