The PhD is offered with a major in computer science. A student seeking admission to the PhD program is expected to meet the following requirements. The student should have three letters of recommendation sent directly to the department head from individuals capable of assessing the student’s potential for advanced work in computer science (for example, college faculty or employers for whom the student has worked after earning a bachelor’s degree). The department reserves the right to contact these individuals or other knowledgeable people if additional information is deemed necessary or desirable. Applicants are required to submit scores from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past three years and to have these scores sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. A TOEFL score of 550 on the written exam or 80 on the Internet-based Test is required for non-native speakers of English, including those who have earned degrees at U.S. institutions. The score must be no more than two years old from the requested date of entry. Applicants who have received a degree from an accredited U.S. institution within the past two years are exempt from the TOEFL requirement. Applicants should satisfy the same background requirements as for the computer science master’s program.
Satisfactory performance on a qualifying examination. The qualifying examination is prepared by the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty and consists of a written examination covering courses required in the undergraduate curriculum. Information concerning the qualifying examination is available in the departmental office. A student needs to pass the qualifying examination before the end of their first year to remain in the program (the first year begins the first day of classes at UT).
A minimum of 72 hours, including both course and research hours, is required. Original research reported in a dissertation of high quality is emphasized. Doctoral (PhD) students holding an MS degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering or Computer Science from the University of Tennessee will be required to take a minimum of 15 hours of graduate course credit. Students pursuing the direct PhD degree will be required to take a minimum of 39 graduate hours.
All other PhD students will be required to take a minimum of 24 graduate hours. Graduate course work excludes research and dissertation hours as well as seminar courses. Courses COSC 530 , COSC 560 and COSC 580 or COSC 581 are required for the degree. At least 6 hours of 600-level graded courses must be taken in computer science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The student's advisor and committee will establish the specific course requirements.
Satisfactory performance on a comprehensive examination administered by the student's committee. The exam results are reported to the graduate committee for approval and the exam is filed in the department. The comprehensive exam is given when the student is ready to apply for admission to candidacy. The comprehensive examination consists of both written and oral parts. The written part consists of a complete review of the literature in the student's dissertation topic and a proposed research plan for the dissertation work. The student's committee may require additional written sections. The student must demonstrate a mastery of the dissertation area, ability to think analytically and creatively, skill in using academic resources, and ability to complete the dissertation satisfactorily. The oral part of the comprehensive examination consists primarily of a professional presentation of a proposal for dissertation work and its defense. The committee may cover additional topics in the oral part.
Successful public defense of the dissertation. A minimum of 6 months must separate the comprehensive examination and the dissertation defense.