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    Dec 03, 2023  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Computer Science Major, PhD

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The Tickle College of Engineering offers a PhD degree in Computer Science to qualified applicants. Candidates for the PhD program are expected to possess a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science degree in Computer Science or related field. Students in the PhD program will be required to demonstrate general competence in Computer Science by completing courses in core areas with the academic standards described below.

Concentrations (Optional)

  • Data Analytics
  • Intelligent Systems and Machine Learning

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • Exceptional students holding the bachelor’s degree may be admitted to the doctoral program without first obtaining a master’s degree.
  • 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.
    • Applicants are expected to have completed a bachelor’s degree with an average of at least 3.00 out of 4.00, both overall and in the senior year.
    • Applicants who hold the bachelor’s degree in fields other than computer science will be required to take selected undergraduate courses as determined by the applicant’s prior education and experience.
      • The student will be admitted under non-degree status until the required undergraduate courses are successfully completed with a grade of B or better.
      • An international student may not enroll as a non-degree student.

Credit Hours Required

  • Students holding only a BS degree, as well as students who receive a concurrent MS degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Computer Science while enrolled as a PhD student, must take a minimum of 72 total graduate credit hours, including a minimum of 39 graduate course credit hours.
  • Students holding a non-concurrent MS degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Computer Science from UT will be required to take a minimum of 48 total graduate credit hours, including at least 15 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond those applied to their MS degree.
  • Students with MS degrees from other fields or universities will be required to take a minimum of 48 total graduate credit hours, including at least 24 credit hours of graduate coursework.

Required Courses

Non-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:
        • The written part includes a complete review of the literature in the student’s dissertation topic, a review of the major tools to be used in the dissertation work, and proposed research.
        • 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:
        • 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 by the student.
  • A minimum of 6 months must separate the comprehensive examination and the dissertation defense.

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