Ph.D. Program in Computer Science

About The Program

Students of exceptional ability as demonstrated in previous course work are encouraged to pursue a doctor of philosophy degree; individuals with substantial experience in industrial research and development may also apply to the doctoral program. The current research programs of the department include parallel computation, information assurance, high speed networks, neural networks, software engineering, verification, genetic algorithms, databases and knowledge-base systems, and computational intelligence. The department also encourages interdisciplinary work with other departments at Tech and offers specialization in other areas through the New Mexico Cooperative Ph.D. Program in Computer Science (which includes Tech, the University of New Mexico, and New Mexico State University) and in cooperation with researchers at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.

As computer science is a diverse and rapidly changing discipline, the program of study of a Ph.D. student will depend on the area of specialization and on prior experience and education. All Ph.D. students will be required to demonstrate master’s-level knowledge of the core areas of computer science, as well as a thorough understanding of the intended area of specialization. The core areas include systems (operating systems and computer architectures), programming (programming languages, compilers, data structures, and formal semantics), and theory (automata theory, algorithms, and computational complexity). In addition, all Ph.D. students are required to take 3 credit hours of CSE 585 (Graduate Seminar) while enrolled at NMT as a Ph.D. Student in Computer Science. The specific course requirements are determined with the consultation and approval of the student’s advisory committee and the chair of the department.

The student must pass a preliminary examination in each of the core areas. A detailed list of topics to be covered is available from the department. The student must also pass a candidacy examination in his or her specific area of specialization.

Candidacy Exam Requirements

Effective September 2007, for CS Ph.D. students to proceed to their candidacy exam (Ph.D. proposal), they are required to show evidence of CSE core knowledge, as follows:

For breadth, students must choose six required classes:

    1. CSE 324 and CSE 344
    2. at least one of{CSE 325, CSE 423}
    3. at least one of{CSE 342, CSE 331} and
    4. complete the remaining(if any) of the required six classes from the following set:
      {CSE 326, CSE 373, CSE 441, CSE 451, CSE 453, CSE 454, CSE 463, CSE 464}the student is required to either:

For each of those six courses:

    • Either take the class (at NMT) and pass it with a grade of “B” or higher, or
    • Pass the corresponding Competency Exam. Competency exams are to be offered yearly, typically one week before the start of the semester when the corresponding course is offered.

For depth, the student is required to write a report in the field of his/her research; the student’s research committee will specify the requirements of such report; the student’s research committee will examine the student when he or she orally presents the report. All students who are financially supported by the department must finish the above requirements within their first four semesters (from the time of joining the Ph.D program); otherwise, their financial support is subject to termination without further notice.


The doctoral dissertation demonstrates the candidate’s capacity for independent research. The student may register for dissertation hours only after successfully completing the candidacy exam. A minimum of 24 credit hours must be devoted to the dissertation. The student is encouraged to explore the various current research projects in his or her field of interest before choosing dissertation subject. The dissertation must be defended before the Tech faculty under the supervision of the student’s advisory committee. Manuscript requirements are in the catalog. An external examiner will be included on the defense committee. The candidate must be registered during the semester in which the completed dissertation is submitted to the Graduate Office. Doctoral candidates are required to present at least one departmental or general seminar on the dissertation during their tenure as a graduate student. Before the degree is granted, at least one paper on the subject matter of the dissertation must be submitted to a recognized journal acceptable to the doctoral committee of the student.