Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science
Researchers from all fields use computational models to analyze massive amounts of data.
There’s a growing need for computer scientists who can collaborate with other domains and also research ways to improve the networks, the operating systems, and the multitude of devices that are integrated into our daily lives.
Our PhD in Computer Science degree program prepares you for a career in research and/or teaching by providing the necessary course work and collaborative environment for both supervised and independent research. Our PhD students are researching mobile apps to help improve the science of learning, building operating systems for high performance computers, addressing security and privacy from a data-oriented perspective, improving computer performance, and more.
You’ll have the opportunity to take part in the diverse faculty research collaborations with other departments and programs within the University such as the Learning Research and Development Center, the School of Engineering, and the School of Medicine.
The PhD degree requires 72 credits of formal course work, independent study, directed study, and/or dissertation research.
The following 12 courses must be completed with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better:
- CS 2001 Research Topics in Computer Science
- CS 2002 Research Experiences in Computer Science
You are required to take CS 2001 during your first fall term and CS 2002 the following spring
At least one course from each of the following foundation areas:
Architecture and Compilers
- CS 2410 – COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE or
- CS 2210 – COMPILER DESIGN
Operating Systems and Networks
- CS 2510 – COMPUTER OPERATING SYSTEMS or
- CS 2520 – WIDE AREA NETWORKS
Artificial Intelligence and Database Systems
- CS 2710 – FOUNDTNS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLGNC or
- CS 2550 – PRINCIPLES OF DATABASE SYSTEMS
Theory and Algorithms
- CS 2110 – THEORY OF COMPUTATION or
- CS 2150 – DESIGN & ANALYSIS OF ALGORITHMS
An additional 6 graduate-level CS courses (for a total of 12 courses). These courses must be 2100-level or higher CS courses and cannot be independent study courses (CS2990, CS3000), graduate internship (CS2900), thesis project or research courses (CS2910, CS3900). At least 2 courses must be at the 3000-level.
CS 2003 Requirements
After completing CS 2001 and CS 2002, students must enroll in CS 2003 until receiving a satisfactory grade of S for 4 regular terms.
An MS degree is not required to apply to the PhD program.
The department is open to applications from exceptional students transitioning to graduate study in Computer Science from other undergraduate fields. Transitional students with demonstrated computing aptitude, as evidenced by outstanding grades in at least four of the required computer science courses noted below, may be considered for admission to the PhD program. Applicants must have completed courses in the following areas (the corresponding Pitt course numbers are indicated):
In Computer Science, one course in each of:
- Intermediate Programming (CS 0401)
- Discrete Structures (CS 0441)
- Data Structures (CS 0445)
- Computer Organization and Assembly Language(CS 0447)
- Algorithm Design/Computation Theory (CS 1510/CS 1511)
- Programming Language for Web Applications/Structured Programming Languages (CS 1520/CS 1621)
- Operating Systems/Systems Software (CS 1550/CS 1651)
In Mathematics, the following:
- A two-course calculus sequence (MATH 0220, MATH 0230)
- A course in linear algebra (MATH 1180 or MATH 0280)
- A course in probability and statistics, requiring calculus as prerequisite (STAT 1151, STAT 1152)
Letters of Recommendation
Identify and seek the recommendations of three individuals (e.g., professors, employers, information professionals) who are in a position to evaluate your academic performance or your potential as an information professional. Two must be from professors, preferably with PhDs.
Only scanned copies of official transcripts will be accepted and processed at the application stage.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
You are required to submit a recent score (within five years of the date of application) on the Graduate Record Examination as part of your admission credentials. Scores on all three sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the General Section should be submitted. There is no minimum score requirement.
Other Required Documentation
Please include the following with your online application:
- CV; and
- Statement of Intent outlining your career goals
Your CV and Statement of Intent should reflect and highlight relevant work experience.
For International Applicants
Graduate students must possess sufficient knowledge of English to participate successfully in graduate study. International applicants must submit either the TOEFL or the IELTS (taken within two years of the date of application). A minimum score of 90 (with at least a score of 22 on each section) on the TOEFL or a minimum result of Band 7.0 (with at least a score of 6.5 on each section) on the IELTS is required.
For more information, see our Graduate Admissions FAQ.