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Graduate Catalog 2016/2017

Computer Science and Engineering (CSE)

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CIP Code: 14.0901
College of Engineering (EN)
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Bachelor's Degree): 72
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Masters Degree): 42

Contact Information:
College of Engineering
Computer Science and Engineering Department (ESB)
4202 E. Fowler Avenue ENB118
Tampa FL  33620

Program Director or Coordinator:
Miguel Labrador
Phone: 813-974-3260


Faculty Search: Engineering Faculty List

Program Information

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred in recognition of a candidate's highest level of scholarly competence and demonstrated capability to independently conduct and report significant research in computer science and engineering. This achievement requires more than an accumulation of course credits over a stated period of residence. Scholarly competence is achieved through systematic study and investigation in the chosen discipline at an advanced level. The major professor and at least two committee members will be from the Computer Science and Engineering department. Research capability is developed during the course of study and is achieved through the completion of significant and independent research. The results of this research must be formally presented in a written dissertation and successfully defended before an examining committee. The dissertation must demonstrate the significance of the research as well as the candidate's ability to organize and present her/his results in a professional manner.

Major Research Areas
An excellent selection of courses and laboratories support graduate studies in algorithms, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, computer architecture, graphics, networks, computer vision, distributed systems, embedded systems, expert systems, formal verification, image processing, pattern recognition, robotics, databases, software engineering, computer security, compilers, programming languages, VLSI design, and CAD.


Accreditation Information:

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


Admissions Information

Admission Deadlines

There is an established University deadline for the submission of admission application materials. Programs may have earlier deadlines than the University deadline. The deadlines reflected below are the earliest of the two deadlines. Graduate Programs may continue to accept and process applications after the published deadline if space exists within the program. Check with the Program for availability.

Application Deadline (domestic application)

Fall: February 15
Spring: October 15
Summer: ---

International Students

Foreign applicants who are outside the U.S. are required to apply for a visa. Depending on the country of origin, this may take a few months. So the deadlines for these international applicants may be earlier than the Program deadline and these applicants must apply prior to both deadlines. They are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Foreign applicants who are in the U.S. and are currently on a visa may use the domestic application deadline dates. In addition to meeting the published application deadline for the Program of interest, all immigration documents should be submitted as soon as possible, but must be on file at USF no later than the following processing deadlines:

Fall: January 15
Spring: September 15
Summer: ---

Admission Requirements

You must comply with general University policies and meet general University Admission requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • The GRE is required for all Ph.D. applicants. The median GRE scores of recently admitted students include 770 on the Quantitative portion and a Verbal Total of 450.For GRE tests taken after August 1, we require a minimum of 161 on the Quantitative portion (81 percentile) and a minimum of 150 (44 percentile) on the Verbal.
  • Minimum grade point average (GPA) of B average (or equivalent) for all coursework completed during the last two years of undergraduate program.
  • Submission of TOEFL scores with an Internet-based score of 79 or higher for applicants from non-English speaking countries. If consideration of an assistantship is desired, the speaking score component of the TOEFL must be 26 or above
  • The TOEFL requirements may be waived if the applicant meets one of the following conditions:
    • Has scored 500 or higher on the GRE Verbal Test, (Old Scores) or 153 with the New GRE scoring.
    • Has earned a college degree at a U.S. institution of higher learning.
    • Has earned a college degree from an institution whose language of instruction is English, (must be noted on the transcript).
    • Has scored 6.5 on International English Language Testing System, (IELTS).
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • The applicant must also have mathematical preparation equivalent to that obtained from courses in Calculus through Differential Equations; knowledge of computer science and computer engineering, including logic design, computer architecture, data structures, operating systems, and analysis of algorithms. Students are assumed to have good programming skills. The majority of students accepted to the program possess an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or Mathematics; however, students who hold an undergraduate degree in a related field are encouraged to apply.


Admissions Status: Apply


Program Degree Requirements

The requirements for obtaining the doctoral degree can be met by fulfilling the minimum requirements below. These requirements and the various committees appointed to oversee the completion of these requirements are explained in detail below:

  • Completion of the requisite coursework and the successful completion of qualifying examinations in Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, and Theory of Algorithms within one year of enrollment.
  • Completion of a Major Research-Area paper within one year after qualifier examinations are passed.
  • Completion of a doctoral dissertation representing significant, original research.

Total Program hours: 72 minimum (post-baccalaureate)
A minimum of 72 semester hours including dissertation hours beyond the baccalaureate degree are required of all Ph.D. students

Coursework 33 credit hours
Independent Study/Dir Research 15 hours
Dissertation 20 credit hours
Additional 4 credit hours (courses or dissertation)

Core Requirements 9 credit hours
All PhD Students are required to successfully complete: COT 6405 Introduction to the Theory of Algorithms 9

Required Coursework 48 hours (includes 9 hours of Core Requirements)
The distribution of these hours is as follows:

  • At least 33 credit hours in coursework excluding independent study and directed research. The exact distribution of these hours in the Computer Science and Engineering discipline will be determined by the student and the supervisory committee to provide the student with a stimulating educational experience.
  • Up to 15 credit hours of independent study/directed research.
    • CIS 6900 Independent Study 1-15
    • CIS 7910 Directed Research 1-15

Additional 4 credit hours are required, either through the completion of additional courses or through additional dissertation hours.

Students select the specific courses in conjunction with the advisor and committee from the list of available graduate elective courses below in consultation with the Graduate Program Director or individual adviors/dissertation committee.
Departmental Course Options (examples)
     CAP 5400 Digital Image Processing (3)
     CDA 5416 Introduction to Computer-Aided Verification (3)
     CAP 5625 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (3)
     CAP 5682 Expert and Intelligent Systems (3)
     CAP 5771 Data Mining (3)
     EEL 5771 Introduction to Computer Graphics I (3)
     CNT 6215 Computer Networks (3)
     CAP 6415 Computer Vision (3)
     CAP 6455 Advanced Robotic Systems (3)
     CAP 6615 Neural Networks (3)
     COP 6621 Programming Languages and Translation (3)
     EEL 6706 Testing and Fault Tolerance in Digital (3)
     CAP 6736 Geometric Modeling (3)
     EEL 6766 Advanced Computer Architecture (3)
     CIS 6900 Independent Study (1-19)
     CIS 6930 Special Topics (1-5)
     CIS 6940 Graduate Instruction Methods (1-4)
     CIS 6946 Internships/Practicums/Clinical Practice (0-3)
     CIS 6971 Thesis: Masters (2-19)

Doctoral Screening/Qualifying Examination
Students must pass the Ph.D. Qualifying examinations in Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, and Theory of Algorithms within one year of enrollment.

Admission to Candidacy
A student will not be admitted to candidacy until a Doctoral committee has been appointed, and the committee has certified that the student has successfully completed the comprehensive qualifying examination and demonstrated the qualifications necessary to successfully complete the requirements for the degree. The admission to Candidacy form must be approved by the Dean of the college and forwarded to the Dean of Graduate Studies for final approval. The student may elect to enroll in dissertation credits in the semester following approval of the Admission to Candidacy form by Graduate Studies.

Major Research-Area Paper
After an extensive review of literature on the area of research the student will author a paper and give an oral presentation on the subject. The written document should constitute a significant part of the students literature-review chapter for his/her dissertation. The oral presentation will be open to the public. The paper and presentation is to be completed within one year of passing the Qualifying Examinations.

Dissertation: 20 hours minimum
CIS 7980 Dissertation
The students progress in the program is monitored by a supervisory doctoral committee, which is usually appointed at an early stage in the students program. This committee consists of at least five members, one of whom is outside the College of Engineering. The Major Professor will be a member of the Computer Science and Engineering Department. Normally, two more Computer Science and Engineering faculty serve on the committee with a member in another department in the college.

The student must conduct research of sufficient quality that demonstrates an independent and original contribution to the field of computer science and engineering. Students must take at least 20 semester hours of doctoral dissertation credits; the exact number of credits is determined by the candidates supervisory committee. It is strongly recommended that doctoral students submit journal articles for publication relevant to dissertation research.

Dissertation Defense
A doctoral candidate must defend her/his research before her/his committee. The defense is usually open to the university community and conducted in accordance with the universitys general rules and regulations. The defense involves a formal presentation of the dissertation followed by a critical exchange between the candidate and the committee. The committee chairman moderates the proceedings and determines procedure, originality of the research, and contributions made by the candidate.

College Degree Requirements

Refer to the College Section of theGraduate Catalog for College requirements and information.


USF Degree Requirements

See USF Degree Requirements —


Financial Assistance

Financial Aid

Fellowships & Scholarships

Graduate Assistantships


Registration Process

First, contact your graduate program advisor for guidance courses to register for. Obtain any electronic course permit if necessary. Register for the new student orientation online at Then go to the link to OASIS, USF's on-line registration system to register for your classes. Follow the directions given on-line.

To access online course materials, students must have a USF NetID (e-mail account). Please visit: to obtain your NetID.

New students, including those studying online, may obtain a USFCard. Please visit: to obtain your USFCard.

Tuition and fees: Fees are determined by the level of the course. Please visit Cash Accounting, Controller's Office, for information on tuition and fees.


Graduate Course Information

Use the list below to lookup graduate courses related to this program in the USF Course Inventory:

CAP5400, CAP5625, CAP5682, CAP5771, CAP6100, CAP6415, CAP6455, CAP6615, CAP6672, CAP6736, CDA5416, CIS6900, CIS6930, CIS6940, CIS7910, CNT6215, COP6621, EEL5771, EEL6706, EEL6766, CIS7980,