Texas Tech University

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science Overview

For the Ph.D., students are required to demonstrate general knowledge in several areas of computer science and proficiency in a single research area. Certification of research proficiency will be based on a record of accomplished research. The record must be substantiated by published articles, technical reports, and papers presented at meetings, workshops, and conferences. These requirements are in addition to those from the Graduate School.

The Ph.D degree requires a minimum of 60 hours of graduate coursework, 12 hours of CS 8000 - Doctor's Dissertation, and a candidacy exam. All students pursuing a Ph.D in Computer Science must take computer science seminars each year. 

Ph.D. Degree Plan

The Ph.D. Degree Plan specifies information, such as the Dissertation Advisory Committee, the title of the dissertation, and the courses to be taken. The Graduate School requires the Ph.D. Degree Plan to be submitted before the second year of study.


A dissertation is a written report of research completed in fulfillment of the requirements for a doctoral degree. 

According to the Texas Tech Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog, the dissertation should embody a significant contribution of new information to a subject or substantial re−evaluation of existing knowledge.

The dissertation research must be documented in the form of a thesis approved by the Dissertation Advisory Committee and the Graduate Dean. All dissertations must conform to Texas Tech University's published policies for theses.

The dissertation subject area must be declared at least 4 months prior to the student's graduation date.

Dissertation Advisor & Dissertation Committee 

Dissertation Advisor (Research Advisor)

Students should make every effort to find a dissertation advisor in an area of research compatible with their interests as soon as possible. Dissertation advisors may require students to take certain courses in order to prepare the student for research. Therefore, students should allow the dissertation advisor to assist in the selection of courses for their degree plan.

Students will not be automatically assigned a dissertation advisor. It is the reponsibility of the student to spend their first year in the program meeting CS faculty to determine who would be the best fit as their research advisor. Students should identify a research advisor at the end of two long semesters in the program. It is the responsiblity of the student to contact CS faculty members that they are interested in working with throughout their program. 

The student's dissertation advisor will assist them with:

  • Meeting publication and qualifying examination requirements,
  • Adhering to the Graduate School's requirements and recommendations,
  • Ensuring all departmental requirements and recommendations are met,
  • Determining what courses to register for each semester, and
  • Completion of the dissertation and oral defense

The student also has access to their graduate academic advisor, who will assist with finalizing paperwork, obtaining registration permits, removal of registration holds, and navigation of on-campus resources. To learn more, please visit the Advising and Registration page

Prior to selecting a research advisor, students can reach out to the Graduate Program Coordinator for course approval assistance. 

Dissertation Committee

All committee members must belong to the graduate faculty. At a minimum, the committee must include:

  • Chair or Co−Chair from the Department of Computer Science at the rank of Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor.
  • Two other committee members, one of which must be from the minor department if the minor is part of the student's degree plan.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is given by the Dissertation Advisory Committee and consists of a written component. An oral component may be included for the student to present a defense of the dissertation proposal and/or to defend the answers on their written exam. This exam must be taken within one calendar year of completing all requirements listed on the degree plan, but should be taken near the end of completing the required 60−hours of coursework.

Admission to Candidacy

After the Qualifying Examination is passed, the Graduate Dean recommends the student for Admission to Candidacy to the Graduate Council. Admission to Candidacy must occur at least 4 months prior to the student's graduation date.

Final Examination

The Final Examination is a public oral examination over the field of the dissertation given by the Dissertation Advisory Committee and the Graduate Dean or his/her representative. At least 4 months must intervene between the Qualifying Examination and the Final Examination. The dissertation must be completed and read by the Dissertation Advisory Committee before the Final Examination.


Please read the Texas Tech Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog for details which essentially specifies that the student should be on−campus for about a year. However, students should finish their degree sooner if they stay on−campus for the duration of their entire degree program.

Time Limit

All requirements must be completed within a period of 8 calendar years or 4 years from Admission to Candidacy, whichever comes first.

Course Transfers

A graduate course may be accepted for transfer from another university as long as the following hold true:

  • A "B" or above is made in the course by proof of an official transcript submitted to the Graduate School.
  • The course is not taken by correspondence.
  • The inclusion of the course satisfies degree plan requirements.
  • The course is approved by both the Dissertation Advisor and the Graduate Advisor.
  • a Texas Tech University course corresponds to the transferred course.
  • The course is from a computer science program, from a minor program with the approval of the Minor Advisor (if a minor is declared formally), or from another discipline as long as that discipline supports the research of the student.

Students should be prepared to show syllabi and example coursework from the courses they wish to transfer.

No courses are transferred until the degree plan (institutional transcripts showing the transfer courses and grades must be attached) is submitted to the Department of Computer Science and approved by the graduate advisor.

With an earned master's in computer science, up to 30 hours may be transferred. Otherwise, up to 12 hours may be transferred. A maximum of 6 hours of individual study courses may be transferred.

Please see the Computer Science Graduate Advisor for time limits on accepting transfer courses.

Department of Computer Science