May 18, 2024  
2021-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Informatics

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Department of Computer Science and Engineering
546 Engineering Center  (map)
(248) 370-2200 • Fax (248) 370-4625    

Qian Zou
301D Engineering Center
(248) 370-2233

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Graduate Catalog Addendum  

Program description

The Doctor of Philosophy in computer science and informatics is for students who plan to pursue research and development related careers in industrial, governmental or academic settings. Each student admitted to the doctoral program must select a specialization stream as either 1) computer science or 2) software and information technology.

The computer science stream trains doctoral students to become researchers in traditional disciplines within the computer sciences and generally requires that the incoming student hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science or equivalent.

The software and information technology stream aims to train doctoral students to become researchers in applied computing and computational sciences and possibly conduct research in multidisciplinary areas.

Program delivery

As a significant number of graduate courses are offered in the afternoon and late evenings, students can begin the doctoral program on a part-time basis while holding full-time employment. However, later phases of the program will require students to commit a larger fraction of their time for dissertation research.

The program admits students for both part-time and full-time study. The entire program must be completed in seven calendar years, regardless of whether the student is full-time or part-time.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Oakland University Graduate School by the semester deadlines listed below. Incomplete applications will not be sent to departments for admission review.

  • February 15 (early) April 15 (regular) and July 15 (late) for fall semester
  • October 1 (early) and November 15 (regular) for winter semester
  • March 1 (regular) for summer semester
  • International applicants     

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all Graduate Application Requirements and additional department requirements by the published application deadlines:

  1. Graduate Application Requirements  
  2. Additional department application requirements
  • Additional Recommendation for Graduate Admission form
    In addition to the two recommendations listed above, a third recommendation is required by the program.
  • Recommendation requirements
    The recommendations must be from faculty members or professionals in the field who can evaluate the scholarly achievement and potential of the applicant. These recommendations form an important part of the admission credentials.
  • Statement of research objectives and goals
  • Applicants must submit official scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) if they graduated from an institution not accredited by a regional accrediting agency of the USA.  The department may choose to waive the GRE requirement if at least one of the following special circumstances is met:
    • Applicant’s overall GPA from last degree is at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Applicant has worked in the USA for at least two years in the engineering profession.
    • To request a waiver, applicants must submit a    form to the Graduate School as part of the application packet. The request for waiver is subject to the approval of the Graduate Admissions Committee.
  • Admission to Ph.D. program is selective; applicants should have an M.S. degree GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale or better for regular admission.
  • If the applicant’s M.S. GPA is between 3.0 and 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and the percentile score of the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section is 70% or better, admission with limited standing may be offered.
  • Applicants from institutions with which Oakland University has an articulation agreement containing alternative admission criteria will be admitted according to the criteria in that agreement.
  • Normally a master’s degree from an accredited institution is required for admission; however, students with outstanding undergraduate records may apply directly for admission to the doctoral program.
  • The Ph.D. in computer science and informatics degree program is designed for students with academic backgrounds in engineering and computing. Students with backgrounds in mathematics or the physical sciences may also be admitted to the program, but they will be required to build up basic engineering/computing knowledge through relevant coursework.
  • Special consideration may be given if a student does not meet the admission criteria listed above but demonstrates potential for academic excellence through research publications, patents, and awards, etc. In addition, the student must be recommended by an SECS faculty member.

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate school at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Oakland University Graduate School, the department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and GRE scores.

Degree requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in computer science and informatics degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 80 credits in an approved program of study.

At least 56 credits must be earned for coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree (exclusive of dissertation). The normal full-time load is 8 to 12 credits per semester.

Students who have previously earned a master’s degree from Oakland University or another regionally-accredited institution may reduce the 56 credits of coursework required for the doctoral degree by up to 32 credits. To be considered for a reduction in required doctoral credits, students must submit a Petition of Credit from Earned Master’s Degree. The advisory committee will evaluate the student’s prior master’s degree work and may reduce the required Ph.D. credits based on the master’s coursework. The decision of the advisory committee is final, but the approved petition and approved Plan of Study must be on file in Oakland University Graduate School by the end of the first year of doctoral study. All candidates must complete at least 24 credits of additional coursework exclusively at Oakland University.

Course requirements (minimum of 56 credits)

The total credits required to obtain a Ph.D. in computer science and informatics degree is 80. Students are required to complete a minimum of 56 credits of graduate coursework and a minimum of 24 credits of dissertation research. Approved courses taken as a part of a master’s degree may be used towards satisfying this requirement. Deviations from the plan below are allowed with the approval of their doctoral advisory committee (DAC).

a. Research foundation (4 credits)

c. Electives (minimum of 16 credits)

  • To be selected by student. Note that prerequisite courses (CSI 5005, CSI 5006 and CSI 5007) cannot be counted toward PhD degree.

d. Previous master’s coursework (maximum of 32 credits)

  • To be input by student in consultation with adviser.

Dissertation research (minimum of 24 credits)

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Department requirements:  In the Doctor of Philosophy in computer science and informatics degree program, credit will not be awarded for courses in which a grade less than 3.0 is earned. All numerical grades earned are used in computing a student’s grade-point average.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program information

Initial advising

After admission to the Ph.D. program, a student should consult with the Program Coordinator for any advice until formulation of an Advisory Committee.

Plan of study

Master’s and graduate certificate students must submit a department-approved plan of study by the end of their first semester of graduate coursework. Upon admission, doctoral students must develop a plan of study in consultation with the department chair. As soon as the student forms an advisory committee, the committee reviews and updates the plan of study then forwards it to the dean’s office. The original plan of study must be submitted to the dean’s office, and when approved, it will be forwarded to Oakland University Graduate School.

Note:  Credit granted for successful completion of a course toward an undergraduate degree program may not be repeated for a graduate degree. If a substitution is approved, the minimum number of program-approved graduate credits will be required. A Petition of Exception - OU Course Waiver/ Substitution requesting the substitution must be approved.

Advisory committee

As soon as possible after admission, but prior to earning 16 credits of coursework, students must form an advisory committee, which will direct and guide the progress of their program. Such a committee is composed of four faculty members, specified as follows:

  • Two members from the Computer Science and Engineering Department nominated by the student, one designated as the committee chair.
  • One faculty member who is from any department within the School of Engineering and Computer Science or an expert from outside of Oakland University (who must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree).
  • One Oakland University faculty member outside the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Upon recommendation of the advisory committee, following successful completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination, one member from within or outside the university community may be added to the committee for the dissertation proposal review.
Exceptions can be petitioned to both the Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering for approval.

The composition of the entire advisory committee must be approved by the Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and Oakland University Graduate School.


At least 24 credits of graduate coursework, excluding the dissertation credits, must be completed at Oakland University. Further, all students are required to register for at least one credit every fall and winter semester in every academic year, after their admission to the program.

Qualifying comprehensive examinations

The qualifying examinations consist of the core, option, and an oral examination. The applicant must pass the core qualifying examination in computer sciences and informatics. In addition to passing the common core examination, the applicant must pass any two option qualifying examinations pertinent to their stream. The student’s Advisory Committee must be established before he or she is allowed to appear for the option examinations. The selection of the subject areas of the option examinations requires the approval of the Advisory Committee.

The core examination must be completed within two calendar years of joining the program. The option and the oral examinations must be completed within three calendar years of joining the program.

Students will be given two attempts for passing the qualifying examinations. All qualifying comprehensive exams must be monitored in person by a doctoral advisory committee member or a representative of the committee, and exams are to be taken on campus.

Core qualifying examination

The core examination must be completed by all Ph.D. applicants irrespective of the chosen stream of specialization. This examination may be completed before the applicant has formed a doctoral advisory committee. All core qualifying exams must be monitored in person by a doctoral advisory committee member or a representative of the committee and exams are to be taken on campus. The core examination will be conducted by the department once during every fall and winter term each year. The syllabus for the core qualifying examination consists of:

  • Analysis of Algorithms
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Data Structures
  • Programming Languages
  • Computer Architecture
  • Operating Systems

Comprehensive option and oral examination

Doctoral students in Computer Science and Informatics are required to take a comprehensive examination preferably within three calendar years after their admission to the Ph.D. program.  The exact timing will be determined by their Ph.D. advisor.  The students must schedule the exam at least two weeks in advance using the “Ph.D. Pass Form” that is available on the SECS website.

The comprehensive examination is designed to assess the student’s analytical reasoning, theoretical understanding, and preparedness to do independent research. The comprehensive examination is composed of a written component and an oral component.  The written component includes two discipline-specific areas selected by the student’s advisory committee based on the individual student’s coursework and research.

The students are encouraged to take the comprehensive examinations during SECS centralized exam schedule which will be given twice per year, usually on the first, second, and third Friday of October in fall semester, and the first, second and third Friday after the spring break in winter semester.  The student must complete all written examinations within two weeks.  Upon passing the written exams, the student should complete the oral examination within two weeks after the last written examination.  The oral portion of the exam will be given by the student’s advisory committee pus any other faculty who have written a portion of the exams.

The student must obtain passing grades on both the written and oral portions to pass the comprehensive exam. To pass the written exam, the student must obtain an average grade of 70% in the written exams and must have no more than one individual exam grade below 70% but not lower than 60%.  A student who fails to pass the comprehensive examination may repeat it once during the next available exam date.  If a student scores above 80% in any of the subject exams, the committee may decide not to retest the student on that subject area.  Students who pass the comprehensive exam but exhibit weakness in a specific area may be required by their advisory committee to complete additional coursework to address the deficiency.  All comprehensive exams must be monitored in person by a doctoral advisory committee or a representative of the committee and exams are to be taken on campus.

Teaching experience requirement

The department considers that some relevant teaching experience in computer science and engineering is an integral part of the preparation for undertaking a career in research. A successful researcher in computer science or information technology, even in non-academic careers, is often called upon to make presentations and train their protégés to enable appropriate advancements in research. Further, they are also called upon to disseminate information on mature technologies and to facilitate technology transfers. Accordingly, unless waived because of the candidate’s prior teaching experience, the Ph.D. program requires students to provide evidence of experience in teaching. This requirement may be satisfied through the student’s active involvement in the research seminar course that is required of all students.

Dissertation proposal

The doctoral dissertation must constitute an original contribution to the field of study. The student’s Advisory Committee must approve his or her doctoral proposal. The student usually conducts preliminary research and presents the dissertation proposal to the committee. In presenting the dissertation proposal, the student provides an overview of the existing state of the art of the chosen field and describes how the proposed research will lead to its advancement. The committee evaluates the significance and the originality of the proposed research and makes the necessary determination.

The committee members, led by the dissertation adviser, continue to advise the student throughout the research and the preparation of the dissertation manuscript.

The completed dissertation must conform to university standards (see Thesis and Dissertation ).

Research credits

Students who have advisory committee approval of their dissertation proposals and are conducting research should register for CSI 8999. At least 24 research credits are required of all doctoral candidates. However, merely amassing credits does not indicate satisfactory progress toward or completion of the dissertation. These judgments are made by the advisory committee. The dissertation is judged completed upon successful completion of the final examination and acceptance of the dissertation by Oakland University Graduate School.


Writing a doctoral dissertation requires a full commitment to research. Such research cannot be effectively pursued in an environment which places research in a secondary role. Doctoral students are required to be full-time students for at least one year of their active dissertation research. The doctoral student should arrange such a period of residency by 1) registering for at least 8 credits of doctoral dissertation research for two consecutive semesters and 2) making a commitment, in a statement addressed to his/her advisory committee, to a program of full-time research (at least 20 hours per week).

The above represents the normal residency requirement. However, if the present occupation of the candidate (e.g., industrial research or teaching) is conducive to the intended research, there is an alternative method to fulfill the residency requirement. To arrange for the alternative residency, the candidate must apply in writing to his/her advisory committee at the time of the dissertation proposal review. The committee must be furnished with a written statement by the candidate’s employer confirming that the dissertation research constitutes a major portion of the job assignment. If the advisory committee grants permission to pursue this option, the student must enroll in doctoral dissertation research (8 credits maximum) for at least two consecutive semesters.

Final dissertation defense

The oral defense of the dissertation may be held after the dissertation is completed and approved by the advisory committee. The purpose of the oral defense is to enable the dissertation committee to judge the quality of the investigation and the student’s ability to defend and communicate the work. The originality of the dissertation representing advancement in the field of study is typically evidenced through the student’s participation in technical conferences in related research areas, as well as by publication of their research findings in peer-reviewed, refereed journals. An announcement of the date, time, and location of the defense, along with a one-page abstract, is distributed to the faculty and to Oakland University Graduate School. The oral defense must be attended by members of the advisory committee and is open to the university community and public at large. Final approval and acceptance of the doctoral dissertation requires a favorable vote of the advisory committee with no more than one dissenting vote. The committee may permit a re-examination if the initial dissertation defense is deemed inadequate.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive option or oral examination is taken, defense, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Oakland University Graduate School.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time limits

The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than seven years from the time of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program.

The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within four years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within three years (including the dissertation defense).

If a student is deemed inactive, he or she may be dropped out of the program despite the petition for extension.



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