May 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Computer Science and Informatics, Doctor of Philosophy

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

Steven Wilson
518 Engineering Center
(248) 370-3795

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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. 

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:

  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 Request to Waive GRE 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. Foundation Courses (12 credits)

12 credits from the following core courses:

  • Mathematics-4 credits: The student must take APM 5610   - Advanced Algorithms and Data Structures within the first two semesters after enrollment in the Ph.D. program.
  • Core CSE Courses-8 credits from the following courses:
    • Programming Languages: CSI 5350   - Programming Languages and Compilers
    • Computer Architecture: CSI 5640   - Computer Architecture
    • Operating Systems: CSI 5500   - Operating Systems
    • Database: CSI 5450   - Database Systems I

b. Specialty Courses (12 credits)

 12 credits from the following courses:

  • 8 Credits from one of the concentrations depending on the research area of the student, an approval from the PhD program committee is required if the course is not in the following list:

c. Research and Independent Study

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. The faculty advisor assists students with developing the study plan and monitors the student’s progress toward the degree. The advisor also serves as the chair of the dissertation committee and monitors the research progress. Finding a faculty advisor is one of the first required tasks in the program. Students typically enter the program with an assigned faculty advisor.

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 8 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 tenure track faculty 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.


All students enter their program in the pre-candidacy stage. In this stage, students complete advanced coursework in core areas and gain the knowledge and skills to conduct independent scholarly research. Students must have the minimum program GPA and submit the necessary paperwork to schedule the exam. Students are encouraged to discuss details about qualifying exams with their program Ph.D. program coordinator.

Qualifying examinations

There are two qualification exams, and they should be taken in sequence: the Core Exam and the Comprehensive Exam. To take these exams, a student must have completed 2 courses from the Breath Coursework for the Core Exam and 2 courses from the Depth Coursework for the Comprehensive Exam. They will be given two attempts to pass each exam.

Foundations Requirement: The goal of this examination will be to ensure that students have a good understanding of the fundamentals of Computer Science. The examination committee will be selected from the Graduate Committee of the Department. The examination will include the following steps:

  1. Two core computer science graduate-level courses are selected by the student, during the first semester of the program.
  2. For each of two courses, if the student receives at least an A- in this course, the written exam is waived. However, if the student receives a grade lower than A- in at least one of the two courses, an hour-long written examination on the course material, together with the underlying undergraduate material, is taken by the student.

Specialty Requirement: The goal of this examination will be to ensure that students have a good understanding of the broad research area of the student. The examination committee will be selected from the PhD program committee of the Department. The examination will include the following steps:

  1. Two specialty computer science graduate-level courses are selected by the student, during the first semester of the program.
  2. For each of two courses, if the student receives at least an A- in this course, the written exam is waived. However, if the student receives a grade lower than A- in at least one of the two courses, an hour-long written examination on the course material, together with the underlying undergraduate material, is taken by the student.

Oral Examination: The student’s ability to conduct independent research is evaluated through a written report of a project done in CSI 7970   (e.g. submitted paper to a journal/conference), followed by a 90 minute oral exam by three CSE faculty members where one of them has research interests outside the scope of the student’s research, and none of whom can be the student’s research advisor. The student should prepare a 45 minute presentation, followed by up to 45 minutes of questions. Examiners will be given the written report on the directed study at least one week before the examination, and each examiner will submit a written report on the examination. The student must submit their written report to the PhD program coordinator at least one week before the qualification exams begin.

Research Publication

Students are required to have accepted article(s) based on their dissertation in a scholarly peer-reviewed journal or reputable conference paper as defined by the CSE department. This is a requirement for students in the Ph.D. Computer Science and Informatics prior to scheduling the dissertation oral defense. Students are encouraged to reach out to their Ph.D. advisors and Ph.D. program coordinator about any additional research publication requirements.


Students should advance to candidacy within three years of first enrollment (students entering the program with a master’s degree should advance to candidacy within 2 years) and meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of all required coursework
  • Completion of the qualifying exams
  • Request approval of the dissertation committee
  • Completion of the responsible conduct of research and scholarship training
  • Achievement of the minimum program and course GPA

Dissertation proposal

Students should reach this milestone within one year of passing the qualifying exam. Students may be given a maximum of two attempts to pass the oral defense. Students must submit the written proposal to the dissertation committee for review prior to the oral defense. After the defense, the student will receive written feedback from the Committee based on the proposal rubric. Students with unsatisfactory performance may, at the discretion of the program Director, be granted a second and final attempt. Students must be registered in the term in which they defend and may defend in the fall, winter, or full summer term. Distinguished performance may be awarded and must be unanimous. Students are encouraged to discuss details with the Ph.D. program coordinator and faculty advisor.

Dissertation Research and Oral Defense-

Students must complete the dissertation defense, based on the student’s original independent research, within five years after Candidacy but no more than seven years from first enrollment. A copy of the written dissertation approved by the faculty advisor/dissertation chair must be submitted to the dissertation committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense. Each member of the dissertation committee will complete written feedback of the written dissertation prior to the oral defense. Three days prior to the oral defense, the Ph.D. program Coordinator must review the written dissertation assessments from the committee members and authorize the oral defense. The written dissertation report and the oral defense will be assessed based on the dissertation rubric. After the defense, the student will receive written feedback and the Committee will decide based on the rubric if the student’s performance meets the requirement, is distinguished, or does not meet the requirement. Students whose performance was unsatisfactory for the written dissertation and/or oral defense must meet with their research advisor/dissertation committee chair for the next steps. Students must be registered in the term in which they defend and may defend in the fall, winter, or full summer term. Distinguished performance may be awarded and must be unanimous.

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

Annual Progress Review

At the end of each year, each student must complete an annual review meeting with his or her research advisor. At the review, the study plan is updated with completed courses and grades. The student must also submit information detailing any accomplishments such as awards, publications, presentations, and conferences over the year. The CSE graduate committee or program coordinator also conducts an annual review of all students’ files. If the student is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree, the student may be placed on probation and must document a remediation plan. The completed review is due by May 31 each year. Students may receive a hold on their record if the review is not submitted.

  • If a student’s progress is concerning or unsatisfactory, a mid-year review is required to reevaluate the student’s progress. The faculty advisor and the Ph.D. program coordinator should create a plan of action for students not making satisfactory progress.
  • If the student is making unsatisfactory progress, the student may lose funding, be denied permission to register, be required to withdraw, and/or be dismissed from the Ph.D. program effective the next term.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

A student who fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress in their program will be placed on probation for a maximum of one term. To be in good academic standing, the student must meet the standards set by the Ph.D. degree program in Computer Science and Informatics, the School of Engineering and Computer Science, the OU Graduate School and those set by the University. Essentially, a student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling all requirements for the degree to include: coursework, milestone timeline, exams, and research. Examples of failure to make satisfactory academic progress are unsatisfactory performance in classes, unsatisfactory performance on qualifying exams, unsatisfactory research progress, falling below the overall and or minimum GPA requirement, and failure to meet milestone deadlines and other program requirements.

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 three 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 an average of 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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