This page describes the requirements of the old Ph.D. program. Students have the option of graduating under this program if their first enrollment as graduate students at UT was in 2005 or earlier. For steps towards graduation, go to the section, "Application to Candidacy & Graduation."

The Ph.D. is a research degree. Our Ph.D. students also take courses, which give them the foundation on which to build their research programs. But the overriding goal of the Ph.D. program is to show students how to do outstanding research. We expect all our Ph.D. students to become involved in research within their first semester here (see Research Immersion below) and continue their involvement throughout their time at UT. To get a good feeling for the way in which our Ph.D. students are involved in our research activities, browse our research web pages.

As a consequence of early immersion in research, our Ph.D. students are often already recognized in the wider research community well before they graduate. They regularly travel to conferences, present papers, and sometimes receive best paper awards.

Most Ph.D. students receive financial support from the department. Each year, approximately 12 incoming students are awarded doctoral fellowships, which guarantee support for four years. Additional students will be offered Teaching Assistantships. The department's faculty also brings in substantial research funding, much of which is used to support graduate students on Research Assistantships.

Degree Requirements

Students must have an undergraduate degree in computer science or an allied field such as engineering or math with appropriate CS background to be admitted into the Ph.D. program. Each student who is admitted must then satisfy the following requirements:


Most students have the equivalent of CS 345 (Programming Languages), CS 352 (Architecture), CS 372 (Operating Systems), and CS 375 (Compilers) at the time they are admitted. If students have specific deficiencies, such as missing prerequisites for graduate courses they wish to take, these deficiencies can be made up by taking appropriate undergraduate courses.

Research Immersion

Doctoral students are required to enroll in a special research course CS 398T during their first semester in the program. (Students entering in Spring will be required to take this course the following Fall.) As part of this class, students will be expected to find a research supervisor with whom the student will work throughout the first year.

All doctoral students are required to enroll in and complete a research course, CS 395, each semester until they advance to candidacy.

Doctoral students may not enroll for 12 or more hours unless they receive special permission from the Graduate Advisor. Such permission is granted rarely and only based on written justification from the student's research supervisor.


Students satisfy this requirement by taking an approved set of 5 courses, 2 from each of two breadth areas and one from a third breadth area:

  • Theory
  • Systems
  • Applications. At most one numerical analysis course may be counted toward this requirement. At most one of CS 386 and CS 387H may be counted.

See Breadth Courses for a list of the breadth courses that are offered.

All courses used to satisfy this requirement must be completed with a grade of B or better, and a combined grade point average of 3.5 must be achieved on the 5 courses used to satisfy the breadth requirement. An overall grade point average of 3.1 must be maintained on all breadth courses taken.

Breadth Course Waivers may be used to fulfill some breadth requirements. A Breadth Course Waiver is granted when:

  1. a student has taken a graduate-level course at another university and that course is equivalent to a UT-CS breadth course, and
  2. the student is able to demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of this material to a Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) member who teaches the breadth course. The GSC member may choose any method to evaluate the student's knowledge: a written or an oral examination is possible. At most one Breadth Course Waiver may be used in each breadth area.


Students satisfy this requirement by taking a set of at least 3 courses related to their particular research interests. At most one of these courses may be outside the Computer Sciences Department; they are usually chosen from the CS department's list of graduate classes. Courses listed as breadth courses may be used as part of a depth program as long as they were not also used in the student's breadth program. No CS 395 (conference) or CS 398T course may be included in a depth proposal. All courses used to satisfy this requirement must be completed with a grade of B or better. A grade point average of 3.6 over all depth courses must be attained.

Oral Speaking Requirement

Students satisfy this requirement by giving at least three public presentations of approximately one hour's duration. Students have a variety of opportunities, such as seminar courses, for satisfying this requirement; presentations at conferences can also be counted. In the case of a presentation at a conference it is not necessary for a GSC member to be present in order to sign the form. The dissertation proposal and defense may not be included. This requirement makes it imperative that students be able to communicate effectively and publicly in English. At least one of the oral presentations must be given prior to scheduling the dissertation proposal.

Dissertation Proposal

Each student must prepare a written dissertation proposal and then give an oral public presentation of the proposal. This will normally happen soon after the RQ document is filed. The student must, at this point, assemble a tentative dissertation committee that has been approved by the graduate advisor. Be sure what you send to the graduate adviser for approval includes a short description of your dissertation and what role you foresee for each proposed committee member in helping you reach your research goals. The approved committee will examine the student on the proposal. If they are unanimously satisfied that the proposed work, if substantially completed, would constitute an acceptable dissertation and that the student has the potential for substantially completing the work, then they will recommend admission to candidacy. Admission to candidacy must be approved by the Department's Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School.

IMPORTANT: The graduate school requires enrollment in 2 semesters of dissertation, _99R and _99W. Summer may count as 1 of the semesters of enrollment. You must be in candidacy by the 1st 12 class days of a semester you wish to enroll in dissertation hours so you can register for or add/drop to dissertation hours. You must be enrolled in dissertation hours continuously in fall and spring semesters until graduation. Enrollment in _99R is required only once. After the initial _99R enrollment, enroll in _99W. You must be enrolled in _99W in the semester you plan to graduate. If that's summer then summer enrollment is required.

Dissertation Final Defense

Each student must write a dissertation that describes original research and submit it to the members of his/her committee. There are many resources to help in writing a dissertation. The student will then give a public presentation and defense of the dissertation research. When the committee is satisfied with the dissertation, they will so inform the Graduate School.

Additional Requirements

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained over all CS graduate courses. All course requirements must be completed with a six-year period. A minimum one-year residency after application to candidacy is required.

The Requirements of the Graduate School

The Graduate School imposes a set of requirements on all graduate students, which must be met by all CS graduate students. These requirements deal with such issues as grades, courses taken in residence, transfer credit, and time limits.

 This page describes the Breadth course system that was used prior to Fall 2005. Students who first enrolled prior to 2006 may choose to graduate under this program.

Graduate courses are divided into two groups:

  • Breadth courses can be used to satisfy the breadth requirements of either the Ph.D. or the Masters degree. They may also be used as part of a student's depth or elective program.
  • Non-breadth courses can be used to fulfill depth or elective requirements.

A full listing of all of the department's graduate classes can be found in the CS section of the University's Graduate Catalogue. One course deserves special mention here: CS 395T is a topics course. Each semester, the faculty offer CS 395T sections on a variety of topics that span their research interests. For examples of recent topics, look at the 395T section of the listing of Class Home Pages.

Breadth Courses

The courses that are currently approved to fulfill the breadth requirement of both the Ph.D. and the Masters degree are:


  • CS 388C Combinatorics & Graph Theory
  • CS 388F Automata & Formal Languages
  • CS 388G Algorithms: Techniques & Theory
  • CS 388L Introduction to Mathematical Logic
  • CS 388S Formal Semantics & Verification
  • CS 388T Theory of Computation
  • CS 389R Recursion & Induction I


  • CS 380C Compilers
  • CS 380D Distributed Computing I
  • CS 380L Advanced Operating Systems
  • CS 380N Systems Modeling
  • CS 382M Advanced Computer Architecture
  • CS 386L Programming Languages
  • CS 386M Communication Networks


  • CS 381K Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 383C Numerical Anaylsis: Linear Algebra
  • CS 383D Numerical Analysis: Interpolation, Approximation, Quadrature, and Differential Equations
  • CS 384G Computer Graphics
  • CS 384V Introduction to VLSI Design
  • CS 386 Database Management
  • CS 387H Database System Implementation