The Ph.D. program is designed to provide students with advanced coursework and substantive research experience to prepare graduates to be the leaders in industry and academia. There is an emphasis on producing original work to present at conferences or published in peer-reviewed journals. Students who successfully complete the Ph.D. program go on to take leadership, entrepreneurial, and scholarly positions.
PhD students progress through four phases in their study. Initially, students are required to begin coursework while identifying a faculty mentor to serve as their research advisor. As students progress in coursework and research, they will be evaluated each semester on their progress towards their Qualifying Exam by the completion of a Portfolio (initially evaluated in the 3rd semester and completed by their 5th semester). Students are required to complete a minor either as a CS internal minor or in another degree program at the UA (see coursework). As research progresses and coursework is completed, students next identify their committee and propose their dissertation work during their Comprehensive Exam, completed by their 7th semester. Finally, once students complete their research, they will defend their Dissertation.
The Department of Computer Science offers programs leading to the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees with a major in computer science. The department's programs prepare graduate students for positions in the design and development of computer systems and applications in business and industry and for scientific positions in industrial or academic computing research. Areas of research interest within the department currently include algorithms (bioinformatics, geometric, graph), artificial intelligence (natural language processing, machine learning, vision), parallel, distributed, and high performance computing, programming languages and compilers, security, systems (operating systems, networking, storage, databases), and visualization and graphics.
College of Science
University of Arizona - Main - Tucson
Please review the Graduate College Admission Requirements, which are in addition to the departmental admission requirements below.
Admission to the program is determined by high scores on standardized tests, an adequate background in computer science, strong letters of recommendation, high-level grades from a strong undergraduate program, and research interests shared with the faculty. Each applicant is evaluated carefully based on the entire application package, taking into account test scores, previous educational achievement, letters of recommendation, and the statement of purpose. The admissions committee also considers an applicant’s previous research, publications, and work experience. The stated minimums are guidelines. An applicant whose record is weak in one aspect (e.g., GRE scores) may be considered for admission if a strength exists in another area (e.g., excellent GPA, letters). In evaluating students applications, the committee looks for the following: (1) adequate math and computer science background, (2) excellent academic performance, (3) good communication skills, and (4) intellectual potential. The admissions committee will also consider whether applicants have researched the University of Arizona Computer Science program and are applying to work in research areas and with the expertise of the faculty currently in the Department of Computer Science.
Applicants for admission are evaluated on the basis of academic record, preparation, and other relevant qualifications. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in computer science or a closely related field. A well-prepared applicant should be proficient in a high-level programming language such as C, C++, or Java, and have a solid background in the following areas: (1) mathematics, including calculus and discrete mathematics; (2) machine architecture; (3) programming languages, including exposure to a variety of high-level languages (e.g., Java, LISP); (4) data structures; (5) algorithm analysis; (6) theory of computation; and (7) software systems, including compilers and operating systems. In particular, all students must have at a minimum demonstrated advanced undergraduate studies in Systems (i.e. through an operating systems or compilers course) and Theory (i.e. through an algorithms or theory of computation course).
If an applicant lacks the academic background to apply to the graduate program, prerequisites can be completed at another institution or at UA as a non-degree-seeking graduate student prior to application. Non-degree-seeking graduate students can take undergraduate and graduate level courses at the University of Arizona’s campus, if space is available.
Note: 1) International applicants are usually not eligible for non-degree seeking status because of visa requirements. 2) There is no guarantee of admission to the graduate program based on completion of the prerequisites at the University of Arizona.
The typical minimum undergraduate GPA for PhD applicants is 3.5 and for applicants with a Master's degree in a related field, the minimum graduate GPA is typically 3.7.
***The GRE has been waived for Fall 2023 admission.***The department requires the GRE general test. Admission requirements do not set specific score cut-offs in each section. Typical minimum scores for admitted applicants are 156 verbal (domestic applicants) and 158 quantitative.
International applicants should review the Graduate College's minimum English proficiency requirements.
The departmental typical minimum TOEFL listening score is 25. All teaching assistants must have a minimum TOEFL speak score of 24 or a minimum IELTS speak score of 7.5.
Note: We do not consider students for conditional admission.
Please review the Graduate College Admissions website in addition to the departmental application checklist below.
The admissions committee will only review complete online applications, which will include letters of recommendation and test scores, that are submitted by the admission deadline. Materials that are not submitted online will be disregarded.
Upload unofficial pdf versions of all transcripts to the online application. If a grading scheme other than the conventional 0-4 is used by an institution, submit a scanned copy of the key to the transcript to include the grading scheme used by each such institution. If transcripts are in a language other than English, upload both the original and its English translation.
Each applicant will need to submit GRE test scores (general test only). These scores must be sent directly to the University by ETS (code for UA is 4832).
Note: Students who earn a UA BA/BS/MS CS degree aren't required to submit GRE scores.
International applicants must submit valid English proficiency scores. The University of Arizona's institution code for sending official electronic score reports from ETS is 4832.
Note: Exemptions to this requirement.
A minimum of two confidential letters of recommendation must be submitted online (by the recommender). The letters should be written by a faculty member or employer who can testify to an applicant’s research abilities and potential for success in graduate studies. The online application also requires recommenders' names, institutions, and email addresses. The recommenders will be sent an email with information on how to submit the letter. Recommenders must submit the letters online by the application deadline.
We recommend students seek out letter writers for whom they have developed a relationship, ideally beyond just having taken a course. Additionally, to give letter writers appropriate time and materials, one should start building these connections long before the application deadline and be prepared to discuss their application with their letter writers. The following websites offer additional advice on how to identify and communicate with potential letter writers:
This is an opportunity for each applicant to tell us about themselves and why they would make an excellent addition to the graduate program. The statement of purpose is a one-page personal essay that addresses the following prompts:
Why you want to pursue a MS/PhD in computer science.
What specific areas of computer science within the department most interest you (shown on the left of that webpage).
Areas in which you have completed research.
Areas in which you want to pursue research.
Why you are specifically interested in the University of Arizona.
What you plan to do once you have completed your degree.
Indicate which faculty you are interested in working with, and why.
Include the following information:
Describe any major research activities or programming projects, outlining the project and the role you played in the project.
List of peer-reviewed journal publications or any published papers.
List of conference presentations or posters (include the conference date, location, and the name of the presentation).
Include any work experience in Computer Science (such as relevant internships, volunteer positions, part-time jobs, full-time jobs, etc.)
Important: It is not possible for the admissions committee to pre-evaluate an applicant. Applicants must submit the entire online application with all supporting documents via the official applications process. The decision to recommend or deny admission is made by the Department of Computer Science. When the recommendation for admission is made, the Graduate College will perform a quality control check on each application after the department has made its recommendation to admit. The formal notification of admission or denial will come from the Graduate College.
Required - GRE General (all applicants*) and TOEFL (international applicants; see alternative English proficiency exams and exemptions to this requirement here)
*Note: Students who earn a UA BA/BS/MS CS degree aren't required to submit GRE scores. ***The GRE has been waived for Fall 2023 admission.***
Enrolled doctoral students making satisfactory progress are guaranteed funding for four years, with either a teaching or research assistantship. All assistantships carry competitive stipends as well as tuition waivers (see tuition cost) and cover the cost of student health insurance. Top applicants to our program may be granted an additional Graduate College Fellowship.
Domestic & International Applicants:
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program:
NRC Taxon(a) for this program:
*Note: At most one elective course may be a CSC cross-listed course/non-department course from the approved electives list or an independent study (599/699) with prior approval. Internship credit will not count toward degree requirements.
Ph.D. students must complete a minor. Students may select an internal minor in computer science or an external minor in another department. A minor program typically consists of 9 or more units of coursework. The minor department determines minor course work and the extent to which they participate in Ph.D. examinations. The minor and course work must be approved by the student’s advisor. Minor courses must be completed before Ph.D. students take the Comprehensive Exam.
An internal minor consists of at least 9 units of coursework. Prior approval from a student's major advisor is required to select an internal minor and before beginning minor coursework. A student’s major advisor can also serve as the minor advisor, but must meet the Graduate College requirements for committees. A student cannot count a course as part of both their major and their minor. A student must have at least one course at the University of Arizona in the minor to establish a minor GPA; the minor GPA must be 3.0 or higher. D or E grades cannot be used in the minor.
The student works with their advisor to come up with a minor plan of study. At most two courses can be independent studies, and at least one course must be a graded/in-class CSC course or approved elective taught by a faculty member with a primary, shared, or joint (courtesy) tenure-track appointment in the Department of Computer Science.
Students completing an internal minor will need to discuss with their advisor how the minor will factor into the comprehensive exam.
Please refer to the Graduate Student Handbook for students who are pursuing this program of study.
|Application Acceptance Rate||28.16%|
|Avg. Time-to-degree (years)||5.30|
|Enrollment Percent Male||74.16%|
|Enrollment Percent Female||25.84%|
|Enrollment Percent International||64.04%|
|Enrollment Percent URM||7.87%|