Computer Science - Doctor of Philosophy

Doctoral students may specialize in any of the areas in which computer science faculty members have active research interests. Through interdisciplinary arrangements with other doctoral departments at New Mexico State University, doctoral students may also specialize in such areas as computational biology, computer networks and architectures and cognitive science.

Doctoral students are expected to join the program with a preparation equivalent to that required for the Master’s degree in computer science at New Mexico State University. The requirements for the degree are as specified in the NMSU graduate catalog, with the following additional considerations:

  • The qualifying examination consists of written exams in four subject areas:  
    • Operating Systems or Computer Architectures;
    • Principles of Programming Languages;
    • Design and Analysis of Algorithms and Data Structures; and
    • Discrete Mathematics.
  • The student is required to take the qualifying examination at the end of the first semester of enrollment as a doctoral student at NMSU; the only exceptions will be granted to students entering the doctoral program with significant undergraduate deficiencies–in such case the deadline for the qualifying examination will be indicated in the admission records. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the qualifying examination is taken within the prescribed deadline. Students failing to meet the deadline will be automatically withdrawn from the doctoral program. If a student fails any of the exams, they must retake those exams in the following semester. If a student fails to pass all exams after the second attempt, they will be dismissed from the doctoral program.
  • Students who are enrolled in the Computer Science MS program and have identified a future PhD advisor in the Department of Computer Science can use their Master’s exam as their PhD qualifying exam as follows:   

1. The student submits a request to their future PhD advisor to allow using their MS exam as their PhD qualifying exam and obtain the approval of the advisor and the department head.

2. Before the MS exam, the student needs to form an MS exam committee. The exam committee must include the student’s future PhD advisor, and the exam committee needs to be approved by the student’s future PhD advisor.

3. During the MS exam, the student is tested on the subjects of PhD qualifying exam for approximately one hour. The student must, with their advisor, plan their exam to include this additional time.

The student can pass, conditional pass, or fail the exam. If the student conditionally passes the exam, then the committee will specify (i) a list of courses that the student needs to take and pass in the first year; or (ii) a list of subjects that the student needs to pass in the written qualification exam. If the student fails the exam then the student needs to take the written exam as described above.   

  • The comprehensive examination evaluates depth of knowledge in the specific research area selected by the candidate with the consent of their graduate committee. It includes: a written part, in the form of an extensive survey paper; an annotated bibliography; and an oral examination.
  • The student is required to submit and defend a prospectus, at the same time or after completing the comprehensive examination. The prospectus describes and motivates the specific research problem to be addressed in the doctoral dissertation.
  • A PhD student is required to take at least one course each in the following three areas (theories, systems, and applications)

Graduation Requirements

Prefix Title Credits
Select at least one from the following:3
Automata, Languages, Computability3
Analysis of Algorithms3
Advanced Cryptography3
Algorithms in Systems Biology3
Select at least one from the following:3
Architectural Concepts II3
Operating Systems II3
Computer Networks II3
Database Management Systems II3
Select at least one from the following:3
Computer Graphics I3
Introduction to Data Mining3
Bioinformatics Programming3
Computer Security3
Introduction to Smart Grids3
Digital Game Design3
Visual Programming3
Applied Machine Learning I3
Parallel Programming3
Cloud and Edge Computing3
Principles of Virtual Reality3
Modern Web Technologies3
Artificial Intelligence II3
Advanced Software Engineering3
Other graduate credit to meet NMSU requirements21
C S 700Doctoral Dissertation18
Total Credits48

Only courses from the MS CS program from NMSU can be used to waive this requirement.

Students should contact the department for information on additional graduation requirements, or visit the on-line Graduate Handbook (