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 five subject areas: four of these are required areas, while the fifth is an elective area. The student will take four exams in the following required subjects:
    • Operating Systems or Computer Architectures;
    • Principles of Programming Languages;
    • Design and Analysis of Algorithms and Data Structures; and
    • Discrete Mathematics.
    • The topics of each exam are listed on the departmental website.
  • The student is required to enroll in an elective course offered in the first semester of his/her enrollment at NMSU, which identifies the fifth subject for the qualifying examination. The faculty in charge of the class will determine the exam topics of the elective subject.
  • 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 Students failing to meet the deadline will be automatically withdrawn from the doctoral program.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.
  • 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 (foundations, systems, or applications)

Graduation Requirements

Select at least one from the following:3
Automata, Languages, Computability3
Graph Theory3
Analysis of Algorithms3
Programming Language Structure II3
Advanced Algorithms3
Algorithms in Systems Biology3
Select at least one from the following:3
Architectural Concepts II3
Operating Systems II3
Computer Networks II3
Select at least one from the following:3
User Interface Design3
Artificial Intelligence II3
Advanced Software Engineering3
Database Management Systems II3
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 (