Doctoral Program


Students seeking the Ph.D. in computer science must complete an eight course requirement for credit, with at least a 3.7 grade point average in seven of the eight courses, and with no individual grade lower than B-.  All eight courses must be taken in the Computer Science Department at William and Mary.

Six courses must be chosen from 600 level courses, excluding 670, 690, 695 and all courses with numbers 6x8.  The remaining two courses must be chosen from 700 level courses, excluding 700 M.S. Thesis, 708 Research Project in Computational Science, 710 Research Project, 770 Colloquium, 790 Readings, and 795 Research.

A student may not use courses taken in another department nor CSCI courses designated as Computational Operations Research courses (last digit in the course number is an 8), to satisfy degree requirements without prior written approval of the student’s advisor and the Graduate Admissions Committee.

For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy with a specialization in computational science, the student must satisfy all of the department’s requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.  In support of the specialization in computational science, the student must take the CSCI 649 course, and at least one graduate course from outside the department.  If two or more graduate courses outside the department are taken, only one of them can be used to satisfy the department’s eight-course requirement.  In all cases, the grade point average will be based on the seven courses taken inside the department. 

Each computational science student will have a three-person computational science advisory committee within the department to advise the student about what is needed to meet the certification requirements of the Computational Science Cluster.  The committee will approve the graduate course(s) from outside the department, and ensure that the dissertation topic incorporates computation in a creative way, either by developing an enabling computational technology, or by using such technologies to obtain a significant scientific result.

Doctoral students must complete a year of continuous residence as a full-time student at William & Mary.  Students who obtain a M.S. or M.A. degree must complete their residency requirement after satisfying the requirements for a M.S. or M.A. degree (at William & Mary or elsewhere).  Students who do not obtain a M.S. or M.A. degree must complete their residency requirement after satisfying the department's seven course requirement.  There is no foreign language requirement.

In addition to required course work, doctoral students will identify a principal research advisor, form a doctoral advisory committee, and petition the department for acceptance into candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  After acceptance into candidacy, students must pass the doctoral comprehensive examination (also known as the thesis proposal exam).  This examination is oral, is conducted by the candidate's committee, and is open to the faculty and to whomever else the department may invite.

Approximately six months before the anticipated dissertation defense, the candidate is required to meet with the committee.  At this meeting, the candidate is expected to describe in detail the status of the research upon which the dissertation is based and plan for conducting the work that remains to be done.  The purpose of this meeting is to provide the committee with an opportunity to evaluate the candidate’s work and plans, and to provide feedback and advice in advance of the defense.  The committee may require, at its discretion, additional meetings before a defense date can be scheduled.

Candidates must submit and satisfactorily defend a dissertation to a committee of at least five members, with at least one member from outside the department.  The dissertation is based on original research and should contribute to the discipline's body of knowledge.  The defense is oral and is open to the faculty and to whomever else the department may invite.

Each year, the faculty will review how well doctoral students have progressed toward completion of their Ph.D. degree.  The department provides written guidelines to help students judge their own progress.  In addition, the department provides more specific regulations than those conveyed in this catalog.  Students are solely responsible for familiarizing themselves with all guidelines and regulations of the department and the College.