About the Program

University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) is a leader in providing quality graduate programs in an environment integrated with research, engineering practice and continuing professional education. The Ph.D. program addresses the growing need for meaningful research in computer and information science as well as computational professionals with advanced knowledge and technical skills. 

This Ph.D. program of the Rackham Graduate School of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is located, administered, and offered by UM-Dearborn. The program observes the standards for admissions, registration, degree requirements, awarding of degrees, and other administrative policies and regulations established by the Executive Board of the Rackham Graduate School. 

Program Overview

The Ph.D. in CIS is a full-time, research-based degree designed to address the growing needs of society for scientific and engineering professionals with advanced knowledge, technical skills and abilities to conduct original and high-quality translational research in Computer and Information Science.

Students are admitted for full-time study and all admission offers are for the Fall term only. 

Program Description

The Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science is a research-oriented degree for students interested in a research and development career, which will target industries and organizations, especially those in the local area. The program offers concentrations in data management, data science, systems and security, and software engineering. These concentration areas align with the research strengths of our faculty.

The Ph.D. CIS program will follow the guidelines of the Rackham Graduate School and consists of at least 36 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree and at least 24 dissertation credits.

There are three types of students who will be admitted to the Ph.D. CIS program:

  • Students with just a B.S. in computer and information science or closely related area
    • Complete at least 36 credit hours of coursework, including 30 credit hours toward the completion of the MS degree, and at least 24 dissertation credits, and can earn an M.S. CIS, M.S. DS, or M.S. SWE along the way to their Ph.D. CIS.
  • Students with a relevant Rackham or a UM-Dearborn master’s degree
    • Complete at least 6 credits of coursework and at least 24 dissertation credits.
  • Students with a relevant non-Rackham and non-UM-Dearborn master’s degree
    • Complete at least 18 credits of coursework and at least 24 credits of thesis research.

Students with insufficient background in computer and information science who are accepted into the program will be assigned remedial courses to complete.

Each student is guided by a research advisor and a dissertation committee and has to pass the following major milestones:

  • Identifying the faculty advisor and research topic
  • Completion of required coursework
  • Passing the qualifying examination consisting of two parts:
    • Curriculum exam
    • Research proficiency exam
  • Advancement to candidacy
  • Forming the dissertation committee
  • Passing the dissertation proposal examination
  • Completion of required research credit hours
  • Preparation of a written dissertation and its oral defense

The target typical time of degree completion is five (5) years.


Program Goals

Learning Goal 1: Students will have the necessary analytical skills that enable them to develop creative solutions for complex computer and information science problems.

Learning Goal 2: Students will have the ability to conduct high-quality original basic and translational research in areas of computer and information science.

Learning Goal 3: Students will be well prepared for the varied responsibilities and opportunities of research careers in areas of computer and information science.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Ph.D. degree is offered to exceptional students who have completed, with distinction, a Bachelor’s or a master’s degree in computer and information science or a closely related field. Working engineers can be accepted with a master’s degree. All students are required to submit an application to be considered for the admission into the program.

  • DEGREE REQUIREMENT: A bachelor’s or master's degree in engineering, applied mathematics, computer science, or physical science, from an accredited program.
  • ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible for the program students are required to have completed three semesters or 12 credit hours of calculus and a course in linear algebra.
  • COURSE PREREQUISITES/DEFICIENCIES: One course in data structures, one course in computer organization, one course in operating systems, and one course in calculus-based probability and statistics.
  • GPA REQUIREMENT: A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher on a 4-point scale for the B.S. degree and 3.5 or higher on a 4-point scale for the master’s degree.
  • GRE SCORE: All students are required to submit valid official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY: Applicants who have earned or will earn a bachelor or master degree from an institution where the language of instruction is exclusively English are exempt from submitting an official English proficiency score. All others must submit such a score, which is based on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). Required minimum overall scores are 84 for TOEFL, 6.5 for IELTS, or 80 for MELAB.
  • LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Three letters of recommendation, at least one of which must come from former faculty.

The application must also include an academic statement of purpose indicating the intended field or fields of research, and a personal statement that describes the background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges that motivate the decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Funding Support

We understand the financial commitment of continuing your education.  Our Ph.D. program adheres to the CECS full-funding model for Ph.D. students. All Ph.D. students receive full-funding in the form of an appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Research Assistant (GSRA), or a combination of both which covers: a monthly stipend, health insurance, and tuition waiver.

Students admitted to the program are fully funded for up to five years. Funding is guaranteed based on continued good academic standing and adequate progress towards the Ph.D. degree.

Program Policies

In addition to the Rackham Graduate School policies for doctoral students, as a doctoral student in CIS, you need to know the requirements, timeline, and processes for Pre-candidacy years 1 and 2, the Qualifying Exam at the end of year 2, Proposal Exam, and eventually your Dissertation Defense. See the Path to Degree section below.

Also, an Annual Progress Report completed by you and your faculty advisor must be submitted for review to the CIS Ph.D. Committee in May of each year. 

The CIS Ph.D. Committee and your Faculty Advisor are the main resources for information and guidance throughout your program. The CIS Committee is chaired by Dr. Marouane Kessentini and includes Drs. Jinhua Guo, Anys Bacha, and Jin Lu. 

Registration and Enrollment Requirements

Registration Policy

Students must register before the first day of classes.  A student who registers on or after the first day of classes (not including course adds, drops, or changes to initial registration) will be charged a late registration fee. 


Ph.D. Continuous Enrollment Requirement

Students in Ph.D. programs must register for each fall and winter term until final completion of degree requirements unless they have received an authorized leave of absence or have been approved for extramural study. 

Required Registration to Complete Milestones

  • A student who takes candidacy or preliminary exams in a spring or summer half term must register in that half term.
  • A student who defends the dissertation and/or finalizes degree requirements in a spring or summer half term must register for the full spring/summer term and submit the final dissertation and all materials by the published deadline to avoid registering for another term.
  • Pre-candidates preparing for qualifying exams may be enrolled in 980, “Dissertation/pre-candidate,” for the number of credit hours that reflect their effort and as required by outside agencies such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Candidacy Registration and Enrollment Requirement

  • Ph.D. candidates will be registered for 990, “Dissertation/candidate,” which consists of 6 credit hours for a full term.
  • Ph.D. candidates register in the fall and winter terms for six credit hours of 990/Dissertation Candidate. Part-time enrollment is not permitted.
  • A student who defends in either the spring or summer half term must register for 6 credit hours of 990 for the spring/summer full term, or for both 3 credits in the spring half-term and 3 credits in the summer half-term.
  • A candidate who registers for a course (other than the 990) must seek prior approval from the faculty advisor and also register for 990.
  • When a candidate registers for a course during the fall, winter, or spring and summer half-terms but does not register for 990, the Registrar’s Office will add the 990 to the term and assess any required tuition.
Path to Degree

Please refer to the Path to Degree page for the procedures and forms for the following:

  • date/deadlines
  • milestone exams
  • candidacy
  • dissertation committee
  • dissertation proposal
  • dissertation
  • final oral defense


The Ph.D. CIS program offers concentrations in data management, data science, systems and security, and software engineering. Each student must select one of the four research concentration areas. Each student develops a personalized Plan of Study at the beginning of the program. Each year the Plan of Study and student's progress is reviewed with the faculty advisor. 


Plan of Study

Satisfactory Progress Requirements

Only letter-graded courses at the 500+ level count toward the degree. Courses completed with a grade lower than B+ or a "U" grade are not accepted. The only exception is the Cognate course which requires a minimum B grade and the Depth area courses which requires a minimum A- grade. 

To advance to candidacy, the cumulative coursework GPA (Grade Point Average) must be 3.5 or above on the 4.0-scale.

Coursework Requirement

Breadth Requirement

The breadth requirement is satisfied by taking three courses (9 credit hours), one from each of three of the four concentration areas below. All Ph.D. breadth courses must be completed with a grade of B+ or better within 3 full terms (1.5 years) for a student with a relevant master's degree or 4 full terms (2 years) for all other students. A student who does not complete coursework within the required deadline can be placed on academic probation unless the student petitions the Ph.D. CIS committee to request additional time because of extenuating circumstances. Students placed on academic probation are given a new deadline by the Ph.D. CIS committee to complete the coursework.

Depth Requirement

The depth requirement is satisfied by taking four courses (12 credit hours). At least one and at most two of these courses can be CIS 791—Advanced Guided Study for Doctoral Students (Directed Study course below). The remainder of these courses must be in the same concentration area, below, and must be different from the courses taken for the breadth requirement. Each of these Ph.D. depth courses must be completed with a grade of A- or better and may not be completed via equivalency. At least one of these courses must be 600-level.

Mathematics Requirement

The student must take CIS 505 (Algorithm Design and Analysis) and at least one other advanced mathematics course. CIS 505 must be taken within the first two semesters after enrollment in the Ph.D. CIS program. These latter mathematics courses can be used to meet the cognate course requirement.  The other required mathematics course must be selected from the list provided below.

Cognate Requirement

At least 4 credit hours of coursework must be outside the computer and information science area.  See the Cognate section below for ways to satisfy this requirement. A list of cognate course is provided in the approved program courses section. (See policy below)

Directed Study Research Requirement

A commitment from an approved CIS faculty member to act as one’s research advisor is a requirement of the qualification stage. All students who aspire to receive a Ph.D. must demonstrate a potential for conducting original research. This is accomplished by completing either 3 or 6 credit hours of a research-oriented directed study (CIS 791—Advanced Guided Study for Doctoral Students) prior to the Research Proficiency Exam. These must be taken while in residence on the UM-Dearborn campus.

Ph.D. students must complete 3 credits of CIS 791 within their first two semesters (Fall and Winter Semesters) of the Ph.D. CIS program.

Required Research Methodology and Seminar Courses
  • Ph.D. Research Seminar (CIS 798): This seminar will be offered in the fall and winter semesters. Continuous attendance will be required of all of the program’s students, including those at the pre-candidacy level. Every Ph.D. student is required to attend and actively participate in seminars each semester until graduation. In addition, each Ph.D. student is required to present a one-hour seminar about his/her research on a pre-assigned research topic, as well as lead a follow-up discussion on the future trends in his/her field. This seminar course will have no credit hours. Passing the course will be based on participation and attendance (at least 3 seminars per semester).


  • Ph.D. Research Methodology Seminar (ENGR 700): This course provides doctoral students with the fundamental training for conducting high-level scholarly research used in the various fields of engineering. Topics include evaluation of information resources, intellectual property, writing for journals and dissertation, effective work with scientific literature, literature review, plagiarism, publication, bibliographic management, and library resources.

    • Students also complete the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) and Scholarship Training workshops.
    • Students appointed as graduate student instructors (GSIs) are required to attend the approved GSI Teaching Orientation.
    • This course carries no credit. It is required for all doctoral students in the first year of enrollment and prior to taking the qualifying exam. Passing is based on participation and attendance and passing the RCR exam.
Approved Program Courses

Advanced Math Courses

  • CIS 505: Algorithm Design and Analysis (required)
  • MATH 504: Dynamical Systems
  • MATH 5055: Integral Equations
  • MATH 512: First Course in Modern Algebra
  • MATH 514: Finite Difference Methods for Differential Equations
  • MATH 515: Approximation of Functions
  • MATH 516: Finite Element Methods for Differential Equations
  • MATH 520: Stochastic Processes
  • MATH 523: Linear Algebra with Applications
  • MATH 525: Mathematical Statistics II
  • MATH 551: Advanced Calculus I
  • MATH 552: Advanced Calculus II
  • MATH 554: Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems
  • MATH 555: Functions of a Complex Variable with Applications
  • MATH 558: Introduction to Wavelets
  • MATH 562: Mathematical Modeling
  • MATH 583: Discrete Optimization
  • MATH 584: Applied and Algorithmic Graph Theory
  • MATH 592: Introduction to Topology
  • STAT 530: Applied Regression Analysis
  • STAT 535: Data Analysis and Modeling
  • STAT 545: Reliability and Survival Analysis
  • STAT 560: Time Series
  • STAT 590: Topics in Applied Statistics

Four Concentration Areas Courses


  • CIS 534: The Semantic Web
  • CIS 536: Information Retrieval
  • CIS 556: Database Systems
  • CIS 562: Web Information Management
  • CIS 569: Wireless Sensor Networks
  • CIS 583: Signal-Based Data Management
  • CIS 586: Advanced Data Management
  • CIS 658: Research Advances in Data Management


  • CIS 555: Decision Support and Expert Systems
  • CIS 5570: Introduction to Big Data
  • CIS 559: Principles of Network Science
  • CIS 568: Data Mining
  • CIS 579: Artificial Intelligence
  • CIS 5700: Advanced Data Mining
  • CIS 581: Computational Learning*
  • CIS 585: Advanced Artificial Intelligence
  • CIS 679: Research Advances in Computational Game Theory and Economics
  • CIS 685: Research Advances in Artificial Intelligence
  • STAT 530: Applied Regression Analysis


  • CIS 527: Computer Networks
  • CIS 535: Programmable Mobile/Wireless Technologies and Pervasive Computing
  • CIS 537: Advanced Networking and Distributed Systems
  • CIS 544: Computer and Network Security
  • CIS 546: Wireless Network Security and Privacy
  • CIS 548: Security and Privacy in Cloud Computing
  • CIS 552: Information Visualization and Multimedia Gaming
  • CIS 563: Modeling of Computer-Based Systems
  • CIS 571: Web Services
  • CIS 574: Compiler Design
  • CIS 578: Advanced Operating Systems
  • CIS 584: Advanced Computer and Network Security
  • CIS 624: Research Advances in Computer and Network Security
  • CIS 647: Research Advances in Networking and Distributed Systems


  • CIS 553: Software Engineering
  • CIS 565: Software Quality Assurance
  • CIS 566: Software Architecture and Design Patterns
  • CIS 575: Software Engineering Management
  • CIS 577: Software User Interface Design
  • CIS 587: Computer Game Design and Implementation I
  • CIS 588: Computer Game Design and Implementation II
  • CIS 580: Data Analytics in Software Engineering
  • CIS 678: Research Advances in Software Engineering

Cognate Courses

Required Cognate Courses
• 4 credit hours of coursework, outside the computer and information science department.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

• ECE 528: Cloud Computing (3 credits)
• ECE 531: Intelligent Vehicle Systems (3 credits)
• ECE 533: Active Auto Safety Systems (3 credits)
• ECE 537: Data Mining (3 credits)
• ECE 542: Introduction to Robotic systems (3 credits)
• ECE 552: Fuzzy systems (3 credits)
• ECE 575: Computer Architecture (3 credits)
• ECE 5781: Real-Time Operating Systems (3 credits)
• ECE 579: Intelligent Systems (3 credits)
• ECE 5752: Reconfigurable Computing (3 credits)
• ECE 5792: Unsupervised Machine Learning (3 credits)
• ECE 5831: Pattern Recognition and Neural Networks (3 credits)
• ECE 644: Advanced Robotics (3 credits)
• ECE 679: Advanced Intelligent Systems (3 credits)

Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

• IMSE 514: Multivariate Statistics (3 credits)
• IMSE 5205: Engineering Risk-Benefit Analysis (3 credits)
• IMSE 5215: Program Budget, Cost Estimation & Control (3 credits)
• IMSE 548: Human Factor (3 credits)
• IMSE 559: System Simulation (3 credits)
• IMSE 519: Quantitative Methods in Quality Engineering (3 credits)
• IMSE 561: Total Quality Management (3 credits)
• IMSE 567: Reliability Analysis (3 credits)
• IMSE 605: Advanced Optimization (3 credits)
• IMSE 606: Advanced Stochastic Processes (3 credits)

Mathematics and Statistics

• MATH 504: Dynamical Systems (3 credits)
• MATH 5055: Integral Equations (3 credits)
• MATH 512: First Course in Modern Algebra (3 credits)
• MATH 514: Finite Difference Methods for Differential Equations (3 credits)
• MATH 515: Approximation of Functions (3 credits)
• MATH 516: Finite Element Methods for Differential Equations (3 credits)                                                      • MATH 520: Stochastic Processes (3 credits)
• MATH 523: Linear Algebra with Applications (3 credits)
• MATH 525: Mathematical Statistics II (3 credits)
• MATH 551: Advanced Calculus I (3 credits)
• MATH 552: Advanced Calculus II (3 credits)
• MATH 554: Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems (3 credits)
• MATH 555: Functions of a Complex Variable with Applications (3 credits)
• MATH 558: Introduction to Wavelets (3 credits)
• MATH 562: Mathematical Modeling (3 credits)
• MATH 583: Discrete Optimization (3 credits)
• MATH 584: Applied and Algorithmic Graph Theory (3 credits)
• MATH 592: Introduction to Topology (3 credits)
• STAT 530: Applied Regression Analysis (3 credits)
• STAT 535: Data Analysis and Modeling (3 credits)
• STAT 545: Reliability and Survival Analysis (3 credits)
• STAT 560: Time Series (3 credits)
• STAT 590: Topics in Applied Statistics (3 credits)
Mechanical Engineering
• ME 552: Sustainable Energy Systems (3 credits)
• ME 560: Experimental Methods in Design (3 credits)
• ME 565: Mechatronics (3 credits)
• ME 567: Reliability Considerations in Design (3 credits)
• ME 580: Advanced Engineering Materials (3 credits)
• ME 584: Mechanical Behavior of Polymer (3 credits)
• PSYC 530: Psychology in the Workplace (3 credits)
• PSYC 548: Psychological Assessment I (4 credits)
• PSYC 561: Learning and Memory (3 credits)
• PSYC 563: Sensation and Perception (3 credits)
• PSYC 565: Individual and Group Tech in Clinical Health Psychology (3 credits)

Cognate Requirement Policy

At least 4 credit hours of coursework must be outside the computer and information science area. The second mathematics class (see above) can be used to satisfy all or part of this requirement. Other ways of satisfying this requirement are,

  • Completion of at least 4 hours of approved cognate credits, which must be from outside the CIS department. The minimum acceptable grade for a cognate course is a B. The list of approved cognate courses can be found below.
  • Completion of a University of Michigan master’s degree, which includes a cognate component. This coursework must have been completed no more than 5 years before admission to the Ph.D. CIS program.
  • Completion of a relevant master’s degree from another university that had coursework that meets the expectation of the program cognate requirement, without transferring the credit to the transcript. This coursework must have been completed no more than 5 years before admission to the Ph.D. CIS program. These courses do not apply toward the minimum 18 (or 36) credit hours in residence at UM-Dearborn required for the degree and do not appear on the university transcript.
Exams, Milestones and Timeline

Students are required to achieve candidacy within 2 years and pass the dissertation proposal examination within 3 years of enrollment in the program. Students are expected to complete the degree within 5 years of enrollment in the program. The total time for completing the degree is limited to seven years after enrolling in the program. Extensions of the time limits in justified cases are to be handled in accordance with the Rackham guidelines.


  • Coursework
    • Breadth courses
    • Depth courses
    • Advanced Math courses
    • Directed Study Research course
    • Required Seminar courses
    • Completion of a 4-credit cognate course with a minimum B grade.

Qualification Exams

Requires completion of the Curriculum Exam and the Research Proficiency Exam. Both Ph.D. qualification exams must be completed within 3 full terms (1.5 years) for a student with a relevant master's degree or 4 full terms (2 years) for other students. A Ph.D. student must have:

  • Completed related coursework 
  • A 3.5/4.0 GPA overall,
  • A 3.5/4.0 GPA for all CIS courses and
  • A working relationship with a CIS faculty member as a research advisor to sign up for these exams

The two qualification exams should be taken in sequence: the Curriculum Exam is completed first. Students should take the Research Proficiency Exam at most one semester after passing the curriculum exam.


Candidacy: Achieving candidacy for the Ph.D. CIS requires:

  • Completing the required coursework
  • Successful qualification as defined above
  • Completing the RCR training workshops provided by the UM-Dearborn campus
  • Selection and Approval of a Dissertation Committee
  • Submitting the candidacy application form

Once candidacy is achieved, a student has to register for at least six (6) credit hours of CIS 990 (Doctoral Dissertation Research) in each fall and winter semester.


Dissertation Proposal Examination: The dissertation proposal examination requires:

  • Achieving candidacy
  • Identifying a research advisor and agree on an appropriate topic
  • Approved Dissertation Committee
  • Submitting and defending a proposal for the doctoral research content

The examination must be completed within a year of passing the qualifying examination.


Dissertation and Defense: The Dissertation and Oral Defense requires:

  • Passing the dissertation proposal examination
  • Completing the required dissertation research credit hours
  • Conducting an original research
  • Preparation and submission of a written dissertation
  • A Pre-defense meeting
  • An Oral Defense of an approved written dissertation

The dissertation defense may not be scheduled in the same academic term as the dissertation proposal examination.

Students are expected to complete the degree within two years of passing the dissertation proposal exam and within five years of achieving candidacy, but no more than seven years from the date of the first enrollment in the Ph.D. CIS program.

Qualifying Exam

Curriculum Exam:

The goal of this examination is to ensure that students have a good understanding of the fundamentals of computer and information science. The examination will include the following steps:

  1. The student selects three (3) CIS graduate courses during the first semester of the program. One course should be in the area of the student’s research. The two other courses should be in separate areas.
  2. These three (3) courses should be approved by the Ph.D. CIS program committee to ensure that the student has proper fundamental knowledge in CIS for his/her study in the program.
  3. For each of the three courses, if the student receives at least an A- in this course, the written exam is waived. However, if the student receives a grade lower than A- in this course, a 1-hour-long written exam on the course material, together with the underlying undergraduate material, is taken by the student.
  4. For students who do not pass this exam in the first time, an additional oral exam is conducted.

Research Proficiency Exam:

The student’s ability to conduct independent research is evaluated through a written report of a project done in CIS 791, followed by a 90-minute oral exam by three faculty members. The student’s research advisor cannot be among the three faculty. The Ph.D. CIS committee selects the three faculty members based on the student’s research area. The student should prepare a 45-minute presentation, followed by up to 45 minutes of questions. Examiners will be given the written report on the Directed Study at least one week before the examination, and each examiner will submit a written report on the examination. The student must submit four copies of the written report to the Ph.D. CIS program committee director at least one week before the research proficiency exam.

Forming the Dissertation Committee

Dissertation Committee

The composition of a dissertation committee adheres to the Rackham guidelines (see the Rackham dissertation handbook).

  • The dissertation committee will consist of four members, including at least three tenure-track members (appointment as Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor) of the instructional faculty affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program.
  • The student’s dissertation advisor, who must be a member of the graduate faculty of the department, will serve as chair or co-chair.
  • Of the additional members, two must hold at least 50% appointment as tenured or tenure-track faculty of the Department of Computer and Information Science, with at least one being a member of the CIS graduate faculty.
  • The third committee member (cognate member) must be from outside the department: a faculty member with at least 50% appointment from a Rackham Doctoral program other than Ph.D. in CIS.
  • The composition of the dissertation committee must be approved by the Ph.D. program committee and requires Rackham approval. 
  • A committee may have a sole chair or two co-chairs. By special arrangement, retired faculty members who were affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program or research professors may serve as sole chairs. Persons who may serve as co-chair, but not the sole chair, include:
    • tenure or tenure-track members of the University’s instructional faculty who are not affiliated with a Rackham doctoral program;
    • research faculty;
    • instructors and lecturers;
    • similarly qualified University faculty or staff, or person from outside the University; and
    • former University faculty members who have moved to a faculty position at another university.

In the cases when it is justified by the nature of the student’s research and by approval of the program committee, the dissertation work can be co-supervised by two co-chairs. Both co-chairs must hold at least 50 percent appointments as tenured or tenure-track faculty. One of them must be a member of the graduate faculty of the CIS department. The other can be from the CIS department or a department other than CIS.

Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation Research

Please refer to the Path to Degree for the procedures and forms for the dissertation committee, dissertation proposal, dissertation, and final oral defense. 

Dissertation Proposal Examination

The main objective of the dissertation proposal examination is to ensure sufficient strength and feasibility of the proposed research topic, as well as the suitability of the student’s background and skills regarding the topic.

The examination consists of a written dissertation proposal and its open-to-the-public presentation by the student. The examination is conducted by the dissertation committee. As a rule, the dissertation committee continues overseeing the student’s work to the stage of the final dissertation defense.

Dissertation Research

After passing the dissertation proposal examination, the student may proceed with the dissertation research and the writing of the dissertation. The dissertation should document the original contributions made by the candidate as a result of independent research. This research work should be of archival quality. In advance of graduation, all members of the student's dissertation committee must approve the dissertation. To obtain this approval, a student must submit a written copy of the dissertation to the dissertation committee and defend the research work at a final oral examination open to other faculty, students, and the interested public. Students must be registered for CIS 990 the full spring/summer term if defending the dissertation after May during the spring/summer term.

The dissertation must strictly follow the Rackham Graduate School Dissertation guidelines as described in the Dissertation Handbook Guidelines for copyrighting, publishing and distributing, dissertation embargo and distribution limitations.

Students are expected to complete the degree within two years of passing the dissertation proposal exam, but no more than seven years from the date of the first enrollment in the Ph.D. CIS program. The Ph.D. CIS committee conducts annual reviews to evaluate progress toward degree completion. Students defending the dissertation must be registered in the 990 Dissertation Research course.

Dissertation Research Requirement

  • At least 24 credit hours of doctoral research credit must be completed before graduation.
    • Students who have completed the coursework requirements but have not reached the candidacy status should register for CIS 980 (Pre-Candidacy Dissertation Research). A maximum of 12 credits may be completed in CIS 980 Pre-Candidacy course. 
    • Students who have achieved candidacy should register for six (6) credits in CIS 990 (Doctoral Dissertation Research).

Note that the actual completion of the dissertation project is likely to take several years at full-time enrollment thus, requiring more than the minimum number of credit hours.

Final Oral Defense

Upon completion of the dissertation work, the student initiates the last step toward the degree—the dissertation defense process. The process follows the official guidelines and consists of the following main stages:

  1. Preparation of a written dissertation formatted in accordance with the guidelines,
  2. Pre-Defense meetings with the members of the program committee,
  3. Written evaluations of the dissertation by the dissertation committee members presented to the Ph.D. program committee,
  4. The Oral Defense of the dissertation consisting of two parts:
    • Public seminar and open question session held by the student
    • Private deliberations by the committee,
  5. Final oral examination report and certificate of approval prepared by the dissertation committee and submitted to the Ph.D. program committee.
  6. Post-Defense meeting with the CECS Graduate Education Office
Publication Requirement

The Ph.D. CIS program is designed to give a student a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the computer and information science field, as well as training in research methods. Therefore, based on the student’s dissertation research, the student is required to have published at least 1 paper in a top-quality, peer-reviewed, professional conference or journal in the field, prior to scheduling the final oral examination. The department will provide a list of acceptable top-quality conferences and journals in all CIS research areas.

Computer and Information Science

CIS Building
Back to top of page