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College of Engineering and Applied Science

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UC Denver

Computer Science and Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Information Systems

 PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems

The PhD in computer science and information systems (CSIS) offers research training in both computer science and information systems. Relevant industry interaction within your Master’s level education will prepare you for academic positions and industry research opportunities.

The CSIS PhD is an interdisciplinary program between the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the CU Denver Business School. It was developed to meet the demand for advanced training in computer science and information systems. The program aims to enhance technology transfer between the university and Front Range technology businesses through joint research, student internships, faculty externships, and committee participation.

NEW! The department is pleased to announce the new BDSE program. The BDSE Program is a U.S. Department of Education (DoEd) sponsored GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) PhD fellowship program, focusing on interdisciplinary training of fellows in the area of “Big Data Science and Engineering”. The fellowship program will provide financial support for fellows in the form of tuition & fees, in addition to up to $34,000 annual stipend for each fellow (depending on the level of fellow’s financial need). We are currently recruiting fellows for the class of fall 2016 and admission to the fellowship program in on first-come-first-served basis. For additional information visit:​​

To get a PhD in CSIS from the University of Colorado Denver, you will complete these requirements in addition to your existing master’s degree in either computer science or information systems. If your master's degree is in another area, you will need to complete additional MS-level course work during your PhD program. Please see your advisor for more information.   Exceptionally motivated students with B.S. degrees in computer science, information systems, or closley related fields may apply to the CSIS PhD program directly. Students without a master's degree must complete at least 30 hours of CSIS PhD required course work in addition to the 30 hours of dissertation.

You will complete 30 hours of CSIS courses beyond the master's degree level.

The coursework provides exposure to advanced CSIS areas, as well as a solid research methodology background and breadth in other areas of CSIS. Students may transfer up to 21 hours to satisfy course requirements  based on the recommendation of their PhD advisor and with the consent of the program director.

You will also need to take at least 30 hours of dissertation research, in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School.

You will take a minimum 9 hours of PhD courses in the school or college to which you were admitted and a minimum of 3 hours in the other school or college. Each area—computer science or information systems—may impose additional requirements, either for the area as a whole or as an advisor's requirements.

Review detailed program requirements and sample program design for the full-time and part-time CS-track and IS-track PhD programs. CSIS-PhD Program Requirements & Design

Program Components: To complete the doctoral program, you will satisfy a 30-hour course work requirement, pass a preliminary exam, a comprehensive exam, defend your dissertation proposal, and successfully defend your final dissertation. See the program components for the required exams and PhD committees.

All CSIS PhD students will study under the supervision of a faculty member. For further details, see the CSIS PhD supervision and committee requirements.

PhD Preliminary Exam: You must sign up for the CSIS PhD Preliminary Exam by December 5. You can review the ​guidelines to the CSIS PhD preliminary examination.

PhD Student Progress Form: Keep track of completing your degree requirements on this form.  

Guide to PhD Comprehensive Exam

Graduation: Upon completion of all degree requirements, including the dissertation defense, you will receive a doctor of philosophy degree.

If you apply through the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, your PhD will be from the College of Engineering and Applied Science. If you apply through the Business School's information systems discipline, your PhD will be from the Business School.

For admission to the PhD in computer science and information systems program, you may apply to either the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) or the Business School—students with a computer science background should apply through the CSE department and students with an information systems background should apply through the Business School.

If you are unsure about where to apply, you may contact the program co-directors, Professor Mannino, Business School, and Professor Alaghband, CSE department, to discuss your situation.

Admission Forms and Requirements

Apply to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (domestic and international students)


Apply to the Business School (domestic and international students)

​Note: The CSIS-PhD program at the University of Colorado Denver is a member of Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). Qualified students admitted to this program who are residents of one of the 15 WICHI states [Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming] may be eligible for residential tuition, (see the list of member programs.)

All application materials must be submitted to the Graduate School for processing. The mailing address for the Graduate School is:

Graduate School
University of Colorado Denver
Campus Box 163
1380 Lawrence St., Room 1251
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

If you have any questions regarding receipt of application materials e-mail​.

Existing graduate courses in the CSE department and the Business School support the breadth requirements of your PhD. You can select other courses to satisfy the breadth requirement with the consent of your advisor.

Research Methodology Requirement

You will fulfill the research methodology requirement to gain background and improve the rigor in your research. To fulfill the research methodology requirement, you may select from graduate courses in computer science, biometrics, math, economics, behavior sciences, engineering, education, business and computational biology.

You may select other courses to satisfy the research methodology requirement with the consent of your advisor and the CSIS program co-director.

Computer science students are encouraged to take computer science PhD-level courses; you can refer to the computer science list of courses.

Note: Business students must take ISMG 7220, Research Methods: Design and Analysis, as one of their research methodology courses unless an equivalent graduate statistics course has already been taken. A waiver for ISMG 7220 must be given by your advisor and program co-director.

CSIS Program Co-Directors

Gita Alaghband, Professor and CSE Department Chair
Co-Director of CSIS PhD Program in Computer Science

Michael Mannino, Professor, Business School
Co-Director of CSIS PhD Program in the Business School

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is located in the Lawrence Street Center (1380 Lawrence Street) in suite 800. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Telephone: 303-315-1408

Fax: 303-315-1410

Mailing Address:
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Campus Box 109
PO Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364