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Degree Requirements | PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems

PhD in Computer Science​ and Information Systems

To get a PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIS) from the University of Colorado Denver you will complete these requirements with your existing masters (typically an MS) degree in Computer Science or Information Systems. Exceptionally motivated students with B.S. degrees in computer science, information systems, or closely related fields may apply to the CSIS PhD program directly. Students without a master’s degree must complete at least 30 hours of CSIS required course work in addition to the 30 dissertation hours.​

If your masters degree is in another area, you will complete additional MS level course work during your PhD program. Please see your advisor for more information. Please note that Business CSIS students cannot be simultaneously enrolled in any other degree program at the University of Colorado Denver or any other school during doctoral program enrollment.

You will complete 30 hours of CSIS courses beyond the Master's level. The course work provides exposure to advanced CSIS areas, a solid research methodology background, and breadth in other areas of CSIS. You may transfer up to 21 credit hours to satisfy course requirements based on the recommendation of your advisor.

In accordance with the rules of the graduate school, students take at least 30 hours of dissertation research. See Table 1 for a summary of the degree requirements. You will take nine hours of PhD courses in the school or college you were admitted to and three hours in the other school or college. Each area (CS or IS) may impose additional requirements either for the area as a whole or as an advisor's requirements.

Table 1. Summary of PhD Program Requirements

Program Requirement

Semester Hours

MS degree credit


PhD courses in same unit


PhD courses in other unit


Research methodology courses

12 or 15

Breadth CSIS courses in other unit

3 or 6

PhD Dissertation



MSIS Prerequisite Courses

If you have a specialized Master's of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) from a business school or a Master's of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) you are waived from the MSIS or MSCS degree requirements. If you do not have a specialized MS degree you may submit petitions to waive the prerequisite MS level courses.

IS students without a MSIS from a business school can submit petitions to waive MSIS courses.

CS students without a MSCS can submit petitions to waive MSCS courses.

Petitions should be submitted to the appropriate graduate advisor in the first semester of the program. IS students should submit a separate petition to waive each prerequisite MSIS level course listed below:

All the general requirements of the Business School apply, even if not mentioned explicitly, in particular the language and residency requirements.

As in most PhD programs, the goals are achieved by the coursework and research. The courses will be of three types: PhD Courses Research methodology courses, and  Breadth graduate courses.

The research methodology courses and the interdisciplinary dissertation provide research training so you will have the skills to perform research.  Depending on the unit (Business or CS) and your advisor, a maximum of six hours of research methodology courses may be taken as seminars or independent study courses.  The dissertation requires you to conduct original research under close supervision by the CSIS faculty.  After completing the research methodology courses and other CSIS courses, you will be prepared to perform independent research leading to the completion of a dissertation.


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