2019-2020 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 13, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer & Information Science & Engineering, PhD

Student Learning Outcomes

 1. Demonstrate broad knowledge of the field of computer and information science and engineering

2. Critically analyze and assess published research

3. Conduct original research on a significant problem in computing

4. Proficiency in presenting technical results in talks to different types of audiences

5. Competence in effectively communicating technical results in writing

Doctor of Philosophy Programs

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University offers Ph.D. degrees in computer and information science and engineering (CISE) and in electrical and computer engineering (ECE).

The objective of these programs is to graduate doctoral students who:

  1. Are scholars in their field of research as evidenced by:
  • their ability to do independent research by synthesizing original ideas that are evaluated to be non-trivial contributions by other researchers,
  • the mastery of their discipline by being able to recall, comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate ideas with intellectual rigor using the major concepts and results of their discipline.
  1. Can communicate their ideas effectively as evidenced by:
  • their ability to write papers, dissertations, and proposals that are judged to be well-written, well-presented, and well-argued,
  • their ability to give technical presentations that are judged to be clear, concise, and informative.

The requirements for the Ph.D. programs combine coursework with research work emphasizing mastery of a field of knowledge, familiarity with allied areas, facility in the use of research techniques, responsibility for the advancement of knowledge, and effective communication of ideas. These are tested primarily by comprehensive examinations and the defense of the dissertation rather than by a summation of courses, grades, and credits.

Student research work is led by internationally renowned researchers in their areas of expertise. One of the strengths of our doctoral programs lies in the ability of the faculty to participate in many research areas of an interdisciplinary nature. Even though EECS offers Ph.D. programs in the two areas indicated above, the research interests of many of our faculty connect these areas.

The CISE doctoral program targets those students with research interests in topics generally associated with computer and information science and with software aspects of the computer-engineering field. The ECE doctoral program targets students with research interests in topics encountered in the electrical-engineering field and in the hardware area of computer engineering.

Students in these programs are subject to all regulations of the Graduate School.

The basic structure of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree is the same for both degrees. What differentiates the programs are the details, namely:

  1. The list of topics in which students must demonstrate competencies by completing coursework.
  2. The topics covered in the written Qualifying Examination Part I.

Ph.D. Degree Programs


Admission Requirements

Admission to the Ph.D. programs is highly selective. Only those individuals with superior qualifications and a B.S. and/or M.S. from an accredited institution in computer engineering, computer and information science, electrical engineering, or a related field are invited to apply. Accepted students must start their doctoral program of study in the fall semester. No students will be accepted to start the program in the spring semester. Applicants must provide scores on the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

In addition, applicants whose native language is not English must provide scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Each program has its own admission committee that evaluates the overall academic record of an applicant. Each of these committees uses the following general guidelines during the evaluation process:

  • GRE Verbal score of 153 or better (using New GRE Score System);
  • GRE Quantitative score of 155 or better (using New GRE Score System);
  • GRE Analytical Writing score of 4.5 or better (the GRE Analytical multiple choice is not acceptable);
  • For international students: TOEFL computer-based score of 250 (Internet-based score 100; paper-based score 600) or better;

Exceptional candidates who may not satisfy the above general guidelines but excel in other criteria (such as publications in technical conferences and/or journals, scholastic achievement) are encouraged to apply.

Students may apply online by completing the application at the Syracuse University Applyweb site

Residency Requirements

Students must also satisfy the residency requirements of the Graduate School. These are given in Section 30.0 (Graduate Degrees and Certificate Programs) of the Academic Rules  and Regulations of Syracuse University.

Academic Requirements

Degree programs are tailored to meet the needs of the individual, subject to certain general departmental requirements. The Ph.D. program consists of coursework, examinations, presentations, and a dissertation.

A minimum of 52 credits of coursework is required by the CISE and the ECE doctoral programs, beyond those taken for the bachelor’s degree.


Each student must complete at least 48 credits of technical graduate courses at the 600-level or above (courses for graduate students only). Of these 48 credits, 30 credits (number of credits of coursework required for an M.S. degree EECS) provide broad knowledge in the student’s field of doctoral work and 18 credits provide depth in the student’s research area. Therefore, these 18 credits are to be taken from specialized courses at the 700-level or above (graduate courses that have a graduate course as a prerequisite) that support the student’s area of research. Independent study courses cannot be used to satisfy the 700-level requirement. Programs of study for CISE Ph.D. students must include CIS 623 , CIS 655 , CIS 657 , and CIS 675 .

In addition, each student must complete at least 4 credits of professional development courses. This requirement is fulfilled by taking one 3-credit course in presentational speaking and one 1-credit course in fundamentals of research. The course in presentational speaking, taught by the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, will equip our doctoral students with the ability to deliver effective technical presentations. The course in fundamentals of research will provide doctoral students with fundamental skills needed in their pursuit of a doctoral degree within the context of a small research project.

The following is the summary breakdown of credit requirements:


Technical Courses 48

(30 credits to provide broad knowledge in the student’s field of doctoral work; 18 credits to provide depth in the student’s research area)

Non-Technical Courses 4

(3 credits of presentational speaking to equip doctoral students with the ability to deliver effective technical presentations; 1 credit of fundamentals of research to provide students with fundamental skills needed in their pursuit of a doctoral degree within the context of a small research project.)

Total 52

Doctoral Program Information

To ensure that all doctoral students have a broad knowledge in their field of doctoral work, they must demonstrate competence by completing coursework in at least three areas from the list associated with the doctoral program the student is pursuing. These two lists are maintained by the program committees of the department. The topics in these lists may vary to reflect the change of their importance in providing doctoral students with a broad education. For example, currently:

  • A student in the CISE doctoral program must demonstrate competence by completing coursework in at least three of the following areas:
    • Algorithms
    • Architecture
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Hardware Systems
    • Logic and Theory of Computation
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming Languages and Compilers
    • Software Systems

Examinations and Colloquium Presentations

Students must pass the qualifying examination associated with the doctoral program they are pursuing, proposal defense, and dissertation defense. In addition, students must present their research results to the faculty at the Department Colloquium Series.

Qualifying Examination (QE)

The QE is composed of two parts: Qualifying Examination Part 1 (QE1) which consists of the written eligibility examination, and Qualifying Examination Part 2 (QE2) which consists of the research examination. To pass the QE, doctoral students must pass both of these examinations.

The objective of the QE1: 

(Written Eligibility Examination) is to ensure that students have mastered the fundamentals pertinent to their doctoral program of study and possess the mathematical maturity necessary to undertake doctoral research. The QE1 must be taken by all students in a doctoral program in the spring semester of their first year of matriculation into the program regardless of whether they have entered the program with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In the beginning of each fall semester, the department provides students with the scopes of these examinations. The scopes may vary to reflect the current importance of the topics covered by them.

The objective of the QE2: 

(Research Examination) is to ascertain whether the doctoral student is ready to engage in research. It will include the student’s presentation of results of a mini research project, chosen by the student after passing the QE1. It must be taken by all students in a doctoral program in the spring semester of their second year of matriculation into the program.


Doctoral students are admitted to candidacy after passing the QE1. Therefore, they are considered Ph.D. candidates only after passing this examination.

Research Committee

By the Fall semester after passing the QE, the student must identify a faculty member of EECS who will supervise his/her dissertation. The dissertation advisor will guide the student in forming a research committee consisting of two additional faculty members. If any one of these additional faculty members is not from the EECS department, then the membership of the committee must be approved by the chair of EECS. The dissertation advisor will be the chair of this three-member committee. This committee will guide the student during the dissertation work.

Proposal Defense (PD)

The objective of this oral exam is for the student to demonstrate suitable selection of a dissertation topic and adequate preparation for said research. This exam must be taken within two years of passing the QE.

After passing the PD, the student prepares a dissertation, normally carried out under the supervision of the dissertation advisor. While preparing the dissertation, the student gives a presentation(s) of his/her research work at the Department Colloquium Series.

Colloquium Presentation

The objective of the student’s presentation(s) at the Department Colloquium Series is to communicate the student’s research results to the faculty and students of the department. The student must give at least one talk at this colloquium based on his/her dissertation prior to the final dissertation defense.

The student may request a final oral examination only upon completion of the dissertation and after its approval by the student’s research committee. The research committee is responsible for assessing that the doctoral candidate is a scholar in his/her field of research and can communicate ideas effectively. The assessment demonstrating that the doctoral student has achieved scholarly status must include an outside evaluation by a scholar in the field of the student’s dissertation work. This outside evaluation can be in the form of an outside reader who is not a member of the student’s research committee, publication in technical journals, or publication in proceedings of refereed conferences.

Dissertation Defense

The objective of this oral exam is to give final certification of doctoral dissertations. It consists of a capstone seminar to communicate main contributions in the doctoral dissertation, open to general audience, followed by an in-depth technical assessment of student’s work by the examining committee. The examining committee will assess mainly the student’s dissertation work but may also assess the student’s mastery of related topics and previous work in the field.

Financial Support

Financial support for Ph.D. students is available in many forms. Such support normally entails a stipend in addition to a scholarship. Graduate teaching assistants, graduate research assistants, fellows, and other students supported financially by the University must exhibit satisfactory progress toward the chosen degree to be reappointed each year. Satisfactory progress is determined by EECS faculty during the yearly review of all doctoral students.

Time Limit

As required by the Graduate School, all requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be met within five years of the satisfactory completion of the QE.

Master of Philosophy

The master of philosophy is an intermediate degree between the academic master’s degree and the doctor of philosophy. In order for the master of philosophy degree to be awarded, a student must complete all the requirements for the doctoral degree except the dissertation.