Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program prepares students to be well-rounded professionals in the broad discipline of Computing and Information Systems (CIS).  The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is granted for performance of original research resulting in significant contributions to the discipline's body of knowledge.  Students are admitted into a concentration within the program by one of the participating units:

  1. Department of Computer Science

  2. Department of Software and Information Systems

  3. Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics

  4. Department of Business Information Systems and Operations Management

The Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program also has an interdisciplinary concentration in which CIS is applied to different disciplines.  Students in the interdisciplinary concentration are admitted into one unit but are expected to complete some coursework in a complementary discipline in addition to the minimum core requirements of their chosen unit.  Students in the interdisciplinary concentration must have co-advisors from their chosen unit and the complementary discipline.  The detailed requirements are provided below.  Failure to satisfy the requirements may result in the student's termination from the program.

To earn a Ph.D. degree, students in all concentrations must complete at least 72 post-baccalaureate credit hours.  This includes at least 18 credit hours of dissertation research and at least 9 credit hours of coursework completed at UNC Charlotte.  A limited amount of transfer credit is allowed (see below for details).  Students are expected to acquire a sufficiently broad body of technical knowledge in the discipline as well as a deep understanding of a specialized area.  Such courses will be defined by the student's advisor(s).  Students are expected to excel in all coursework.  Graduation requirements mandate that students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to graduate.  Receiving more than two C grades or a grade of U in any course will result in a suspension from the program.

Minimum Credit Hours

To earn a Ph.D. degree, students in all concentrations must complete at least 72 post-baccalaureate credit hours.  This includes at least 18 credit hours of dissertation research and at least 9 credit hours of coursework completed at UNC Charlotte.  A limited amount of transfer credit is allowed (see below for details).  Students are expected to acquire a sufficiently broad body of technical knowledge in the discipline as well as a deep understanding of a specialized area.  Such courses will be defined by the student's advisor(s).  Students are expected to excel in all coursework.  Graduation requirements mandate that students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to graduate.  Receiving more than two C grades or a grade of U in any course will result in a suspension from the program.

Introductory Course (3 credit hours)

Note:

First-year students must take this introductory course in the first Fall semester.  It is jointly taught by CIS Ph.D. faculty for all concentrations, providing new students an overview of the CIS research areas and opportunities at UNC Charlotte.

Only when there is an unavoidable schedule conflict between ITSC 8110 and another Ph.D. level course that a student has to take, can the student make a request to take ITSC 8110 in the second Fall semester.  Such a request must be justified and signed by the student's initial Ph.D. advisor and endorsed by the Ph.D. Program Director.

 

Graduate Research Seminar (minimum 3 credit hours)

Note:

Students must sign up for and receive credit for ITSC 8699 every semester that they are in the Ph.D. program until the semester after they pass the proposal defense, unless they are enrolled in ITSC 8110.

If there is a legitimate reason that a student has to do part of their Ph.D. research in a different site during a regular semester, then they must first make a request to be exempted from taking ITSC 8699 for the period that he/she is visiting the other site.  Such a request must be well justified and signed by the student's Ph.D. advisor and endorsed by the Concentration Coordinator.  The period of exemption should not exceed one semester.  Exceptions must be approved by the Ph.D. Steering Committee.

 

Concentration Requirements

 

Computer Science Concentration

Core Courses (12 credit hours)

The GPA of these four core courses must be 3.5 or above.  Core course requirements must be met within the first 30 credit hours of entering the program.

Group A (6 credit hours)

Select two of the following:

Group B (6 credit hours)

Select two of the following:

Elective Courses (15 credit hours)

With advisor approval, select from the following:

  • ITCS 8000-8999

  • ITIS 8000-8999

  • ITSC 8000-8999

Additional Elective Courses (15 credit hours)

Take additional elective courses, research credit, or a combination of the two from the following:

  • ITCS 8000-8999

  • ITIS 8000-8999

  • ITSC 8000-8999

Pre-Dissertation Research (minimum 6 credit hours)

Students take during their first four semesters under the direction of one or more CIS Ph.D. Graduate Faculty members.

Dissertation Research (minimum 18 credit hours)

Take under the direction of one or more CIS Ph.D. Graduate Faculty members.

 

Research Advisor(s) and Qualifying Exam Committee

Each Ph.D. student is assigned a temporary academic advisor(s) within a concentration when admitted to the program.  Before the end of their fourth semester in the program, students should select a Research Advisor(s) and, in consultation with their Research Advisor(s), form a Qualifying Exam Committee.  The Qualifying Exam Committee should include at least three CIS Doctoral Faculty members, plus the student's the Research Advisor who is a non-voting member of the Qualifying Exam Committee.  The Qualifying Exam Committee must be approved by the Concentration Coordinator.

Qualifying Exam

Each student must pass a qualifying exam, given and evaluated by the student's Qualifying Exam Committee.  The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to ensure that the student will have sufficient capability for doing dissertation-level research leading to a Ph.D. degree.

Each student must prepare a written research survey that describes the research area the student is expected to do his/her dissertation research in.  Copies of the research survey must be provided to the committee at the time of filing the Qualifying Examination application, which must be at least two weeks prior to the exam.  The student must present the research survey and defend it in a manner accepted by the Qualifying Exam Committee.  Prior to the oral defense of the research survey, the student's advisor is required to submit a written evaluation of the student's research and academic progress to the Qualifying Exam Committee, with a copy also provided to the Concentration Coordinator.  The Qualifying Exam will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis, based on the corresponding rubrics by the Qualifying Exam Committee.  A pass decision must be unanimous. 

The student must pass the Qualifying Examination in at most two attempts within three years of the date of first enrollment into Ph.D. study at UNC Charlotte.  A student who fails the Qualifying Exam twice will be terminated from the Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program.

Dissertation Committee

After passing the qualifying exam, the student should set up a Dissertation Committee of at least four graduate faculty members, which include at least three Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems faculty members.  This Committee may, but is not required to, consist of the same faculty members as the Qualifying Exam Committee.  Ordinarily, the chair of this committee will be the student's advisor(s), who must be a member of the CIS Ph.D. program faculty and will ensure that the composition of the committee is appropriate.  Committee members from outside the University must be appointed Associate Graduate Faculty members at UNC Charlotte.  The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Concentration Coordinator.  After identifying and obtaining the signatures of the CIS faculty who will be serving on the Committee, the Dissertation Committee Form must be sent to the Graduate School for the appointment of the Graduate Faculty Representative.  This appointment may take as long as four weeks.  If there is need to change committee members later, a formal written request must be first submitted to the CIS Ph.D. Steering Committee with a clear explanation of the rationale for change.  Upon approval by the CIS Ph.D. Steering Committee, a revised Committee form (above) must be submitted. 

Proposal Defense

Each student must present and defend a Ph.D. dissertation proposal after passing the qualifying exam and within ten semesters since entering the Ph.D. program.  The proposal defense will be conducted by the student's Dissertation Committee and will be open to the CIS Ph.D. faculty and students.  The student shall provide copies of the written proposal to the Committee members at least two weeks before the scheduled defense.  At the discretion of the Dissertation Committee, the defense may include questions that cover the student's program of study and background knowledge in the area of the proposal.  The proposal defense will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis, according to the corresponding rubrics by the Committee.  A pass must be a unanimous decision by the Committee members; otherwise, the proposal defense fails.  A student may retake the proposal defense if he/she cannot pass it the first time, and should consult the Concentration Coordinator before the second attempt.  The second failed defense of a dissertation proposal will result in the termination of the student's enrollment in the Ph.D. program.  It is expected that the student first take the proposal defense by the ninth semester after they are enrolled, in order to provide time for a second attempt should the first one fail. 

Ph.D. Candidacy

A doctoral student advances to Ph.D. candidacy after the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended.

Dissertation

Each student must complete a research program approved by the student's Dissertation Advisor(s) that yields a high quality, original, and substantial piece of research. The Ph.D. dissertation describes this research and its results. The dissertation defense is a public presentation. A written copy of the dissertation must be made available to each member of the student Ph.D. Dissertation Committee, to the Ph.D. Steering Committee, and to the UNC Charlotte Library, at least three weeks before the public defense. The date of the defense must be publicly announced at least three weeks prior to the defense. The student must present the dissertation and defend it in a manner accepted by the Dissertation Committee. The dissertation will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis, based on the corresponding rubrics by the Dissertation Committee. A pass decision must be unanimous and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. A student who fails the defense of a dissertation twice will be terminated from the Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program.

Progress Report and Evaluation

By every January, each student is required to submit a written progress report for the previous year, and the advisor(s) is required to submit a written evaluation of the student to the Concentration Coordinator, with a copy to the Program Director.  A rubric is used for evaluation of progress.  Failure to make satisfactory progress may result in discontinuation of the student's graduate assistantship and suspension from the program.

Residency Requirements

Each student must satisfy the residency requirement of one continuous full-time year (i.e., two consecutive semesters with the student being enrolled for at least nine graduate credit hours in each semester) after being admitted to the Ph.D. degree program.

Transfer Credit

In accordance with rules of the UNC Charlotte Graduate School, students are allowed to transfer up to 30 credit hours of graduate credit earned at UNC Charlotte or other recognized graduate programs.  In cases of applicants with records of exceptionally high quality, the CIS Ph.D. Steering Committee, at its discretion, may request that the Graduate School approve transfer credit beyond the limit set by the Graduate School.  To receive transfer credit, students must file a written request and submit all necessary documents to the Concentration Coordinator.


 

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