Jul 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Calendar 
2023-2024 Graduate Calendar [ARCHIVED CALENDAR]

Computer Science, PhD

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General information

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer Science program focuses on applied research with the aim of producing highly trained researchers for industry and academia.

There are four fields in the PhD program:

  • Digital Media
  • Information Science
  • Networks and IT Security
  • Software Design

The aim of the PhD program in Computer Science is to produce a new breed of computer science graduates that have a broad background in information technology along with project management and people skills. The graduates of this program will not only have strong technical expertise in their particular field but will also have the ability to work effectively in interdisciplinary teams. They are able to tackle problems that require both technical and non-technical solutions.

The PhD program differs from most existing computer science programs in its concentration on applied research and the development of professional skills. The program prepares graduates for careers in academia, but it is expected that most of the graduates will select careers in the industry. Skills required for successful careers in industry are developed throughout the degree, reflecting the university’s goals to be market-oriented and to provide high-quality professional education.

The PhD program gives students the opportunity to work in teams and develop leadership skills. Students are also given ample opportunity to develop oral and written communication skills.

PhD students are expected to present their research results at scientific conferences before defending their thesis.

A current list of graduate faculty is available on the Faculty of Science’s website.

Admission requirements

In addition to the general admission requirements for graduate studies , PhD in Computer Science applicants must have completed a master’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, information technology or software engineering from a Canadian university, or its equivalent (such as the Master of Health Sciences [Health Informatics] at the university) from a recognized institution.

In exceptional circumstances, students may be directly admitted to the PhD from an undergraduate program.

Applicants without the background above may be offered admission with additional requirements which will enable them to obtain the required background through additional courses or some other mechanism.

Part-time studies

The PhD program is intended to be a full-time program, but a small number of part-time students are admitted, increasing its accessibility. The typical part-time student is already employed in the information technology industry and brings a level of practical experience to the program. Part-time students are encouraged to attend seminars on campus and to spend at least two weeks per year on campus so they have an opportunity to interact with other students outside of the classroom.

Degree requirements

All PhD students are expected to complete at least four graduate courses, two of which must be at the advanced 6000 level. Students who are directly admitted to the PhD program from an undergraduate degree must complete nine courses. CSCI 5010G - Survey of Computer Science Research Topics and Methods  and CSCI 5020G - Collaborative Design and Research  must be taken in the first year, if they have not been previously taken at the master’s level.

All PhD students must demonstrate a broad knowledge of computer science. This is normally demonstrated through the completion of an appropriate set of courses at the graduate level. To satisfy the breadth requirement, the student must successfully complete courses from the following four fields:

  • One course in Digital Media
  • One course in Information Science
  • One course in Networks and IT Security
  • One course in Software Design

When a student is admitted to the PhD program, the graduate committee of the faculty evaluates the courses from their previous degrees to determine which courses count towards the breadth requirement and identify the areas in which an additional course is required. The list of graduate courses offered each year indicates the area covered by each course so students can easily plan to cover the breadth requirement.

Within 18 months of their initial registration in the program, a PhD student must present and defend their thesis proposal. The defence takes the form of an oral examination.

Each PhD student must present two public seminars during the course of their studies. The first must be held just before the proposal defence and cover the proposed research program. The second seminar must be held just before the thesis defence and cover the results of the research program.

Course listing

Non-CSCI graduate courses

MSc students are allowed to take up to two graduate-level courses from other graduate programs at the university, subject to the written approval of their supervisor, the Computer Science graduate program director, and the graduate program director of the host faculty for the course.

PhD students are normally expected to take 50 per cent or more of their course load from Computer Science graduate courses. Any exemption in special cases must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee and the graduate program director.

A list of graduate course options outside of Computer Science is available on the faculty’s website.

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