Ph.D. in Computer Science

Programming code on a computer screen

Program Overview

The Ph.D. in Computer Science aims to build the next generation of scholars in computer science research. At GW, doctoral students can expect to work closely with a faculty advisor in their chosen research area to create a curriculum plan and guidance for the doctoral dissertation. Students will also be expected to teach introductory-level courses to undergraduates, present conference papers, and work with faculty on research grant applications.

Top research areas of the department:

  • Algorithms and theory
  • Computer architecture, networks, parallel and distributed computing
  • Computer security and information assurance
  • Database and information retrieval systems
  • Machine intelligence and cognition
  • Multimedia, animation, graphics and user interface
  • Software engineering and systems

With its unique location of Washington, D.C., GW maintains access and connections to one of the highest concentrations of tech companies in the country, as well as research-granting federal institutes, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NASA, National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Naval Research Laboratory

Program Requirements

Faculty Advisor & Research Area

We strongly recommend that prospective doctoral students determine a faculty member in the department with whom they would like to work, as well as the research area of interest.

Download Faculty & Research Factsheet (PDF)

Program Requirements

Please visit the GW Bulletin to see a description of the program requirements.

PhD Course Guidelines:

PhD students must work with their advisors to develop a program of study that meets the following requirements.

  • For direct Ph.D. degree students: 54 credit hours (minimum of 18 credit hours of course work available for graduate credit and minimum of 12 credit hours of dissertation research credits (CSCI 8999)) are required.
  • For post-Master’s Ph.D. students: 18 credit hours of course work available for graduate credit and 12 credit hours of dissertation research credits (CSCI 8999) are required.
  • At least one course from each of the following three areas: 1) theory, 2) systems; and 3) applications.  The purpose is to introduce students to the major methods of computer science research at the graduate level. Theory research involves constructing formal models of computation; validation is primarily by mathematical proof. Systems research involves improving computing infrastructure to make it faster, more reliable, more secure, etc.; validation is primarily empirical or analytical. Applied research involves using computers to solve problems of interest. Validation is primarily through demonstration that a method is effective in solving a problem.
    • Theory: CSci 4314, 6212, 6213, 6311, 6312, 6331, 6341, 6362
    • Systems: CSci 6431, 6441, 6461, 6541
    • Applications: CSci 6351, 6364, 6365, 6443, 6448, 6511, 6521, 6525, 6527, 6554, 6555 
  • At least one advanced topics course. CSci courses at the 8000 level with “Advanced” in the title satisfy this requirement. With approval of the student’s advisor, a CSci 6907 course may also satisfy this requirement.
  • A maximum of 15 credits outside of the department for direct Ph.D. students; a maximum of 9 credits outside of the department for post-Master’s Ph.D. students.

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant area from an accredited institution.
    • If applicant has obtained a master’s degree, a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (on a scale of 4.0) is required.
    • If applicant has only obtained a bachelor’s degree, the minimum grade point average must be a 3.3 (on a scale of 4.0).
  • Completion of two math courses beyond pre-calculus.
  • Strong academic background that includes courses in structured programming language, discrete structures and data structures.
  • Successful submission of online application form, exam scores and other documents as outlined in the admissions requirements.