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Department of Computer Science

Ph.D. in Computer Science

Computer Science faculty actively seek interdisciplinary collaborations within Tufts School of Engineering and across the university. Funded research includes projects with civil, chemical, electrical, and biomedical engineering departments, Tufts School of Medicine, Tufts Sackler School of Biomedical Science, the Tufts Medical Center, and the departments of biology, chemistry, astrophysics, classics, child development, and psychology in Tufts School of Arts and Sciences.

Doctoral candidates are expected to plan a program of research under the direction of their dissertation supervisor and with the guidance of a faculty committee. Upon completion of this research, the candidate must prepare and publicly defend their dissertation.

  • Course requirement: Students should take 20 courses, comprising 60 credits, for the Ph.D. degree. At least two courses must be regular 100-200 level courses.
  • Community/residence requirement: Fulfilled by attending at least 50% of the weekly departmental seminars in each of four semesters. This is the minimal requirement.
  • Teaching requirement: Every doctoral student is expected to assist in the teaching of a course for at least one semester.
  • Qualifying requirements: A student qualifies to begin research on their selected topic by completing the following steps:
    • Obtaining core competence
    • Completing a preliminary research project
    • Giving an oral presentation on the project
    • Passing a written qualifying exam
    • Passing an oral qualifying exam
  • Prospectus requirement: After successfully completing the qualifying examination, the student should submit a thesis prospectus.
  • Dissertation requirement: The student will perform research under the direction of the advisor, write a dissertation about that work, have the dissertation read by a committee, and defend the work in an oral presentation.
  • Defense requirement: The defense includes a 45-minute talk open to the public where the student presents their research.

Ph.D. Requirements

A typical student should be able to satisfy the first three requirements while obtaining the M.S. degree. In most cases, the candidate will have satisfied course requirements through course work in their B.S. or M.S. degree, before beginning the Ph.D. program In any case, the student should meet with the members of the examination committee well before the examinations to make sure that preparation for these requirements has been adequate.

  • The Community/Residence Requirement: This requirement is fulfilled by attending at least 50% of the weekly departmental seminars in each of four semesters.
    • This is the minimal requirement – it is hoped that most students will attend a larger percentage of seminars for a longer period of time.
    • This requirement may be satisfied at any semester and concurrently with the other requirements.
  • The Teaching Requirement: Every doctoral student is expected to assist in the teaching of a course for at least one semester.
    • This requirement may be satisfied at any semester and concurrently with the other requirements.
  • The Qualifying Requirement: A student qualifies to begin research on their selected topic by completing the following steps (usually in the given order):
    • Obtaining core competence
    • Completing a preliminary research project
    • Giving an oral presentation on this project
    • Passing a written qualifying exam
    • Passing an oral qualifying exam
  • Core competence: Each Ph.D. candidate is expected to have competence at the level of an excellent undergraduate in the following core areas:
    • Computer Architecture and Assembly Language
    • Programming Languages (specifically, functional programming and object-oriented programming with inheritance)
    • Data Structures and Algorithms
    • Theory of Computation

For detailed information on Ph.D. requirements, consult the Tufts Graduate Student Handbook and the Computer Science supplement to the handbook.