Computing and Information Sciences Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

A research degree designed to produce independent scholars, cutting-edge researchers, and well-prepared educators. You'll benefit from RIT's world-class faculty, diverse academic offerings, and modern facilities as you identify and research challenges within and beyond computing. 


100%

Outcome Rate of RIT Graduates


Overview

In the Ph.D. in computing and information sciences, you will conduct both foundational and applied research to address diverse and important challenges within and beyond computing, and benefit from world-class faculty, diverse academic offerings, and modern facilities. Our graduates are poised to excel in both computing and interdisciplinary environments in academia, government, and industry.

The doctoral program in computing and information sciences highlights two of the most unique characteristics of the Golisano College for Computing and Information Sciences: its breadth of program offerings and its scholarly focus on discovering solutions to real-world problems by balancing theory and practice.

The program focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of cyberinfrastructure as applied to specific problems across multiple domains. It is a blend of intra-disciplinary computing knowledge areas and inter-disciplinary domain areas.

Cyberinfrastructure

Cyberinfrastructure (CI) is the comprehensive integration of hardware, data, networks, and digitally-enabled sensors to provide secure, efficient, reliable, accessible, usable, and interoperable suites of software and middleware services and tools. The doctorate program plays a leadership role in CI research by providing human-centered tools for the science and engineering communities. These tools and services focus on such areas as high performance computing, data analysis and visualization, cyber-services and virtual environments, and learning and knowledge management.

Intradisciplinary Knowledge

There are three intradisciplinary computing knowledge areas: infrastructure, interaction, and informatics.

Infrastructure comprises aspects related to hardware, software (both system software and applications), communications technology, and their integration with computing systems through applications. The focus is on the best organization of these elements to provide optimal architectural solutions. On the hardware side it includes system-level design (e.g., for system-on-a-chip solutions) and their building block components. On the software side it covers all aspects of systems and applications software development, including specification and design languages and standards; validation and prototyping, and multi-dimensional Quality-of-Service management; software product lines, model-driven architectures, component-based development, and domain-specific languages; and product estimation, tracking, and oversight. The communications subtopic includes sensor networks and protocols; active, wireless, mobile, configurable, and high-speed networks; and network security and privacy, quality of service, reliability, service discovery, and integration and inter-networking across heterogeneous networks. At the system level there are issues related to conformance and certification; system dependability, fault tolerance, verifiable adaptability, and reconfigurable systems; real-time, self adaptive, self-organizing, autonomic systems. Some of the specialties available in this area are networks and security, digital systems and VLSI, software design and productivity, and systems software.

Interaction refers to topics related to the combined action of two or more entities (human or computational) that affect one another and work together when facilitated by technology. It encompasses several subtopics relating to how people and technology interact and interface. Several common threads weave through all of these areas, many of which rely heavily and build upon foundations in the social and behavioral sciences with an emphasis on understanding human and social/organizational phenomena. To some extent, these fields follow an engineering approach to the design of interactions in which solutions are based on rules and principles derived from research and practice, but require analyses that go beyond the analytical approach. From this perspective, solutions can be measured and evaluated against goals and intended outcomes. However, while efficiency and effectiveness are often the watchwords of these fields in practice, this is also where science meets art in computing. Creative design and sensitivity to human needs and aesthetics are critical. Some of the specialties available in this area are human-computer interaction, computer-based instructional systems, and access technologies.

Informatics is the study of computational/algorithmic techniques applied to the management and understanding of data-intensive systems. It focuses on the capture, storage, processing, analysis, and interpretation of data. Topics include algorithms, complexity, and discovery informatics. Data storage and processing require investigation into tools and techniques for modeling, storage, and retrieval. Analysis and understanding require the development of tools and techniques for the symbolic modeling, simulation, and visualization of data. The increased complexity of managing vast amounts of data requires a better understanding of the fundamentals of computation. These fundamentals include complexity, theory to determine the inherent limits of computation, communication, cryptography, and the design and analysis of algorithms to obtain optimal solutions within the limits identified. Some of the specialties available in this area are core informatics, discovery informatics, and intelligent systems.

Interdisciplinary domains

The program focuses on domain-specific computing, or the interaction between computing and non-computing disciplines, in the areas of science, engineering, medicine, arts, humanities, and business. By incorporating domain-specific computing, the research conducted in this program applies computing and information science principles to the solution of problems in application domains that lie outside the scope of the traditional computing discipline. The research requirement incorporates fundamental concepts in cyberinfrastructure that are necessary for understanding the problems commonly encountered in advancing scientific discovery and product development in cross-disciplinary domains.

Active Research Areas

Computing
  • Algorithm and theory
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Communication and networking
  • Computer vision and pattern recognition
  • Data management and analytics 
  • Education research
  • Game design
  • Graphics and visualization
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Natural language processing
  • Pervasive and Mobile Computing
  • Programming languages
  • Security and privacy
  • Software engineering
Domain applications
  • Accessibility and inclusion 
  • Biomedical computing
  • Cognitive sciences
  • Computational astrophysics
  • Computational finance 
  • Geographic information system 
  • Imaging and image informatics
  • Service sciences
  • Social computing

Plan of Study

The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate level comprised of graduate-level course work, including seminar attendance and research credits.

Required Courses

Students complete 18 credit hours of required foundation and core elective courses and 2 credit hours of teaching skills courses.

Electives

Elective courses provide foundation support of the student's dissertation research area. These courses come from cyberinfrastructure courses, domain courses, and other electives.

Dissertation and Research

Students are required to conduct original research that leads to peer-reviewed publications.

Assessments

Each student must pass three assessment examinations in the following order:

1. Research potential assessment: qualifying exam

Completed after the first year, this assessment evaluates the research tasks students have worked on in their first year in the program. Passing this assessment will qualify students to continue in the doctoral program.

2. Thesis proposal defense: candidacy exam

This is an oral examination completed after the thesis proposal is written. Formal admission to candidacy will be granted after successfully passing the research potential assessment requirement and having a research proposal approved by the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will have a minimum of four members including the student's adviser.

3. Dissertation defense

This is the final examination. The dissertation defense includes the dissertation committee and an optional external reader from outside RIT. The exam consists of a formal, oral presentation of the thesis research by the student, followed by questions from the audience.

Graduates work primarily in the Internet and Software industry.

Research

Our faculty and students conduct research to change how we live, work, and interact, focusing on both novel computing technology and how computing can support, facilitate, enable, and inspire progress in other domains.

Featured Profiles

Latest News

  • May 11, 2021

    environmental portrait of student Joanna C. S. Santos.

    Ph.D. students take different career paths

    More than 50 students are expected to earn their Ph.D. degrees by the end of June. The hooding ceremony, which will also include Ph.D. recipients in the class of 2020, is May 15.

  • April 2, 2021

    Three people sitting in front of laptops having a discussion.

    RIT researchers are making software secure by design

    With more than $4 million in support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and other organizations, Associate Professor Mehdi Mirakhorli and his student team are developing tools and techniques to help coders take an architectural approach to software design.

Curriculum for Computing and Information Sciences Ph.D.

Computing and Information Sciences, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
CISC-810
Research Foundations
This course provides students with the theoretical background and practical experience with a variety of research techniques and methods. The course provides an overview of the research process along with opportunities for hands-on projects. Major topics for the course include: formulating research questions, conducting literature reviews, selecting appropriate methodologies, data sampling, analyzing statistics, qualitative techniques, technical writing research papers, and presentation skills. (Knowledge in probability and statistics, or permission of instructor) (This course is restricted to students in the COMPIS-PHD program.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
CISC-820
Quantitative Foundations
This course provides an introduction in the fundamentals of working with quantitative information. Topics include matrix algebra (matrices, vectors, direct and indirect methods for solving linear systems, eigenvectors, singular value decomposition, least-squares systems) optimization (convex analysis, gradient descent, Newton's method, interior-point methods), statistics (random variables, p-values, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals) and data exploration (clustering, dimensionality reduction, curve fitting). Note: Knowledge in probability and statistics calculus, and computer programming or permission of instructor is required. (This course is restricted to students in the COMPIS-PHD program.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
CISC-830
Cyberinfrastructure Foundations
Cyberinfrastructure integrates all parts of large-scale computing including a set of software, services, and tools in order to solve large-scale computing problems. This course will give an overview of the problems and solutions of large-scale computing, e.g., Large Hydron Collider. Students will design and develop new tools for cyberinfrastructure. Presentations and written reports are required. Note: Knowledge in data structure and object-oriented design, or permission of instructor is required. (This class is restricted to students in the COMPIS-PHD program.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
CISC-890
Dissertation and Research
Students will perform use-inspired original research in the interaction, informatics, and infrastructure areas of computing and information sciences applied to specific domain(s). Students will receive guidance from their advisor(s) in choosing an appropriate topic and activity. Note: Permission of the Ph.D. Director is required. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
6
CISC-896
Colloquium in Computing and Information Sciences
This course develops the student's knowledge and understanding of various contemporary research issues, especially in the interdisciplinary areas of computing and information sciences. The student will get involved by attending a number of research presentations and discussions. The choice of topics considered may vary and will be determined by the instructor. (This course is restricted to students in the COMPIS-PHD program.) Lecture (Fall, Spring).
0
 
Infrastructure Elective
3
 
Interaction Elective
3
 
Informatics Elective
3
Second Year
CISC-807
Teaching Skills Workshop
Teaching is a valuable and desirable skill for PhD students. This workshop course provides an introduction to the concepts and skills needed for quality teaching in higher education. Students will be provided with lecture, reading, and class activities centered on building skills in educational analysis, design, and assessment. Prerequisites: Limited to students in the Ph.D. program. Class 2, Credit 2 (F) (This course is restricted to students in the COMPIS-PHD program.) Lecture 2 (Spring).
2
CISC-890
Dissertation and Research
Students will perform use-inspired original research in the interaction, informatics, and infrastructure areas of computing and information sciences applied to specific domain(s). Students will receive guidance from their advisor(s) in choosing an appropriate topic and activity. Note: Permission of the Ph.D. Director is required. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
CISC-896
Colloquium in Computing and Information Sciences
This course develops the student's knowledge and understanding of various contemporary research issues, especially in the interdisciplinary areas of computing and information sciences. The student will get involved by attending a number of research presentations and discussions. The choice of topics considered may vary and will be determined by the instructor. (This course is restricted to students in the COMPIS-PHD program.) Lecture (Fall, Spring).
0
 
Electives
9
Third Year
CISC-890
Dissertation and Research
Students will perform use-inspired original research in the interaction, informatics, and infrastructure areas of computing and information sciences applied to specific domain(s). Students will receive guidance from their advisor(s) in choosing an appropriate topic and activity. Note: Permission of the Ph.D. Director is required. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
18
Total Semester Credit Hours
60

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the doctorate program in computing and information sciences, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete an online graduate application. Refer to Graduate Admission Deadlines and Requirements for information on application deadlines, entry terms, and more.
  • Submit copies of official transcript(s) (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work, including any transfer credit earned.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or US equivalent) from an accredited university or college. Since the program encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, students with diverse backgrounds (e.g.: engineering, science, humanities, fine arts, business, and disciplines with sufficient computing backgrounds) are encouraged to apply.
  • Recommended minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Two letters of recommendation are required. Refer to Application Instructions and Requirements for additional information.
  • Not all programs require the submission of scores from entrance exams (GMAT or GRE). Please refer to the Graduate Admission Deadlines and Requirements page for more information.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives. Refer to Application Instructions and Requirements for additional information.
  • Submit professional or research paper sample(s), if available.
  • Have completed at least one full year of study in programming and computing concepts; strong mathematical background in subjects such as discrete mathematics, and probability and statistics; and aptitude, vision, and experience (if applicable) in computing and information sciences related research.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit official test scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. Students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Refer to Graduate Admission Deadlines and Requirements for additional information on English requirements. International applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver. Refer to Additional Requirements for International Applicants to review waiver eligibility.

Interview

An interview by one or more members of the doctoral program faculty and/or admissions committee may be required for candidates considered for admission prior to final selection. This interview may be conducted virtually.

Transfer Credit

Students with previous graduate course work, or a master's degree in a computing and information sciences discipline or in a related domain-specific discipline, may be granted up to 9 credit hours towards the degree requirements. The transfer credit evaluation will not be made until after the research potential assessment. Consideration for transfer credit will include the appropriateness to the student's intra- and inter-disciplinary program of study and research interests.

Assistantships

Assistantships, which include tuition and stipend, are available and awarded on a competitive basis.

Residency Requirement

One year of full-time on-campus residency is required.

Learn more about graduate admissions 

Resources

Here you will find additional resources for the Ph.D. Program in Computing and Information Sciences, such policies, procedures, technical resources, etc.
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