Doctoral Program (PhD)

The integration of large computing and big data is essential to tackle the urgent research problems in fields ranging from multi-scale modeling and design of materials to natural disasters, smart electric grids, and medical technologies.

photo of graduate student with professors writing algorithms on a white board.

We train scientists to analyze big data and multisource datasets to solve these grand challenges, by bringing together the talents of faculty across several departments including the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Math, Physics, and Chemistry.

Program Requirements

The PhD degree in CDSE requires a minimum of 72 credit hours. Additional requirements include passing qualifying exams and preparing your dissertation. A Master's degree in a related field is required for admission to the PhD program. Some related fields of study include engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, marketing, business, and pharmacy.

Core Courses

Our curriculum is designed around three core subjects:

  • Data Science
  • Applied Mathematics and Numerical Methods
  • High Performance and Data Intensive Computing

A minimum of 9 credits hours from the approved list of core classes must be taken in each area. The core course requirements total 30 credits, with a minimum GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. Courses taken during your Master's program may be transferred and used toward this requirement, with the approval of your dissertation committee and the Graduate Director. We strongly suggest you finish this course work within the first two years of the program.

Qualification Process

When you first start our program, you will select an advisor and your dissertation committee. Then, you will decide on a research topic and submit a short proposal that articulates your topic and its relationship to the computational and data sciences field. This technical report must be completed no later than the end of the second semester.

Dissertation Committee Guidelines
We want each dissertation committee to reflect the intellectual diversity of our program. Because of this, the committee:

  • should not have more than 1 core member and 1 additional member with primary academic affiliation in the same department
  • must have core members that are CDSE affiliated faculty

Oral Examination

Students must pass an oral examination on the needed background material to succeed in the field. Your dissertation committee will provide a written list of topics and courses. The exam may be retaken once within a 12-month period. This requirement should be met by the end of the third semester of study. Once the technical report and the oral examination have successfully been completed, you may file an application for PhD candidacy.


Students must take courses to support their dissertation research. These courses, totaling 12 credits, must be completed by the end of your fifth semester. Depending on your dissertation topic, you may be advised to take elective courses that inform your research topic, or you may be advised to take other courses to broaden your CDSE-related knowledge.

The dissertation must be original and contribute to the furthering of the field.