Information for Prospective Ph.D. Students

PhD in Computer Science

Our Ph.D. program is designed for individuals aiming to pursue a career in computer science research. Applicants should have a strong background in computer science and demonstrate the ability to conduct research both independently and collaboratively 

PhD Degree Requirements

The Graduate Policy Manual details all of the information on degree requirements, but at a high level:

Our graduate students receive the training and are expected to develop a mastery of their field, gaining a broad familiarity with their discipline by the time they graduate. 

Requirements for the PhD Degree include:

  1. Coursework: Six graduate-level courses covering four areas out of {artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, systems, databases, scientific computing, software engineering and programming languages, theory, and visual and geometric computing}, and two more graduate courses from any area. Also, 12 credit hours of CMSC 899 (Dissertation Research).
  2. Proposal: You must pass an oral Ph.D. Preliminary Examination on a research proposal and prepared readings. This must be completed within five years of entering the program.
  3. Defense: Finally, you must prepare a dissertation presenting an original contribution to the field of computer science and pass a final oral examination on your dissertation research. This must be done within four years after passing the Preliminary Examination.

Program Duration

Typically, full-time doctoral students will:

  1. Become engaged in research in their first year.
  2. Identify a dissertation adviser by the end of their second year.
  3. Identify a dissertation topic by the end of their third year.
  4. Secure admission to candidacy within 3-4 years.
  5. Depend on the standards in their fields, publish at least one paper prior to advancing to candidacy, and several prior to graduating.
  6. Complete all requirements and graduate within 4-6 years.

Financial Information

We are committed to funding all of our PhD students throughout their program,  contingent on making satisfactory progress. This is made possible with a combination of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships. 

Assistantships and Stipends:

  • Guaranteed Assistantships: All PhD students are guaranteed assistantships upon admission. These include positions as research assistants (RAs) on funded projects or as teaching assistants (TAs).
  • Competitive Stipends: For the 2023-2024 academic year, stipends range from $29,000 to $31,000 for a 9.5-month appointment, based on educational background and experience. Opportunities to earn additional income during the summer are available through further assistantships or internships at external research labs and companies.
  • Tuition and Benefits: Teaching and research assistantships cover tuition for up to 10 credits per semester and provide health insurance, paralleling the benefits offered to university staff and faculty.

Tuition and Fees 

PhD students with full-time graduate assistantships receive tuition remission for up to 10 credits per semester, aligning with the typical enrollment of 6-9 credits. Half-time assistantships cover up to 5 credits.
For detailed information about tuition rates and related expenses, please visit the Graduate Tuition & Fees.


Fellowships can be sourced both from within the University of Maryland and through external organizations:

To apply for these fellowships, you should contact the agency which administers them, check with the financial aid office in your current university, or contact UMD's Fellowship Office.