Skip to main content

Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering

PhD student Jasmine Cashbaugh tests a drone's ability to track a UAV

PhD student Jasmine Cashbaugh tests a drone's ability to track a UAV

The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is conferred by the School of Engineering primarily in recognition of competence in the subject field and the ability to investigate engineering problems independently, resulting in a new contribution to knowledge in the field.

The work for the degree consists of engineering research, the preparation of a thesis based on that research, and a program of advanced studies in engineering, mathematics, and related physical sciences. The student’s work is directed by the department, subject to the general supervision of the School of Engineering.

The student and his or her advisor jointly develop a complete program of studies for research in a particular area. The complete program of studies (and any subsequent changes) must be filed with the Engineering Graduate Programs Office and approved by the student’s Doctoral Committee. Until this approval is obtained, there is no guarantee that courses taken will be acceptable toward the Ph.D. course requirements.

A minimum of four consecutive quarters of full-time study must be undertaken at the University for the doctorate; spring and fall quarters are considered consecutive. The residency time shall normally be any period between passing the preliminary examination and completion of the thesis. For this requirement, full-time study is interpreted as a minimum registration of 8 units per quarter during the academic year and 4 units during summer session. Any variation from this requirement must be approved by the Doctoral Committee.

A preliminary written exam is offered at least once per year by the School of Engineering as needed. The purpose is to ascertain the depth and breadth of the student’s preparation and suitability for Ph.D. work.

After passing the Ph.D. preliminary exam, a student requests his or her thesis advisor to form a doctoral committee. The committee consists of at least five members, each of which must have earned a doctoral degree in a field of engineering or a related discipline. This includes the student’s thesis advisor, at least two other current faculty members of the student’s major department at Santa Clara University, and at least one current faculty member from another appropriate academic department at Santa Clara University. The committee reviews the student’s program of study, conducts an oral comprehensive exam, conducts the dissertation defense, and reviews the thesis. Successful completion of the doctoral program requires that the student’s program of study, performance on the oral comprehensive examination, dissertation defense, and thesis itself meet with the approval of all committee members.

All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within eight years following initial enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Extensions will be allowed only in unusual circumstances and must be recommended in writing by the student’s doctoral committee, and approved by the dean of engineering in consultation with the Graduate Program Leadership Council.