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PhD program

Make an impact through research

Enroll in Dalhousie's PhD in Computer Science and conduct independent and original research in one of the Faculty of Computer Science's research concentrations alongside internationally respected faculty members. Advance the frontier of knowledge and publish high-quality, peer-reviewed conference papers and journals. 

The PhD program is designed to focus you on research early, under the mentorship of a thesis supervisor, assisted by a supervisory committee. Students are expected to lead a well-defined component of a wider project, and be the prime author in the resulting publications.

In addition to exploring theories, methodological concepts, and substantive knowledge related to computer science, our PhD in Computer Science will help you develop a deep expertise in areas like: 

  • Visual Analytics
  • Text and Data Analytics
  • Networks and Security
  • Wireless networks and Security
  • Human-Computer Interaction and Ubiquitous Computing
  • Visualization, New Media and Image Processing
  • Mobile Graphics
  • Theory and Algorithms
  • Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computing
  • Bioinformatics
  • Health Informatics
  • Autonomous Robotics

Your future

By the time you've completed your degree, you will be ready for a career in industry, or within an academic setting. Some of our alumni have found jobs as:

  • Professors in computer science 
  • Conducting advanced research in industrial or government research labs
  • Chief Technical Officers
  • CEO of their own start-up

Program details

PhD in Computer Science

The PhD program requirements consist of a number of graduate courses, a Research Aptitude Defence, a Thesis Proposal, and the Thesis Defence. The general regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies are in effect for the PhD program. Here detailed information is provided about the PhD Program requirements in the Faculty of Computer Science.

Program structure

A PhD in Computer Science will typically take 3 - 4 years to complete. 

Learn more about timelines for satisfactory progress in this program.

Admission requirements

PhD requirements follow the standard requirements by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Learn about admission requirements / how to apply.

Degree requirements

The PhD course requirement for a candidate entering the PhD program with a Master's degree in Computer Science is TWO graduate courses (CSCI 6XXX or above), plus any additional graduate or undergraduate courses mentioned in the letter of admission. Up to one CSCI 6902 doctoral directed studies course can be taken as one of the two required graduate courses. The PhD course requirement for a candidate entering the PhD program with a Bachelor of Computer Science degree is SIX graduate courses (CSCI 6XXX or above), plus any additional graduate or undergraduate courses mentioned in the letter of admission. Up to one CSCI 6901 directed studies course and one CSCI 6902 doctoral directed studies course can be taken as two of the six required courses. All PhD candidates should consult with and get the agreement of their supervisor on their graduate course selection.

In addition to the above graduate coursework requirement, a candidate is required to register in a Directed Doctoral Research Project, CSCI 7900.06 (worth one full course or 6 credit hours), leading to the research aptitude exam. Students should sign up for it in the two consecutive terms before their exam. The course reflects the effort that students put into their research leading to that exam.

Additional courses may be required either as specified upon admission or as a result of the student's performance in the research aptitude/thesis proposal examination to remedy deficiencies in the student's background.

On successful defense of the research aptitude exam candidates enroll in CSCI 9530 for the remainder of their program.

Choosing a research supervisor

Before you begin, you'll need to find a supervisor who is able to support your research interests and has the capacity to take on the added responsibility. This individual will be an important part of your supervisory committee. Start by checking out our faculty profiles and faculty research interests, then get in touch with them directly.

Research Aptitude Defence

The research aptitude defence is an internal review of a directed research project to date. The objective of this review is to assess the likelihood of the work yielding thesis quality material in the near, medium and long term. Candidates may provide strong evidence in support of the above objectives by having directed research accepted for publication in a peer reviewed conference / journal. The preparation of the student for this defence is part of the normal research process towards the PhD, and therefore it does not detract from, but contributes to the objective of timely completion of the degree.

Important points:

  • Candidates are expected to take and pass the RAD within 5 terms of beginning their program;
  • If candidates fail to pass the RAD within this timeline, Faculty scholarship funding will be cut off;
  • Decisions regarding any Extensions/ Restoration of funding are made by the Graduate Committee on a case-by-case basis.

See here for detailed information about the Research Aptitude Defence & Thesis Defence Proposal. It is the responsibility of the student to provide committee members with a copy of the report ten working days in advance of the defence.

Administrative forms for scheduling and reporting the result of the research aptitude defence can be found on the graduate forms page.

Thesis

When designing your thesis, you should keep in mind that to be successful, it must describe an original contribution to knowledge made while you attended Dalhousie University. It also needs to be valuable enough to merit publication in a reputable scientific journal with a system of external review.  

Research for the thesis is conducted under the guidance of your research supervisor, in whose laboratory you work. A Thesis Supervisory Committee for each student provides additional expertise and advice to facilitate the research and the preparation of the thesis.

Detailed information about the Thesis Proposal. It is the responsibility of the student to provide committee members with a copy of the report ten working days in advance of the defense.

Administrative forms for scheduling and reporting the result of the thesis proposal defence can be found on the graduate forms page.

Candidates are expected to take and pass the Thesis Proposal defence within 8 terms of beginning their program

Important application deadlines

June 1 (for September start) is the deadline for Canadian applicants.

April 1 (for September start) is the deadline for non-Canadian applicants. If you think your visa processing will take some time, please apply by March 1.

Learn about admission requirements / how to apply.

Contact information

If you have more questions, contact:

cs.admissions@dal.ca