Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science

The purpose of the Ph.D. program is to educate students for a career in computer science research. The goal is for the quality of Stevens graduates to be on par with those produced by the best Computer Science departments in the country.

Full-time study

To make progress on leading-edge subjects in a fast moving field like computer science requires full-time study. It is nearly impossible to do work that is important, timely, and novel at the pace afforded by part-time effort-either one’s result will be “scooped” or conditions will change within the field, rendering the work no longer current. Accordingly, Ph.D. students will be admitted only for full-time on-campus study.

Advised study

Each doctoral student must at all times have a single advisor who is a tenured or tenure-track Stevens faculty member. The relationship between advisor and student is not merely an administrative one. Starting early in his/her career, the student will work on research projects to be determined by the advisor and student. Through this day-to-day interaction, the student will learn the form and content of high quality research. The student’s advisor will also guide the student through the program, e.g., advising on such matters as which courses to take, when to attempt the qualifying exam, what dissertation topic to pursue, etc.

Advisor-advisee relationship

The department aims to admit only students whose background and interests match those of the faculty. Each admitted student will be assigned an advisor whose expertise is well matched to the student. It is hoped that most students will remain with their initial advisors throughout their career, performing research with him/her. However, the advisor-advisee relationship is a voluntary one. If either the student or the faculty member becomes dissatisfied with the relationship, then the student must seek another advisor among the faculty. A student can change advisors at any time provided that the student’s new advisor is willing to accept the student.


The Ph.D. degree requires 84 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. Students who already possess a master’s degree may be granted 30 credits. The 84 credits may be fulfilled by some combination of: prior M.S. degree, enrollment in classroom courses, and enrollment in research participation (course CS 960). The division of a student’s effort between classroom courses and research participation will vary from case to case, and is a decision that should be made by the student in consultation with and with the approval of the student’s advisor. There is no minimum number of classroom courses for the doctorate degree.

Progress review

Each student’s progress is reviewed by the entire computer science faculty near the end of the fall and spring semesters. Preparatory to this review, the student must submit a brief progress report describing the student’s progress since the last review, as well as his/her plans for the time up to the next review. After drafting the report, the student must submit it to his/her advisor for approval. Once approved, the report must be submitted to the Computer Science department office.

Students who are doctoral “candidates” must also submit a second, separate, report to the Graduate Academics & Student Success’ office. The definition of the term “candidate” is left to each department, and the Computer Science department defines candidates to be students who have passed the qualifying exam, both written and oral parts. The report for the graduate dean must be submitted on a special form-the “Doctoral Activity Report,” (DAR). It is acceptable to write a single report and submit the DAR to the department as well as to the graduate office.

The outcome of the progress review meeting is that a student is placed into one of three categories: good standing, probation, or terminated. A student in good standing is making satisfactory progress toward his/her degree, and is expected to follow through on the plans outlined in his/her progress report. A student on probation is making inadequate progress toward his/her degree. A student on probation will receive a letter from the faculty that explains what remedial actions he/she must take to return to good standing, and by what time each action must be taken. No student will be terminated without spending at least the preceding semester on probation.

Breadth Requirement

Students must complete at least three graduate courses from the courses listed below with an A- and with at least one coming from each category. Additionally, students must pass a written exam in the subject of algorithms, which will be offered near the end of Fall and Spring semesters. The courses and exam must be completed by their 4th semester and students have a maximum of two attempts to pass the algorithms exam (similarly to the older written qualification exams).

Artificial Intelligence

CS 5323D Computer Vision


CS 541Artificial Intelligence


CS 558Computer Vision


CS 559Machine Learning: Fundamentals and Applications


CS 582Causal Inference


CS 598Visual Information Retrieval


Systems and Languages

CS 510Principles of Programming Languages


CS 516Compiler Design and Implementation


CS 522Mobile Systems and Applications


CS 549Distributed Systems and Cloud Computing


CS 576Systems Security


CS 609Data Management and Exploration on the Web


CS 677Parallel Programming for Many Core Processors


Research Seminars

Ph.D. students are required to attend CS seminars and their attendance will be recorded. Students failing to meet this requirement may be put on probation at the discretion of the faculty.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam is an oral examination on a syllabus consisting of research papers, prepared jointly by the student and a committee including the advisor and two tenure-track faculty members. The goal is to establish scholarship in an area of research. The exam needs to be completed by the end of the 4th semester. It consists of a presentation, followed by open- door questions from the audience and a closed-door examination from the committee. The committee can pass, fail, or request re-examination (either written or oral).

Thesis Proposal

Students must write and present a thesis proposal, where they lay out an intended course of research for their dissertation. The proposal should contain an explanation of the problem and why it is important, a sketch of the proposed solution, and background information that serves to indicate that the problem is unsolved and what prior or related approaches to this or similar problems have already been investigated. The written proposal must be distributed and read by a committee, comprising the persons that are expected to form the student’s dissertation defense committee. The presentation of the thesis proposal is open to the public and it is followed by open-door questions from the audience and committee and closed- door questions from the committee. The committee can pass, fail, or request additional material from the student.

Dissertation and Thesis Defense

The department follows the Stevens-wide procedures for the dissertation defense, including committee composition. The defense must be announced at least two weeks in advance on the cs-faculty and csphd-students mailing lists as well as a Stevens-wide announcement originating with the Registrar’s office. At least one manuscript based on dissertation work must be published on peer-reviewed conference proceedings or journal, at the time of the dissertation defense, and the thesis document must be in the hands of the committee at least four weeks in advance. For more information please refer to the online catalog. The committee can ask major or minor revisions, or fail the student. If major revisions are requested, at least a month of time is required for the student to make the changes and submit an updated dissertation. The amount of time given to the student to make revisions will not exceed 9 months, unless there are extenuating circumstances.


It is expected that students, once enrolled in the doctoral program, will remain enrolled full-time without interruption until graduation. However, sometimes it is necessary for a student to take a leave for a reason, such as personal difficulty, health, etc. If such a situation arises, the student must petition the faculty in writing for a leave, which, if granted, will last for one semester. To extend the leave, a new petition must be filed. Neither indefinite leave nor excessive repetition of leave is permitted. While the student is on leave, any time limit he/she faces (e.g., completing the qualifying exam within two years) is suspended for the length of the leave.


The faculty reserve the right to make exceptions to any of the rules and procedures described above in order to promote and preserve the health of the doctoral program and to ensure each student’s prompt and effective progress through the program.