Jun 03, 2020  
Graduate Catalog | 2019-2020 
    
Graduate Catalog | 2019-2020

Computing and Information Systems, Ph.D.


The Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems (CIS) program has five concentrations: 

  1. Bioinformatics (BINF)
  2. Business Information Systems and Operations Management (BISOM)
  3. Computer Science (CS)
  4. Software and Information Systems (SIS)
  5. Interdisciplinary (INT)

In addition, the Ph. D. in CIS offers an Advanced Standing Option for the Concentrations in CS and SIS for students who have already earned a Master’s degree in select disciplines.

The program is staffed with a multidisciplinary faculty and offers opportunities for students to develop advanced competencies in a number of CIS-related fields.  Faculty from the Departments of Computer Science, Software and Information Systems, Bioinformatics and Genomics, and Business Information Systems and Operations Management form its core.  Students, in cooperation with faculty advisors, design flexible programs of study tailored to address individual career goals.

Students who aspire to academic research and teaching can benefit from a strong research faculty of international stature and exposure to practical applications of their specialties. Others seeking employment in industry, commerce, or government are afforded the opportunity to participate in high-quality applied research.

Admission Requirements


General Admission Requirements


Admission is competitive. Preference is given to applicants with strong credentials and appropriate undergraduate and/or professional preparation. Specific admission requirements for the program include:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from a recognized institution. Students must show evidence of preparation in their chosen field sufficient to ensure profitable graduate study.
  2. A satisfactory past academic performance as usually reflected by a grade point average of (or equivalent to) at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on courses related to the chosen field of Ph.D. study.
  3. Excellent GRE or GMAT scores.
  4. Applicants whose native language is not English must score at least 83 on the Internet-based version, 220 on the computer-based version, or 557 on the paper-based version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). In addition, they will be required to take an English Proficiency Examination prior to the beginning of the first semester of study. Students who do not pass this examination must pass ENGL 1100 (English as a Foreign Language) with a grade of B or higher.
  5. A one-page essay that addresses the following:
    1. The applicant’s motivation
    2. Area(s) of research interest
  6. Three letters of reference from professionals working in the applicant’s field of interest that address the applicant’s previous experience and potential to do research.

Further documentation that will support the application may include: evidence of scholarly and creative activity, including publication list; awards; results in national or international contests related to computing and information systems and the like.

Highly qualified individuals who may not meet all the required prerequisites may be admitted with a clear agreement to make up the prerequisites.

Concentration Specific Additional Admission Requirements


Business Information Systems and Operations Management Concentration and Software and Information Systems Concentrations


Additional admission requirements for the Business Information Systems and Operations Management concentration and Software and Information Systems concentration include:

  1. Adequate understanding of software/information systems analysis, design, and implementation
  2. Evidence of college-level skills in mathematical logic and data analysis (e.g., statistics, differential and integral calculus, discrete math, linear algebra)

Computer Science Concentration


Additional admission requirements for the Computer Science concentration include:

Coursework

Incoming students should possess a Master’s or at least a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a closely related discipline.  Specifically, students should have demonstrable knowledge in at least four of the following areas:

  1. Algorithms and Data Structures
  2. Theory of Computation
  3. Programming Language Concepts
  4. Computer Architecture
  5. Operating Systems
  6. Software Engineering and Design

Course requirements may be satisfied through prior undergraduate or graduate work, or by a satisfactory score on the Computer Science Subject GRE examination.  Admission into the Computer Science concentration is highly competitive.  Thus, satisfying the requirements listed above does not guarantee admission.

Exceptionally strong students from other disciplines will be considered and may be allowed to make up the deficiencies at the discretion of the CS Ph.D. Admissions Committee.

Research

Prior research experience and strong recommendation letters (preferably from university faculty or researchers at corporate labs) will be a significant consideration in evaluating the applicant’s research potential.  Research experience maybe demonstrated via publications, Bachelor’s or Master’s theses.  A good match with faculty research interests as well as faculty input to the Admissions Committee will play a significant role in the final decision.  Potential applicants are encouraged to communicate with research faculty regarding their interests.

Advanced Standing Option Admission Requirements


To be admitted into the Advanced Standing Option for the CIS Ph.D. program, applicants must meet all the admission requirements of the Ph.D. stated above and must have earned a Master’s degree in one of the following:

  • Computer Science
  • Software and Information Systems
  • Computer Engineering

Only students who have earned a Master’s degree in these areas will be considered, no exceptions will be made.  All other students should apply to the CIS Ph.D. (without the Advanced Standing Option).

Application Deadlines


Application deadlines are in accordance with UNC Charlotte Graduate School deadlines. However, to ensure full consideration for financial support, applications must be received by September 1 for Spring admission and February 1 for Fall admission.

Degree Requirements (without Advanced Standing)


The Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program prepares students to be well-rounded professionals in the broad discipline of Computing and Information Systems (CIS).  The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is granted for performance of original research resulting in significant contributions to the discipline’s body of knowledge.  Students are admitted into a concentration within the program by one of the participating units:

  1. Department of Computer Science
  2. Department of Software and Information Systems
  3. Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics
  4. Department of Business Information Systems and Operations Management

The Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program also has an interdisciplinary concentration in which CIS is applied to different disciplines.  Students in the interdisciplinary concentration are admitted into one unit but are expected to complete some coursework in a complementary discipline in addition to the minimum core requirements of their chosen unit.  Students in the interdisciplinary concentration must have co-advisors from their chosen unit and the complementary discipline.  The detailed requirements are provided below.  Failure to satisfy the requirements may result in the student’s termination from the program.

To earn a Ph.D. degree, students in all concentrations must complete at least 72 post-baccalaureate credit hours.  This includes at least 18 credit hours of dissertation research and at least 9 credit hours of coursework completed at UNC Charlotte.  A limited amount of transfer credit is allowed (see below for details).  Students are expected to acquire a sufficiently broad body of technical knowledge in the discipline as well as a deep understanding of a specialized area.  Such courses will be defined by the student’s advisor(s).  Students are expected to excel in all coursework.  Graduation requirements mandate that students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to graduate.  Receiving more than two C grades or a grade of U in any course will result in a suspension from the program.

Minimum Credit Hours


To earn a Ph.D. degree, students in all concentrations must complete at least 72 post-baccalaureate credit hours.  This includes at least 18 credit hours of dissertation research and at least 9 credit hours of coursework completed at UNC Charlotte.  A limited amount of transfer credit is allowed (see below for details).  Students are expected to acquire a sufficiently broad body of technical knowledge in the discipline as well as a deep understanding of a specialized area.  Such courses will be defined by the student’s advisor(s).  Students are expected to excel in all coursework.  Graduation requirements mandate that students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to graduate.  Receiving more than two C grades or a grade of U in any course will result in a suspension from the program.

Note:


First-year students must take this introductory course in the first Fall semester.  It is jointly taught by CIS Ph.D. faculty for all concentrations, providing new students an overview of the CIS research areas and opportunities at UNC Charlotte.

Only when there is an unavoidable schedule conflict between ITSC 8110  and another Ph.D. level course that a student has to take, can the student make a request to take ITSC 8110  in the second Fall semester.  Such a request must be justified and signed by the student’s initial Ph.D. advisor and endorsed by the Ph.D. Program Director.

Graduate Research Seminar (minimum 3 credit hours)


Note:


Students must sign up for and receive credit for ITSC 8699  every semester that they are in the Ph.D. program until they are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.

If there is a legitimate reason that a student has to do part of their Ph.D. research in a different site during a regular semester, then they must first make a request to be exempted from taking ITSC 8699  for the period that he/she is visiting the other site.  Such a request must be well justified and signed by the student’s Ph.D. advisor and endorsed by the Concentration Coordinator.  The period of exemption should not exceed one semester.  Exceptions must be approved by the Ph.D. Steering Committee.

Concentration Requirements


Bioinformatics Concentration


Elective Courses (24 credit hours)

Select from the following:

  • BINF 8000-8999
  • ITCS 8000-8999
  • ITIS 8000-8999
  • ITSC 8000-8999
Note:

Students with exceptionally strong backgrounds in specific disciplines may be excused from one or more of the required didactic classes (except ITSC 8110 ) at the discretion of the Bioinformatics Concentration Coordinator.

Business Information Systems and Operations Management Concentration


In addition to the general CIS Ph.D. program requirements, students must also take:

Required Coursework (minimum 36 credit hours)

Take at least 36 credit hours of coursework approved by the student’s Research Advisor(s).  At least 9 credit hours of graduate coursework must be taken at UNC Charlotte.  (Exceptions to minimum credit hour requirements may be granted by the Department’s Graduate Affairs Committee upon the recommendation of the student’s advisor.  Such a request should only be granted based on overwhelming evidence that the student has excellent background knowledge to conduct high quality research in Computing and Information Systems.)

Dissertation Research (minimum 18 credit hours)

Computer Science Concentration


Core Courses (12 credit hours)

The GPA of these four core courses must be 3.5 or above.  Core course requirements must be met within the first 30 credit hours of entering the program.

Elective Courses (30 credit hours)

With advisor approval, select from the following:

  • ITCS 8XXX - Computer Science Elective (3)
  • ITIS 8XXX - Software and Information Systems Elective (3)
  • ITSC 8XXX - Computing and Informatics Elective (3) (excluding ITSC 8699 , ITSC 8990 , and ITSC 8991 )
Pre-Dissertation Research (minimum 6 credit hours)

Students take during their first four semesters under the direction of one or more CIS Ph.D. Graduate Faculty members.

Dissertation Research (minimum 18 credit hours)

Take under the direction of one or more CIS Ph.D. Graduate Faculty members.

Software and Information Systems Concentration


Core Courses (9 credit hours)

A GPA of 3.6 or above is required for these courses.  Advanced versions of the core courses can be used as substitutes upon permission from both the student’s academic advisor and the program coordinator.  Core course requirements must be met during the first 30 credit hours within the program.  

Select three of the following:

Elective Courses (30 credit hours)

With advisor approval, select from the following:

  • ITCS 8XXX - Computer Science Elective (3)
  • ITIS 8XXX - Software and Information Systems Elective (3)
  • ITSC 8XXX - Computing and Informatics Elective (3) (excluding ITSC 8699 , ITSC 8990 , and ITSC 8991 )
Pre-Dissertation Research (minimum 6 credit hours)

Students take during their first four semesters under the direction of one or more CIS Ph.D. Graduate Faculty members.

Dissertation Research (minimum 18 credit hours)

Take under the direction of one or more CIS Ph.D. Graduate Faculty members.

Interdisciplinary Concentration


The coursework requirements of this concentration depend on the chosen unit and complementary discipline.  Students in this concentration must select Computer Science (CS) or Software and Information Systems (SIS) as their home unit.  The core courses of that unit applies to them. 

Computer Science Core Courses (12 credit hours)

Elective Discipline Courses

Beyond the core requirements of the chosen unit, students must select a minimum of two graduate courses from a complementary discipline with the approval of their advisors.

Degree Total = 72 Credit Hours


Degree Requirements (with Advanced Standing Option)


Students with a Master’s degree in Computer Science, Software and Information Systems, or Computer Engineering may be accepted into the Advanced Standing Option for the CIS Ph.D. under the Concentrations in Computer Science or Software and Information Systems.

The degree requirements for the Advanced Standing Option are similar to the CIS Ph.D., except that students must complete only 42 credit hours.  No transfer credit is allowed under this program.

Graduate Research Seminar (minimum 3 credit hours)


Dissertation Research (minimum 18 credit hours)


Concentration Core Courses (6 credit hours)


Concentration Elective Courses (6 credit hours)


Select two of the following:

  • ITCS 8XXX - Computer Science Elective (3)
  • ITIS 8XXX - Software and Information Systems Elective (3)
  • ITSC 8XXX - Computing and Informatics Elective (3) (excluding ITSC 8699 , ITSC 8990 , and ITSC 8991 )

Additional Elective Courses (minimum 6 credit hours)


A minimum of 42 credit hours are required to complete the degree.  Once the above course requirements have been met, the remaining credit hours can be satisfied via coursework, pre-dissertation research (up to 6 credit hours of ITSC 8990 ), or research credit hours (ITSC 8991 ). 

Degree Total = 42 Credit Hours


Research Advisor(s) and Qualifying Exam Committee


Each Ph.D. student is assigned a temporary academic advisor(s) within a concentration when admitted to the program.  Before the end of their fourth semester in the program, students should select a Research Advisor(s) and, in consultation with their Research Advisor(s), form a Qualifying Exam Committee.  The Qualifying Exam Committee should include at least three CIS Doctoral Faculty members, plus the student’s the Research Advisor who is a non-voting member of the Qualifying Exam Committee.  The Qualifying Exam Committee must be approved by the Concentration Coordinator.

Qualifying Examination


Each student must pass a Qualifying Examination, given and evaluated by the student’s Qualifying Exam Committee.  The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to ensure that the student will have sufficient capability for doing dissertation-level research leading to a Ph.D. degree.

Each student must prepare a written research survey that describes the research area the student is expected to do his/her dissertation research in.  Copies of the research survey must be provided to the committee at the time of filing the Qualifying Examination application, which must be at least two weeks prior to the exam.  Each student must present their research survey and defend it in a manner accepted by the Qualifying Exam Committee.  Prior to the oral defense of the research survey, the student’s advisor is required to submit a written evaluation of the student’s research and academic progress to the Qualifying Exam Committee, with a copy also provided to the Concentration Coordinator.  The Qualifying Exam is graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis, based on the corresponding rubrics by the Qualifying Exam Committee.  A pass decision must be unanimous. 

Students must pass the Qualifying Examination in at most two attempts within three years of the date of first enrollment into Ph.D. study at UNC Charlotte.  Students in the Advanced Standing Option must take the Qualifying Examination before the end of their first year in the doctoral program.  A student who fails the Qualifying Exam twice will be terminated from the Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program.

Dissertation Committee


After passing the qualifying exam, the student should set up a Dissertation Committee of at least four graduate faculty members, which include at least three Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems faculty members.  This Committee may, but is not required to, consist of the same faculty members as the Qualifying Exam Committee.  Ordinarily, the chair of this committee will be the student’s advisor(s), who must be a member of the CIS Ph.D. program faculty and will ensure that the composition of the committee is appropriate.  Committee members from outside the University must be appointed Associate Graduate Faculty members at UNC Charlotte.  The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Concentration Coordinator.  After identifying and obtaining the signatures of the CIS faculty who will be serving on the Committee, the Dissertation Committee Form must be sent to the Graduate School for the appointment of the Graduate Faculty Representative.  This appointment may take as long as four weeks.  If there is need to change committee members later, a formal written request must be first submitted to the CIS Ph.D. Steering Committee with a clear explanation of the rationale for change.  Upon approval by the CIS Ph.D. Steering Committee, a revised Committee form (above) must be submitted. 

Proposal Defense


Each student must present and defend a Ph.D. dissertation proposal after passing the qualifying exam and within ten semesters since entering the Ph.D. program.  The proposal defense will be conducted by the student’s Dissertation Committee and will be open to the CIS Ph.D. faculty and students.  The student shall provide copies of the written proposal to the Committee members at least two weeks before the scheduled defense.  At the discretion of the Dissertation Committee, the defense may include questions that cover the student’s program of study and background knowledge in the area of the proposal.  The proposal defense will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis, according to the corresponding rubrics by the Committee.  A pass must be a unanimous decision by the Committee members; otherwise, the proposal defense fails.  A student may retake the proposal defense if he/she cannot pass it the first time, and should consult the Concentration Coordinator before the second attempt.  The second failed defense of a dissertation proposal will result in the termination of the student’s enrollment in the Ph.D. program.  It is expected that the student first take the proposal defense by the ninth semester after they are enrolled, in order to provide time for a second attempt should the first one fail. 

Ph.D. Candidacy


A doctoral student advances to Ph.D. candidacy after the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended.

Dissertation


Each student must complete a research program approved by the student’s Dissertation Advisor(s) that yields a high quality, original, and substantial piece of research. The Ph.D. dissertation describes this research and its results. The dissertation defense is a public presentation. A written copy of the dissertation must be made available to each member of the student Ph.D. Dissertation Committee, to the Ph.D. Steering Committee, and to the UNC Charlotte Library, at least three weeks before the public defense. The date of the defense must be publicly announced at least three weeks prior to the defense. The student must present the dissertation and defend it in a manner accepted by the Dissertation Committee. The dissertation will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis, based on the corresponding rubrics by the Dissertation Committee. A pass decision must be unanimous and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. A student who fails the defense of a dissertation twice will be terminated from the Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems program.

Progress Report and Evaluation


By every January, each student is required to submit a written progress report for the previous year, and the advisor(s) is required to submit a written evaluation of the student to the Concentration Coordinator, with a copy to the Program Director.  A rubric is used for evaluation of progress.  Failure to make satisfactory progress may result in discontinuation of the student’s graduate assistantship and suspension from the program.

Residency Requirements


Each student must satisfy the residency requirement of one continuous full-time year (i.e., two consecutive semesters with the student being enrolled for at least nine graduate credit hours in each semester) after being admitted to the Ph.D. degree program.

Transfer Credit


In accordance with rules of the UNC Charlotte Graduate School, students are allowed to transfer up to 30 credit hours of graduate credit earned at UNC Charlotte or other recognized graduate programs.  In cases of applicants with records of exceptionally high quality, the CIS Ph.D. Steering Committee, at its discretion, may request that the Graduate School approve transfer credit beyond the limit set by the Graduate School.  To receive transfer credit, students must file a written request and submit all necessary documents to the Concentration Coordinator.

Note: Transfer credit is not accepted under the Advanced Standing Option.