Computer Science and Information Systems PhD

The PhD in computer science and information systems (CSIS) at CU Denver offers research training in both computer science and information systems. The program aims to enhance technology transfer between the university and Front Range technology businesses through joint research, student internships, faculty externships, and committee participation. 

The CSIS PhD is an interdisciplinary program between the College of Engineering, Design and Computing and the CU Denver Business School.

NOTE: The CSIS-PhD program at the University of Colorado Denver is a member of Western Regional Graduate Program. Qualified students admitted to this program who are residents of one of the 15 WICHE states may be eligible for residential tuition.

Degree requirements


A total of 30 credit hours of course work and at least 30 credit hours of dissertation research is required while satisfying the following minimum requirements: 

  • A minimum of three 7000-level computer science (CSCI) courses 
  • One 7000-level Information sciences (ISMG) course 
  • Up to 6 credit hours of 7000-level independent study is allowed

Your program plan must be made in consultation and approval of your research advisor.

Preliminary Exam 

Students are required to select three out of four core knowledge areas listed below and pass a written exam. 

  • Algorithms 
  • Computer Architecture 
  • Operating Systems 
  • Theory 

Preliminary Exam Guide

Comprehensive Exam 

Upon successful completion of the preliminary exam and coursework, students enroll for their dissertation. The Comprehensive Exam (Thesis Proposal) is intended to test student’s ability to perform, present and discuss his/her research. This exam has both a written and an oral component.

Comprehensive Exam Guide

Proposal Defense

The purpose of the proposal defense is to test the quality of the research and to assure the proposed question is complete and holds merit.

Proposal Defense Guidelines

PhD Defense

At the completion of graduate studies, students must prepare and submit a written thesis describing the results of an original investigation contributing to the state-of-the-art in the field.


Up to 21 relevant graduate coursework may be transferred with recommendation of advisor and approval of the program director.

​Concurrent MS Degree

PhD students in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering may apply to receive their master of science degree while pursuing their PhD. Students pursuing this option are required to complete all master of science course-only requirements (plan III) and then satisfying the final master of science program assessment requirement by either 1.) passing their computer science PhD preliminary exam, 2.) produced a publication during their PhD studies, 3.) completing a written report at the completion of a PhD-level Independent Study, or 4.) taking the final MS assessment if none of the above applies.


Western Regional Graduate Program

The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) allows graduate students who are residents of WICHE member states to enroll outside of their home state and pay resident tuition.

All College of Engineering, Design and Computing graduate programs are eligible for the WRGP.