The department of computer science is based in the University of Denver’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. The school reflects two of the university’s strongest traditions: academic integrity and a commitment to meeting student needs with dynamic new programs.

We are strong in research and particularly noted in software engineering, information security and privacy, and humane gaming.

Some of our other outstanding advantages include:

  • Small classes taught by faculty, not teaching assistants
  • Research-active faculty members who publish regularly, land impressive grants and win teaching awards
  • An up-to-date curriculum that includes classes in modern software engineering,
  • Web technology based on Linux and Microsoft servers and applications, Java, multimedia, mobile computing, networks, databases, cyber security and computer game development
  • Students who create a peer culture defined by high expectations
  • A small yet vital PhD program that enhances the department’s intellectual atmosphere

At the University of Denver, you will find opportunities to research, study leading-edge technology and tools, and gain integrated knowledge. We emphasize interdisciplinary programs, so you will be ready to meet career challenges around the office or, if you choose, around the world.

In addition, Denver is a first-rate location for internships and jobs, as well as business and government partnerships. The campus is just minutes from the Denver Technological Center — home to many top tech companies — and we enjoy sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains.

The department currently has faculty to support PhD students in the following areas:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computational Geometry
  • Humane Games
  • Graphics
  • Networks
  • Parallel and Distributed Algorithms
  • Security and Privacy
  • Software Systems Engineering


Total Credit Hours

90 quarter hours.

Degree Requirements

Completion of the PhD in computer science requires the following:

  • A minimum of 90 quarter hours beyond the BA or BS degree
  • Completion of a written dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the research literature in computer sciences
  • Completion of a tool requirement
  • Completion of three quarters of COMP4600 - Seminar (0 credits)
  • Doctoral seminar

Additional Requirements

PhD Students without a Masters Degree in Computer Science

  • Must complete the requirements of the Computer Science Masters Degree with a thesis option within 3 years (9 quarters).

PhD Students with a 2 year Masters Degree in Computer Science or Related Field

  • May take a proficiency test in the four required courses for Masters Degree. The test may be offered at a time other than the official final exam time of the term. A grade of B+ (B plus) or better must be obtained in the test.
  • If the student chooses not to take the proficiency test, the student must register and attend classes for the four required courses. A grade of B+ (B plus) or better must be obtained in the courses.

Course Selection

Of the 90 quarter hours, at least 36 must be at the 4000 level. Up to 24 credits may be taken in other relevant disciplines, as approved by the Computer Science Department Graduate Committee. Courses should be chosen in consultation with, and are subject to the approval of, the student's adviser.

Qualifying Examination

Every PhD student must pass the Qualifying Exam. It consists of two parts, the Breadth Requirement and the Written and Oral exam.(a) Breadth Requirement
To fulfill the Breadth Requirement the student must take 5 graded courses (20 Quarter Credits) at the 3000 and 4000 level (not including independent study, internship, or independent research). At most, two may be at the 3000 level. At least three must be at the 4000 level. The course work should cover at least three distinct areas. The five courses should include a sequence of 3000 and 4000 level courses. The GPA in these courses must be at least 3.7/4.0. No course with a grade below a B may be used to fulfill this requirement. Graduate computer science courses taken at another university and transferred for credit at DU may be applied to the Breadth requirement up to a maximum of 2 courses (8 quarter credits).(b) Written and Oral Examination
Before being admitted to this exam, the student must have fulfilled the Breadth Requirement. The student selects an area of examination from the list above. The Written part of the exam is a take home exam. It is a handed out on a Friday and is due the following Tuesday. The Oral Exam is held the following Friday. The take home exam consists of a set of research questions, a set of related papers and instructions. The student should prepare a written report of at least 10 but no more than 20 pages with answers to the questions. Study guides or other relevant material to prepare for the exam can be obtained from the chair of the examination committee. The oral portion of the exam is based on a student presentation in which the student explains and defends his/her answers. During the Oral Exam, questions in other areas of computer science may also be asked.
A failed exam may be retaken once (in the same or another area). Sufficiently prior to the exam date, the department chair will appoint an examination committee of three tenure-track faculty. One of the committee members must be in the area in which the examination will be held. The student’s advisor is allowed to be on the committee. The committee creates the take home exam and grades it. After the Oral Exam, the committee makes a recommendation to the CS faculty on whether the student passes or fails. If the faculty agrees, the committee recommendation stands. If there is a disagreement, the faculty as a whole decides.

Preliminary Examination

Following successful completion of the Qualifying Examination, each student will prepare a dissertation proposal and take the Preliminary Examination. Passing this examination admits the student to Ph.D. candidacy. The dissertation proposal should be prepared in close consultation with the student’s advisor, and should be available to all committee members at least two weeks prior to the examination. It should reflect an extensive critical literature survey, and contain an accurate assessment of the state-of-the-art in the area of research, a precise statement of the problem to be solved, motivation for pursuing the research, and evidence to the effect that there is a good likelihood the problem is solvable with reasonable effort.For full-time students, the Preliminary Examination must be taken within 5 quarters of passing the Qualifying Examination. Successful completion of the Preliminary Examination results in agreement between the student and the committee as to what will constitute successful completion of the dissertation research. The committee may choose to reconvene the examination to allow the student to further research the problem, complete additional course work, or revise the dissertation proposal document. In the event that the examination is to be retaken, the student should do so no later than the same quarter of the following academic year. The examining committee consists of at least 3 Computer Science faculty members, including the advisor. The preliminary exam is a one hour oral closed exam.If a student passed the preliminary exam, but subsequently switches advisor and hence topic, the preliminary exam must be repeated within one year to ensure capability of the student and feasibility of the project.

Possible Thesis Proposal Outline

  • Intro
  • Problem
  • Research questions, scope
  • Background
  • Lit search
  • Open Problems
  • Analysis with respect to research questions
  • Approach
  • Preliminary results
  • Plan for completion of work including timeline
  • Risks and risk mitigation
  • References

Thesis Defense

After the dissertation has been completed, the student must defend it in a final examination, as specified by the Office of Graduate Studies.

Tool Requirement

It is strongly recommended that students satisfy their tool requirement by demonstrating proficiency in a modern computer typesetting system suitable for writing technical papers that include mathematical equations and graphics. The faculty advisor must approve the specific system used to satisfy this requirement. Other options include reading competency in two languages selected from French, German, and Russian; a series of outside courses in another discipline; or significant laboratory experience involving computer science.For information on course descriptions please visit the Office of Registrar’s website.


Application Process

Please follow these steps to apply to the Department of Computer Science.

  1. Submit an online application.

Follow the online application link on the following web page:

You will be able to check your application status upon submission. This includes any
missing documentation required to process your application; such as official
transcripts, letters of recommendation, English proficiency test, essay or GRE scores.

A printable confirmation page will appear upon successful submission. Please include
the confirmation page in your admission packet.

  1. Application Fees

There is a $65 application fee. This is a non-refundable application fee, (bank draft or
personal check) drawn on a U.S. bank, which covers the cost of processing application
materials. A credit card payment is acceptable for online applications only.
Applications will not be processed until this fee is paid. No waivers or deferrals are

  1. Transcripts

Applicants are required to submit two official transcripts from each college or
university attended, including an official statement of receipt for degrees earned. The
transcripts must be in separate sealed envelopes and must be accompanied by certified
English translations. Errors or omissions in English translations may be grounds for
refusal or dismissal.

Please note that an official transcript must include the original signature of the registrar
and/or the seal of the issuing institution, and must be enclosed in an envelope with the
stamp or signature of the registrar across the sealed flap.

All credentials submitted become property of the University of Denver and cannot be
copied or returned to the student or any person(s).

Those students applying for the MS and PhD will need to have successfully completed the following prerequisite courses, or their equivalent:

Programming (COMP 1671, 1672, 2673)
Discrete Structures in CS (COMP 2300)
Data Structures and Algorithms (COMP 2370)
Computer Organization (COMP 2691)

  1. Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Applicants must request that Educational Testing Services (ETS) forward results to the
University of Denver, Office of Graduate Admission.
The institution code for the University of Denver is R4842. For information
concerning GRE registration, please visit or contact:

Graduate Record Examination
Educational Testing Service
PO Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000
(609) 771-7670

Applicants should take the entrance exam well in advance of their intended application
date. Please allow at least 14 business days for your general test scores and six weeks
for your subject test scores to be received.

**Your application WILL NOT be processed without GRE scores!**

Entrance exam scores older than five years from the date of the application may not be acceptable for admission.

Minimum GRE Scores (November 2011 to present) for Graduate Students:

MS:  Verbal - None; Quantitative - 152; Analytical - 2.0

PhD: Verbal - 146; Quantitative - 156; Analytical - 3.5

Minimum GRE Scores (Prior to November 2011) for Graduate Students:

MS: Verbal - None Quantitative - 600 Analytical - 4.0/500
PhD: Verbal - 400 Quantitative - 720 Analytical - 4.5/600

**Please note that admission decisions are not based solely on test scores. Many factors are taken into account when considering an applicant, including test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and transcripts.**

  1. Letters of Recommendation

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. Letter of recommendation requests are sent to your recommender via email within one business day of the submission of your online application. You will be asked to provide names and email addresses of individuals who will be writing your recommendations. Please ensure you have accurate email addresses for your recommenders prior to submitting your application. We suggest you let your recommender know the recommendation request will be coming from the University of Denver in advance. This will allow him/her to send a letter electronically and meet the application deadline if applicable. Instructions for an evaluation form will be included in the email for those departments with such requirements.

  1. Essay/Personal Statement

Please use specific instructions/guidelines given by the college, department or school
to which you are applying.

  1. Copy of Passport

Please provide a copy of the photograph and legal name page of your passport. If you
currently do not have a passport, you will need to make arrangements to obtain a
passport before an I-20 can be issued by the University of Denver.

  1. English Proficiency

Submit official scores from an English proficiency test. Applications will not be processed until the required TOEFL or IELTS score is received. A TOEFL or IELTS score is required of all international graduate student applicants whose native language is not English. The minimum TOEFL score accepted by the University of Denver is 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 80 (internet-based) for most graduatedepartments. Alternately, students may submit a 6.0 on the IELTS exam.

Note: Those students with bachelor's or master's degrees, from institutions where
English is the language of instruction and examination, are generally exempt from the
English-test requirement (please submit proof with the application). Our school code
for the TOEFL is 4842. Please see chart for specific departmental test requirements.

Any graduate applicant whose native language is not English (including US citizens
and permanent residents), regardless of his or her educational background, who wishes
to be considered for any Graduate Teaching Assistantship must demonstrate fluency in
spoken English must take the iBT and receive a score of at least 26 on the iBT Speaking section, and minimum overall score of 80.

  1. Financial Verification

Complete the Financial Verification Form, and provide an original bank letter showing
cash availability and/or letter of sponsorship, as appropriate for your situation. No
monthly bank statements will be accepted. No photocopies of financial verification
documents will be accepted. The form must be completed with the student's and
sponsor's signature. This requirement does not apply to permanent residents. You will need to prove you will be able to verify amounts that will cover the current cost of attendance.

The current cost of attendance can be found at:

The Financial Verification form and other important VISA information can be
found at:

  1. Mail it in

Mail all supplemental admission materials, including official transcripts, in ONE package to:

University of Denver Office of Graduate Studies
Mary Reed Bldg., Room 5
2199 S. University Blvd.
Denver, CO 80208-4802

Check List

Please submit:

1) Submit a complete and signed application.
2) Nonrefundable application fee (check or money order made payable to the University of Denver. Credit cards are accepted only for online applications).
3) Two official transcripts from each University or College attended.
4) Official GRE scores sent by ETS.
5) 3 Letters of recommendation.
6) Essay or Personal Statement.
7) Copy of Passport.
8) TOEFL or IELTS scores if wishing to immediately enroll in degree seeking courses.
9) Signed Financial Verification Form and required financial support documents.
10) All materials submitted, in one packet, to the Office of Graduate Studies by the
program deadline.


Our department offers admissions on a rolling basis. While we have no deadlines, those applicants who submit their complete application materials sooner will be reviewed for admission sooner, and as we admit on a first-come, first-served basis, it is in your best interest to submit your application materials as soon as possible. In general, applications take approximately two months to go through our entire review process, so please plan accordingly. Additionally, any financial aid offered by our department or through the University of Denver's financial aid program in general is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

What Happens After I Finish Applying?

As you submit your materials, the Office of Graduate Studies processes them and prepares them for distribution to the department. Once your application is COMPLETE and all materials are received, our faculty will review your information and make a decision based on all of the information you have provided to us. Please note: Applications will not be evaluated until our department has received all of your materials, including transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation, so please make sure to include everything. Once a decision has been made, we will mail you a letter indicating our decision, as well as updating the web-based system.

Financial Aid

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering currently does not offer any financial aid at the departmental level. Please contact Financial Aid, whose website can be found Our teaching assistantships are very limited, and therefore very competitive. Our department and will evaluate your transcripts, GRE scores, and TOEFL or IBT scores as well as your financial need to determine the amount of aid we are able to provide you with. Only our highest ranking applicants are eligible for full teaching assistantships.

Graduate Assistantships

Receive financial assistance while you pursue a Master of Science (MS) or Doctorate (PhD) degree by applying for a Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA) position.

Teaching Assistantships

Submit a graduate admission application by April 1 to be considered for a TA position in the following academic year.

Research Assistantships

Contact the faculty member you are interested in working with.Note:  International students must attach an Internet-based TOEFL speaking subsection score of at least 26 with a minimum TOEFL score of 570 (230 computer, 88 Internet)