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 Ph.D. In Computer Science - Course And Admission Requirements

Program Features Course and Admission Requirements ​Degree Comprehensive Examination Program Objectives and Student Outcomes​ Degree Plan Course List

​​Admission Requirements
The admission process starts with an application to the College of Graduate Studies. A student can apply for one of the following statuses:
  1. Research Assistant (only foreign nationals),
  2. Graduate Assistant (only Saudi nationals),
  3. Full time graduate student,
  4. Part time graduate student.
All applicants must fill all related forms obtained forms which can either be obtained from College of Graduate Studies, or can be downloaded from, together with the following:

  • A letter of intent
  • Graduation certificates
  • Transcripts
  • At least three reference letters
  • Official TOEFL scores report
  • General GRE scores report

An MS applicant must have a BS in engineering or science from an institution whose undergraduate programs are at least comparable to those of KFUPM in both content and quality. All applicants must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 out of 4.
Core Background Requirements
In order for an applicant to be admitted to the MSCS program, he must have a strong background in the following core areas of computer science:

  • Data Structures
  • Computer Architecture
  • Algorithms
  • Programming Languages
  • Database Systems
  • Computer Networks
  • Operating Systems

Similar course to “ICS 500: Research Methods and Experiment Design in Computing”, is also a pre-requisite for admission. This requirement can be waived if adequate publication record is shown by the student at application time.
Unsatisfactory background in any of these areas is considered a deficiency. Conditional admission may be granted to otherwise qualified students with some core background deficiencies. Students with deficiencies must take the corresponding appropriate course(s) at KFUPM. Such deficiencies cannot exceed four courses which must be completed with a grade of B or better before a change of status to regular is realized.
Program Requirements
The requirements of the proposed PhD program in Computer Science are summarized in Table 1. Students enrolled in this program are required to complete 30 credit hours of courses (excluding the dissertation) for graduate credits. These courses should be according to each student’s degree plan that has been approved by the department’s Graduate Committee, the Department Chairman, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
The PhD degree in Computer Science will be awarded to candidates who fulfill the requirements specified by the Deanship of Graduate Studies, as well as the following additional requirements imposed by the Information and Computer Science Department:
  1. Satisfaction of provisional status requirements; if any,
  2. Satisfactory completion of the coursework requirements (30 credit hours),
  3. Passing the written comprehensive examinations by the end of the 4th semester after joining the program (A graduate student is allowed to take these examinations only twice),
  4. Passing the oral proposal public defense (ICS 711) in conjunction with the Seminar Course (ICS 699) by the end of the 5th semester after joining the program, and
  5. Successful completion and defense of an original dissertation research work (ICS 712).
A full-time PhD student is expected to spend about two years completing his required course work. The dissertation work is also expected to require about two years. The maximum period permitted to complete the PhD is five years for a full-time PhD student and seven years for a part-time student. A student must spend a minimum of one year in residence doing his PhD dissertation work.
The Program is designed in a way that ensures breadth coverage up to the level of the awarded degree as well as depth coverage to emphasize the area of specialization for the awardee. The program provides breadth coverage of Computer Science topics through the arrangement of courses into four subject areas. Each student is expected to select one subject area as his major (dissertation)
area. The subject areas are:
Area A: Algorithms and Applications (Applied Computing)
Area B: Systems and Languages
Area C: Security and Net-centric Computing
Area D: Software Engineering
The Comprehensive Exam must cover three subject areas according to the student’s preference.
The completion of at least 30 credit hours of course work beyond the M.S. course work and beyond remedial courses is required for all PhD students. Each student must select one of the subject areas as his major area. The student may take for credit any of the CS 500-level (or higher) courses listed under the four subject areas, provided that such courses have not been taken for credit by the student for a previous degree at KFUPM. To ensure depth of knowledge, a minimum of three courses must be taken from the student’s selected major area with, at least, one of these courses being a 600-level course. To provide breadth of knowledge, the student must take courses from at least two CS PhD areas other than his major. In addition, the student is required to take three graduate elective courses two of which must be taken from outside the lists under the subject areas.

Min. Requirements
Major Area 3 courses At least one of the 3 courses must be 600-level
Breadth Coverage 3 courses from at least two areas other than the major area
CS Elective 1 course from any of the four CS areas
General Electives 3 courses - could be from ICS or related disciplines; at least two courses from outside the lists under the four CS subject areas At least 2 of these must be taken from outside the lists under the four areas. Elective course can be taken from, for example, COE, EE, SE, and MATH, etc.
Seminar ICS 699: Seminar Zero credit hour (P/F)
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam
Proposal ICS 711: PhD Pre-Dissertation 3 credit hour
Dissertation ICS 712: PhD Dissertation 9 credit hour

The required 600-level course cannot be replaced by the 700-level directed research or other self-study 600-level courses.
Each student is also required to present a seminar that describes recent research findings in Computer Science as well as to attend the technical seminar series organized by the ICS Department. This requirement is fulfilled by the zero credit hour seminar course ICS 699 (1-0-0).
Three credit hours are assigned to the development of the PhD Dissertation Proposal (ICS 711), this is to enable the student to prepare and publically defend the proposed discretion research. Nine credit hours are assigned to the PhD Dissertation effort (ICS 712), which is expected to involve original scholarly research applied to a carefully defined problem. The research problem may belong to any of the Computer Science subject areas.
Note: In the table above, Major Area means any one of the CS subject areas.

Program Features Course and Admission Requirements ​Degree Comprehensive Examination Program Objectives and Student Outcomes​ Degree Plan Course List