Doctoral Programs

The Computer Science Department offers two Ph.D. programs: the Ph.D. in Computer Science, offered entirely at our Pittsburgh campus; and a dual Ph.D. program with the Information and Communication Technologies Institute in Portugal. Our Ph.D. program is frequently named the best in the country and our alumni have gone on be pioneers in the field.

Ph.D. in Computer Science

Carnegie Mellon's Ph.D. in Computer Science is, above all, a research degree. When the faculty award a Ph.D., they certify that the student has a broad foundation and awareness of core concepts in computer science, has advanced the field by performing significant original research and has reported that work in a scholarly fashion.

When you begin our Ph.D. program, you’ll take the Introductory Course for Doctoral Students — an intense two week program that orients you to the department, introduces you to research and education topics our faculty are interested in, helps you find a faculty advisor and familiarizes you with Carnegie Mellon’s resources. Next, you’ll gain a broad understanding of fundamental research issues in major areas of computer science through coursework and original research. Finally, you’ll write and orally defend a thesis that guarantees you understand the area well enough to advance the state of knowledge in the field.

During the first two years of the program, you’ll gain the foundation of knowledge that will allow you to become an expert researcher in computer science, primarily by

  • Mastering a body of graduate material, achieved by passing 96 university units worth of graduate courses (equivalent to eight full-time courses).
  • Learning how to organize and begin to carry out original research, achieved by participating in directed research.

You will also serve as a teaching assistant, hone your writing and speaking skills and maintain your programming prowess. You’ll also receive periodic evaluation of your progress, and must make satisfactory progress to continue in the program.

Ph.D. in Computer Science/Dual Degree Portugal

The dual degree Ph.D. program in computer science/informatics with Portugal aims to

  • Promote the education of high-quality researchers, instructors and innovation agents in computer science;
  • Offer a specialization based on a broad knowledge in computer science/informatics;
  • Support collaborative research between CSD/CMU and the Portuguese institution;
  • Enforce rigorous quality control and assessment procedures;
  • Recruit top students from Portugal and other countries.

Students enrolled in the program apply to both CMU and one of seven Portuguese institutions:

CMU's Computer Science Department and the Portuguese institutions are equal partners, working together to educate doctoral students. All students are held to the highest scientific standards and must satisfy all requirements of both the CSD/CMU and the Portuguese institution they apply to. The expected duration of the program is around five years of full time work.

For more on the program, visit the Carnegie Mellon | Portugal website.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programs

In addition to our Ph.D. in Computer Science and the dual degree with Portugal, we also offer three interdisciplinary programs:

Ph.D. in Computer Science/Neural Basis of Cognition — with the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). The Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition Training Program is an interdisciplinary graduate training program operated jointly by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.  

Ph.D. in Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization (ACO) — administered jointly by the Computer Science Department (Algorithms and Complexity group), the Tepper School of Business (Operations Research group), and the Department of Mathematical Sciences (Discrete Mathematics group).  

Ph.D. in Pure and Applied Logic (PAL) — administered by the Computer Science Department, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and the Department of Philosophy.