Ph.D. in Computer Science and Informatics

The Ph.D. program in Computer Science and Informatics is uniquely tailored to Emory's special strengths, both within the department and across the University's renowned health science departments. Graduate studies and training are offered in close partnership with the Computational and Life Sciences strategic initiative and students benefit greatly from the breadth and richness of a large CLS community of faculty, postdocs, and research labs. Aimed at educating the next generation of computer scientists, and informaticists, the Ph.D. is suitable for those wishing to pursue careers in academics, industry, government, or healthcare.

Possible areas of research specialization include:
  • Data and Information Management: Data security, information retrieval, statistical analysis, and data integration in the context of medical, public health, and biological data managment. Research projects and course offerings span multiple departments, and intersect with other research groups in Biology, the School of Medicine, the Winship Cancer Institute, and the Rollins School of Public Health.
  • Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science: Graph theory, theory of computation, approximation algorithms, combinatorial optimization, mathematical programming, and geometric algorithms. Research in traditional Computer Science as well as in BioInformatics and Computational Biology is pursued under this track.
  • Distributed and High-Performance Computing: Metacomputing, distributed systems, collaboration technologies, networking, and high-performance computing. Students can work on research projects in Grid and Cloud computing, particularly for eScience and Healthcare, and major technology companies.
  • Scientific Computing: Numerical linear algebra, image processing, iterative methods, optimization, partial differential equations, and computational fluid dynamics. Strong connections with Radiology, Medicine, and Pediatrics characterize research in this sub area.


Students admitted to the program, in full standing, should have an undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics, or a related science and engineering field that includes basic and intermediate computer science courses. Students with insufficient preparation may be required to take courses beyond the minimum requirements.

Students must complete each of the following requirements.
  • Course requirements: Consisting of 10 courses and 2 rotation projects.
    • 4 core courses and 7 electives (see below).
    • Projects are faculty-lead and aim to:
      • provide practicum opportunities
      • explore potential dissertation topics within the faculty advisor's area
      • expose students to computational research problems in practical settings through interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Qualifying Exams: This consists of an area exam that covers foundational materials within the student's area of research, and a thesis proposal in which the student describes a set of open research questions and the approaches that will be taken to answer them.
  • Teaching Requirements: Each student must attend a three-day summer workshop and a one semester department seminar on teaching, co-teach one course, and independently teach one introductory-level undergraduate course.
  • Ethics Requirement: Each student must attend a one-day summer workshop and attend a minimum of 4 workshops held in collaboration with the Laney Graduate School and the Emory Center for Ethics. Students must also attend a minimum of 6 hours of program-based ethics material (CS 590, the programs teaching program and CS 700, Graduate Seminar). CS 590 should be completed in the fall of the second or third year of study.
  • Students must fulfill the Graduate School residency requirements.
  • Each student must present a deparment graduate seminar, complete an acceptable dissertation and deliver an oral defense.

Course Requirements

Students are required to take the following 4 core courses:
  • CS 526: Algorithms or CS 523 Data Structures and Algorithms I by permission
  • CS 534: Machine Learning
  • CS 551: Systems Programming
  • CS 554: Database Systems

In addition, students are required to take at least 7 courses from the three domains listed below (including any 584’s or 700 level courses offered in that domain), with at least one course from each. These courses serve as building blocks of a broad and rigorous training in computer science and informatics. Students may take a qualifying exam once they have completed the minimum course requirements.

Data and IIS (Min 2 courses):
  • CS 557: Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 570: Data Mining
  • CS 571: Natural Language Processing
  • CS 572: Information Retrieval
  • CS 573: Data Privacy and Security
  • CS 730: Advanced Topics in Data and Info Management
Systems (Min 2 courses):
  • CS 555: Parallel Processing
  • CS 556: Programming Languages and Compliers
  • CS 562: Advanced Computer Systems.
  • CS 580: Operating Systems.
  • CS 581: High Performance Computing.
  • CS 710: Advanced Topics in Computing Systems.
Foundations and Applications (Min 1 courses):
  • BIOS: 506 Statistical Methods (4)
  • CS 524: Theory of Computing
  • CS 563: Digital Image Processing
  • MATH 515: Numerical Analysis I
  • MATH 516: Numerical Analysis II
  • MATH 561: Matrix Analysis and Applications
  • MATH 771/772/789: Advanced Topics in Computational Mathematics

A student may substitute at most 1 course in each elective category with a relevant course from Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Biomedical Informatics, the Rollins School of Public Health, School of Medicine, and appropriate schools at Georgia Tech through the ARCHE program. When substituting courses, a student must obtain prior written approval from their thesis advisor and the CSI DGS. Students must complete their core courses with a grade of B+ or higher and complete the remaining coursework by year three with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.