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Program highlights:

  • We are a highly interactive, highly ranked, research intensive department that cares deeply about its students and their future.
  • Students are provided extensive opportunities to make connections between research and practice and to experience interactive teaching and learning.
  • Our faculty are experts in their fields of study and many are nationally known for their contributions within the scientific community.
  • This program is offered completely online and does not require students to come to campus in order to complete this program.
A Note From the Department Head

"Based on government statistics, 63% of all STEM jobs in the United States are computer science related jobs, and there are four jobs available for every graduate in computer science. These are stoning numbers that highlight the importance of computer science discipline in the US and world and its defining effect on economic growth."

"Considering the sharply increasing demand in computer science, since 2010, computer science and engineering department has made it possible to combine Mississippi State top-tier reputation with the flexibility of online study through our online MS in Computer Science. Our rigorous curriculum for this online degree is based on CSE’s on-campus degree, ensuring the elite quality of this program."

"You will be able to take classes in a flexible format that gives you the ability to pursue your educational goals in the manner most consistent with your career goals. The Master’s degree you receive at the end of your studies will be indistinguishable from its on-campus counterpart."

–Dr. Shahram Rahimi, Department Head and Professor

Program Structure

The Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science degree is a 55 credit hour program with 25 CSE course hours (12 expected to be transferred), 20 hours of dissertation, and 10 additional dissertation or course hours at the student's choosing.. This program is an MS Admit Only program and does not allow for Direct Admissions straight from a bachelor’s degree program. Student applications should clearly identify the domain/specialization students want to work on in their Statement of Purpose, including listing potential Major Professors and rough research ideas. Working with a major professor and guiding committee, students will select appropriate core, specialization, and elective courses and develop a research program. Preparedness for research work will be measured via examinations, and finally defended before a body of peers in the dissertation defense.

Regardless of the program of study, certain policies apply to all coursework chosen. Please refer to our Graduate Handbook for these additional policies.

A student who wishes to study Graduate Computer Science must have the ability to develop and analyze software for their study. Understanding the interface between computer hardware and software is also required, as is some mathematical fluency. Students must demonstrate their potential for success in the program via strong previous academic work, a competitive GRE score, and demonstrated English proficiency as appropriate. Finally, a student must possess those qualifications and research interests that indicate to the Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Studies Committee that the applicant will be successful in the computer science doctoral program. Additional details for these requirements are provided on the Department of Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Admissions webpage.


There are three examinations held during the course of PhD study, each with their own purpose:

  • The Qualifying Exam demonstrates mastery of the breadth of computer science and preparation for further study. It must be completed before research is started and is generally performed before coursework is concluded.
  • The Proposal Defense demonstrates mastery of a research area in preparation for determining a topic. It is performed when coursework is concluded and advanced the student to candidacy (Ph.D. research eligibility).
  • The Dissertation Defense is before an audience of peers and is aimed to demonstrate the student's scholarship and contribution. It is the culmination of the student's efforts.

More details concerning the specific timelines, format, and guidelines for each exam is provided on the Department of Computer Science and Engineering Examination Procedure webpage.

Dissertation & Defense

The development and execution of a dissertation is the major milestone of Ph.D. study, and students should work with their dissertation director and guiding committee in tandem to forward their studies. These guidelines supplement, but do not supersede, those provided by the Graduate School; see the Office of the Graduate School guidelines for additional details such as the deadlines, exam process, submission steps, format for the dissertation, and so on.

The primary milestones for the dissertation are as follows:

  1. The student must complete coursework and the Qualifying exam.
  2. The semester before their anticipated Proposal Defense, students should review their Program of Study via CAPP on Banner to ensure all coursework will be completed.
  3. After coursework is completed, the student proposes their research. The student develops a dissertation proposal following the University's Standard for Preparing Theses and Dissertations, and the Department's format standard (The signature page will list only Committee members.) The proposal must contain:
    • Introduction to the research being proposed.
    • Review of the relevant research in the area.
    • Hypothesis, research goals/questions, research relevancy, proposed research methodology/procedures, and publication plan.
  4. The major professor schedules a research proposal session with the students Graduate Committee. The student will present an oral defense of their proposed research. At this time, the student and his/her Committee may negotiate specific changes in the proposed work. Another proposal session may be required as appropriate. When the proposal is passed, the signed written proposal signature page is kept with the CSE office.
  5. Upon completion of the research, the student submits a draft copy of the dissertation document to each member of his/her Graduate Committee. This draft copy is must be distributed to the committee members at least one week prior to the planned date of the presentation. All suggestions and concerns should be resolved under the direction of the major professor.
  6. When the student is ready to defend the dissertation and be examined, the major professor schedules the presentation and examination. The dissertation presentation is open to all students and faculty. The presentation is followed immediately by an oral examination of the student that is open only to the members of the student's Graduate Committee (and the research director).
  7. Once the student has made all changes to the dissertation document requested by the committee members and the committee members and the Graduate Coordinator have signed the approval page, the student submits a signed copy of the approval page to the departmental office. Approval of the thesis proceeds from the committee, to the Graduate Coordinator of the Department, and thence to the Dean of Engineering. After all approvals are obtained, the student must submit an electronic copy of the dissertation to the Library for final approval.
    The Library provides guidelines for the format of theses. Dr. Ramkumar provides a LaTeX template for those wishing to use it, under the disclaimer that Library guidelines are the primary source of formatting and must be consulted at all times.

Admissions Requirements

Students seeking full admission into this program should apply as a classified student. Non-degree seeking students wishing to take classes offered through the Online program should apply as an Unclassified student.

Applications for the degree programs are reviewed two times a year. The application deadlines for those semesters are as follows:

  • Spring Enrollments need complete applications by November 1
  • Fall Enrollments need complete applications by June 1

**Early applications are highly encouraged

An applicant for admission to graduate study must hold a bachelor's degree from a fully recognized four-year educational institution that has unconditional accreditation with appropriate regional accrediting agencies. They must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School and the Computer Science program.

Regular admission to graduate study in the program requires a minimum grade point average (last four semesters of undergraduate work) of 3.50/4.00. When a student is deficient in one of the criteria cited, the student's application, nevertheless, may be considered for admission based on the strength of other materials contained in the student's application.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores are NOT required for entry into this program.

Bagley College of Engineering programs may accept transfer work previously completed by the student. Transcript reviews to determine transfer or prerequisite work will be evaluated AFTER students are granted full admission. Once admitted an academic coordinator can review those transcripts for more information.

To meet admission requirements, submit a separate official final transcript from each college or university attended; faxed transcripts will not be accepted. An applicant may not ignore previous college attendance and must list all colleges attended on the application for admission. You must be in good standing at the last college or university attended

Attention International Students

International students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score greater than 550. Detailed information regarding international applications can be found in the Graduate Catalog. Questions regarding international applications can be addressed to the Office of the Graduate School at

  • ETS is providing home testing for the TOEFL iBT test, and MSU is encouraging students to take advantage of this testing option. For those students applying who have taken the TOEFL within five years of the semester they plan to enroll and are unable to access the TOEFL iBT test from home, we will accept your previous test scores.

Admission Options

Domestic/International Classified Admissions

  1. Submit online application. You will choose Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science as your Program of Study and Online Education as your campus.
  2. Statement of Purpose
  3. Three letters of recommendation
    • You will be asked to submit three names and three email addresses of individuals you are using as references. Once you click submit, these individuals will be sent an email from MSU, which will provide a link to an online form for completing their recommendations.
  4. One official transcript showing bachelor’s degree or progress toward degree. (For international students, please submit a copy in native language along with translated copies, if appropriate.)
  5. One official transcript showing ALL work after bachelor’s degree. (For international students, please submit a copy in native language along with translated copies, if appropriate.)
    • Electronic transcripts should be sent to: Mississippi State University, Graduate School. Only one copy of an electronic transcript is required.
    • Paper Transcripts Address (USPS):
      Mississippi State University
      The Office of the Graduate School
      P.O. Box G
      Mississippi State, MS 39762
    • Physical Street Address (for DHL, Fed Ex, UPS, DHS, etc.):
      Mississippi State University
      The Office of the Graduate School
      175 President Circle
      116 Allen Hall
      Mississippi State, MS 39762
  6. Payment of $60 non-refundable application processing fee for domestic students.
    Payment of $80 non-refundable application processing fee for international students.
  7. Once you are admitted, you will receive an email with complete instructions on registering for classes and contacting your advisor

Example Courses

CSE 8011 Graduate Seminar (Core: Seminar)
One hour seminar. Reports on recent advances and problems in computer science by guest speakers, faculty, and students; student participation, general discussion.

CSE 8833 Algorithms (Core: Graduate Theory)
(Prerequisites: CSE 4833/6833) Three hours lecture. Advanced techniques for designing and analyzing algorithms, advanced data structures, case studies, NP-completeness including reductions, approximation algorithms.

CSE 6633 Artificial Intelligence (Primary Specialization, Introduction)
(Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CSE 2383 and CSE 2813) Three hours lecture. Study of the computer in context with human thought processes. Heuristic programming; search programming; search strategies; knowledge representation; natural language understanding; perception; learning.

CSE 8673 Machine Learning (Primary Specialization, Advanced)
(Prerequisite: CSE 4633/6633) Three hours lecture. Introduction to machine learning, including computational learning theory, major approaches to machine learning, evaluation of models, and current research.

CSE 6413 Principles of Computer Graphics (Secondary Specialization, Introduction)
(Prerequisites: MA 3113 and grade of C or better in CSE 2383) Three hours lecture. Graphics hardware; algorithms, graphics primitives, windowing and clipping , transformations,3D graphics, shading, hidden surfaces; standards.

CSE 8990 Special Topics: Data Visualization in R (Secondary Specialization)
Credit and title to be arranged. This course is to be used on a limited basis to offer developing subject matter areas not covered in existing courses. (Courses limited to two offerings under one title within two academic years).

CSE 8990 Special Topics: Markov Methods (Additional Hours)
Credit and title to be arranged. This course is to be used on a limited basis to offer developing subject matter areas not covered in existing courses. (Courses limited to two offerings under one title within two academic years).

CSE 6663 Human-Human-Computer Interaction (Additional Hours)
(Prerequisite: Junior class standing or consent of instructor) Three hours lecture. Conceptual models formed by users, aspects of computer systems which affect users, interface design and evaluation, and examples and critiques of specific interfaces.

CSE 6503 Database Management Systems (Additional Hours)
(Prerequisites: CSE 2383 and CSE 2813, both with a grade of C or better) Three hours lecture. Modern database models; basic database management concepts; query languages; database design through normalization; advanced database models; extensive development experience in a team environment.

CSE 8080 Directed Project (Additional Hours)
Hours and credits to be arranged. An individual professional project open only to candidates for the Master of Science degree (project option). Formal written and oral project reports are required.

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Accessing Online Courses

Accessing Course Videos

Videos recorded during our on campus class sessions are uploaded for online students to view within our online course repository.  Online students will have access to course videos within 24 hours of the on campus course completion. Students should visit Engage to access the course videos. Instructions for viewing the recordings and downloading the recordings are offered below.

View and Download Videos

Instructions for viewing classes live or downloading videos, use our video download instructions.

If you experience technical difficulties or have any questions regarding the recording or format of our lecture capture, please contact:

IT Support & Staff
Bagley College of Engineering
Mississippi State University

Contact Information

Photo of Anusha Rijal

Anusha Rijal

Online Education

  • Coordinator
TJ Jankun Kelly Headshot

Dr. T.J Jankun-Kelly

Computer Science and Engineering

  • Graduate Coordinator
Headshot of Tamra Swann

Tamra Swann


  • Distance Education Coordinator