Sep 28, 2022  
2022-23 Graduate Catalog 
2022-23 Graduate Catalog

Computational and Data Science, Ph.D.

John Wallin, Program Director
(615) 494-7735

The Ph.D. in Computational and Data Science is an interdisciplinary program in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and includes faculty from Agriculture, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Technology, Geosciences, Mathematical Sciences, and Physics and Astronomy. This program is research-intensive and applied in nature, seeking to produce graduates with competency in the following three key areas:

  1. mastery of the mathematical methods of computation as applied to scientific research investigations coupled with a firm understanding of the underlying fundamental science in at least one disciplinary specialization;
  2. deep knowledge of programming languages, scientific programming, and computing technology so that graduates can adapt and grow as computing systems evolve; and
  3. skills in effective written and oral communication so that graduates are prepared to assume leadership positions in academia, national labs, and industry.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Computational and Data Science program is based on a comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s qualifications including undergraduate and graduate grade point averages, academic preparation for the degree, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. GRE scores may be optionally included at the applicant’s discretion.

Applicants who do not meet these minimums but whose application materials indicate high potential for success may be admitted as non-degree seeking students. Such students must meet the conditions of their admission in the time stated to be fully admitted to the program of study.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

The application deadline is February 15 for those wishing to be considered for graduate assistantships for the following Fall. Late applications may be considered, but space and assistantship availability may be limited. The program does not offer spring admission except in extraordinary circumstances.

Applicant must

  1. submit an application with the appropriate application fee (online at Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
  2. submit official transcripts showing a GPA in previous academic work that indicates potential for success in advanced study. Successful applicants typically have a minimum 3.50 GPA in their graduate work or a minimum 3.00 GPA when entering with a bachelor’s degree. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a science discipline;
  3. provide letters of recommendation from at least three professors or professionals that address the applicant’s potential to successfully complete a Ph.D. in the Computational and Data Science program.
  4. submit a one-page statement of background and research interests as part of the application. The statement should include a short summary of experience in mathematics, computer programming, and in science along with the types of problems they hope to work on when they join the program.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Computational and Data Science requires completion of of 72-84 semester hours.

To satisfy the minimum requirements for the degree, students must successfully

  1. complete 48 hours of approved graduate core coursework composed of foundation, core, and elective courses;
  2. complete 12 hours of directed research;
  3. complete the qualifying exam before the end of the second year in the program;
  4. complete 12-24 hours of dissertation research;
  5. make at least two research presentations at regional, national, or international meetings as the lead or coauthor;
  6. serve as lead author or make significant contributions to two articles published, in press, or under review in high quality, peer-reviewed journals;
  7. make a significant contribution to the development of at least one external grant proposal in collaboration with an MTSU faculty member serving as principal investigator;
  8. complete a dissertation, including the final oral defense.

Curriculum: Computational and Data Science

The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements. In addition, a maximum of 12 hours of directed research and a maximum of 24 hours of dissertation research may be applied to degree requirements.

Track (15 hours)

You must take 15 hours from one of these two tracks. Substitutions for particular courses may be approved by your advisor and by the program director.

Electives (12 hours)

Electives may come from departmental master’s degree programs and the COMS program. They must be at the 6000- or 7000-level.

Directed Research (12 hours)

Students must complete 12 hours of directed research before advancement to candidacy. Students may not take more than 6 credit hours of directed research per semester.

Note: No more than 12 hours of directed research may be applied toward degree requirements.

Dissertation (12-24 hours)

Note: No more than 24 hours of dissertation research may be applied toward degree requirements.

Program Notes

Applicants holding a master’s degree will be expected to have earned at least 21 semester hours of graduate mathematics, science, or engineering credit with evidence of strong mathematical skills and experience in computation through coursework, employment, and/or research experiences. Applicants applying from the baccalaureate level must have an appropriate science degree with evidence of strong mathematical skills and experience in computation through coursework, employment, and/or research experiences.

Students entering with a master’s degree in a mathematical, science, or engineering discipline may, on the recommendation of the program coordination committee and with the approval of the graduate dean, have up to 12 credit hours accepted from their master’s if it directly corresponds to coursework in the Computational Science curriculum. Students who are interested in pursuing a Master’s Degree in Mathematics or Computer Science while pursuing their Ph.D. will need to consult with the program director and the respective departments to understand the additional requirements.

Applicants lacking necessary foundational coursework in previous degrees will be required to complete some remedial courses as part of their program of study in addition to the degree requirements.