September 27-28, 2001

ITEM 112-2010-R0901:   Authorization to Create a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Computer Science; Montana State University-Bozeman


THAT:  The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes Montana State University-Bozeman to create a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Computer Science


EXPLANATION:   The Montana State University-Bozeman Computer Science Department currently offers a doctoral degree through the Electrical and Computer Engineering option of the centralized Engineering doctoral degree. Experience has shown that there are a number of problems with this approach. In particular, there are problems with student and faculty recruitment and with placement of graduates into positions (both in other universities and in industry) where most appropriate openings require a PhD in Computer Science. We are proposing to repackage the college centralized degree. The first stage of this repackaging was to rename and extend the Engineering options, which was approved as a Level I submission in March 2001. The second stage is this proposal to separate the Computer Science degree into a named doctoral degree.

The department has a large and successful Master of Science program, which would be a good source for doctoral students, and receives several hundred pre-applications for graduate degrees every year. A number of these students would continue on for doctoral degrees if a named Computer Science doctoral degree were available. The current faculty job market in Computer Science is very competitive and most top faculty will choose to go to universities that offer the PhD in Computer Science. Computer Science research is personnel-intensive, and new faculty know that they need to be able to work with doctoral students if they are to establish their research programs. There has recently been a dramatic expansion in information technology jobs in the Gallatin Valley. An estimated 1,000 information technology based positions currently exist and this number is expected to double in five to seven years. A strong Computer Science department, with top teachers, is needed to support this growth. Montana is the only state that has no doctoral programs in Computer Science. There is an unmet need for doctoral graduates throughout the United States, including in Montana. Since this is a repackaging of an existing degree program that is currently in effect, all of the resources needed to support the program are already in place and no additional faculty, staff, or space resources are needed.