Tuesday, May 9, 2023
  Around Campus, Science & Technology

By News and Internal Communications

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MAY 9, 2023 –  The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday approved a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer Science with Interdisciplinary Applications degree program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The program is designed to prepare graduates to become faculty at research-intensive universities or to establish research careers in industry. It will also offer rigorous, fundamental training in computer science and the application of computational methods to other disciplines, including science, business, medicine, healthcare and engineering.

Dr. Janna Arney, UTRGV executive vice president and provost, said UTRGV continues to expand the educational opportunities available to our communities and beyond.

“By offering this newest doctoral program, UTRGV is creating opportunities for students to advance their careers and education while addressing a large and ongoing shortage of employees in technology-focused industries, such as software development, communications, and cybersecurity,” Arney said. “And the multidisciplinary focus makes it practical for a broad range of industries such as engineering, business, healthcare, logistics and many more. We are so proud of our faculty who recognized this need and worked to develop such a high-quality program.

“When UTRGV opened its doors in 2015, we had four doctoral programs. Now, we’re on our way to 13, with four more under development. We are committed to expanding our academic offerings and are truly excited about this newest PhD program,” she said.

The next step is to seek approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to establish the degree program. 

Students entering the program with a bachelor’s (B.S.) degree will be required to complete 72 Semester Credit Hours (SCH), while those entering with a master’s (M.S.) degree in computer science or a related field will complete 54 SCH. 

Also, as part of the coursework, all students will need to complete required core coursework covering fundamental computer science theory and systems, research seminars to connect students with faculty mentors, and doctoral training to increase accessibility and elevate soft skills critical for collaboration and productivity.

Dr. Ala Qubbaj, dean of the UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science, said this new degree program will support not just South Texas, but also state and national STEM priorities.

“There is a growing need and demand for a highly skilled and educated workforce in this expanding field, which includes Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence,” he said.

 “This new PhD program means that our students will be able to complete their university degrees, from Bachelor of Science to Master of Science to PhD, right here in the Rio Grande Valley.”

That strengthens the career pipeline and growth potential for UTRGV students, he said.

“Computer Science is one of our fastest growing programs at UTRGV, with more than 1,000 students choosing it as their major. Our graduates receive competitive offers before they even graduate,” Qubbaj said. “And the focus on interdisciplinary applications will only broaden participation and its impact on other areas of study, like science, engineering and medicine.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.