Thursday, January 25, 2024
  Announcements, Academics, Science and Technology

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JAN. 25, 2024 – The UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science marked a historical milestone today, with The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's approval of the college's second Ph.D. program. 

The new Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science with Interdisciplinary Applications is designed to prepare graduates to become faculty at research-intensive universities or to establish research careers in industry.

The program also will offer rigorous, fundamental training in computer science and the application of computational methods to other disciplines, including science, business, medicine, healthcare and engineering.

The college’s first Ph.D. program was approved in July 2023, a doctoral curriculum in Materials Science and Engineering. That program launched in Fall 2023 with 18 doctoral students.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the university is thrilled to receive approval of another doctorate program.

“This milestone showcases UTRGV’s unwavering dedication to expanding academic opportunities for our students, especially at the doctoral level,” he said. “The addition of this program will provide our students with cutting-edge opportunities and produce leaders and innovators in the field of computer science. We look forward to welcoming students to this exciting new program and witnessing their contributions to the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.”

The new program currently is pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.  


The new doctoral program in Computer Science with Interdisciplinary Applications is UTRGV’s 14th doctoral program and the 10th doctoral program to be approved since the university opened 2015. UTRGV has implemented eight new doctoral-level programs in the past three years. 

The 10 doctoral-level programs approved since UTRGV opened its doors in 2015 are the: 

  • Doctor of Medicine (Fall 2016).
  • Ph.D. Clinical Psychology (Fall 2018).
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy (Fall 2021).
  • Ph.D. Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications (Fall 2021).
  • Ph.D. Physics (Spring 2022).
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Fall 2022).
  • Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (Fall 2022).
  • Ph.D. Human Genetics (Fall 2022).
  • Ph.D. Materials Science (Fall 2023).
  • Ph.D. Computer Science with Interdisciplinary Applications (Fall 2024). 

Development of the Ph.D. program was a collaborative effort with faculty from seven departments across six UTRGV colleges and schools – College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Sciences, Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the College of Health Professions, the School of Mathematics and Statistical Science and the School of Medicine.

Through collaboration on joint research projects that bring faculty and students together across disciplinary boundaries, computer science Ph.D. students will be trained to work in interdisciplinary teams on problems across the research enterprise.

“This is a landmark achievement for our college, university and RGV community,” said Dr. Ala Qubbaj, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “The new Ph.D. program builds upon our track record of success in educating Hispanics at the undergraduate and master’s levels, and now expanding to the Ph.D. level. Our students deserve this opportunity, they are the future of Texas and our nation.”

To learn more about the UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science and its degree program offerings, visit

Pictured (left to right) are Susan Brown, assistant vice president for strategic analysis and institutional reporting; Dr. Ala Qubbaj, dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science; Elizabeth Wagner Mayer, assistant commissioner, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; UTRGV President Guy Bailey; Dr. Janna Arney, former UTRGV provost; Dr. Emmett Tomai, chair, Department of Computer Science; and Dr. Christine Shupala, associate vice president for Institutional Accreditation, Program Development, and Analysis. (UTRGV Photo)


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.