picture of a multicolored composite drawing of a map of the earth

Schmid College of Science and Technology

» Ph.D. in Computational and Data Sciences

Computational and Data Scientists construct mathematical models, develop quantitative analysis techniques, and use computers to analyze and solve scientific real-life problems. Our mission is to provide graduates with innovative tools and a collaborative approach to meeting tomorrow’s challenges.

Chapman University offers both M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Computational and Data Sciences. The programs follow a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to solving critically important problems, using mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, statistics and computing. Through modeling, simulation and study of specific phenomena via computer analysis, data mining and software engineering, you will learn to apply extraordinary technology and processes to answer the world’s most complex questions in fields including: Predictive Analytics, Earth Systems Science, Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, Genomics and Drug Design, Population Genetics, and Economic Science.


+ - Program

The Ph.D. Program in Computational and Data Sciences offers an interdisciplinary and personalized course of study that emphasizes innovative research and applications of research. After completing a set of core courses teaching the basic methodologies and techniques of computational science, students will specialize in an area based on shared interests with one or more faculty mentors, culminating in a final dissertation of the student’s choice.

Since employers continue to seek computer professionals who can combine strong technical skills with good interpersonal and business skills, the Ph.D. in Computational and Data Sciences prepares students for employment in academia, scientific research laboratories, private industry and governmental agencies. In addition to organizations under the Departments of Interior such as BLM and USGS, the Doctorate in Computational and Data Sciences offers employment opportunities with NGOs and non-profit organizations, as well as manufacturing and private sector companies.

The program is offered at the Chapman campus located in Orange, California.

+ - Curriculum

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Computational and Data Sciences, Fall 2017 only

The degree consists of core courses, elective courses, research courses and dissertation comprising a total of 70–73 credits and is structured as follows:

  • Core courses (10-13 credits): These courses provide a common foundation for conducting research in computational science.
  • Elective and research credits (45 credits, with a minimum of 15 credits at the 700 level): Elective credits provide deeper investigations into areas of application for computational science. Research credits are more specialized credits and are extremely personalized, matching the specific research topics subject of interest to students and faculty.
  • Dissertation research credits (12 credits): These are credits for work on the doctoral dissertation.

During the third semester of the program each student will work with the faculty to create a Doctoral Committee consisting of three faculty members. Either one faculty member will serve as the chair of the Doctoral Committee or two faculty members will serve as co–chairs. The student, together will the Doctoral Committee, will prepare an academic plan for the student that will specify the remaining elective courses and the doctoral research courses that the student will take and will also specify the problem or area of research that the student will explore in the student’s dissertation. The academic plan will be submitted to the Doctoral Steering Committee and must be approved by the Doctoral Steering Committee before the student can continue to the third year.

In order to advance to doctoral candidacy, a student must:

  • Pass qualifying examinations on topics from the core courses.
  • Pass a preliminary oral examination on topics from elective and research courses selected by the student’s Doctoral Committee.

Prerequisites - equivalent preparation may be used to satisfy the following courses

  1. Differential Equations
  2. Computer Programming (Data Structures preferred)
  3. Probability and Statistics

Foundation Courses (3-6 credits) – For admitted students who have verified potential, but require supplementary support for success in the CADS program.  Most students are expected to waive these courses.

CS 502* – Applied Methods in Mathematics
CS 503* – Statistical Methods

Core Courses
 (10–13 credits)
CS 510* Computing for Scientists (3)
CS 520 Mathematical Modeling (3)
CS 530 Data Mining (3)
CS 555 Multivariate Data Analysis (3)
CS 595 Computational Science Seminars (1)
* waived for students with strong computing backgrounds

Elective and Research Courses
(45 credits) Courses selected from the graduate courses in computer science, computational sciences, mathematics, physics and economic sciences. Courses and descriptions can be found in the Course Catalog. A minimum of 15 credits must be at the 700 level (excluding the dissertation courses).

Dissertation (12 credits)
CS 797
Dissertation Research (1–6)

Total Credits - 67-73 
(final credit total depends on the amount of courses waived)

+ - Faculty

Meet our math, physics and computation faculty.

To search for a particular faculty member, visit our searchable faculty directory.

+ - Admission


The PHD application has been closed for 2017.  The 2018 application will open in September 2017.

1.  Online application for admission (includes $60 non-refundable application fee)
2.  Official transcript from degree granting institution.  A cumulative grade point average of 3.000 is required.
3.  Graduate Admission Test Scores – The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores are required and must have been taken within the last five years.  Applicants must achieve the following minimum scores which are listed as previous version test scores and new version test scores:

  • Verbal: 153
  • Quantitative: 146
  • Analytical Writing: 4.0

4.  Letters of recommendation – two letters of recommendation are required, including one from an academic source which describes your professional and academic abilities.
5.  Statement of Intent – a 750 word essay.  Applicants are expected to address science topics they are interested in and how they envision applying computational science in those areas.
6.  Resume – a resume or curriculum vitae is required.


7.  Applicants whose first language is not English or who have completed their undergraduate degree at an institute where English is not the median of instruction are required to achieve an acceptable score on one of the following English language proficiency exams which must have been taken within 2 years of the date of application for admission to Chapman University.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL),
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE Academic)
  • Cambridge English Advanced Exam(CAE)

Ph.D. Computational and Data Sciences applicants must achieve a minimum score of...

  • TOEFL: 600 (PBT) or 100 (iBT)
  • IELTS: 7.0
  • PTEA: 68
  • CAE: 180

8.  Complete and submit the International Supplemental Application Guide


  • Differential Equations
  • Data Structures
  • Probability and Statistics

All prerequisite courses must be met by the end of the first semester.



Tuition per credit - $1,505

Financial assistance is available in the form of federal loans, department scholarships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships.  Most of our students receive some form of financial support from Chapman University and some receive additional aid through our industry partnerships.  Our industry partners provide scholarship funding as well as internship opportunities for our students.

All students who submit a complete application will be automatically considered for a department scholarship.  Admitted students will be notified of scholarships soon after receiving confirmation of admission.

More information can be found on the Financial Aid website or by contacting our Graduate FA department gradfinaid@chapman.edu or (714) 628-2730.


Priority Admission: January 15
Regular Admission: March 15

See the Academic Calendar for semester start and other dates.

Contacts - You are always welcome to contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Robin Pendergraft, pendergr@chapman.edu / (714) 997-6993 and the Program Director, Dr. El-Askary, elaskary@chapman.edu / (714) 289-2053.

Admission – Please contact our admissions coordinator, Monica Chen, at mchen@chapman.edu / (714) 289-3590 regarding your application, to schedule a campus visit or for other non-program specific questions.
Apply by May 1st  - Apply Now

International Students – View our international student admissions page for additional information regarding applying to Chapman -

Tuition - Contact Student Business Services at (714) 997-6617 for information regarding tuition, fees, billing & payments.  Please note that program staff are prohibited from discussing financial information.

Federal Financial Aid - For more information, email gradfinaid@chapman.edu or call (714) 628-2730.  The FAFSA must be filed by March 2nd.   Must be enrolled at least half time, taking at least 4.5 credits, to qualify for federal loans.  If students are interested in receiving loans, they must complete the appropriate applications.

Housing - For graduate student housing options, contact Housing and Residence Life at (714) 997-6603. 

+ - FAQ

Q:  What is CADS?
A:  CADS is our shortened version of Computational and Data Sciences. 

Q:  What is the GRE?  Is it required?
A:  The GRE is a general, standard exam for graduate-level admissions testing verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.  You can access GRE information here: http://www.ets.org/gre/.  The test is required for applicants to the CADS programs.  The recommended scores for admission are: 153 Verbal, 146 Quantitative, 4.0 Writing. 

Q:  Who should my letters of recommendation come from? May I submit additional letters?
A:  Letters of recommendation should come from former faculty members or those you've worked with in industry who can attest to your academic and professional abilities.  Two letters is recommended, but you can submit more if you wish.

Q:  What are the application deadlines?
A:  The priority deadline for both programs is January 15 for fall admission.  The regular Ph.D. admission deadline is March 15.

Q:  What are the most important factors in the application evaluation?
A:  The Program Director and Admissions Committee individually evaluate the entire application for each applicant.  Every applicant is different and what might be a strength on one application may not be as highly considered in another.  With that in mind, each piece of the application should be considered important.

Q:  Can I submit my application before I have all the necessary documents?
Yes. Admissions will hold your application and notify us as your documents become available. You will not receive an admissions decision, however, until all documents have been received.

Q:  When are admission decisions made?
A:  Priority Applicants will be notified of admission and support decisions in late Jan./early Feb.  Regular deadline applicants will be notified approximately two weeks after the deadline. 

Q:  How many students are accepted each year?
A:  The Ph.D. program cohort size is very limited.  Applicants are encouraged to apply before the priority deadline. 

Q: When can I start? 
A: Due to the nature of the courses, we strongly suggest starting in the fall semester.  An exception to this is students with a very strong computational background who can waive out of Computing for Scientists, which is a prerequisite to the rest of the program and is only offered in fall.  Please inform the program coordinator if you feel you fit into this category and are interested in starting in spring.

Q:  How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. program?
A:  The length of time it takes to complete the program varies, depending on the amount of courses taken each semester.  Students enrolled full time usually complete the the Ph.D. in four to five years.  Students may also attend on a part-time basis.

Q:  Can I send in transcripts to show coursework from non-degree granting institutions? 
A:  Yes, we will take all courses you have completed into account for both admission and transfer credit.

Q:  Can I transfer courses?  Online courses?
A:  Up to 30 credits completed toward an M.S. degree may be accepted as transfer credit after the PH.D. qualifying exams have been successfully passed.  We accept both standard and online courses that meet all transfer requirements and are from regionally accredited schools.  

Q:  Is there financial support available?
A:  Yes.  Qualified Ph.D. candidates are eligible for tuition support and assistanceships.

Q:  How do I request tuition support?
A:  Priority Ph.D. applicants will automatically be considered for tuition support in the form of tuition discounts.  If you have a special circumstance or specific need, please let the Program Coordinator know before the application deadline.

Q:  How do I find out about available assistantships?
Students who would like to be considered for graduate teaching assistanceships should send their CV and evaluations from any previous teaching assignments to the Program Coordinator prior to the application deadline.  Please specify level of knowledge in each of the following undergraduate areas: math, physics, statistics, and/or computer science.

Q:  What scholarships are available?
A:  Students are encouraged to apply for external scholarships sponsored by government agencies, corporations, and foundations.  Some students receive aid through our industry partnerships.  Our industry partners provide scholarship funding as well as internship opportunities for our students.  Some scholarship search options are found on the Financial Aid - Outside Scholarships page. 

Q:  What are the housing options?
On-campus housing is extremely limited and graduate students are encouraged to research alternative living arrangements off-campus by visiting our Introduction to Off-Campus Living page. After being accepted to the program, you can connect to the community through Facebook Off Campus Housing and Roommate Corner and Off-Campus Housing Listings.  International students should also check with International Student & Scholar Services.

Q:  How accessible are the professors at Chapman?
A:  With a small student to professor ratio, CADS students have incredible access in this highly personalized program.

Q:  Does Chapman offer part-time enrollment and evening classes?
A:  Yes, part-time enrollment is available.  We offer late afternoon and evening courses every semester.

Additional Information for International Students:

Q:  Are Chapman's Computational and Data Sciences degrees STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs?
A:  Yes, students in our program are eligible to apply for STEM benefits.  See the International Student & Scholar Services for more information.  You can also contact Susan Sams, Specialist International Student & Scholar Services, at sams@chapman.edu or 714-997-6829, with any questions.

Q:  What is OPT 
  Optional Practical Training or OPT allows you to work for one year, following graduation, in a job related to your major or field of study.  See the International Student & Scholar Services for more information.  You can also contact Susan Sams, Specialist International Student & Scholar Services, at sams@chapman.edu or (714) 997-6829, with any questions.

Q:  What is CPT?
A:  Curricular Practical Training or CPT allows you to participate in an off-campus paid internship that is related to your major or field of study.  See the International Student & Scholar Services for more information.  You can also contact Susan Sams, Specialist International Student & Scholar Services, at sams@chapman.edu or (714) 997-6829, with any questions.


Hesham El-Askary
Program Director
(714) 289-2053

Robin Pendergraft
Graduate Program Coordinator
(714) 997-6993

Monica Chen
Graduate Admissions Counselor
(714) 289-3590

Graduate Financial Aid
(714) 628-2730

Susan Sams
International Student & Scholar Services Coordinator
(714) 997-6829