Graduate Division

Software Engineering Ph.D.

Section 1


As software continues to transform society in dramatic and powerful ways, we must improve our ability to reliably develop high-quality systems. From early incarnations as just an idea or set of requirements to when software is actually built, deployed and customized in the field, many challenges exist across the lifecycle that make creating software still a non-trivial endeavor today.

The software engineering Ph.D. program offers students the opportunity to tackle these challenges, whether it is through designing new tools, performing studies of developers and teams at work, creating new infrastructures or developing new theories about software and how it is developed. No fewer than six faculty members bring a broad range of expertise and perspectives to the program, guaranteeing a diverse yet deep education in the topic.

A strong core of classes introduces students to classic material and recent innovations. At the same time, we focus on research from the beginning. New students are required to identify and experiment with one or more research topics early, so that they can become familiar with the nature of research, write papers, attend conferences and begin to become part of the broader software engineering community. This focus on research naturally continues throughout the program, with an emphasis on publishing novel results in the appropriate venues.

What Sets Us Apart?

  • Excellence. You will be part of a world-class group of faculty and students who have an outstanding track record of delivering innovative, relevant education.
  • Placement. We prepare our students for rich, fulfilling careers; they frequently move on quickly from early jobs as programmers and software engineers to positions of technical and managerial leadership.
  • Support. You join a team that strongly believes that working together is essential to learning. Whether in the classroom, in your M.S. research, or simply as part of a hallway conversation, we encourage you to speak up, join the discussion and contribute.
  • Connections. Our alumni have gone on to study in some of the most prestigious Ph.D. programs, work for well-known, innovative corporations, and found successful startups. We stay in touch with them, and can help connect you with for internships that complement your studies.
  • Diversity. UCI was founded with a focus on diversity of thought, experiences, and ideas. Our department faculty represent a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds and have in-depth collaborations across campus.

Quick Facts

Program Type

Doctoral Program

Normative Time to Degree

6 years

Capstone Type


Accordion Section

Admissions Requirements

Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their prior academic record and letters of reference from people either in the student's academic history or work settings. Students applying to the program may have degrees in any field, though preference is generally given to those with a technical, social science, or design background and those with work experience. All applicants are evaluated on the materials submitted: letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and personal statement. Applicants are strongly encouraged to additionally submit either official GRE test scores or a relevant work portfolio. For more information, contact the ICS graduate counselor at 949-824-5156 or

A couple of important notes:

  • If you are a prospective Ph.D. student who wants to work with one of the faculty members in the Department of Informatics, you must choose the Software Engineering Ph.D. as the program of your choice in your application. We are unlikely to see your application if you choose the Computer Science Ph.D. program.
  • Because of strong demand, admission to our programs is highly competitive. We pay attention to all aspects of the application package, including personal statement, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

Financial Support

We offer full funding for all students in our Ph.D. programs, for the full duration, as long as you continue to make satisfactory academic progress toward the degree.

Fellowships for ICS Graduate Students

Fellowship and award opportunities available to ICS Graduate Students are outlined in this PDF document. This is a combined list of those offered by Graduate Division and external sources. Please see the links provided in the document for more information on each fellowship or award.

*Many fellowships have internal department deadlines 7-10 days prior to the official due date.

Teaching Assistantships

Students can receive funding through appointments as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Reader. Information on responsibilities, requirements, and benefits can be found on the Graduate Division website here.

Interested ICS graduate students must submit an application for each quarter they wish to search as a TA or Reader. The application requirement applies to ALL students, including those on a TA/Reader fellowship.

Students are notified of their appointments via email as soon as they are assigned. Any questions about TA and Reader assignments should be directed to the Department Managers.

Graduate Housing

UCI guarantees an offer of on-campus housing to all new incoming, full-time Ph.D. and MFA students who are admitted prior to the housing application deadline (May 1, 2020 for Fall 2020 entry).

Continuing students can find more information on the Student Housing website.

Information for new graduate students may be found here.

Tuition & Fees

Graduate/Credential Student Fees 2019-20

  Fall 2019 Winter 2020 Spring 2020 Annual
Student Services Fee 376.00 376.00 376.00 1,128.00
Tuition 3,814.00 3,814.00 3,814.00 11,442.00
Assoc. Grad Students Fee 9.00 9.00 9.00 27.00
Student Center Fee 139.69 139.69 139.68 419.06
Bren Events Center Fee 23.00 23.00 23.00 69.00
Recreation Center Fee 88.00 88.00 88.00 264.00
Document Fee * 80.00 0.00 0.00 80.00
Student Health Insurance 1,459.18 1,459.18 1,459.18 4,377.54
Total California Resident $ 5,908.87 $ 5,908.87 $ 5,908.86 $ 17,726.60
Nonresident Supplemental Tuition 5,034.00 5,034.00 5,034.00 15,102.00
Total Nonresident $ 10,942.87 $ 10,942.87 $ 10,942.86 $ 32,828.60


Posted 12 July 2019 at

The tuition, fees, and charges posted to your billing statement or account are estimates based on currently approved amounts. These figures may not be final. Actual tuition, fees, and charges are subject to change by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by increases or reductions in State funding, or other developments. Accordingly, final approved levels (and thus your final balance due) may differ from the amounts shown.

* The Document Fee provides lifetime access to official transcripts and academic verifications without a fee for in-person pickup or delivery by USPS. In addition, there is no fee for mailing the initial diploma. Effective Fall 2018, new undergraduate, professional, and graduate students are assessed the one-time document fee. Eligible students are able to use financial aid to cover the Document Fee.

Core Faculty

Rebecca W. Black, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Associate Professor of Informatics

Geoffrey C. Bowker, Ph.D. University of Melbourne, Chancellor's Professor of Informatics; Visual Studies (values in design, social studies of databases, science and technology studies)

Yunan Chen, Ph.D. Drexel University, Associate Professor of Informatics; Program in Public Health (medical informatics, human computer interaction)

Roderic N. Crooks, Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, Assistant Professor of Informatics (science and technology studies, education technology, critical data studies, data visualization, community archives)

James P. Dourish, Ph.D. University College London, Chancellor's Professor of Informatics; Computer Science (human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work)

Daniel H. Frost, M.S. University of California, Irvine, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science; Informatics (artificial intelligence, software engineering, computer graphics, teaching of programming)

Judith Gregory, Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, Associate Adjunct Professor of Informatics (values in design, translational biomedical informatics, participatory design, design and emotion)

Gillian Hayes, Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, Robert A. and Barbara L. Kleist Professor of Informatics; Education (interactive and collaborative technology, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, educational technology, ubiquitous computing)

Mizuko Ito, Ph.D. Stanford University, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning and Professor in Residence of Anthropology; Education; Informatics (ethnography, game studies, youth culture, learning sciences, online communities)

James Jones, Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, Associate Professor of Informatics (software engineering, software testing and analysis, debugging and fault localization, static and dynamic analysis, software visualization)

David G. Kay, J.D. Loyola Marymount University, Senior Lecturer Emeritus of Informatics; Computer Science (computer law, computer science education)

Cory P. Knobel, Ph.D. University of Michigan, Assistant Adjunct Professor of Informatics (interactive and collaborative technology, values in design, modes of knowledge representation, philosophy of science and technology)

Alfred Kobsa, Ph.D. University of Vienna, Professor of Informatics; Computer Science (user modeling, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, interdisciplinary computer science)

Cristina V. Lopes, Ph.D. Northeastern University, Professor of Informatics; Computer Science (programming languages, acoustic communications, operating systems, software engineering)

Gloria J. Mark, Ph.D. Columbia University, Professor of Informatics (computer-supported cooperative work, human-computer interaction)

Melissa Mazmanian, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Associate Professor of Informatics (computer-mediated communication, organization studies, information and communication technologies in practice, social response to emerging technologies, work/non-work negotiations in the information age)

Bonnie A. Nardi, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, Professor of Informatics (computer-supported collaborative work, human-computer interaction, computer-mediated communication, user studies methods, activity theory, cultural responses to technology development)

Emily Navarro, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, Lecturer of Informatics

Gary Olson, Ph.D. Stanford University, Professor Emeritus of Informatics (interactive and collaborative technology, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work)

Judith Olson, Ph.D. University of Michigan, Professor Emeritus of Informatics; Paul Merage School of Business; Urban Planning and Public Policy (interactive and collaborative technology, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work)

Richard Pattis, M.S. Stanford University, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science; Informatics (MicroWorlds for teaching programming, debugging, computational tools for non-computer scientists)

David F. Redmiles, Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder, Professor of Informatics (computer-supported cooperative work, human computer interaction, software engineering, globally distributed development teams, user interfaces, software tools)

Debra J. Richardson, Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Professor Emeritus of Informatics (software engineering, program testing, life-cycle validation, software environments)

Katie Salen Tekinbaş, M.F.A. Rhode Island School of Design, Professor of Informatics (game design, connected learning design, human-computer interaction)

Kurt Squire, Ph.D. Indiana University, Professor of Informatics (video game design, games for learning, mobile technologies, civic engagement, place-based learning)

Constance Steinkuehler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Professor of Informatics (video games for impact, game-mediated cognition and learning, online social interaction, video games and policy)

Joshua Tanenbaum, M.A. Simon Fraser University, Assistant Professor of Informatics (digital games and narrative, tangible and wearable interaction, maker and DIY culture, nonverbal communication and virtual worlds)

Richard N. Taylor, Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder, Professor Emeritus of Informatics (software engineering, user interfaces, environments, team support)

Hadar Ziv, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, Lecturer of Informatics (software testing, requirements engineering, Bayesian modeling)

André W. van der Hoek, Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder, Professor of Informatics (software engineering)

Academic Data

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Career Outcomes

career outcomes data

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