Doctor of Computer Science - Digital Systems Security Concentration

The Doctor of Computer Science – Digital Systems Security (DCS-DSS) program at Colorado Technical University is designed to develop leaders in the implementation, evaluation, and analysis of digital systems in which security is a primary quality attribute.


  • Critically evaluate, analyze, and solve problems within Digital Systems Security
  • Demonstrate expertise within a sub-discipline of Digital Systems Security by summarizing the state of the art, selecting an important problem, conducting research addressing the problem and extending current knowledge with the results
  • Communicate research results and prepare them for publication
  • Make well-founded forecasts about future challenges and developments in Digital Systems
  • Demonstrate ethical behavior in all aspects of professional life including honesty, integrity, professional practice, and protection of research subjects

Degree Requirements

Courses: Core

CS801Research and Writing I


CS803Current Topics in the Discipline


CS806Research and Writing II


CS807Project Management and Process Engineering


CS811Research and Writing III


CS812Quantitative Analysis


CS816Research and Writing IV


CS821Research and Writing V


CS826Research and Writing VI


CS831Research and Writing VII


CS836Research and Writing VIII


CS837Requirements Engineering


CS841Research and Writing IX


CS846Research and Writing X


CS851Research and Writing XI


CS854Software Architecture and Design


CS855Futuring and Innovation


CS856Research and Writing XII


CS862Foundations of Digital-Systems Security


CS863Enterprise Security Architecture


CS864Applications Security


CS865Communications Security and Countermeasures


ElectivesSelect a minimum of two 5-credit hour courses


Total Credit Hours: 96

Each of the three years of the DCS-DSS program is designed to provide candidates with the theoretical, research, and applications capabilities necessary in the field of digital systems security. The organization of each year is described below.

Year 1: Foundations

Year one focuses on computer science and software engineering topics and an orientation to research and writing at the doctoral level. Coursework covers current topics in computer science and software engineering, requirements engineering, project management and process engineering, and research methods. Considerations of digital systems security are covered in each of these courses. The research and writing component results in a broad overview of current research in digital systems security and inform the student’s selection of a research topic. Students prepare research proposals and begin their research.

Year 2: Acquisition of Knowledge

Once the foundations are in place, year two is where each student develops an in-depth understanding of the knowledge areas and research methods in digital systems security. Coursework includes four pedagogy courses and four research and writing courses. Topics covered in the pedagogy courses include security foundations, developing secure systems, applications security, and communication security. The research and writing courses further develop each student’s research.

Year 3: Leadership and Professional Advancement

Coursework in the final year of the program includes a course in enterprise security architecture, a course on futuring and innovation, and two elective courses. The research component results in documentation of the student’s applied research in either a dissertation or a series of publishable-quality papers.

The program thus includes twelve 5-credit instructional courses, taken one per quarter for three years, plus a research-and-writing class taken each quarter. Each class is conducted online.  Students are required to attend an intensive two and half day residential symposium a minimum of five times during their enrollment in the program.  The symposia are scheduled four times throughout the year and doctoral students are welcome to attend all four symposia available.  First term doctoral students will have an additional required CTU student orientation the day prior to the residential symposium for returning students.

Graduation requires successful defense of a research proposal and final dissertation. These documents must be approved by the student’s committee, consisting of a mentor and two readers.

Graduation Requirements

In addition to the successful completion of the above 96 credits with an acceptable GPA, students must also satisfactorily complete and defend their research proposal and final dissertation.

Degree Completion and Post-Doctoral Study

The student must be continuously enrolled until all graduation requirements are fulfilled. A student who has not completed the research requirements by the end of the formal coursework continues by registering for CS893 Research Continuation according to CTU’s re-take policy.

In addition, a student may achieve a Post-Doctoral Certificate if approved for that in advance by the doctoral dean. A typical program would include successful completion of four courses plus creation of two academic papers of publishable quality after the award of the CTU doctoral degree.

Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS)

The University curriculum for this program has been certified by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) for education standards in computer systems security as follows:


National Training Standard for Information Systems Security (INFOSEC) Professionals, dated 20 June 1994


National Information Assurance Training Standard for Senior Systems Managers, dated June 2004; Supersedes NSTISSI No. 4012, dated August 1997


National Information Assurance Training Standard For System Administrators (SA), dated March 2004


Information Assurance Training Standard for Information Systems Security Officers, dated April 2004; Supersedes

NSTISSI No. 4014, dated August 1997


National Information Assurance Training Standard For Risk Analysts, dated November 2005

The Doctoral Advantage

While a relevant master’s degree is ordinarily required for admission to CTU doctoral programs, there is also the option of completing a CTU MSCS, MSIT, MSM-ISS, MSM-IT/PM, or MSSE degree while starting work on the Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) degree. The program outcomes remain the same for the DCS and the master’s degrees under this option, but the normal completion time for the degrees in the combined program is reduced. Through this program, doctoral work is started after ten of the twelve required master’s courses have been successfully completed. Program plans must be approved by the Dean of Doctoral Computer Science.

Note, however, that for the MSSE degree to be awarded under doctoral advantage the student must successfully complete SE600, SE610, SE612 (for CTU Virtual Campus students), and SE620.

The MSCS, MSIT, MSM-ISS, MSM-IT/PM, or MSSE degree will be awarded upon successful completion of the ten approved master’s courses plus the first two courses in the doctoral degree program: one five-hour 800-level course plus one research and writing course.