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Ph.D. Software Engineering

A new code search engine. New insights into how trust emerges (or doesn’t) in distributed software development organizations. New visualizations to aid developers in debugging code. New lessons about the quality of open-source components. A new Internet infrastructure that enables secure computational exchange.

These are just some examples of the wide variety of projects being worked on by current Ph.D. students in the software engineering Ph.D. program at UC Irvine.

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.

Why study at UC Irvine?

  • Excellence. You will be part of a world-class group of faculty and students who have an outstanding track record of publishing innovative and impactful research.
  • Placement. We prepare our students for rich, fulfilling careers — as faculty members in academia, researchers at corporate research labs, development leads all throughout the industry and entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.
  • Support. You will join a team that strongly believes that working together is essential to progress. Whether within a research group or across groups, we encourage you to seek advice from and work with other faculty members and students.
  • Connections. We host a steady stream of visitors from all over the world to whom you get to talk, demo and present. Moreover, we help connect you with research labs and industry for internships that complement your research.
  • 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.


We are always looking for talented students to join! To learn more about our work and accomplishments, we encourage you to explore this web site, as well as the web sites of many research labs and centers in the department. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via our vice chair for graduate affairs or by e-mailing one of the software engineering faculty directly.

Detailed requirements

Please see the catalogue for a detailed description of the requirements of the software engineering Ph.D. program.