Can a PhD thesis in computer science have two major parts? Lets assume the research goals are closely related, yet for the sake of better understanding and clarity, the thesis is divided into two parts e.g. parts A & B?

  • I've seen PhD thesis with four parts. I think you will be fine as long as these parts are all approaches towards a unified goal/result.
    – Olórin
    Sep 22, 2018 at 20:39
  • Was that in CS ?
    – SyCode
    Sep 22, 2018 at 20:41
  • Yes, the research was done in a CS group, but more applied math than CS. I think my old advisor mentioned to me that a thesis with multiple parts is considered "non-standard", but maybe he is behind on the times. Plenty of students publish thesis with multiple, distinct parts.
    – Olórin
    Sep 22, 2018 at 20:42
  • I see, maybe it's slightly different since mine is more practically oriented, with experiments and models.
    – SyCode
    Sep 22, 2018 at 20:44
  • 1
    End of day, what is a PhD thesis? It is an evidence to the fact that you know how to do research. At my university, there is no specific requirement that a thesis must contain x part(s). Yes, a thesis may look odd if it contains un-related topics. However, that shouldn't stop you from graduating. Sep 22, 2018 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


This is a question for your advisor. In general, what is acceptable in a thesis is what your advisor and committee will accept. If the division into parts makes everything clearer then all to the good. If the two parts complement one another, say theory and application, then it should be fine if the advisor agrees.

But also, what is a "Part" is also a function of the writing style. In CS, for example, one "part" might be new and necessary algorithms and another part might be how they are applied, or evaluated, or ...

But a thesis that tries to solve two different problems is likely less useful unless they are tightly bound. In such a case, focus on one "part" and save the rest as future work.

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