Prior to Enrollment

The faculty and staff of the Department of Computer Science must ensure that all applicants to graduate study are accurately informed about current degree requirements as well as financial aid and other support mechanisms and facilities. Accordingly, the following means for such communication are the responsibility of the people or committees identified:

Gradaute Programs Publicity Materials

The department chair and/or the faculty member appointed to oversee and update all departmental publications, such as the graduate brochure and graduate poster, are responsible. Updating must be done with inputs from all faculty and relevant faculty committees, especially GAFA and GPEC (see below), as well as the graduate programs secretary.

Department Web Site

The appointed departmental webmaster must ensure that only current descriptions of graduate programs and regulations are posted.

Detailed Regulations for Graduate Studies

It is impossible to include all detailed rules and policies in the biannual graduate brochure. Instead, students should refer to "Regulations for Graduate Studies," the internal, 20-page document that is the responsibility of the Graduate Programs and Examinations Committee (GPEC). This document is available to students either in hard copy or on the department Web site.

Direct, Personal Communication

The chair and other faculty members of the Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee (GAFA), in addition to the Graduate Programs Secretary, respond to all written inquiries, including e-mail, from prospective graduate students.

New Student Orientation

Orientation programs are the responsibility of the chairs of GAFA and GPEC, the faculty member responsible for TA work assignments, the graduate programs secretary, and various other staff and faculty. These programs run prior to the beginning of the term for which the students are enrolling.

The above-mentioned "Regulations for Graduate Studies," updated whenever necessary, is particularly helpful during the initial orientation of new graduate students. Some highlights from this document follow:

Advisors and Student Evaluations

When students enter the department, they are assigned a temporary advisor. This advisor guides the student in selecting courses and provides advice and information about the student's academic program. The advisor signs the student's registration form each semester, unless the student is on probation. (During a probationary period, the student must have the registration form signed by the graduate enrollment officer.)

A student may change advisors at any time, after obtaining the agreement of the new advisor. Advisors present information about their students at the annual student performance evaluation meeting.

When a student begins independent work on either an MS or PhD project, they will negotiate with a faculty member to supervise this work and to become the student's principal advisor. The principal advisor replaces the temporary advisor, and assumes the responsibility for guiding the student in their academic program, for signing their registration form, and for presenting information about them at the annual student performance evaluation meeting. The principal advisor also guides the student in selecting an appropriate research problem for an MS project, MS thesis, or PhD dissertation, and oversees the work.

All students should meet with their advisor at least once per semester. Students engaged in research will normally meet with their advisor much more frequently.

Annual Student Performance Evaluation Meeting

Every spring, the department faculty hold a meeting to evaluate student progress. Information about each student's academic progress during the previous 12-month period is presented by their advisor. It is the student's responsibility to provide the advisor with any supporting material requested for the evaluation meeting. After the meeting, students will receive a letter from the GPEC chair describing the faculty's assessment. Students who are not making satisfactory progress in the program will be sent a warning letter stating specific performance goals. Failure to meet those goals may result in termination from the program.


The following parties share responsibilities for a student's academic progress:

The student is expected to:

  • Be knowledgeable of FAS and departmental regulations;
  • Keep the advisor current about academic status (i.e., provisional or probation), progress, and plans;
  • Register for courses on time (preferably as early as possible);
  • Assist the secretary in the graduate programs office in keeping a current file, including an up-to-date mailing address;
  • Notify the secretary in the graduate programs office if they change advisors;
  • Provide the advisor with materials for the spring evaluation meeting;
  • If a doctoral student, file an application for candidacy for the PhD degree, after passing the dissertation proposal examination and at least eight months before the defense of the dissertation;
  • Follow the published instructions on FAS procedures for graduation, including filing an official application for graduation early in the term in which graduation is expected;
  • Deliver two copies of a final MS thesis or PhD dissertation to the computer science library, and deliver the required copies of the thesis or dissertation, abstracts, and a receipt for the binding/microfilming fee to the FAS dean's office.

The advisor is expected to:

  • Assist the student in selecting courses and sign their registration form (except in the case of students who are on probation, and whose form must be signed by the graduate enrollment officer);
  • Counsel the student and verify that their planned program is appropriate, given the student's academic goals and the department regulations;
  • Assess the student's progress towards a degree and provide them with relevant advice;
  • Present information about the student's progress at the annual student performance evaluation meeting;
  • Assist the student in selecting a research area and a principal advisor;
  • As principal advisor, validate the appropriateness of the student's research problem for an MS project or thesis or PhD dissertation;
  • As principal advisor, assist the student in forming the thesis, comprehensive examination, and/or dissertation supervising committees, as appropriate;
  • As principal advisor, oversee the student's oral examination for an MS thesis, doctoral comprehensive examination, doctoral dissertation proposal meeting, and doctoral dissertation defense examination;
  • In all cases, after the examination has been completed, the advisor secures the signatures of all committee members, completes the required forms, and gives them to the secretary in the department's graduate programs office, then communicates the results to the student.

The chairperson of GPEC is expected to:

  • Act on petitions for transfer of credit, substitution of course requirements, and similar matters;
  • Announce the timing of PhD preliminary examinations to all graduate students and faculty;
  • Oversee the preparation, grading, and review of these examinations;
  • Report the results of the examinations to the student, the student's advisor, the secretary in department's graduate programs office, and the FAS dean.

Annual Seminar on Research Integrity

Ever since the University (under the leadership of former Dean Jerry Rosenberg) initiated workshops on research integrity, the Department of Computer Science has annually appointed a senior faculty member to conduct such a seminar for all new graduate students. Included is a characterization of what constitutes an effective and ethical advisor-student relationship, including the conditions and related practices for assigning credit on co-authored research papers and other products.

FAS and Provost's Office Rules and Guidelines

The department recognizes the importance of good advising and mentoring. One of our senior faculty members, who played a vital role in defining and promoting good advising practices in the department as well as in the FAS graduate dean's office, has just been awarded the Presidential Award of Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

Accordingly, the department is committed to adhering not only to its own rules and policies on effective advising but also those that are produced and implemented by higher-level offices, such as to be found in the Elements of Good Academic Advising, University Council on Graduate Study, Office of the Provost, January 1999.

Other policies and procedures are detailed in the "Regulations for Graduate Study."

General Requirements

The student must:

  • Take only 2000- or 3000-level courses. Courses at the 1000-level and below do not count toward the PhD.
  • Take all 12 (core and elective) courses for a letter grade;
  • Earn a B or better in each of the four core courses;
  • Receive a grade of C or better in all other courses;
  • Maintain an overall average of B or better.

Other requirements and procedures are detailed in the "Regulations for Graduate Study."