A student interested in earning the PhD must be admitted into that program. Master’s students interested in the PhD program are encouraged to take the preliminary exams.

1 Residency Requirement

All students seeking the PhD degree in the CSD must engage in a minimum of one term of full time graduate study by the end of the term in which the comprehensive examination (see Section 5) is taken.

2 PHD Course Requirements

The PhD degree requires 72 credits of formal course work, independent study, directed study, and/or dissertation research.

The following 12 courses must be completed with an overall grade point average of “3.0” or better:

Course Requirements

A. The following 12 courses must be completed with an overall grade point average of “3.0” or better:

  • CS 2001, Research Topics in Computer Science, and CS 2002, Research Experiences in Computer Science. Students are required to take CS 2001 during their first fall term and CS 2002 the following spring.
  • At least one course from each of the following foundation areas.
    • Architecture and Compilers
      CS 2410 Computer Architecture or
      CS 2210 Compiler Design
    • Operating Systems and Networks
      CS 2510 Computer Operating Systems or
      CS 2520 Wide Area Networks
    • Artificial Intelligence and Database Systems
      CS 2710 Foundations of Artificial Intelligence or
      CS 2550 Principles of Database Systems
    • Theory and Algorithms
      CS 2110 Introduction to Theory of Computation or
      CS 2150 Design and Analysis of Algorithms.
  • An additional 6 graduate-level CSD courses (for a total of 12 courses). These courses must be 2100-level or higher CSD courses and cannot be independent study courses (CS2990, CS3000), graduate internship (CS2900), thesis project or research courses (CS2910, CS3900).
  • At least 2 courses must be at the 3000-level.
  • The following requirements apply to the 12 required courses:
  • All must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Students are required to complete the four required foundation area courses by the end of the fourth regular term of study. Regular terms include the fall and spring and do not include the summer session.
  • The student must receive a grade of B or better in each of the required foundation area courses, and a grade of B- or better in each of the six additional courses; in addition, he or she must maintain an overall average QPA of 3.0 or better.
  • No more than 6 of the 12 courses may be taken outside of the CSD. This includes courses that are transferred from other universities. All courses from outside the CSD must be approved by GPEC; see Section 2.6 of Graduate Policies and Advising for details.
  • All courses must be at the 2000- or 3000-level and at least 2 courses must be at the 3000-level. Courses in the range 20xx (e.g., CS2045) do not count toward the 12 course requirement.
  • All 12 courses must be successfully completed before admission to candidacy for the PhD (This normally occurs when the student passes the oral examination during the dissertation proposal.)

B. CS2003 Requirements

  • After completing CS 2001 and CS 2002, students must enroll in CS 2003 until receiving a satisfactory grade of S for 4 regular terms.
  • In order to receive a satisfactory grade of S, students must:(a) Attend at least seventy percent (70%) of Departmental Research Colloquia offered at the regularly scheduled course time over the course of the term. If there are an unexpectedly high number of Colloquia in a term (approximately more than one per week), attending only 10 Colloquia is required.GSO-sponsored colloquia occurring within the regularly scheduled course time shall be included in the count of colloquia offered for this requirement.(b) Perform at least one (1) approved Research Activity during a regular term (fall or spring) of each academic year.Options include: Presenting a GSO-sponsored colloquium for CS 2003, presenting a poster at the alumni research reception (fall) or CS Day poster competition (spring), or participating in the CS Department research competition. Other related activities may be presented to GPEC in petition for approval.This annual requirement shall be evaluated only in the spring term and shall consider the academic year beginning with the prior fall term. As such, students may receive an S in the fall term having only fulfilled requirement (a), with the expectation that requirement (b) will be fulfilled in the spring.

3 Timetable

Milestone Limits
Preliminary Exam Must be passed within 2 regular terms after full status admission.
Foundation Area Courses Must be passed within 4 regular terms after admission.
Permanent advisor Students must establish a formal research advisee/advisor relationship within 4 regular terms after admission.
Comprehensive Exam Must be passed within 4 calendar years of admission.
Oral Proposal Must be passed within 5 years after full status admission.
Defense and Dissertation Submit an approved dissertation to the School Dean a minimum of 8 months after passing the proposal.
Statute of Limitations PhD degree must be completed within a period of ten calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate study (or within eight calendar years for students who enter with a master’s degree). These limits apply to all students, whether full-time or part-time.

Please note that each of the above milestones must be satisfied by the indicated deadline as part of maintaining good academic standing in the department.

4 PHD Preliminary Examinations

During the first two regular terms of study, each student must pass:

– At least 2 courses at the 2100 – 2899 level with a grade of A- or higher

– At least 2 courses at the 2100 – 2899 level with a grade of B or higher

At least one of the courses taken for an A- must be a required foundation area course. Students are not permitted to repeat a class that they have passed (i.e., earned B or better) in order to improve the grade (i.e., to A or A-).  Regular terms include the fall and spring and do not include the summer term.

5 PHD Comprehensive Examination

The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to test the depth of knowledge of the student in one or more areas that are related to the student’s area of research and that are approved by the comprehensive examination committee.

To pass the comprehensive exam a student must demonstrate sufficient expertise and depth of knowledge in a selected area of foundation to conduct research leading to a dissertation in that area. The comprehensive exam is an oral exam and is administered by at least three(3) CSD faculty that compose the PhD dissertation proposal committee. The committee has to be approved by the department chair at least four(4) weeks before the scheduled exam date.

The student will prepare a 30 minute presentation which will be followed by an oral question and answer session. The exam is based on a reading list. The student should agree on a reading list with each member of the comprehensive exam committee at least two weeks prior to the exam. The length of the exam is at least two hours and the focus and goal of the presentation and the question and answer session will be specified by the committee at least two weeks before the exam.

Normally, the comprehensive exam should be completed within 1.5 years of completing the preliminary exams.

6 Dissertation Proposal

All PhD students must conduct original research leading to a dissertation. This research must be conducted under the direction of a faculty advisor and begins with the preparation of a dissertation proposal. A written dissertation proposal of approximately 30-40 pages and a presentation of the dissertation proposal are made to a committee of graduate faculty. This committee will examine the dissertation topic and research methods. The committee has to be approved by the department chair at least two(2) weeks before distributing the proposal or the dissertation to the committee.

The intent of requiring a dissertation proposal and an examination on it is to provide opportunities for substantive feedback from a student’s committee on the dissertation topic and methods of research. The proposal and examination can aid the student in identifying especially promising research issues and in avoiding work that the committee deems to be unnecessary or inappropriate.

After obtaining approval of the dissertation proposal from the faculty committee, a student gains the official status of a PhD candidate. At this time the proposed research is conducted under the direction of the faculty advisor. Yearly meetings with the student’s dissertation committee are required. Upon completion of the research, and subject to agreement from the faculty advisor and committee, the candidate schedules an open meeting at which the dissertation is presented and defended.

6.1 Doctoral Committee

Each student intending to complete a PhD degree should work carefully with his or her advisor to select a doctoral committee. The committee is composed of:

  • The student’s advisor, who must be a full time (primary appointment) CSD faculty member and a member of the School graduate faculty. A student may also have a co-advisor, but the co-advisor must have a primary or secondary (including adjunct) appointment in the CSD. A co-advisor must also be a member of the School graduate faculty.
  • At least two other faculty members with a primary appointment in the CSD, one of whom must be tenured in the CSD.
  • At least one faculty member from another department within the University, that would serve as an external member. The external member(s) should also be a member of the graduate faculty. With the approval of the School Dean, the external member of the committee may come from outside the University. The external member can not serve as a co-advisor.

A majority of the committee members, including the advisor, must be members of the School graduate faculty. School regulations require that the doctoral candidate and his or her committee meet at least once per year to evaluate the candidate’s progress. The membership of the committee may be changed whenever it is appropriate or necessary, subject to the approval of the CSD chair and the Dean of School. The committee, or any change to its member, has to be approved by the department chair at least four (4) weeks before distributing the proposal or the dissertation to the committee. Note that the doctoral committee need not be identical to the comprehensive examination committee, although usually there will be significant overlap between the two.

6.2 Written Proposal

A written proposal must be distributed to the examining committee at least two weeks in advance of the oral examination on the proposal.

There is no specific requirement on the length of the written proposal. However, each member of the Doctoral Committee may request that the student provides him/her with a short document (about 30-40 double-spaced pages) that summarizes the proposed research. This document normally contains:

  • a clear statement of the problem to be solved,
  • proposed methods of solution,
  • scholarly review of related work,
  • preliminary results obtained from a prototype program and/or a partial analysis, and
  • a detailed research plan, stating the issues remaining to be addressed and suggestions for how they will be addressed, within a specified time frame.

Additional documents (including papers or technical reports) may be provided as appendices.

6.3 Oral Examination on the Proposal

After writing the proposal and conferring with his or her advisor, the student must schedule an oral examination and send an announcement of the examination to all faculty and graduate students at least one week in advance of it.

The oral examination (sometimes called the prospectus meeting) consists of two parts:

  • a public presentation of the proposal open to all members of the University community, followed by questions from the general audience; this component is normally 40-50 minutes in length, and
  • a private examination by the doctoral committee.

Any CSD faculty member may attend the private examination, but only the examining committee will vote on results. The doctoral committee must unanimously approve the dissertation topic and research plan before the student may be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

The oral examination must be announced to the CSD community via the faculty and graduate student mailing lists. This announcement must be at least one week prior to the examination. The announcement should include a title, abstract, advisor(s) name(s), committee member names, date of examination and location of examination. The abstract is due to the graduate administrator at least four(4) weeks before the scheduled proposal date.

It is the student’s responsibility to schedule meetings with members of the examining committee within a few weeks after the examination to review criticisms and suggestions.

After passing the oral examination on the proposal, a student gains the official status of a PhD candidate.

7 Dissertation Research and Defense

The student must meet with his or her entire dissertation committee at least once per year during the time in which the research is being done. The student will also be meeting regularly with his or her advisor.

Upon completion of the research, the student prepares a written dissertation, and, in consultation with his or her advisor and dissertation committee, schedules a public oral defense.

The oral defense must take place at least 8 months after the admission to candidacy. The normal format for the defense of dissertation is a public oral presentation of the research followed by questions by the dissertation committee and general audience. Only the dissertation committee will vote on the result. If the outcome is not unanimous, the case is referred to the Dean for resolution.

The oral defense is public and open to all members of the University community. It must be publicly announced to the school and CSD (via the faculty and graduate mailing lists) at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. The announcement should include a thesis title, abstract, advisor(s) name(s), committee member names, date of defense and location of defense. The abstract is due to the graduate administrator at least four(4) weeks before the scheduled defense date.

It is the responsibility of the student’s advisor to ensure that the dissertation is in final form before requesting signatures of all committee members. After the final oral examination is successfully completed, the student must submit his or hers theses or dissertation electronically. Check the website to see what you will need to submit for the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD).

8 Research, Internship Training Requirement

8.1 Research Training

Because the PhD degree is a research degree, students should expect to participate in research projects as a way of learning the art of doing research. Normally, a student will start by working with a faculty member on a pre-defined research problem, and later will define his or her own research problem as the subject of the dissertation.

There is no departmental requirement that students participate in the preparation of research grant proposals. However, it is desirable that all doctoral students have some exposure to the process of preparing and submitting research grant proposals. Normally this will be part of the mentoring by each student’s advisor.

8.2 Internships

When an international student does an internship, he or she must use Curricular Practical Training (CPT). If a student on an F-1 visa has engaged in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training, he/she will be ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

A. Glossary

CSD
Computer Science Department
School
The school to which you are enrolled, the School of Computing and Information or the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences
GAFA
Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee
GPEC
Graduate Programs and Examinations Committee
QPA
Quality Point Average

B. Whom to Contact

Department Chair Prof. Taieb Znati
Graduate Programs Director Prof. Adam Lee
Chair of GPEC Prof. Panos Chrysanthis
Chair of GAFA Prof. Adam Lee
Graduate Programs Administrator Mrs. Keena Walker