Plan of Study
PhD Preliminary Exams
Area Examination Requirement
PhD Thesis Advisor and Committee
PhD Comprehensive Exam/Proposal
PhD Thesis Defense
MS Degree for PhD Students
Each graduate student is assigned an initial advisor when they are accepted into the program. PhD students consult with their faculty advisor to develop the Plan of Study, detailing courses to fulfill the breadth and depth requirements and the Preliminary Exam to be attempted. First-year PhD students must submit their Plan of Study, signed by their advisor, before registering for courses in their second semester. The duties of the faculty advisor will later be assumed by the chair of the student's thesis committee.
This document lists the courses intended to fulfill the breadth and depth course requirements, and is signed by the faculty advisor (including any co-advisors). Revising the plan of study requires a new advisor signature. A minimum of thirty credit hours of graduate level courses are required. In addition, a minimum of thirty credit hours of thesis work are required for all doctoral degrees within the Graduate School. Students are encouraged to take a mixture of breadth and depth courses during the first 2.5 years.
Several examinations that are required by the Computer Science Department for graduation with a PhD degree are described below. In addition, there are requirements of the Graduate School that must be met.
These include requirements related to:
The PhD Preliminary Exam fulfills the Graduate School requirement for a Preliminary Exam. The Exam consists of an Area Examination Requirement plus Course Requirements.
The doctoral degree includes breadth courses and depth courses. Depth courses should be closely related to the student’s research interests and should be intellectually distinct from breadth courses. Breadth courses should cover a range of Computer Science topics outside the student’s research interests.
Five 5000-level (not 6000- or 7000-) Computer Science courses must be taken, according to the following requirements:
CSCI 6000 - Introduction to the Computer Science PhD Program - is a required course for all new PhD students and must be taken in the first semester of joining the program.
Fifteen credit hours of graduate level courses, from any department, organized in support of the student’s chosen research focus and according to the following requirements:
The purpose of the Area Examination is to ensure that the student has sufficient depth to begin research in a selected area. Thus the exam tests knowledge of the general area of computer science that contains the research topic, deeper specialized knowledge of the specific research area that the student will be working in, and intellectual sophistication needed to conduct research in the area.
The area examination contrasts with the comprehensive exam, which is devoted to a focused research theme. It complements the course work requirement of the preliminary exam, which is meant to build breadth in Computer Science in general and general knowledge of the student's research area.
Each student is given an advisor on entry to the PhD program. During the first semester of PhD studies, the student must file a Preliminary Exam Plan, approved by the advisor. The plan specifies the courses and the Area Exam.
An Area Exam Report must be submitted upon successful completion of the exam.
The student must find a thesis topic and a thesis committee; these are usually done in parallel. The committee must include five faculty, one of whom is from outside the Computer Science Department.
The thesis topic must be acceptable to the committee and the committee must believe that the student is capable of doing the research needed to complete a thesis on this topic. This is measured by the comprehensive exam (Graduate School's terminology), which as implemented in Computer Science is really a thesis proposal to the student's committee.
The student's thesis advisor is the chair of the thesis committee and takes over the advisory role from the student's initial advisor.
Each student is expected to take the Comprehensive Exam/Proposal within four years of the student's admission to regular degree status. The purposes of the Comprehensive Exam are to insure that:
The exam, normally an oral exam, will be given by the student's five-person thesis committee (approved by the Department Chairman). A passing grade is given if at least four of the five members of the examining committee vote to award to passing grade. The student shall not, however, receive a passing grade if the Chair of the examining committee does not vote to award a passing grade. Doctoral Comprehensive Examinations must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance by submitting a Doctoral Examination Report.
A thesis based on original investigation and showing mature scholarship and critical judgment, as well as familiarity with tools and methods of research, must be written on some subject approved by the student's Thesis Advisory Committee.
After the thesis has been completed, a final exam on the thesis and related topics will be conducted. This exam is oral and open to anyone.
The exam will be conducted by a committee, appointed by the Dean, which will consist of no fewer than five representatives, including at least one member of each department in which the student has worked, and including at least one other professor from the University at large.
More than one dissenting vote will disqualify the candidate in the final exam. Thesis Defense must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance by submitting a Doctoral Examination Report.
The Graduate School will allow doctoral students to transfer up to 21 semester hours of graduate course work at another institution toward the PhD degree. All transfer requests must have departmental approval. Transfer requests can be made with the Request for Transfer of Credit.
A student pursuing a program of study toward the PhD degree will not normally receive the MS degree. A PhD student desiring to receive the MS degree must, of course, satisfy the requirements for that degree; the most important additional requirement in this case is the completion of an MS thesis or the non-thesis option. Course work taken at this university to satisfy the requirements for the MS degree in Computer Science normally will be counted in considering the minimum requirement of course work for the PhD degree in Computer Science cited above except for MS thesis hours.