Ph.D. Milestones for Computer Science Students

The Qualifying Exam and Defense benchmark forms are here on VASE's website: https://viterbigrad.usc.edu/academic-services/forms/. All committee forms require the Chair and Dean's approval before the oral exams can proceed.  

Qualifying Exam

Students will initiate this particular form (DocuSign):

Qualifying Exam Committee: The qualifying exam committee is composed of five members. The committee chair and at least two additional members must have an appointment in the student's program. This includes tenured, tenure track, research, teaching, practitioner, and clinical faculty expertise.  At least one committee member must be tenured in the Computer Science Department.

A USC faculty member outside the student's home program is called an "outside member." For outside Faculty, the Dean of the school decides the judgment of the qualification of the outside faculty member's primary appointment. The "outside member" must be a full-time USC faculty member whose primary appointment is in a unit outside CS and who chairs PhD committees in that home unit. The "external member," if included on the committee, must submit a CV and statement from the committee chair for consideration by the Dean to serve on the committee. 

Students must complete the written exam a few days before the oral exam. The written exam and oral exam cannot occur on the same day.  Please also review our PHD requirements, particularly for qualifying exams, here:

https://www.cs.usc.edu/academic-programs/phd/

Once students initiate the form, students should inform the committee and encourage them to sign it. After the faculty signs, it will come to a PhD advisor, and then the form routes to the Chair, followed by the Dean's office. Signatures for the form take time, so please submit it at least 30 days before the qualifying exam.

Thesis Proposal Presentation

Information about the Thesis Proposal Presentation is in our CS PHD requirements (please review):

https://www.cs.usc.edu/academic-programs/phd/

A new formal committee is NOT required just for the thesis proposal. Students may use their qualifying exam members (guidance committee members).  At least one committee member must be tenured in the Computer Science Department. The faculty advisor must confirm the thesis proposal results and committee members for the department to record.

Please submit the thesis proposal information below to cs.phd@usc.edu so our staff can post it online:

  • Presentation Title and Abstract
  • Location
  • Date and Time
  • Names of the Guidance Committee members

Defense

Information about the PHD defense is in our CS PHD requirements (please review):

https://www.cs.usc.edu/academic-programs/phd/

The dissertation defense committee must have at least three (3) members, of which at least two must have an appointment in Computer Science. The student's dissertation advisor will chair the committee. At least one committee member must be tenured in the Computer Science Department. The committee must also include one tenured (or tenure-track) USC faculty member outside the department whose primary appointment is not in Computer Science.  The committee chair with a joint Computer Science appointment is ineligible to be an outside committee member.

Generally, students initiate the Defense Committee form at least 30 days in advance. The form must have Dean-level approval before the student can proceed with the Defense. In addition, the Defense must be announced at least one week in advance, so please contact the PhD office with (information below) once the date is set to post the Defense; two weeks is preferred.

Specifically, students will initiate this form (DocuSign):

The Defense must be held in person and attended by all committee members, students, and the Chair.  Finally, please submit the information below to cs.phd@usc.edu so our staff can post it online (noted in our PHD requirements). The following defense announcement information at least one week in advance so we can post this online:

  • Dissertation Title and Abstract
  • Location
  • Date and Time
  • Names of the Dissertation Defense Committee members

Published on June 17th, 2024

Last updated on June 17th, 2024