The Ph.D. requirements have several components. A unit requirement ensures that students complete sufficient coursework, research and thesis credits for graduate study in Computer Science. The breadth course requirement introduces students to graduate-level topics in core Computer Science subjects and is designed to expose them to a variety of sub-disciplines. The screening procedure measures student progress towards their Ph.D. The depth requirement imparts the necessary coursework in a student’s chosen research area to enable them to perform high-quality research. The qualifying examination tests student preparation and plans for the dissertation. Finally, the dissertation defense examination evaluates the student’s completed research work. The student is deemed to have completed a Ph.D. when he or she has completed all of these requirements. The following sections describe each of these components in detail.
A student is required to complete a total of at least 60 units, at least 40 of which must be at the 500 level or above (beyond the bachelor’s degree and including the required courses listed in the breadth and depth requirements below). A student must maintain a 3.5 GPA to remain in good academic standing.
Each student is required to complete two semesters of CS 597 (1 units each, 2 maximum). In addition, a student must complete one class from each of the following 5 groups:
- Group 1
- Computer Architecture, EE 557
- Operating Systems, CS 555
- Computer Communications, CS 551
- Group 2
- Software Engineering, CS 577a
- Database Systems, CS 585
- Web Technologies, CS 571
- Group 3
- Robotics, CS 545
- Artificial Intelligence, CS 561
- Brain Theory, CS 564
- Group 4
- Computer Vision, CS 574
- 3D Graphics and Rendering, CS 580
- Geometric Modeling, CS 582
- Group 5
- Advanced Analysis of Algorithms, CS 670
- Logic and its Applications, CS 581
- Numerical Analysis, Math 501
There are several research tracks that reflect the research areas that department faculty focus on. Each track is associated with a set of courses that defines the track, and each track is defined and administered by one faculty group (see below). These tracks provide a framework that can guide a student’s selection of research area and depth coursework as well as help place their work in the context of research being conducted in the department. These tracks feature prominently in the screening requirement and the depth requirement, which are discussed below.
Because the department’s research foci evolve continuously, this document does not list the research tracks. Rather, the “current” set of tracks is always maintained here.
Tracks can be added, or removed, and courses can be added or removed from existing tracks by a vote of relevant faculty groups. The above web page will maintain a dated archive of track descriptions to enable students to determine if they met requirements that were in effect at some earlier point in time. The above web page also indicates which faculty groups administer which research tracks.
The screening procedure is used to evaluate a student’s progress in required coursework, and in selecting a research advisor.
- no later than his/her fourth semester in the program.
- or, after completing 21 units in the program which include units from at least three courses listed in the breadth requirement whichever comes earlier.
The depth requirement is intended to prepare the student for conducting research in a topic belonging to a particular track.
All doctoral students must pass a qualifying examination in Computer Science. Before passing the qualifying examination, the student must have completed his/her breadth and depth requirements.
- A thorough review of the literature highlighting inadequacies and open problems that present challenges to the proposed thesis.
- A presentation of completed work that demonstrates the student’s capability to conduct research on the proposed topic.
- A succinct thesis statement, a list of expected contributions, and a research plan together with a timeline for accomplishing the plan.
- The qualifying examination itself is an oral examination usually based on the written document.
A dissertation involving original research completes the requirements for a Ph.D. degree. A defense of the dissertation must be held as a public oral examination. The defense must be announced (electronically and posting to the department bulletin board) at least one week prior to the exam. The announcement must include the title and abstract, the venue, date and time for the examination, as well as the names of the committee members.
A student must pass the qualifying exam within four years of being admitted to the Ph.D. program. The defense must be completed within seven years of being admitted to the Ph.D. program (six if the student arrives with a relevant M.S. degree).
Doctoral students may be granted a maximum of 24 months (not necessarily consecutive) leave of absence by the department chair, or by a committee appointed by the department chair with the approval of the Graduate School. During these absences, the clock defining the time limits for the qualifying and defense examinations stops. The clock is resumed when the student returns from the leave of absence.
Students with an M.S. degree from another university may transfer courses towards satisfying the breadth requirement, and any number towards satisfying the depth requirement. Such transfers require the approval of a faculty member and the graduate school.
Existing Students and the new Ph.D. Requirements
These requirements shall apply to all students admitted for or after Fall 2004. Students admitted prior to Fall 2004 may choose to have these new requirements applied to them. To do this, the student must submit to the department an approval letter signed by the Ph.D. advisor.