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Admission to Advanced Standing in the CS Program

To be formally admitted to advanced standing in the Ph.D. program, a CS student must pass a preliminary examination and meet a set of course requirements. The following requirements must be met:

  • There is significant emphasis on course work in evaluating admission to advanced standing in the CS Ph.D. program, and course grades play an important (though by no means exclusive) role in this process. The distribution of courses must contain three graduate courses (6000+) in three primary research areas. All students must take CS 6310, which can be used to satisfy the distribution requirements above as a course in Computing Foundations. Additional information regarding the CS Ph.D. degree can be found  here.
  • The procedure for advanced standing in the Ph.D. program consists of the following two components:
    1. The student’s performance in courses in the graduate program. The student’s overall performance in graduate coursework will be considered. Although the expectation is that students will have better than a 3.5 GPA for the Ph.D. program course requirements, the final pass/fail decision will be based on a vote of the CS program faculty. Students with GPA lower than 3.5 must file a petition for continuing in the program explaining the weak performance, devising a plan for improvement, and demonstrating strong progress in research.
    2. The student’s performance in the preliminary examination. This will be an in depth examination in the student’s area of research. A panel of three or more faculty approved by the DGS will conduct the examination. The preliminary examination focuses on a research topic (which may span multiple primary areas) selected by the student and the advisor and consists of a written and an oral part. The written part is based on a paper led by the student that can be (1) a paper submitted, accepted, or published or (2) a paper presenting a critical review of a research problem. Examples of specifications for written papers for previous preliminary examinations are available. The oral part consists of a presentation of the research paper and an in-depth oral examination. Note that the preliminary examination committee, with the approval of the DGS, may alter the examination requirements in individual cases. Additional information regarding the preliminary examination can be found  here

The process in place for formal admission to candidacy proceeds with an evaluation of student performance that occurs in a full faculty meeting, and the final pass/fail/repeat decision is based on CS faculty vote. A fail decision implies that a student is out of the program, and a repeat decision implies that the student has one more chance to pass the examination.

The preliminary examination must be taken in the second year preferably in the fall semester (for PhD students admitted in the fall semester).

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are expected to present a Departmental seminar before they complete the Qualifying examinations.