Skip to main content

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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. For admission to advanced standing in the Ph.D. program, 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 advanced graduate courses in the student's primary research area, and four advanced graduate courses in at least three of the other primary research areas. All students must take CS 6310, which can be used to satisfy the distribution requirements above.
  • 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.
    2. The student’s performance in the preliminary examination. This will be an in depth examination on graduate course material and seminal research papers (to be decided before the exam) in the student’s area of research. A panel of three or more faculty approved by the DGS will conduct the examination. The panel shall include the student’s research advisor, one other faculty from that research area, and a third tenured faculty member who does not belong to that research area. The Director of Graduate Studies in Computer Science will appoint the third faculty member. Depending on the student’s research interests other faculty may be selected by the research advisor to participate in the examination. Details of the examination (e.g., an oral examination, a written examination, or a combination of both) are left to the individual research areas (the procedure for the CS preliminary examination for the primary research areas can be found at http://eecs.vuse.vanderbilt.edu/programs/cs_prelim_procedures).
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. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are expected to present a Departmental seminar before they complete the Qualifying examinations.