Milestones

The PhD requirements are organized in two stages.

Stage 1. Qualification Stage

  1. Breadth Requirement: Satisfied by completing six graduate courses that carry breadth-requirement credit. Two of these courses must be in theoretical computer science and four must be in applied computer science, with at least one course in each of the Systems, Software, and Applications tracks of the curriculum. Each of the six courses must be passed with a grade of B- or higher, with an average of at least 3.5 for all six courses.
  2. Depth Requirement: Satisfied by having students pass an in-depth subject exam in one of the 4 areas of Computer Science (see above). One or more subject exams will be available in each area. The syllabus for a subject exam and its format are designed by faculty members that specialize in that subject. Students must register for a subject exam before October 15 of each academic year. Exams are held within 6 weeks of that date and results are available by the end of the Fall semester.

Stage 2. Thesis Stage

  1. Oral Exam: The purpose of this requirement is to demonstrate ability to conduct research on a topic chosen by the student and approved by a thesis advisor. An oral exam requires the formation of an oral exam committee, which is a precursor to the thesis committee. This is equivalent to a master’s thesis defense and could be used to award terminal master’s degrees to students judged unable to complete a PhD by the oral examination committee.
  2. Thesis Proposal: The purpose of this requirement is to provide students with early feedback on their proposed thesis. A thesis proposal must be approved by an official thesis committee (1st, 2nd, and 3rd readers). The first reader (Major Advisor) must be a CS faculty member.
  3. Thesis Defense.

Milestone Deadlines

The following are the deadlines for achieving the various milestones described above. These deadlines are not to be construed as expected times to complete the various milestones, but rather as “worst-case” times. In other words, a student in good standing will typically meet these milestones earlier (and hopefully much earlier) than the bounds specified below. Please take note!

PhD Timeline (Post-BA)

  • Breadth Requirements: at most 4 semesters (2 years)
  • Depth Requirements: at most 6 semesters (3 years)
  • Oral Exam: at most 8 semesters (4 years)
  • Thesis Proposal: at most 10 semesters (5 years)
  • Thesis Defense: at most 12 semesters (6 years)

PhD Timeline (Post-MA)

  • Breadth Requirements: at most 4 semesters (2 years)
  • Depth Requirements: at most 4 semesters (2 years)
  • Oral Exam: at most 6 semesters (3 years)
  • Thesis Proposal: at most 8 semesters (4 years)
  • Thesis Defense: at most 10 semesters (5 years)