NEW Ph.D. Qualifier Information (effective spring 2016)

Our department has recently approved a new format for the Ph.D. qualifying exam. The description of the new format is below. Please understand the new format and read the following information carefully:

  • The new format is mandatory for Ph.D. students who start their program in spring 2016 or later.
  • The current Ph.D. students who enrolled in their program before spring 2016 can follow either format.
  • If the current Ph.D. students opt-in to the new format, the students cannot opt-out later
  • Transition period: If the current Ph.D. students cannot pass part 1 of the Ph.D. qualifiers under the new format because of the three-semester limit, the students are given one-semester transition period (i.e., spring 2016) to complete the needed requirements.

If you have any questions regarding the qualifying exam, please contact your advisor.

Part 1 – Broad Knowledge

  • Student selects five 5000/6000-level CS lecture courses
    • Mandatory course: CS 5200 – Algorithms (unless CS 5200 was waived by the GPPC)
    • At least two additional 5000-level courses
  • Non-qualified courses
    • CS 5001 and CS 6001 courses are not allowed since they are considered as experimental courses
    • Courses taught by non-CS faculty are not allowed (faculty with courtesy appointments in the CS department are counted as CS faculty for this purpose)
  • Passing Criterion
    • A minimum GPA of 3.5 averaged on the five selected courses, taken during or before the first three semesters of the student’s Ph.D. program

Out of the PhD program if the student fails the GPA requirement

Part 2 – Research Readiness

  • The student must declare a dissertation advisor
  • Dissertation advisor
    • Provide a list of 10-15 papers fundamental to the student’s future research
    • This list is customized to the student’s research interest
  • GPPC
    • Provide feedback to the advisor regarding the quality of the papers (note that this is merely meant to ensure a high standard, not to second guess the advisor in regard appropriate papers)
  • Approve the final list

Research Qualifier Exam Committee

  • At least 3 faculty members including:
    • Dissertation advisor
    • At least one faculty member from GPPC
    • At least one faculty member who has closely related research expertise
    • All members must be graduate faculty
  • Dissertation advisor forms the exam committee
  • GPPC approves the final selection of the exam committee members
  • Written exam
    • Each committee member provides 2-3 questions based on the reading list
    • The questions need to be reviewed and agreed by the exam committee
  • Oral exam
    • A follow-up Q&A session where the committee members may ask any questions related to the selected papers and the written exam
  • The number of attempts: 2
  • Deadline
    • Must be completed by the end of the second year 
    • If the first attempt fails, the second attempt must wait for at least three months
  • Scheduling
    • The reading list is given to the student as early as possible
    • Within the deadline, a student can schedule the exam with the exam committee at any time
    • Once the questions are given to the student, the student has one week to complete the written exam
    • The oral exam will take place ideally within the first two weeks after the completion of the written exam

PhD Qualifier Information (before spring 2016)

The written portion of the Ph.D. Qualifier examination is taken at the end of the first year of Ph.D. study. It is given each fall, on the Thursday immediately before the start of the semester.  It may also be given in spring, based on demand. The Computer Science Department will be holding the Ph.D. Qualifier this Spring 2016 on January 7, 2016 from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in room 209 Computer Science Building. Please register with Dawn in room 342 Computer Science Building or by e-mail before Friday, December 11, 2015.

The Ph.D. Qualifier consists of 3 parts:

Required: Algorithms (CS 5200 (325) content) (Algorithm Sample Exam) (Algorithms Study Guide) Dr. Wei Jiang or Dr. Maggie Cheng

Choose two of the following:

If a student fails an exam from an elective area, they can re-take in the same area or choose a different area.