Requirements for Computer Science Ph.D. students entering the program prior to Fall 2021:

Ph.D. students in the CS program must satisfy a "Graduate Breadth" requirement which involves taking, in addition to the four mandated first-year courses, another four regular graduate-level courses in Computer Science and Engineering or a closely related subject. Courses appropriate to the student's educational objectives should be selected in consultation with the student's advisor. The plan must be approved by the advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies for CSE, and the Chair of the CSE Department. To satisfy the requirement, courses must be at the 400-level and may not be research, independent study, experimental, or special topics courses (for example, courses numbers CSE 450 or CSE 49X will not satisfy the requirement).

A. Seminar Requirements

All first- and second-year Ph.D. students must attend a minimum of five CSE Department seminars per semester.  Qualifying seminars include:

* CSE Department research seminars

* CSE Department faculty candidate research talks

* CSE Department Graduate Research Seminar Series (GRSS) student talks

* CSE Department Ph.D. dissertation defenses

In addition, every Ph.D. student is required to present at the GRSS at least once prior to graduation.

Successful completion of these requirements will be verified during the annual Ph.D. student review process held each Spring.  If it is determined that a student has not met the attendance requirements in the first or second years, he/she will be required to submit a remediation plan coordinated with his/her advisor and approved by the department chair.

B.  First Year Course Requirements

All first-year Ph.D. students must take the following courses as part of their academic schedule:

Fall Semester

  • CSE411 Advanced Programming Techniques
  • CSE406 Research Methodologies & Tools

Spring Semester

  • CSE403 Advanced OS Design  -or-  CSE409 Theory of Computation
  • CSE440 (formerly CSE 441) Advanced Algorithms

Students must attain an average GPA of at least 3.60 across the four courses.  Failure to achieve these standards will be grounds for dismissal from the Ph.D. program. Performance in the four core courses will be used in assessing first-year Ph.D. students in the annual review which takes place each Spring.

C.  Qualifier Requirement

Students must complete a Depth Study by the end of the second year after being admitted to the Ph.D. program.  The Depth Study entails performing an in-depth literature survey and analysis of a research area of computer science, writing an article that gives a comparative analysis of that literature and discusses future research directions, and giving a public presentation of that analysis.  The analysis should include a discussion of how different approaches and results contained in the literature studied might be integrated to produce improvements.  Satisfaction of the requirement will be determined by a "depth requirement committee," consisting of three members of the CSE faculty that agree to serve on the committee at the student's request.  The literature survey will include seminal papers and survey papers that provide the foundations of the research area, and recent articles that define the state of the art in the area.  The number of articles must be determined in a case-by-case basis by the committee, but should consist of roughly 10 significant articles.  Some of the articles will be identified by the committee, while others will be identified through the student's literature search.

Depending on the area, the committee may ask the student to implement selected established techniques to verify claims in the research articles.  The student's article must be written well enough to be submitted to a journal publication, such as ACM Computing Surveys, although submission to a journal for publication is not required.  Regardless, articles must be submitted to be included in the department's technical report repository after approval by the committee

From this list of papers, the student and his/her advisor will agree upon 2-4 papers for a more in-depth analysis in oral exam format.  The presentation of the student's analysis must be announced to the department faculty and students one week before it will be held, and must be attended by the depth requirement committee.  That committee is responsible for certifying that the quality of the written and oral presentations, as well as the student's response to questions on the material, meets the depth requirement.

Satisfying the depth requirement will require a significant amount of time and effort.  Students are encouraged to begin work on this requirement as soon as possible.  It is expected that students will perform much of the work in conjunction with taking Independent Study (CSE 492) and/or graduate research seminar courses that are offered by a member of the depth requirement committee.  However, receiving a good grade in such courses does not imply completion of the depth requirement.  Presentations given as part of the course can meet the presentation requirement if they are publicly announced, are attended by the depth requirement committee, and meet the quality standards of the depth requirement.  The depth requirement must be complete by the end of the second year.  It would not be unusual that a student will need more than one semester to complete the requirement.  Therefore, students are encouraged to select their committee and begin their work on the depth requirement by the beginning of the second year.  The student is responsible for identifying the depth requirement committee, and to work with that committee to determine the area of research on which to perform the literature survey.

The doctoral committee in CS must have at least four members, of which at least three must be CSE faculty members and at least one must be a member from outside the CSE Department.

Note to Ph.D. students in Computer Engineering advised and/or supported by CSE faculty

While Items A, B, and C below are not formal program requirements for Ph.D. students in Computer Engineering, individual CSE faculty advisors may specify these guidelines so that they can assess student performance as a condition of providing financial support.  The formal requirement for the Qualifier in Computer Engineering is stated more loosely than Item C below, but, again, the student’s advisor may adopt these more specific guidelines (which fall within the more general Computer Engineering guidelines) as a condition of providing financial support.  Computer Engineering students are responsible for discussing the details and expectations for performance assessment with their advisors.  Ph.D. students in Computer Engineering should also realize that the assessments below may be used as criteria in determining whether a student will receive future financial support from the CSE Department.  Hence, while not required of Ph.D. students in Computer Engineering, the following guidelines are strongly recommended for students who are advised by a CSE faculty member.