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Requirements for the

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

in Computer Science

Updated: 4 August 2009 by Amr Sabry
(Previous version: 3 November 2007.)

Contents
  • Admission
  • Advising
  • Requirements Summary
  • Course Requirements
  • Minor Area Requirement
  • Qualifying Examination
  • Thesis Proposal
  • Dissertation
  • Further Information
  • Course Areas
  • Transferring Courses
  • Detailed procedure for the qualifying examination
  • Forms/steps for the PhD process
  • Admission

    Requirements for admission: Baccalaureate degree and Graduate Record Examination (subject test highly desirable). Prerequisites common to all graduate requirements are coursework in

    • Computer structures and organization.
    • Discrete structures and computing theory.
    • Data structures.
    These prerequisites may be satisfied by undergraduate or more advanced courses, and in some cases by professional experience.

    Advising

    Students admitted to the PhD Program are assigned a counselor who may be consulted for advice. The Director of Graduate Studies is also available for general consultation.

    Each student is urged to consult with appropriate faculty members and designate, with their consent, members of a suitable advisory committee to oversee and conduct the qualifying exam. The advisory committee must abide by University Graduate School rules include at least two members from the student's major area, and at least one from another area; at least two must be members of the graduate faculty. The names of the committee members presented by the student will be forwarded to the University Graduate School upon approval by the Computer Science Director of Graduate Studies.

    The advisory committee oversees the student's progress until the passing of the qualifying examination, whereupon the student consults with the committee concerning a thesis supervisor. When the student has a thesis advisor, the student and advisor designate, with their consent, members of a suitable research committee. The members of the research committee must meet the requirements of the University Graduate School: the committee includes the director, normally the professor directing the dissertation, two or more additional faculty members from the same department, and a representative of each minor; with certain exceptions, the members must belong to the graduate faculty. This committee supervises the dissertation research, conducts the thesis proposal examination, and conducts the Ph.D. thesis defense final examination.

    The material between the next two horizontal bars is the text for the 2009-2010 edition of the Bulletin of the University Graduate School.

    Requirements (Entry starting in Fall 2009)

    • Course Requirements.
      • A total of 90 credit hours of graduate-level course work is required. These courses are defined as any course listed in the university's Graduate School Bulletin that carries graduate credit. Note that no computer science courses in the A500-A999 range may be counted towards the 90 credit-hour requirement, nor towards the 24 credit-hour requirement specified below.
      • Computer Science Course Requirements: PhD candidates must take at least 24 credit hours, normally eight courses, in computer science at the 500 level or above, subject to the following conditions:
        • P Requirement: At least one must be a P course, with a substantial programming or software-development component.
        • Essentials Requirement: Of the eight courses, there must be at least one course in Foundations/Logic (indicated by middle digit 0/1) and one course in Software/Hardware Systems (indicated by middle digit 3/4). Both these courses must be passed with a minimum grade of B+.
        • Area Distribution Requirements: Of the eight courses, there must be at least one course each in six of the nine areas (indicated by the middle digit 0-8 in advanced Computer Science courses).
        • Research Course Conditions: The Y790 course is excluded from these six area courses, and cannot fulfill the P requirement, but up to 6 hours of Y790 may be counted towards the 24 credit-hour requirement. Y890 and G901 are excluded from the 24 credit hours in this requirement.
      • A grade average of B (3.0) is required for computer science courses, in addition to the University Graduate School's requirement of a B (3.0) average for all courses taken.
    • Minor Area Requirement. Three options are available:
      • An external minor awarded by another Indiana University department or graduate program approved by the Computer Science Program.
      • An internal minor: 9 computer science credits, in courses other than reading and research, and in an area other than the student's specialization. The area and the courses must be approved by the student's advisory committee. These 9 credits cannot be counted towards the six course requirement.
      • An individualized interdisciplinary minor, as prescribed by the Graduate School Bulletin: at least 12 credits spanning at least two departments, to be recommended by the student's advisory committee and approved by the dean in advance of any course work.
    • Qualifying Examination, given by the first semester of the student's third year in the program. This examination is administered by the advisory committee and is expected to have a written and an oral component.
    • Thesis Proposal, given after completion of the qualifying examination (written and oral), consisting of an oral presentation of a written research plan for the dissertation. This examination is given by the research committee.
    • Dissertation. A written elaboration of significant original research, which must be successfully presented to the research committee in a defense of dissertation as described in the Graduate School Bulletin.

    End of revised procedures for students entering CS PhD program on or after August 2009.

    Further Information

    • Areas of Advanced Computer Science Courses. Most of the Computer Science Program's courses at the 500 level and above are classified into these areas:
      • Foundations (middle digit 0, e.g., B501, B502, B503);
      • Logic (middle digit 1, e.g., B510);
      • Programming Languages (middle digit 2, e.g., B521, B522, P523, B524 );
      • Software Systems (middle digit 3, e.g., P536, B538);
      • Hardware Systems (middle digit 4, e.g., B541, P542, B543);
      • Artificial Intelligence (middle digit 5, e.g., B551, B552, B553);
      • Databases (middle digit 6, e.g., B561, P565-P566);
      • Scientific Computation (middle digit 7, e.g., P573, B673);
      • Graphics and Human Interfaces (middle digit 8, e.g., B581, B582).
      General courses not associated with a specific area are numbered with a middle digit 9. Courses that involve a major programming project are designated as "Programming-in-the-large," and carry a course number with letter designation P.
    • Transferring Courses to Apply to your Computer Science Degree. According to the Bulletin of the University Graduate School, PhD candidates may transfer up to 30 hours of courses from another graduate institution, subject to various conditions (for example: you may not transfer any course already applied to another PhD degree, but courses applied only to a previous Master's degree may be transferred as long as they are not applied to a CS Master's degree at IU). Normally students wishing to transfer a course or courses should provide the graduate secretary with a legal transcript and detailed documentation of the course coverage. This is important because
      • If a transferred course is judged equivalent to a course at IU, you cannot take the corresponding IU course for credit.
      • Transferred courses that correspond to existing CS PhD course categories will be assigned a category. This assignment will determine whether a transferred course can be counted in the PhD course distribution requirements
    • Detailed procedure for the qualifying examination Each student is expected to pass a Qualifying Examination, normally by the first semester of the student's third year in the program. If the student fails the exam, it may be retaken once, by the end of the student's third year. Prior to the qualifying examination, each student will be expected to turn in the Qualifying Examination Petition Form with the signatures of the Director of Graduate Studies and Advisory Committee.

      The examination is expected to have a written and an oral component and to demonstrate (1) in-depth knowledge of the student's specialization, (2) knowledge of some other area of Computer Science, (3) academic writing competence, and (4) the ability to defend a position in an oral setting.

      In consultation with his or her Advisory Committee, the student will agree on the format of the examination within the following constraints.

      Format of Examination. The student and his or her committee agree on a set of three topic areas. Two of these topics are expected to be within the student's specialization. The third topic can be in any other area of Computer Science but must be outside the student's specialization. The topics must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

      The examination within each topic will consist of either a conventional written examination or a written paper that answers a specific question within the topic. The qualifying examination must include at least one paper. If the examination consists of more than one paper, the papers should address different methodological approaches to the content area (mathematical analysis, simulation, programming, experiments, etc.)

      The student then has three months to prepare for the exam, normally during the summer following the second year in the program. During this time, the student may consult any works on the paper topics but may not discuss the topics with others. Questions to the committee should only concern procedural matters.

      • Conventional Examination: Each committee member writes one or two questions. The student has two days, four hours per day, to answer the questions, using any resources he or she wishes to bring to the examination room. Within a week, the committee evaluates the student's answers. The student does not normally receive feedback from the committee but may discuss the answers informally with members of the committee in preparation for the oral portion of the exam. The student meets with the committee within three weeks after submitting the answers to orally defend his or her answers and respond to follow-up questions. The oral presentation is open to the faculty of the Computer Science program as observers only: the authoritative decision lies with the student's advisory committee. If the committee agrees that the student's written and oral answers are satisfactory, the student has successfully passed the qualification exam. Otherwise, the committee may fail the student outright or may require the student (1) to elaborate further in written answers to one or more questions or (2) to answer in writing one or more additional questions. If the student satisfies the committee with these additional assignments, he or she has successfully passed the qualification exam; otherwise, the exam is considered failed and must be completely retaken.

      • Written Papers: After the papers are submitted to the committee, they are evaluated by the committee members, normally within a period of a week, and returned to the student with comments. It is encouraged that the papers are also made available to the faculty of the Computer Science program. Next the student meets with the committee to defend his or her answers orally; the oral portion of the exam should take place within three weeks of the submission of the papers. The oral presentation is open to the faculty of the Computer Science program as observers only: the authoritative decision lies with the student's advisory committee. Based on the written answers and the oral defense, the committee may pass the student immediately, fail the student outright, or require the student to rewrite one or more of the papers and possibly also to meet with the committee again for a second oral defense. If the student satisfies the committee with these additional assignments, he or she has successfully passed the qualification exam; otherwise the exam is considered failed and must be completely retaken.
    • Forms/steps needed in the PhD process. You may use the web documents linked below, or you may obtain hardcopies of these forms from the Computer Science office in LH215; official forms required by the Graduate School are also available in the Graduate School office in Kirkwood 111. Be sure to submit all the required forms in order, as soon as you complete each milestone.
      • The Independent Research Permission Form must be signed by the research supervisor and turned in to the Graduate Secretary to obtain permission to register for any independent research course, including Y790 (Independent Study), Y890 (Thesis Research), and G901 (Advanced Research - after filling all other requirements).
      • The PhD work sheet (ps| pdf) is available online to help PhD students plan their course requirements. PhD students obtaining a Master's will find the Master's work sheet (ps|pdf) useful.
      • The Application for Advanced Degree form is required by the Graduate School to obtain the Master's Degree (pdf of MS version) or the PhD Degree (doc of PhD version). PhD version only needs to be submitted if participating in graduation ceremony.
      • The Appointment of Advisory Committee form is required by the Graduate School to establish your advisory committee. Your advisory committee must consist only of IU faculty, two in your chosen oral qualifying exam area, and one outside it. The outside member should be from the area of your minor (for internal minors, from the CS subarea of your internal minor specialization).
      • The Qualifying Exam Petition form is required by the Computer Science Program; it must be signed by the Director of Graduate Studies and by the Advisory Committee three months before the scheduled date of the exam.
      • The Nomination to Candidacy for the PhD Degree (doc) form is required by the Graduate School to officially enter PhD candidate status after completing the qualifying exam and fulfilling all major and minor requirements. The double-major version (doc) should be used by those pursuing a double major.
      • The Nomination of Research Committee for the PhD (doc) form is required by the Graduate School to establish your research committee; The double-major version (doc) should be used by those pursuing a double major. This committee If it becomes necessary to change the makeup of your research committee, you must submit the Change of Research Committee form (doc) and your thesis prospectus must be approved six months before the defense of the dissertation. Your research committee must consist of at least three members of the CS faculty and one representative of your minor area; any committee member not on the IU faculty must be approved in advance by the Dean of the Graduate School.
      • The Thesis Proposal Oral Examination form is required by the Computer Science Program. Completing this milestone indicates that all you have left to do is finish your dissertation!
      • The PhD Thesis Defense Announcement Page must be submitted to the University Graduate School at least 30 days prior to the scheduled dissertation defense. A facsimile is available to show you what it looks like. Download a copy of this LaTeX template file to create your own announcement.
      • The dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School and to the School of Informatics and Computing. The School requires a bound copy of the dissertation, including a sleeve containing a pdf file of its contents on CD. This must be submitted to the CS Graduate Administrator.
        The Graduate School dissertation preparation and submission instructions are available in their thesis guide.

    Questions may be addressed to appropriate faculty members, or to the Director of Graduate Studies.

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