Ph.D. Preliminary Process

The preliminary process for Ph.D. students in CS consists of completing the minor requirement and passing the preliminary examination. Both components need to be finished by the preliminary deadline.

Minor requirement

The minor requirement involves 9 to 12 credits of course work outside of CS. There are two methods of fulfilling this requirement, referred to as Option A and Option B on the Minor Declaration form.

  1. Option A: Existing program

    This option consists of fulfilling the PhD minor requirements as specified by an existing program outside of CS. 

    Students should contact the particular program for the precise requirements, and find the person from that program who is authorized to act as the Minor Advisor.

    On a student's transcript, fulfillment of this option appears as Minor: followed by the name of the program.

  2. Option B: Distributed

    This option consists of at least 9 credits in courses from one or more programs outside of CS. All of the following conditions need to be satisfied: 

    • All credits counted are for courses numbered 300 or above.
    • No credits counted are for courses in CS or courses cross-listed with CS.
    • No credits counted are for individual instruction courses.
    • All credits counted are graded on the A-F scale and have received a grade of BC or higher.
    • The GPA of the credits counted is at least 3.00.
    • No more than 5 credits counted are for coursework completed more than 5 years prior to admission to the Ph.D. program are counted; no credits counted are for coursework taken 10 years ago or more.

    For this option the GAC Chair acts as the Minor Advisor.

    On a student's transcript, fulfillment of this option appears as Minor: Distributed.

For either option, once the requirements are met, the Minor Advisor attests to it by signing the Minor Declaration form and the preliminary warrant from the Graduate School. The signed Minor Declaration form needs to be filed with the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Preliminary examination

The preliminary examination is an oral exam in which the student is expected to display depth of knowledge in the area of specialization in which research for the dissertation will be conducted. Students need to complete the qualifying process before taking the preliminary examination. They should have worked on some project with their dissertation advisor before planning the exam, and determine when they are ready to take it in consultation with their dissertation advisor.

The preliminary examination committee consists of three or more members and is chaired by the dissertation advisor. The composition of the committee will be suggested by the dissertation advisor in consultation with the student and must be approved by the Department Chair. At least two of the committee members must be full-time faculty members of the Department.

The student should approach each proposed member of the committee, secure agreement to serve, and then discuss a program for preparing for the examination. It is advisable for the student to do this about a semester before the examination is to be scheduled.

After the student passes the exam, each committee member needs to sign the preliminary warrant.