Satisfactory Performance

Satisfactory performance in the academic track of the graduate program in computer sciences entails:

A.  Adhering to the university's standards for professional conduct at all times.

B.  Meeting the Graduate School enrollment requirements, and maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.

The enrollment requirements depend on the status of the student, and need to be maintained throughout the term. Full-time status as defined by the Graduate School is a condition for many obligations, including visa eligibility, fellowships, assistantships and external funding agencies. In particular, international students with a F-1 or J-1 visa need to be enrolled full-time each regular term. Full-time registration during the summer session is typically not required except for RAs, 12-month fellows, dissertators with financial support and graduating students. Check out the table at the end of the Graduate School enrollment requirements for the precise conditions and the corresponding number of credits required for full-time registration.

C.  Making satisfactory academic progress in every regular term.

A graduate student in Computer Sciences shall be considered to have made satisfactory academic progress in a given term if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. During the given term the student has completed, with a satisfactory grade or a grade of I (incomplete) or P (progress), a minimum number of credits of approved courses determined by the following decision list, conditioned on the status of the student during that semester.
    Status Credits
    leave of absence 0
    part-load or dissertator 3
    full-time internship 2
    TA, SA or PA 6
    other 8
  2. At the end of the given term, the student has removed all incomplete grades from any previous term (regular or not).
  3. The student has observed all the deadlines imposed by the Department that occur before the start of the next regular term, in particular the milestone deadlines for students on the PhD track.

Regular term

The regular terms of an academic year are the fall and spring semesters.

Approved courses

Approved courses are courses that have been formally approved by a graduate advisor of the student as appropriate for the student's studies. Approval must be obtained before the course has been taken. Usually approval is given during the registration period, but approval can be requested at an earlier stage if the student wishes to plan ahead.

For a course to be approved it must fall into one of the following categories:

  • CS courses numbered 400 or above, excluding CS 400.
  • Basic CS courses (CS 302, CS 352, CS 354, and CS 367), and basic calculus (Math 221, Math 222, and Math 234), provided that the student has been admitted with deficiencies that are being removed by taking these courses.
  • Courses from other departments that materially contribute to the specific CS education toward which the student is working, as deemed by a graduate advisor of the student, possibly with the help of another faculty member in CS. Such courses are typically numbered 400 or above; no course numbered less than 300 will be approved.

For students who have neither obtained an MS in CS nor passed the qualifying process, usually only courses leading toward the MS in CS are approved.

For second MS in CS students only CS courses are approved.

For students in dissertator status, only CS 990 with the dissertation advisor is approved except with explicit permission of the latter for a course directly related to the dissertation research.

Satisfactory grade

The Department considers grades of A, AB, B, BC, C, S (for courses normally graded S/U), and CR (for courses normally graded Credit/No Credit) to be satisfactory.

Leave of absence

Any graduate student who is not in dissertator status may apply to the GAC Chair for a leave of absence of up to one year. Dissertators are expected to maintain continuous enrollment until completion of the PhD degree, and are therefore not eligible. International students should contact International Student Services to find out about their options, but often cannot take a leave of absence because of immigration regulations.

If the leave of absence is approved, the student's deadlines are automatically extended. The time away does count against the guaranteed support unless the Admissions Committee explicitly grants an extension.

Students who take a leave of absence and do not maintain the Graduate School minimum enrollment requirement, need to apply for re-admission to the Graduate School before resuming their program. Departmental approval of the leave of absence implies approval of the application for re-admission within the approved period of absence. A re-admitted student must adhere to the requirements in effect at the time of re-admission.

MS students who have been absent for 5 or more years, and PhD students who have been absent for 10 or more years, lose all credits that they have earned before their absence.

Part-load status

Part-load status is intended for students who have full-time jobs, non-academic duties, or substantial family responsibilities. It is granted semester by semester. International students should contact International Student Services to find out about their options, but typically cannot take be in part-load status because of immigration regulations.

Students who want part-load status should apply in writing to the GAC Chair at the beginning of each semester for which they want part-load status. They will be notified in writing whether their request has been approved.

Dissertator status

Dissertator status is for students who have completed all requirements for a PhD except for the dissertation. In order to enjoy dissertator status a student must:

The only benefit is reduced tuition and other fees.


The CS department has no formal mechanism for internships.  Students wishing to obtain academic credit for research work performed as an intern should consult with the Chair of the Graduate Advising Committee, for guidance in selecting an appropriate individual instruction course and a faculty member to supervise it.

International students need to contact International Student Services regarding the required authorizations. In particular, students on an F-1 visa need to obtain authorization for Curricular Practical Training, and have their application form signed by the instructor for the course they enroll in for the internship.

M.S. vs Ph.D. track

At any point in time a graduate student in CS is officially on one of the two tracks, MS or PhD. Initially, this is the degree indicated in the application. Students who want to change tracks need to contact the Graduate Program Coordinator. International students also need to contact International Student Services to discuss the possible effects this change could have on immigration status. See the Graduate School regulations for more details about the procedure.

The GAC Chair will approve all track changes but may impose additional time limits for students switching from the PhD to the MS track.


For historical reasons, deadlines are reckoned in semesters (regular academic terms).  One year equals two regular terms, and the deadline clock does not advance during the summer.  Thus, for example, a student whose prelim deadline is recorded as Spring 2018 will actually have until the last day before Fall 2018 to meet this requirement.

Initial deadlines are set during the first GAC meeting.  Exceptions must be petitioned by the student to the GAC Chair before the deadline has elapsed.

Qualifying deadline

Three years (6 regular terms) from time of entry are allotted for finishing the qualifying process.

A later extension of one regular term to complete the breadth requirement may be granted to students who have passed the qualifying exam, provided the student commits to a concrete plan for completing the breadth requirement by the extended deadline, and the dissertation advisor is supportive.

Students who believe their situation warrants additional time should consult with the GAC Chair during their initial GAC meeting.

Preliminary deadline

The number of regular terms initially allotted for finishing the preliminary process is two more than for the qualifying process.

If the student is granted an extension to the qualifying deadline, the preliminary deadline is also automatically extended.

A further extension of up to two regular terms may be granted provided the student commits to a concrete plan for completing the preliminary process by the extended deadline, and the dissertation advisor is supportive, confirms willingness to direct the student towards the PhD degree, and states that the student is making good progress towards that degree.

Final deadline

The deadline for finishing the final process is initially set to 10 regular terms (5 years) after passing the preliminary examination.

In order to receive an extension, a student may be required to take another preliminary examination.

Deadline extension for childbirth and adoption

A graduate student in good standing may request a deadline extension of one regular term when he or she experiences childbirth or adoption. The extension does not extend the funding guarantee by the Department.

The extension is available for each birth or adoption, to each parent, both males and females, and without regard to sexual orientation.

To obtain the extension, the student must email the GAC Chair and the dissertation advisor (if any) within 12 months of the date of birth or adoption. The GAC Chair checks that the conditions are met and, if so, automatically grants the extension.

For the purposes of this regulation, graduate students are considered in good standing if they are not dismissed, suspended, or on probation, and if they did not fail the conditions for satisfactory academic progress for the term prior to the child birth or adoption.

Repercussions of Non-Satisfactory Performance


A. The University has disciplinary procedures in place for academic, non-academic, and research misconduct.

B. A student may be placed on probation or suspended from the Graduate School for low grades or for failing to resolve incompletes in a timely fashion.

C. At the level of the Department:

A student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress during one regular term loses the financial support guarantee of the Department (if any), and is not eligible for financial support from resources controlled by the Department during the next regular term.