Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Qualifying Exams Policy

 Graduate Programs Committee

Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering

Auburn University

FAQs Available Formats: HTML | PDF 

Document History: Revised: May 31, 2017. 


1. What is the purpose of qualifying examinations?

2. What are new features of the new qualifying exams procedure?

3. When should I take qualifying examinations?

4. What are the topics to be covered in qualifying examinations?

5. What should I do if my score in one of the exam components is below 30%?

6. What should I do if my score in one of the exam components is between 30% and 70%?

7. What should I do if my remedy course letter grade is C or lower?

8. I am a Master’s student who has already passed (i.e., grades>=B) all the three qualifying-exam courses prior to becoming a doctoral student.Do I still have to take the exams?

9. I joined the Ph.D. Program prior to Fall’17. Am I still required to take qualifying exams?

10. When did the policy go into effect?



1. What is the purpose of qualifying examinations?

Doctoral students are required to take the three qualifying exams to demonstrate knowledge of computer science fundamentals and a potential for Ph.D. studies.

2. What are new features of the new qualifying exams procedure?

The new procedure has the following three salient features. First, we will increase the number of exam offerings from one to two per year. This feature offers great flexibility to doctoral students enrolled in both Fall and Spring semesters. Regardless of a semester (e.g., Fall or Spring) in which students join the Ph.D. program, a student can take qualifying exams right before the start of the first semester. Second, in the previous policy, two professors may be involved in creating two exams for one topic area. Under the new policy, professors preparing exams aren’t necessarily the ones who teach one of the three required courses. For each topic area, only one exam should be created each time. All the three exam components will share a unified exam format. Third, there are three remedy courses in the new policy. Remedy courses meet the needs of some students who have an anxiety of taking exams.

3. When should I take qualifying examinations?

The three-hour written exams are given twice a year, namely, (1) in August right before the start of the Fall semester, and (2) in January right before the beginning of the Spring semester. You have one and a half years to pass the qualifying exams. If you are a distance education doctoral student, then you have two and a half years to pass the qualifying exams if you are enrolling in three or fewer credit hours per semester.


4. What are the topics to be covered in qualifying examinations?

The exam consists of the three distinct components, each of which covers one of the following three specific course topics: (1) Algorithms, (2) Operating Systems, and (3) Computer Organization and Architecture.


5. What should I do if my score in one of the exam components is below 30%?

You will be dismissed from the doctoral program.


6. What should I do if my score in one of the exam components is between 30% and 70%?

You must take the corresponding remedy course to pass the qualifying exam component. For more information, see Section 3 of the policy.


7. What should I do if my remedy course letter grade is C or lower?

You will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program. For more information, see Section 4 of the policy.


8. I am a Master’s student who has already passed (i.e., grades>=B) all the three courses of qualifying exams prior to becoming a doctoral student. Do I still have to take the exams?

No, you don’t need to take the qualifying exams. Students who have passed the three courses before joining the Ph.D. program are exempted from taking the examinations.


9. I joined the Ph.D. Program prior to Fall’17. Am I still required to take qualifying exams?

If you have taken all the three qualifying-exam courses prior to the Fall 2017 semester, then you are fully qualified to pursue further graduate studies. If you haven’t taken one or more qualifying-exam courses prior to Fall’17, you must follow Phase I and Phase II (see Sections 2 and 3 of the Policy) to pass the qualifying exams with respect to the corresponding topic areas. For example, if you haven’t taken COMP7300 Advanced Computer Architecture, you should pass Phase I and Phase II with respect to the topic area of computer organization and architecture.


10. When did the policy go into effect?

The new qualifying examinations policy is effective for all doctoral students admitted in or after the fall semester 2017. 
 




Last Updated: 5/30/17 9:03 PM