Ph.D. Qualifying Exams Policy


Qualifying Exams Policy Available Formats: HTML | PDF 

Document History: Revised: April 23, 2017. Approved: April 28, 2017. 


1. Overview

Doctoral students are required to take the three qualifying exams to demonstrate knowledge of computer science fundamentals and a potential for Ph.D. studies. The qualifying exams are comprised of two phases: (I) written exams and (II) a remedy course requirement. All doctoral students must be in good academic standing at the time when the qualifying exams (i.e., Phases I and II) are completed.

Timeline. Doctoral students have one and a half years to pass the qualifying exams. Distance education doctoral students have two and a half years to pass the qualifying exams if they are enrolling in three or fewer credit hours per semester. 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.

2. Phase I: Written Exams

Three Topic Areas.

The exam consists of the three distinct components, each of which covers one of the following three specific course topics. No reference material is allowed in the exam, although examinees may use a nonprogrammable calculator. 

  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Organization and Architecture
  • Algorithms

Passing Phase I. Written exams are graded by the graduate committee, the chair of which (i.e., graduate program director) notifies the students their exam results. Doctoral students must score more than 70 percent on an exam component to pass the exam component. Students passing all the three exam components are considered fully qualified to pursue further graduate studies. Such students have no obligation to move towards Phase II. Students passing Phase I may take COMP7270, COMP7300, and COMP7500 as elective courses.

Proceeding with Phase II. Students scoring more than 30% but less than 70% on an exam component must proceed to the next phase (i.e., the remedy course requirement) to pass the qualifying exams.

Dismissal from the Ph.D. Program. Students with a score of 30% or less on any exam component are dismissed from the doctoral program.

3. Phase II: Remedy Course Requirement

Three Courses. Students scoring more than 30% but less than 70% on an exam component must take the corresponding remedy course within one year after taking the exams. The three remedy courses for the areas of operating systems, computer architecture, and algorithms are: 

  • COMP7500/COMP7506 (Advanced Topics in Operating Systems)
  • COMP7300/COMP7306 (Advanced Computer Architecture)
  • COMP7270/COMP7276 (Advanced Topics in Algorithms)

Exemption. Students passing any exam component are exempted from taking the corresponding remedy course. For example, if a student passes the written exam of operating systems, the student is exempted from taking COMP7500/COMP7506 Advanced Topics in Operating Systems.

Passing Phase II. Doctoral students in Phase II will have to receive a grade of ‘B’ or higher in each required remedy course to pass the qualifying exams. Students receiving a grade of ‘C’ or ‘D’ in any remedy course must retake and pass (i.e., a letter grade of ‘B’ or higher) that course the following year. Students passing remedy courses on the first or second attempt are considered fully qualified to pursue further graduate studies.

Failing in Phase II. Students who fail to meet the remedy course requirement in Phase II will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program (see Section 4 below for details).

4. Dismissal from the Ph.D. Program

Receiving a grade of ‘F’ in Phase II results in a dismissal from the Ph.D. program due to extreme underperformance. If a student earns a grade of ‘C’ or lower after retaking a remedy course, the student will be dismissed from the doctoral program. Students under graduate school academic sanctions are dismissed from the doctoral program. Any student dismissed from doctoral students wait at least five years before reapplying for admission.

5. Students Joining the Ph.D. Program prior to Fall’17

Passing Qualifying Exams. If a student has taken all the three remedy courses (see Section 3) prior to the Fall 2017 semester, then the student is considered fully qualified to pursue further graduate studies.

Exemption from Phase I. If a student has taken one or two remedy courses before the Fall’17 semester, then the student should be exempted from passing the corresponding written exam component in Phase I.

Phase I and Phase II. If a student hasn’t taken one or more remedy courses prior to Fall’17, the student must follow Phase I and Phase II (see Sections 2 and 3) to pass the qualifying exams with respect to the corresponding topic areas. For example, if the student has not taken COMP7300 Advanced Computer Architecture, the student should pass Phase I and Phase II with respect to the topic area of computer architecture. 

6. Effective Date

This policy is effective for all Ph.D. students admitted in or after the fall semester 2017.

 




Last Updated: 5/28/17 10:02 AM