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Computer Science PhD Requirements

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PhD Degree in Computer Science

 Program of Study for the Ph.D. Degree in Computer Science

Overview: The Ph.D. degree in Computer Science may be completed in a minimum of three years and a maximum of seven years of post-undergraduate study. The basic degree requirements include completion of 90 credit hours including a minimum of 36 credits of course work, a minimum of six credit hours in research seminars, and an original doctorate thesis research project submitted as a written dissertation defended orally and approved by a committee of five Ph.D. faculty members, at least four of whom are members of the Clarkson faculty. Specific Course Requirements: Four required core graduate courses of 3 credits each (CS 541 Theory, CS 547 (Theory), CS 544 (Systems) and CS 545 (Languages)), one 3-credit course in each of four breadth areas (Theory and Algorithms, Computer Systems and Networks, Languages and Software Development, Artificial Intelligence and Applications) and four 3-credit research-oriented 600-level CS courses, six semesters of Computer Science Seminar (6 credits), and thesis research (1-10 credits per semester). A minimum of two years of study must be in residence at Clarkson.

Educational Outcomes Expected of Graduates of the CS Doctoral Program

Graduates of the Ph.D. Program in Computer Science should attain all of the preceding outcomes described above for the Ph.D. degree and are further expected to:

  • Produce a body of original experimental work, theoretical work, or critical analysis that is potentially suitable for publication in a computer science publication and is approved as an acceptable doctorate thesis by the thesis committee.
  • Acquire breadth of knowledge in Computer Science as demonstrated by performance in a broad range of required courses.
  • Acquire depth of knowledge in a sub-discipline of Computer Science as demonstrated by performance in courses approved by the student’s academic advisor and related to the student’s area of research.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in oral presentation through seminar presentation, the oral defense for advancement to candidacy, the thesis proposal defense and the final thesis defense.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in written presentation through their thesis and written coursework.

Formal Requirements for the Doctorate of Philosophy Degree in Computer Science (inclusive of academic regulations specified in the Clarkson University Catalog 2008-2009, pp 199-200):

University Requirements: A minimum of 90 credit hours earned for graduate courses numbered 500 and higher including at least 36 credit hours of classroom and instructional laboratory coursework (this is above the university minimum of 24); a minimum of 6 credit hours of research seminar. A maximum of 30 credit hours of graduate transfer credit from an M.S. degree with grades of B or higher may be accepted toward the Ph.D. degree.

At least three full academic years of study beyond the baccalaureate degree with at least two years in residence in Clarkson.

A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in courses used to meet graduation requirements.

Graduate students must complete the Ph.D. candidacy procedure within two years of full time study after admission to the Ph.D. program.

Doctoral candidates must complete an original research project submitted as a written thesis to be orally presented and approved before a committee of at least five faculty members. At least four members must be Clarkson faculty of assistant professor rank or higher and possessing a doctoral degree. At least one committee member must be from a department other than the candidate’s major department. An external examiner with appropriate credentials from outside the university may serve as one of the five committee members. The thesis must also be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School and a copy deposited in the university library.

All work for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within seven years after admission to candidacy.

Additional Program Requirements and Procedures:

 Coursework Students must complete a minimum of 36 credits of computer science related coursework including:

Foundations Courses Students must take four required courses across three areas – CS 541 (Theory), CS 547 (Theory), CS 544 (Systems) and CS 545 (Languages). A grade of B+ or better is required in each of these courses. A written exam option is offered for students who have taken equivalent courses at other institutions and for students who did not receive a B+ in the Clarkson course. Students who have taken equivalent courses at other institutions and pass the exam with a grade of B+ or better can replace the corresponding course by another CS course.

Research-Oriented Courses Students must also complete a minimum of four 3-credit research-oriented 600-level CS courses. Research-oriented courses include substantial research literature review and a research project/presentation component. The Computer Science Ph.D. Committee[1] will maintain a list of acceptable research-oriented courses.600-level CS Directed Study Courses are acceptable by permission of the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee only when they satisfy the same standards as regular 600-level CS courses and include substantial research literature review and a research project/presentation component. A grade of B+ or higher is required in two 600-level CS courses in order to advance to candidacy and one of these must be a research-oriented 600-level course.

Breadth Requirement Beyond the four required courses listed in Foundations, students must take one course from each of the following four groups. Courses used to satisfy this breadth requirement may also be used to satisfy the requirements in Research. The specific lists of courses may change and students may petition the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee to accept additional courses, including courses outside the department, in these groups.

Group A (Theory and Algorithms): 542, 546, 549, 556, 642, 656

Group B (Computer Systems and Networks): 553, 555, 557, 563, 644, 654

Group C (Languages and Software Development): 543, 550, 558, 560, 658

Group D (Artificial Intelligence and Applications): 551, 552, 559, 561, 562, 659

Electives Additional Courses as necessary to reach 36 course credits. Students are expected to take at least one graduate course in computer science or a related field each semester that they are enrolled in the Computer Science Ph.D. Program. This requirement may be waived if in consultation with the student’s advisor, the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee decides it is in the student’s best interest to focus on completion of their thesis work.

Seminar Students are required to attend and participate in the CS 707 or 708 Seminar in Computer Science (1 credit) series during at least six semesters in residence in the Ph.D. program. Participation is recommended during each semester in residence in the Ph.D. program.

Candidacy The doctoral candidacy procedure for the Computer Science program is portfolio-based.

Before advancing to candidacy, students must have completed the 4 required courses (CS 541, CS 547, CS 544 and CS 545) and two of the 600-level CS courses at least one of which must be a research-oriented course. A grade of B+ or higher is required in each course.

Students prepare a portfolio consisting of a written statement of research interest and representative work from courses and seminar (e.g. exams, research papers, presentation materials). The student appears before the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee for an oral defense of their portfolio. This oral defense and portfolio examination constitutes the comprehensive exam for candidacy in Computer Science.

To advance to candidacy, the student must have also chosen a faculty advisor who believes he or she is prepared to begin original research in a mutually acceptable field of specialization.

Students must advance to candidacy within two years of full-time study after admission to the Ph.D. program or be granted an extension by the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee.

Candidacy The doctoral candidacy procedure for the Computer Science program is portfolio-based.

Thesis Proposal The student must write a thesis proposal outlining his or her research plan and discussing related work and defend this proposal in an oral exam before his or her thesis committee.

In addition to the university requirements , at least three members of the committee must be from the Computer Science Department.

Students must form their committee and pass the thesis proposal defense exam by the end of their third year of full-time study after admission to the Ph.D. program or be granted an extension by the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee.

Thesis Defense The final step in completion of the doctoral program is the submission of a written thesis in conjunction with an oral thesis defense.

The candidate will normally present a 50-minute oral presentation of the thesis work at an advertised campus event followed by at least 10 minutes of public questions. After the end of the public session, the candidate and their 5-member thesis committee will gather in closed session for final questions and presentation of corrections to thesis. The candidate will be then asked to leave the room for a final vote of approval. Following approval, the candidate must complete the requested corrections to the written thesis and obtain final signatures. The candidate must provide all five thesis committee members with a copy of the thesis at least four full weeks before the public defense.

The thesis committee for the final defense is the same as for the proposal defense. Any changes must be approved by the Computer Science Ph.D. Committee in advance of the final defense.

Teaching Experience Doctorate degree students are encouraged to serve at least one year as a teaching assistant in undergraduate courses according to the conditions of their appointment.

Requirements to Obtain Second Year and Later Years of Financial Assistance
     All first year teaching assistants will be evaluated by the Graduate Committee as to their teaching and academic performance and will be informed of their status and prospects after the first semester.  Input for the evaluation will be solicited from their supervisors and graduate course professors.  In the event that a student is found to be performing unacceptably, he or she will be terminated at the end of the first year.  Such students are to be notified early in the calendar year in order to give them the opportunity to find new employment.

     Time limit on Support for Teaching Assistants:  No PhD graduate student will be supported for more than five years of graduate studies at Clarkson.