We require all our students to have an MS in Computer Science or a related field before they become eligible to earn a PhD. The specific requirements depend on whether a student has previous graduate experience or not.
- Take a set of courses: 5 Core Courses, 3 Approved Electives and a seminar, and meet the grade requirements
- Write a Master’s paper
- Pass a Qualifying Exam, consisting of a public defense of the Master’s paper
- Satisfy the University requirements for an MSc
Upon completing these requirements, students will be eligible to receive a degree of Master of Science in Computer Science from the University.
Course Requirements for the Qualifying Phase
Students must complete a set of course requirements stated above–five core courses, three approved electives and one seminar. Every core course not used to fulfill the core course requirement can be used as an approved elective, and any approved elective can be used as a seminar. ‘Reading and Research’ courses cannot be used to fulfill these requirements.
The set of courses, and their classification may change over time. The web page of course offerings for the program will indicate, in a timely manner, for each quarter, whether a given graduate course is a core course, an approved elective, or neither.
Click here for a detailed list of Core Courses and Approved Elective Courses.
There are specific grade requirements for both core courses and electives (described below). The spirit of these requirements can be summed up by the following motto: a student must demonstrate proficiency in all areas and excellence in at least one area.
The minimum formal requirements for the core courses (”Ph.D. Pass”) are the following: Students are required to complete the five core courses with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 in the five core courses. In computing the GPA, A=4, B=3, and a + or a - counts as .3 of a point. Note that for the core courses, students who significantly outperform even the typical ”A” students may receive a grade of ”A+” (recorded internally by the CS Department Student Representative since the University does not officially grant the grade of A+.) So, for instance a student with grades A+, B+, B+, B-, B- in the five core courses has a GPA of 3.26 and thus satisfies the minimum GPA requirement, as does a student with grades of A+, A, B+, B, and C-. In the graduate program grades below C- are not passing grades.
Students must complete their electives with a grade of B or better in each course.
Students who fail to meet the core course requirements stated in the preceding paragraph may continue on to write a master’s paper and complete a master’s degree, if they meet the following requirement (”Master’s Pass”): complete all the five core courses by the end of the spring quarter of the second year with a grade of at least C- in each core course and with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 in the five core courses. Such students will be supported for at most one quarter of their third year.
Students who do not meet the Ph.D. Pass requirements for these courses cannot continue their studies beyond autumn quarter of their third year. Students who do meet these minimum requirements will not automatically be allowed to continue after their third year; the faculty will decide continuation based on the student’s perceived capacity to perform Ph. D. level independent research in a specific area.
Incoming students may get exempted from some of the above described requirements of the Qualifying Phase to the extent that they can show that they have obtained breadth, depth in Computer Science, as well as and writing ability comparable to the competency that would be acquired in the Qualifying Phase of our program.