Computer Science Ph.D. Breadth Course Requirement

PhD students must meet the "Minimum Academic Standards" given in the RCEAS Graduate Student Handbook. These mandate that "a student receive no more than 4 courses with grade less than 'B-'. Furthermore, grades below 'C' will not count towards graduation." Graduate students are not permitted to take courses pass-fail. Dissertation credits are not given a grade. Note that a Ph.D. student's course selection is subject to approval by his or her advisor and doctoral committee. The advisor or the doctoral committee may require that a student take selected courses that they feel are essential to the student's study.

In addition to these College-wide courses, PhD students in the CS program must satisfy a "Graduate Breadth" requirement, which involves taking and, perhaps, having taken graduate level courses distributed among four areas of computer science: Systems, Compilers/Languages/Software Systems, Theory, and Computer Applications. The specific requirement is as follows:

  • The student must take or have taken at least two (2) courses in each of the four (4) areas.
  • The student must earn a "B" or better grade in seven (7) of the eight (8) courses, and all of the courses must meet the "Minimum Academic Standards" of the graduate program.
  • Courses taken before being admitted to the PhD program cannot be counted towards this requirement if they do not meet the grade requirement or if they have been taken over five (5) years prior to the student's admission to the PhD program.
  • Courses that can be taken to satisfy this requirement include all 400-level courses, excluding CSE411 (Advanced Programming Techniques), and selected 300-level courses (generally elective courses with no 400-level counterpart).
  • Experimental and special topics courses (CSE49X, CSE450, CSE350) will be assigned area(s) when they are rostered. There designation will be reflected on the "Core requirements" page of the CSE web site.
  • A particular course may be given two area designations. If a student takes such a course, the student must choose in which area he or she will apply the course.
Approval Form

The Breadth Requirement form should be obtained from the Graduate Coordinator, signed by the Graduate Program Chair, and returned to the Graduate Coordinator to be included in the student's file.

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