Computer Science Ph.D. General Exam Requirement

The General Exam is a University required examination to evaluate a student's "capacity and ... proficiency in the field of study." In particular, the CS General Exam evaluates whether a student has the necessary background and a reasonable plan for completing a dissertation. The CS general examination consists of a written document presented to the student's doctoral committee at least one week before an oral examination. The general exam must occur after completing the admission to candidacy. According to University rules, a student may not graduate until seven (7) months after passing the general exam. In most cases, students are expected to complete the general exam by the end of their third year in the PhD program.

The content of the written document and the oral examination must include a review of the subfield in which the student's dissertation research lays, a plan for conducting the student's dissertation research, and a description of the anticipated contributions of that research to the larger field of computer science. The scope of the subfield that the student must review and the depth of that review will be determined by the doctoral committee. The oral exam consists of a presentation open to the public, announced to the faculty and graduate students of the CSE department one week prior to the presentation. Following the public presentation, the committee may continue the oral exam in a closed session before deciding if the student has passed his or her general exam. If the student fails the general exam, University rules allow the doctoral committee to give him or her one more opportunity to pass the exam. A second attempt at passing the general exam may not occur earlier than five (5) months after the first attempt.

Approval Form

Two copies of the General Exam form should be obtained from the Graduate Coordinator prior to the oral examination, signed by the student's doctoral committee after the examination, and returned to the Graduate Coordinator.

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