Computer Science Ph.D. Dissertation Requirement

Written Dissertation

To complete a Ph.D. degree, a student must write, present, and defend a dissertation. According to the Lehigh University Catalog, "the dissertation must treat a topic related to the candidate's specialty in the major subject, show the results of original research, provide evidence of high scholarship, and make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field."

Students should refer to the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science Graduate Student Handbook for the specific requirements as to the timing and format of the written dissertation. Note that a draft of the dissertation must be approved by a student's advisor and one other member of their doctoral committee, and submitted to the Associate Dean, at least six weeks before the Ph.D. degree is to be conferred. This draft must be in the required format. The members of the student's doctoral committee approving the draft may require more or less of the final content of the dissertation for the six week draft, and students are advised to discuss this with their doctoral committee before seeking approval.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is a presentation of the results in the written dissertation to the student's doctoral committee and to the general public. The date, time, place, and abstract of the defense must be sent to the CSE department's graduate coordinator and to the Associate Dean's office at least one week in advance of the defense date, so that it may be announced.

The procedure of the defense is determined by the student's doctoral committee. Generally, the student gives an oral presentation of the motivation, background, results, and contributions of his or her work. Members of the audience and doctoral committee may ask questions of the student during and after the presentation. The doctoral committee may then ask the other members of the audience to step out of the room, and then may ask the student additional questions. After conferring together privately, the doctoral committee may decide that the student "passes", must make specific revisions to the written dissertation to "pass", or must perform additional work and prepare another defense presentation.

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