PhD Qualifying Exam (PQE) Guidelines for PhD students

Before attempting the PhD qualifying examination, students must obtain a grade B or above in each of the following UG courses or their equivalent:

These UG courses cannot be used for PG course requirement.

Qualifying Exam Guidelines

  1. PhD students are required to pass a qualifying examination within the first 22 months after admission, with a maximum of two attempts.
  2. The qualifying examination consists of a comprehensive, written critical survey and review of the student's intended research focus, and a public oral examination. The written survey should normally be approximately 25 pages long, and the oral presentation should normally take approximately 30 minutes.
  3. The PQE committee must be set up and approved by the Head of the Department at least six (6) weeks before the date of the qualifying examination. The committee must consist of a minimum of four (4) faculty members (including the advisor(s)). A majority of the committee members must be from the Computer Science department. The written survey and review paper should be distributed to the committee members at least two (2) weeks prior to the oral examination. One copy should also be given to the Director of Postgraduate Studies.
  4. The purpose of the qualifying requirement is to assess the student's understanding of the literature, as well as preparedness to conduct research, in the selected research focus. The written survey and review should identify important research issues in the student's intended research focus. The research focus should be broad enough to contain many potential thesis topics, yet sufficiently narrow that the highly relevant papers number in the tens rather than in the hundreds. The student is required to present and be examined on the survey and review before his/her qualifying examination committee at a public oral examination.
  5. The written survey should take a subfield and survey a small number of results in that subfield. It should NOT be a cut-and-paste list of results. Instead it should attempt to integrate research findings within a unified framework and reflect a clear understanding of the area. Suggested topics to cover are, how did the field develop, early results, new techniques, advantages/disadvantages of some approaches compared to others, etc..
  6. The survey should not be targeted at specialists who already know the field. It should start off with a clear explanation of basic definition and necessary background, so that a non-specialist in the area, e.g., a faculty member with a good basic knowledge of CS but not expert knowledge of the survey area, can follow the report and presentation.

To schedule a PhD Qualifying Exam, the form Request to Schedule a PhD Qualifying Exam should be completed and submitted to the department.