Before attempting the PhD qualifying examination, students must obtain
a grade B or above in each of the following UG courses or their
- COMP 3511 Operating Systems,
- COMP 3711 Design and Analysis of Algorithms,
- COMP 3721 Theory of Computation.
These UG courses cannot be used for PG course requirement.
Qualifying Exam Guidelines
- PhD students are required to pass a qualifying examination within the
first 22 months after admission, with a maximum of two attempts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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..
- 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