Comprehensive Exam

Comprehensive Exam Committee

Students will need to identify faculty to serve on the Comprehensive Exam Committee. The student should consult with their faculty advisor on the appropriate faculty to invite to participate. The Comprehensive Exam Committee composition must meet the following requirements:

  • Committee must have at least 4 members

  • At least half of the committee must have primary, tenure-track faculty appointments in the Department of Computer Science

  • More than half of the committee must have primary, shared, or joint (courtesy) tenure-track faculty appointments in the Department of Computer Science

  • The advisor must have a primary, shared, or joint (courtesy) tenure-track faculty appointment in the Department of Computer Science

  • Committee must meet all Graduate College Requirements

Special members must be pre-approved by the Graduate College. Students should send the CV of the special member to the GPC to initiate the request.

Students must submit the Comp Exam Committee Appointment Form in GradPath as soon as they determine who will serve on their committee.

Comprehensive Exam - Proposal and Presentation

The Comprehensive Exam consists of written and oral parts (see oral comp exam instructions) in both the major and minor fields. This exam should be taken by the end of the 7th semester in the program.

The written exam consists of a dissertation proposal that includes a written account of research and results to date as well as a plan for the remainder of the student's research activity. The CS department supports work that improves the level of reproducibility in research.

The oral exam consists of a presentation and an in-depth discussion of the proposal. This exam is closed to the public; only the student and Comprehensive Exam Committee may be in attendance. Students advance to PhD candidacy after passing this exam.

The date of the oral comprehensive exam must be announced in GradPath once the date, time, and room are set with the committee. 

The proposal must be emailed to the Comprehensive Exam Committee and the GPC at least three weeks prior to the oral comprehensive exam. The GPC must receive 10 days in advance of the oral comprehensive exam, written confirmation from each committee member that the student may proceed with the oral exam. The GPC will approve the comprehensive exam announcement once all committee members have given approval to proceed.  

Note: Students must email the GPC with their proposed exam date and time to reserve a room.

Research Reproducibility

The department encourages PhD students to embrace completeness and transparency in developing research rigorous protocols as well as in making code, experimental parameters, and collected data available to other researchers. In particular, students are required to describe in their dissertation proposal if and how they will provide access to well-documented datasets, modeling and/or simulation tools, and codebases to support reproducibility of their methods.